Friday, July 25, 2008

Weekly American Anglican Council message from Bishop Anderson

The weekly American Anglican Council message from Bishop David Anderson via email [boldface mine]:

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

At the AAC, we learned long ago that since the media can help or hurt you, treat them humanely, the way you would wish to be treated. When an event occurs, certainly those present take away their own impressions, but for the vast majority who will only read about it or see it on the TV, the media interprets the event. Why would anyone go out of their way to make life miserable for the media? Although GAFCON in Jerusalem wasn't perfect from a media standpoint, there was a sincere attempt to get the media what they needed: access inside during plenary sessions, interviews with bishops, press conferences, etc. In retrospect, could it have been done better? Absolutely, but there was a genuine attempt to do the right thing for the media.

Contrasted with that philosophy is the view that the media is your enemy and you must a) keep them out, b) choose between good and bad media for access, and c) have everyone so disciplined that their talking points are recited no matter what the question. One has to pity the media, seeing how they are being treated at Lambeth, but then again, it doesn't sound like the bishops themselves are being all that well taken care of, either. The secrecy thing is either hilarious or pathetic: is not everyone there under godly authority? Are some there in defiance of their House of Bishops or their Primate? Are they making a "prophetic statement" by being there anyway? Yet their "prophetic statement" must be kept secret.

Since we know that the Church of England still claims that they have a membership of 25 million souls, and attendance records indicate that in fact they only have 1.6 million, their accuracy with mathematics doesn't seem stellar. Their membership disparity is the spiritual or ecclesial equivalent to the sub-prime loan crisis affecting so many in the USA housing market. Book value of loans doesn't mean much when the money isn't there, and the book value in souls of the Church of England is like a sub-prime loan, overstated, overvalued and under-performing. As the banks have a steep write down on loans, an honest church would acknowledge a steep write down on membership. This of course applies to other parts of the Anglican Communion as well, for example, the American Episcopal Church.

While we are speaking of banks missing money and churches missing people, it is interesting to note that the Lambeth Conference organizers are missing some of both. With a track record of overstating membership, the CofE Lambeth organizers appear to also be overstating the attendance at the Lambeth Conference. Various onsite estimates question the 670 number given by officials, and suggestions of 550 up to 600 are being mentioned by some media sources.

Missing bishops isn't the only thing bothering the Lambeth Conference and Dr. Rowan Williams - there is the lack of money in pounds sterling. In planning a event as large as this, care has to be taken or the event can get away from you and put you in serious debt. Whoever was in charge of this department was apparently busy elsewhere, for Lambeth is between 1 million and 2 million pounds (approximately 2-4 million USD) short. Now, as soon as the Conference closes up shop and everyone departs, the vendors will want to be paid. It is a bit awkward to be short, not just a quid or two, but 2 million. If the bailiff shows up at Lambeth Palace, will the guard open the gate? If he does, will there be a garage sale to raise the funds? If so, there are several pieces in the large waiting rooms that caught my eye, and I might like to bid on them.

Who has that kind of money to bail Dr. Williams out? Who has that much money who would wish to bail Dr. Williams out? TEC? They are still a bit testy over Bishop Gene Robinson's exclusion, and who could forget his exclusion, given his daily pandering to those outside the fence of steel, wanting everyone to see him and know how pained he is at being rejected. Robinson is quoted as saying he is infuriated at being kept out. No, I don't think that TEC is likely to drop a million dollars or more, and if they did, and if Rowan accepted it, he would truly look like a bought man. He won't want to do that; that might be worse than the bailiff coming by. Though, and this is worth thinking about, if TEC did give Lambeth Conference two to four million dollars, it would be that much less money Katharine Jefferts Schori could use to sue devout Christian Anglicans in the United States. So...Katharine, go for it - give him the money, pretend Lambeth is a MDG, and let Dr. Williams worry about his credibility.

Speaking of Bishop Robinson, one has to admire and salute the Sudanese bishops and primate who made such a clear, concise, loving and bold call to Robinson, TEC and the Communion. Their call to Robinson to resign and for all of the TECies to go home and repent was earth-shaking. Bravo!

Dr. Williams has himself called the Lambeth Conference's legitimacy into question, but blamed those who are staying away. One of the three English bishops refusing to come to Lambeth, Peter Broadbent, has invited Williams to put that point to him in person. If Lambeth is itself called into question does that not by inference affect its convener as well? One of the principal rights that the Archbishop of Canterbury has is as a convener of the Church and Communion, and both GAFCON and the large absence of bishops at Lambeth have seriously called into question whether Dr. Williams is still THE convener any longer. He didn't convene GAFCON and it was a huge success, and Lambeth, which he did convene, has come up short of both bishops and money, and seems to be breaking down into contention. Dr. Williams, taking yet another shot at GAFCON, has said, "I think people will have to make the judgment as to whether those provinces who are not here have a coherent alternative to what the Communion as gathered here is saying and wanting to do." Actually, I think people will certainly be making a judgment as to whether the life, vitality and can-do attitude of GAFCON doesn't look a whole lot more inviting and exciting than muddling on with more committees and commissions which meet and talk and write reports.

Ending this week's update on a very positive note, the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) leaders issued a statement today welcoming the Jerusalem Declaration and the statement on the Global Anglican Future, pledging to move forward with the work of Anglican unity in North America.

Drawing from the GAFCON statement where it says that it is now time for the federation currently known as the Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates Council, the CCP gave notice that they will respond to this invitation. "The intention of the Executive Committee is to petition the Primates' Council for recognition of the CCP as the North American Province of GAFCON on the basis of the Common Cause Partnership Articles, Theological Statement, and Covenant Declaration, and to ask that the CCP Moderator be seated in the Primates' Council."

I can only wonder what this next week will bring. To God be the Glory.

Blessings and Peace in Jesus Christ,

The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

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