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+Duncan rejects APO proposal

Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, presumably speaking on behalf of the Anglican Communion Network (since his response was published on their site) has rejected The Episcopal Church's response to the Network's request for "alternative primatial oversight" -- or for a "Commissary" (described by +Jim Stanton as "a sort of vicar") -- or for whatever it was that the Network was requesting following its reported modification of a request for "alternative primatial oversight" after one of its own members pointed out that the Presiding Bishop doesn't have "primatial oversight" in the ways outlined by the petitioning dioceses' request to grant, and therefore it might not be in the far right's interest to, in effect, grant such powers to the PB before any PB requested them.

Admittedly, Bishop Duncan did take as much as six hours (assuming he was waiting breathlessly by his Internet connection for the news, despite his refusal to participate in the conversation that led to the proposal answering his requests) to consider the proposal before rejecting it on behalf of his ACN constituents. I'm sure he spent every minute of that time in consultation with the other ACN bishops, clergy, and laity to make sure that what he said really reflected what they were seeking.

The ACN has, for some reason or a few dozen, declined to seek my advice before issuing this statement. Had they sought it, I might have said that in light of the confusion resulting from their making very public statements before reaching agreement as to whether they really wanted to be under someone more "primatial" than our current polity makes our Presiding Bishop, they might want to think long and hard about whether they wanted to reject something that grants just about all of the points our constitution and canons would allow before rejecting it on the basis that the proposal would leave them without someone sufficiently "primatial" in power over them. I also might have said that, given the "we can't come to the table with a person who doesn't represent us fully" line of thought they're using, it might be wise to make well and truly sure that EVERYONE they need on their side is willing to go as far as they will in this seemingly all-or-nothing strategy they're employing.

I suspect that the speed and lack of conversation with which the response was issued will lead to the ACN's response being taken as an indication of just how little the ACN is interested in real conversation or actual communion with the breadth of those Baptized as and faithful by all creedal and canonical measures of Christianity and Anglicanism.

And, to be honest, this grieves me. I truly believe -- on the basis of our shared Baptism into Christ and our shared declaration of intent to walk in the way of Jesus the Christ's Cross -- that members of the Anglican Communion Network would gain far, far more in their spiritual walk with Jesus and in the mission of God in which Christ's Church participates, if we and they were looking for points of connection in Christ rather than excuses to sever Eucharistic relationship. My sense, in conversation with many people who disagree with me about all kinds of issues related to interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6 and Romans 1, is that there are many, many conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics who would be willing, when pressed, to call me a sinner in ways they believe they aren't sinning, but who nonetheless will take it as a sin far more grievous than anything I've done that some will split the church and divert resources from causes like clean drinking water for those who have none to achieve a symbolically important split from the rest of us "sinners."

Last time I checked, we were all sinners. I hope my conservative friends in favor of this very rapid rejection of what is in my perception a profoundly gracious offer will explain to me what they feel they have to gain (if anything) from +Bob Duncan's response. In the meantime, I'm still scratching my head.

Here is the bottom line of where I'm coming from: I promise any and all interested parties that we can have that knock-down, drag-out, winner-take-all fight about sexuality stuff the very second that we've taken care of the extreme poverty stuff that is killing thousands of my sisters and brothers in Christ far quicker than every month. I swear. I do take seriously that personal holiness is important, and that sexual morality is important. I just can't believe it's more important than these basic issues of clean water, good food, basic education, and other life-sustaining issues out there.

I don't agree with our Presiding Bishop about everything -- or even about everything important -- either. I just don't see why we shouldn't be able to agree to lay aside any and all of our concerns with other points that she makes until we deal with the one she's chosen as the centerpiece of her tenure: the totally possible elimination of extreme poverty before the end of her tenure. I'm quite sure that if we do that, I'll be so giddy in 2015 that I'll be inclined to support darn near anyone who's visibly worked hardest in the intervening years to make that happen.

Are you bothered by other points in other people's agendas? Join the club. But let's add a point to the charter club of Christians Eagerly Awaiting Jesus' Eschaton: let's make all the points of fighting among ourselves a list of agenda points for what we do after we make sure that ever child born in this world has a chance to do what we think people are born to do, whether that's accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, understanding and living into their vocation as Baptized members of the Body of Christ, working in the world as agents of God's justice, or whatever else is on life's docket.

Honestly, I have a very hard time taking anyone as being seriously "pro-life" while it's still both possible for someone to be doomed to death before age 7 simply because of where s/he was born. I completely fail to understand what could possibly more more urgent on the world's agenda than changing that.

Literally -- and I don't use this language even remotely lightly -- for Christ's sake, let's take all of these other issues up after we've got this totally solvable and very urgent one solved! The "full employment for litigators" initiatives being pursued so vigorously thus far in so many quarters makes me want to throw up. Everyone, let's get our symbolic victories after we've achieved the real victory of giving every child in this world a chance.

November 30, 2006 in Churchiness, Current Affairs, ONE campaign/Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) | Permalink


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» APO: reactions to Primatial Vicar proposal from Thinking Anglicans
Updated Friday morning The Anglican Communion Network issued a press release at 3.30 pm (EST assumed?) which was headlined National Church Response Falls Short and subtitled From the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The same release is al... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 1, 2006 5:23:00 AM

» APO: reactions to Primatial Vicar proposal from Thinking Anglicans
Updated again Friday evening The Anglican Communion Network issued a press release at 3.30 pm (EST assumed?) which was headlined National Church Response Falls Short and subtitled From the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The same release... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 1, 2006 7:51:37 PM


Amen and amen.

I have to admit that there is a part of me that wants to say, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out" and then just get on with what we're called to do and be.

Posted by: revdrmom | Dec 1, 2006 9:34:43 PM

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