Oh, Crap.

From the BBC:

North American Anglicans to split

Traditionalist Anglicans are to formally announce that they are setting up a new church in the US and Canada.

The move will make the long-discussed split in the Anglican Church in North America a reality.

It means in each country there will be two competing churches, both claiming allegiance to the Anglican Communion.

The American Church’s liberal stance on homosexuality has led some traditionalists, including some whole dioceses, to leave the Church.

They have instead formed a range of new alliances, often with Churches in Africa.

On Wednesday those disparate groups are uniting to form a new North American Church.

During a celebration service in Illinois, its leaders will unveil a draft constitution for the new Church.

‘Clear procedures’
But doubts remain as to whether or how it will be recognised by the wider Anglican Communion.

The Communion’s Secretary General, Canon Kenneth Kearon, has told the BBC that it is entering what he called uncharted waters, and he is calling on the leaders of the new Church to act in accordance with the Communion’s existing regulations. “The issue as I see it is whether in fact this body, or province as they’re calling it, wishes to be recognised as a province of the Anglican Communion,” he said.

“And I think if they do, there are clear procedures by which that might be explored. And I do urge those involved to address the structures of the Communion.”

But those supporting the new North American Church believe that Anglicanism’s structures have been unable to safeguard the Church’s unity, and they now look to leadership from a group of largely African leaders.

Neither the liberalising American Churches nor this much smaller new Church want to leave the Anglican Communion.

But how they can exist together in the same global communion is looking increasingly problematic.


12 thoughts on “Oh, Crap.

  1. This seems like to me the opposite of reconciliation. So in the future will they kiss and make up but not rejoin? Well if they reconcile over “the issue” that broke them in the first place, why shouldn’t they get back together as an ecclesial body?

    Also, you can imagine that this sets a precedent, a precedent that frightens the catholics I have talked to here. This becomes the solution for resolving this? This doesn’t leave much hope for the other denominations who very much are working on this, just under the radar. If the Anglicans can’t keep it together, I’m not sure who can.

  2. beeveedee says:

    A tragedy, no question, but I wonder about some of the new coverage of some of this, which makes it sound like Gene Robinson and issues of human sexuality were the primary factors here. They are factors, no doubt, but I can’t help noticing that the movement from “conservative Anglicans,” and especially from the African churches, really picked up steam upon the election of a woman to be the presiding bishop.

    Not that there is, to coin a term, a vast right-wing conspiracy to his sexism with homophobia, but it’s an angle I’m not reading about.

  3. Well, all I can say is that I feel reconciled with Catholics and Orthodox brothers over theological differences (they may not agree =P), yet we do not share a polity structure, nor do I think we should. The cat is out of the bag on denominationalism, as it were.

    But I agree it is a terrible solution. Still, barring either side having a change of opinion, I am not sure what else can be done. It could be that separate structures facilitate reconciliation by eliminating political conflict.

  4. Hey David,

    Do you know any more details about this save for the BBC report? From my “intel,” the conservatives have been slowly getting pushed away, but this article suggests that this was a move totally on their own initiative without any mention of all the crap that came before. Just curious…I try to keep my nose in these sort of things.

    I still haven’t seen a response from Canterbury…it really feels like, as a friend of mine told me yesterday, there is no theological leadership here at all, don’t you think? What is really striking — and I have said this before — is how Donatist a move this is…but no one else seems to recognize this or to be saying this at all…but isn’t it obvious?


    dave b

  5. The BBC has done a bit more reporting than merely what I linked to this time ( ), however, you are right Dave, that the “media” has a difficult time talking about this period. Although, I would chalk that up to the media being thoroughly inept at understanding theological language. I’ve been meaning to put a post up on that for … ever really. Maybe I’ll get to that this up coming break.

    As for Canterbury, two things. 1. Williams seems to look and work for consensus over time, rather than immediately deciding this. I like that tactic, even if others will simply just leave the table. To function in other ways would coerce one side or another and create even more problems without really solving anything. Letting this work its way out is important. To do this requires quiet, behind the scenes work, and people getting to know one another, rather than up front presenting papers to simply theologically engage.

    2. The reason why other people didn’t leave in droves during the last Lambeth conference is because of conservatives and liberals did their own work towards keeping the communion together and showing that this isn’t all about one issue. Both Bishop Wright and Desmond Tutu (I’m not sure how to name him since hes a retired Arch Bishop) if I remember right, made calls for people to not leave to GAFCON. Williams can’t simply hold the communion together because thats is never how it has rightly worked. This isn’t Roman Catholicism. The Archbishop simply doesn’t have the command that the pope has. To work within a loose confederation of churches demands a certain tact. It requires each side to keep itself at the table.

    I know only some about the Donatist controversy, but what I do know doesn’t seem to parallel this Anglican controversy much. Simply on the basis that Williams doesn’t strike me as anywhere close (in terms of being inept) to Ossius of Cordoba. Whatever happens, perhaps part to the blame may be laid at Williams feet, but at the very least, this is a socio-cultural conflict as well. Donatism didn’t quite seem to have it like this. This is raging outside of the church. The dice are already loaded. The church doesn’t see its identity first from the church. And so, the hardest part I perceive is to keep people at the table together, but no one but themselves can control that. Then again, thats apparently not a problem, because we can just up and go start a new church. :P

  6. Thanks for the response David. And I’ll check out the other link.

    I should clarify that I meant there was a lack of theological leadership in North America — I wasn’t at all pinning Williams with anything. The ellipsis in my sentence was certainly confusing, I’ll admit, so sorry about that (I meant to separate out “I haven’t heard any response from Canterbury” from “there seems to be no theological leadership”…sorry). In fact, I find Williams to be one of the most brilliant theological leaders of our generation.

    On Donatism, I won’t get into it much here, but I think this is very much in fact what the Donatist controversy was about. And many have shown that historically the Donatist controversy was indeed socio-cultural, and not simply an ecclesial dispute (some, like Greg Baum, have even accused Augustine of being “racist” — though I am not as convinced by this…Peter Brown also has a really good account). My point is simply that a cross-section of the church has decided to leave communion (open schism) with another cross-section on grounds that the communion has been tainted by moral illicitness! That’s pretty much identical with Donatism, in fact! And really, what is at stake in a lack of theological leadership for me is the failure of theological and pastoral leaders to recognize this and call it out for what it is. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that the liberals are right or something — I would in fact say that both sides have approached the matter pretty stupidly, or short-sightedly perhaps. Nevertheless, open schism is not only the sundering of the bond of charity — which is no less than sin against the Holy Spirit — but the contravention of the faith (as Augustine argued clearly against Petilianus).

    Sorry…not trying to hijack your thread — I just wanted to see if others who were paying attention to this controversy were coming to similar conclusions. Peace.

    dave b

  7. If I remember right, Hosius was supposed to have presided over an attempt to close the Donatist controversy. He did a pretty terrible job in theory, hence Constantine wanting to call Nicaea I soon enough after. But its been awhile since patristics class, so I could be wrong.

    Although, as you say it now, that part of the donatist controversy does parallel quite nicely. However, I was making the strong distinction between Roman force/pressure and today’s cultural notions of sexuality, so I didn’t see it. Interesting though.

  8. Pingback: Propositions on Christian Unity (0) at Fewer Broken Pieces

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