Setting the record straight

As you may know, if you are a person who follows such things, the Church of England’s General Synod meets next week in London. Among other things, they will debate a motion which would encourage the Church of England to recognize and to seek full communion with ACNA. The motion is sponsored by Synod member Lorna Ashworth, who has written a paper accusing the Episcopal Church of persecuting innocent victims of its liberal agenda. On any number of levels, Ashworth’s motion and her paper are problematic.

Now Thinking Anglicans has published a paper which refutes many of the errant claims made by Ashworth. Though it’s written to brief Synod members, I hope you’ll read this short paper. Simon Sarmiento did most of the writing, but several people are credited with assisting in background research, including me. There’s also a paper about Canada.

I am grateful to Simon for taking this on. His paper helps set the record straight. These days lots of people like to play the victim card. It’s especially popular now among secessionists, because the “I am an innocent victim” plays better than “We don’t like how things are going, so we’re going to take our toys and leave”. Now that court cases are mostly going against them, the ACNA folks are seeking some kind of official recognition from the Church of England. General Synod is being asked to endorse the secessionist agenda. This is both a temporal matter and a spiritual matter. Yes, Synod is at least in part being used as a pawn to bolster the ACNA legal strategy. While this may not be the prime motivation for everyone who is behind the effort to seek recognition, this outcome cannot be far from the minds of some supporters of this motion. There’s a lot at stake here for AAC, ACNA, CANA, and the rest. That’s why Bishop David Anderson is headed over to England next week to press the case.

Over the next few days, I’ll be writing more about ACNA and its tactics. People need to know the full story. Sure, the Episcopal Church has treated some folks badly. The Episcopal Church and its leaders have made some bad decisions. The church is led by humans, and we live in a fallen world. Mistakes (or, to put it more clearly, sinful mistakes) are inevitable. But there is much fiction in the narrative offered by ACNA and the rest of the alphabet soup.

Make no mistake about any of this. The conservatives are trying another tactic to expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion and to enforce their puritan agenda for everyone else. It was not possible for them to manipulate the Lambeth Conference, so many of the conservatives skipped it. They have not been able to manipulate the Anglican Consultative Council, so they have tried to grant radical new powers to the Primates’ Meeting. Even the Primates’ Meeting and the Standing Committee have not done everything they’d like, so they are starting to abandon the rest of the Communion’s structures too.

This motion in Synod is a new tactic to undermine the Anglican Communion, by attempting to gain entrance through the back door. Members of Synod should make this decision with their eyes open, fully aware of what’s at stake for ANCA, for the Church of England, for the Episcopal Church, and for the Anglican Communion. Not to mention the whole Body of Christ.

Stay tuned to this blog and others. Pray for General Synod, as they have many important decisions with which to grapple.

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