Anglican Reconciliation, Really!



News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org 

A headline in the Canadian Anglican Journal screamed with joy, Bishops dialogue in “great hope”.

African and North American bishops left a recent Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue “with great hope,” they said in a collective statement issued at the conclusion of their meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. The dialogue was one in a series of meetings, established to help heal divisions within the Anglican Communion.

This fourth meeting focused on reconciliation and included presentations on Truth and Reconciliation commissions in South Africa, Canada and Burundi. The 18 bishops — from Kenya, South Africa, Burundi, Zambia, South Sudan, Malawi, Ghana, the US and Canada — also heard about reconciliation efforts in The Episcopal Church, which has been divided over issues of sexuality, as well as efforts being made elsewhere in Africa and North America. 

We were told that difference of opinion, particularly on issues of sexuality, had not disappeared. Disagreements do exist, “but the good thing is that they [bishops] have become friends now.”

“How do we move this beyond simply the bishops into the real lived experience of the whole church?” cried Bishop James Tengatenga of the Diocese of Southern Malawi.

For Bishop Jane Alexander of the Diocese of Edmonton, all of the bishops’ conversations were influenced by “hearing from one of the commissioners of the TRC about what it means — not just to speak something, but to hear people’s stories and the pain of the stories and see your role to listen and to keep moving toward reconciliation and healing in a community.”

The bishops written statement, entitled: “A Testimony of Hope,” noted that they were blessed and encouraged by the presence of Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, Porter observed that Anglicans sometimes have ‘bad’ fights, but need to learn how to have ‘good’ ones, because here will always be points of conflict in our relationships. This gather has had all the hallmarks of what good conversation should look like.”

This is the same David Porter who failed to keep the orthodox archbishops in Canterbury long enough to dialogue with the new ABC Justin Welby about sexuality issues. They fled when they saw him coming.

By all accounts, this current gabfest was nearly all spin, the expenditure of which ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is unforgiveable with the effort ultimately proving to be in vain.

Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, let us examine who exactly was there and what they represented and who was not:

The Rt. Rev. Jane Alexander, Diocese of Edmonton, Canada, a liberal. 

The thin-skinned Bishop Michael Bird of the Diocese of Niagara, Canada, who is suing an evangelical Anglican Canadian blogger over the bishop’s stupidities and ecumenical antics, and who has lost most of his cardinal parishes to the Anglican Network in Canada. Somehow, the message of reconciliation didn’t quite touch him. 

The Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham, outgoing bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, who singled handedly started the great schism in the Anglican Communion by authorizing a “Rite of Blessing” to take place at a parish in East Vancouver in 2002. This “in your face” act was in total defiance of both the 1998 Lambeth resolution on human sexuality and the Primates Pastoral Letter out of Gramado, Brazil, which said no to such actions. He was there promoting the fiction of reconciliation. 

The Rt. Rev. John Chapman, Diocese of Ottawa, who said he would perform same-sex blessings, becoming the first Canadian Anglican diocese to make such a move since the Anglican Communion banned the practice. 

Then there is The Most Rev. Colin Johnson Diocese of Toronto & Metropolitan of Ontario, another rank liberal who is watching as his diocese closes one parish after another. 

Then there is The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald National Indigenous Anglican Bishop of Canada, a former Episcopal bishop whose liberal credentials are well known. 

Ditto for the Rt. Rev. Michael Oulton Diocese of Ontario.

Representing the US is The Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neill, Diocese of Colorado, who spent $3,000,000 creating a false narrative accusing the Rev. Don Armstrong, the rector of the largest parish in the diocese and Executive Director of the Anglican Communion Institute, of stealing millions of dollars from the parish coffers. All this to silence the very articulate Anglican Communion Institute, which had gathered together a strong group of bishops to stand in opposition to the secular drift of The Episcopal Church. In the end, Armstrong plead to a fictitious misdemeanor, with not a penny determined to be owed his former parish, just to put a stop to the whole affair, which served only to bankrupt the diocese and undermine the larger witness of the church. Contacted by VOL, Armstrong said O’Neill has made no attempt at either truth or reconciliation towards him or his congregation, although many of the diocesan clergy have apologized to him personally for their collusion with O’Neill under threat of their own deposition.

Also present was Mrs. Jefferts Schori’s Chief Operating Officer for the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, who was undoubtedly weighing up just how much these gabfests cost and what the price of “reconciliation” really is these days and if TEC can afford it going into the future. Air fares to Africa are among the highest in the world.

From South Africa came The Rt. Rev. Garth Counsell of the Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa. This whole province has been in the back pocket of The Episcopal Church having been fed millions of dollars over the years to keep it as the one African province that has proven liberal credentials on sex. Most recently, the much respected former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu misfired when he stated that he would not worship a God who is homophobic, adding that “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven I mean, I would much rather go to the other place [hell].” Who knows, he might get his wish. Anglican Bishops from Africa, Asia and South America condemned his statement in no uncertain terms.

Present were three Kenyan bishops, one from Burundi, Zambia, South Sudan, Ghana and Malawi. So why were they there? A US bishop familiar with Africa wrote VOL saying, “It’s hard for people who are well fed to understand how great a temptation it is to go and live comfortably and have three big meals a day at a conference when they haven’t received any pay for five or six months. Others think they can ‘make a difference.’ He said his resources were down about 80% from what they were before ACNA started and TEC is still pouring money toward economically vulnerable bishops.”

RECONCILIATION

The consultation said they engaged in theological reflection on reconciliation, and heard presentations about the reconciliation process in Burundi, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada, reconciliation in The Episcopal Church, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. We heard examples of people throughout Africa and North America intentionally seeking to meet with those from whom they differed.

Reconciliation in the Episcopal Church… Did I miss something? Has there been reconciliation with Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, Bishop Jack Iker of Ft. Worth, Bishop Eric Menees of San Joaquin and Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh that I missed? Have there been a hugs n kisses, “we’re sorry we hurt you and spent $30 million on property lawsuits” that went right by me while I slept? I don’t think so. Future historians will have a field day with this nonsense.

ABSENTEES

Noticeably absent was any representation from Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican Communion with over 20 million practicing Anglicans, as well as representatives from Uganda, Rwanda, Central Africa, Congo and many others.

Why? Because they don’t believe that reconciliation can [ever] be achieved between those who believe and practice sodomy, allow same sex marriages and rites for same and they will have no truck with those Anglican provinces that do. You will recall that a third of all Anglican bishops boycotted the last Lambeth Conference and the same archbishops were a no show in Dublin, Ireland.

All the language of “dialogue, “conversation”, feeling “humbled” (…ever so humble Mr. Micawber)…was present. When, however, you actually fail to achieve consensus, a little hand wringing is in order.

As one bishop observed, “The dialogues that we had helped us to understand each other’s contexts.” Perhaps, but the biblical context remains unchanged regardless of what country or culture you come from. The Law of God is not subject to the whims of post-modern Canadian Anglicans who think they can change God’s mind for him.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald also made a presentation on the terrible experience of aboriginal peoples, even though he had nothing to do with what went on 100 years ago. He’s a token patsy for Past and present white guilt.

Mary Burton, former Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commissioner in South Africa gave advice to “be mindful of the degree of hurt that so many people have, and to make provision for those hurts to be heard”. Dear Ms. Burton please pay a visit to the bishops of the dioceses of Ft. Worth, South Carolina, San Joaquin, Quincy (what’s left of it) and Pittsburgh. They will tell you in grim detail how hurt they feel. Perhaps Bishop Duncan can tell you how gutted he felt being tossed out of the Episcopal Church, then facing a faux HOB trial, and then finally being inhibited and deposed by Katharine Jefferts Schori. He still has scars to prove it. If you can work your magic of reconciliation, unlimited numbers of honorary doctorates await you starting with the Sewanee, the University of the South.

GAFCON II

It is ironic that on the same African continent, three months from now, some 1300 orthodox Anglicans from EVERY Anglican province will be present at the most dynamic “Great Commission” driven event in the 21st century.

They will be there to proclaim by thought, word and deed that Jesus is Lord, that there is one undivided church driven by gospel proclamation and Holy Spirit power. They will press the case that every nation on earth must hear the unchangeable Gospel of Jesus Christ. This will be a far cry from what took place in Cape Town South Africa.

If the Anglican Communion has a future at all, it will be because of what takes place in Nairobi, not what passed for “reconciliation” in Cape Town. These Anglicans will be of all colors, races, climes and culture. They will not be arguing over reconciliation or sex; they will note they are already reconciled by God through the blood of the Lamb, and what they are called to do is to spread the gospel making disciples of every nation on earth.

The contrast could not be more obvious.

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