In the weeks since I started this blog, the pace of schism has accelerated measurably. We now have the Diocese of San Joaquin attempting to secede to the Southern Cone, joining Fort Worth's attempt. At least one Canadian bishop has followed suit, leading the Council of General Synod of Canada to fire a warning shot across the bow of the Good Ship Venables. Meanwhile, have we got litigation.
Clearly, the Anglican Communion is tearing, and "bonds of affection" have sundered. I firmly believe that the so-called "Reasserters" sought this chaos in an effort to create a more centralized curial body without the latitudinarianism and scope for amicable difference that has, until now, marked our Anglican Communion. They want, in my opinion, a more structured, doctrinally uniform world-wide church, and not a loose confederation. Hence the concommitant effort to force a Covenant that would for the first time empower the relatively new Primates Meeting to adjudicate disputes as to orthodoxy, and "in the most extreme circumstances, where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of the Instruments of Communion, we will consider that such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose, and a process of restoration and renewal will be required to re-establish their covenant relationship with other member churches." (Draft Covenant at 6.6).
In other words, discipline of formerly autonomous churches based on the will of the Primates as to what is orthodox and "core." We have seen what many Primates are prepared to do: seize property and power, and insist on their right to prescribe for the world.
Under this scheme, the Anglican Communion will cease to be, and will give way to a single, monolithic Church, which will impose uniformity at the whim of the Primates. The marriage, clearly, is dead. Our "worthy opponents" (to use their phrase) are not Anglicans, and are not interested in traditional Anglicanism. We should let them go, in peace. We should forgive their insults, and pray for them.
As to personnel and property, I think we should take a nuanced position:
1. Any clergy who does not apply to be released or transfer from the Episcopal Church should be deposed. Any clergy who applies, in proper form, for release or transfer should be granted it.
2. Any parish that seeks to leave as a unit should be denied such permission--people may leave, the parish remains. However, where there is such a supermajority of departing members and clergy, that the parish structure is temporarily not viable, the departing members and clergy should be encouraged to negotiate a lend-lease arrangement with the diocese such that services may continue during negotiations for both departing members and remaining members while negotiations go on over transition or sale of the property. (In other words, if the option is the historic church becomes a night club, sell it to the schismatics--better them than the Limelight; use the proceds to build smaller churches for our continuing members).
3. Restrict litigation to those parishes where the remaining Episcopal membership is viable, or no such negotiations can be pursued due to the "reasserters" refusal to bargain in good faith. Offer mediation before suing.
4. Depose any bishops who purport to take a diocese out of TEC. Period. If they seek release or transfer, be gracious. Treat parishes within their bishoprics on a case-by-case basis--loyal parishoners must be protected, and supported. It is not sufficient to tell them to saddle their own horses. (Pace, Bonnie Anderson). TEC must make sure that every loyal congregant is reached out to and provided with a place of worship.
5. If these steps (especially 4) require us to reduce our cooperative efforts internationally, that is regrettable, but we should do so. But we maintain our anti-poverty programs as a top priority; if we cut funding, cut Lambeth and other ecclesiastical subsidiaries first. We cut any support to church structure in provinces invading us. We send missionaries to such locations to sustain our brothers and sisters in such nations.
6. No more "fasting" from Anglican bodies' meetings. We show up, mindful of C.P. Snow's dictum, "Never be too proud to be present." We advocate for our members, and our brothers and sisters worldwide. If they expel us, so be it. We ally with Canada, Wales, anyone else who does not walk from us. But we do not sit passive while other provinces presume to sit in judgment of us.
7. Finally, we remain open--always!--to reconciliation.