Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Toil and Trouble

I normally avoid blogging on issues affecting worldwide Anglicanism, partly because it's all become too complex to follow what's happening (just try to follow the Thinking Anglicans blog for more than 7 days and you'll see what I mean.), and partly because the online community has helped to make things worse. Writing a letter, then getting round to posting it, makes you take time to think. Ringing someone up or meeting face to face helps you to remember that you're dealing with real people, not abstract ideas. But blogging means that a word in secret one day by the next can be all over the internet, with thousands of people having their say. One thing that has prevented the various parties in the Anglican church from having a proper debate is that for the entire process there has been one eye on the media and the online community. Rowan Williams seems to be one of the few people immune to the need to provide soundbites and press releases on a daily basis, and he's then villified for not communicating.

In the midst of all this, and the almost weekly claims to 'defining moments' in the ongoing debate, it's hard to know where to start. Archbishop Rowan is in the US over the next few days, in advance of a 30th September deadline for the North American churches to respond to the Windsor Report. (The Windsor Report was the official Anglican response to the decisino by the US church to ordain a non-celibate gay man as bishop, and the Canadian church to begin blessing same-sex relationships). The reports has asked for a moratorium on these practices, and for discussion rather than churches taking unilateral actions.

Trouble is, part of the evangelical wing of the church has taken its own unilateral action. I've long since lost count of the number of bishops 'ordained' by African churches to oversee congregations in the US. The argument is that the US Episcopal church hierarchy has abandoned the historic Christian creeds and scriptures, and an alternative set of bishops is needed to provide godly and scriptural oversight. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how this could be extended to the UK, all it needs is one controversial decision by the Anglican hierachy and the Nigerian or Ugandan hierarchy will be over laying hands on a prominent evangelical Brit to ordain them as an alternative bishop.

Not much of this finds its way down to Yeovil, but if you read this and you pray, please can you pray for the Anglican church, that we seek first to glorify God, and second to love one another. Please pray for the politiking to stop so that we can get on with the mission we've been given.

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