My Heart is Heavy: Some Reflections on My Journey in Anglicanism

Last night, I attended a special meeting at St. Aidan Anglican Church with Bishop Rob Hardwick of the Diocese of Qu’appelle. I was there to listen to his explanation of his vote at Synod, and to discern his vision for the diocese over these next several years.

Bishop Rob, in a move that surprised many lay people, voted in favour of the motion to change the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage. While he did say that to do so meant that he had removed “himself” from the vote (i.e., he voted against his conscience), to vote for the good of the church, he would not say explicitly that come 2020, our diocese would not authorize SSM. He did emphasize that at a diocesan level he has the right to veto, but he did not say whether he would veto any diocesan level endorsement of SSM.

On the one hand, I do see Bishop Rob making an effort to protect clergy who hold to a traditional understanding of marriage. His support of the “opt in” amendment included an emphasis on allowing a priest who chooses to refuse to perform a SSM to use the Bishop as the excuse: “My Bishop has not authorized me to do this, you may talk to him.”

On the other hand, the subtext of the conversation seemed to clearly point to the likelihood that come 2020 Bishop Rob will authorize someone in the diocese to perform SSM. There are several reasons why I see this. First, Bishop Rob is a moderate and is trying very hard to hold two sides together, in a “Third Way” type of dialogue. (I am not convinced that this will actually work, see the GAFCON statement). Second, when asked about the statement from the seven conservative bishops, Bishop Rob, instead of expressing support and solidarity for that statement upholding the traditional view of marriage, expressed his anger at their statement, likening them to flipside of the bishops who have vowed to go ahead with SSM without waiting for the next vote. Third, the dean of our cathedral in Regina (which is usually a very powerful/influential position in the diocese) is very much in favour of the motion, and if anyone were to be authorized it would probably be him.

Archdeacon Dell Bornowsky noted that part of the problem with the motion at Synod is that the commission behind “This Holy Estate” was tasked with presenting an affirmation/rationale for SSM, but no document was commissioned presenting a rationale against SSM. His hope is to write one. He also expressed interest in partnering with the Dean of the Regina Cathedral to create a dialogue between the two positions, possibly even having himself and Dean Mike Sinclair “flip” positions and argue for each other’s side.

 

If you had asked me three weeks ago, I would have said that ours is a mostly conservative/evangelical diocese, not just related to issues of sexual ethics, but related to scripture and tradition. Given my week at camp, I have to come to see that our diocese is not really as conservative as it seems, and that it only appears so because we are small, mostly rural, and rapidly aging. When the vote came down and then was reversed the next day, I was at our diocesan camp, cooking for the pre-teen camp. Several of our volunteers were ordained clergy. It became apparent quite quickly that the clergy on camp were in favour of the motion to authorize SSM, some excitedly so. As the conversation progressed into the evening, including the boasting about all the clergy in the diocese who are in favour of the motion, it became abundantly clear that the evangelical/traditional position on marriage was, at best, on its way to being irrelevant within a generation or two, or at worst, a supposed detriment to the gospel and example of the church being on the “wrong side of history.”

 

What is the future of the Anglican Church of Canada?

From what I see, the second vote to amend the marriage canon is inevitable. Schism is also inevitable. And schismatics are not necessarily the ones who leave. The Church is fractured. At the very least, the Anglican Church of Canada as a whole, with a general Synod, has become irrelevant, given that several bishops have chosen to thumb their nose at the process and do their own thing anyway. The Anglican Church in Canada cannot hold together nationally, and is headed to a loose federation of dioceses. This actually works, ecclesiologically, as the Bishop is usually the final authority. If we end up having these regional centres of Anglicanism, based on bishop’s authority, then this gives space for the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) to be a viable alternative for evangelical, traditional, conservative Anglicans. There can be loose affiliations/networks of dioceses working together based on theological commitments, social justice projects, proximity, and distinct community needs.

It will be impossible for a diocese to hold a third way and have priests and parishes teaching that both traditional and progressive understandings of marriage are equally valid. It will create theological whiplash, to have one church teach a traditional view of marriage, while another church teaches the opposite. It will create a pastoral care crisis, because a person who comes for care (or who ends up being under discipline) at either church could simply go to the opposite church to hear what they want to hear.

While I appreciate the calls for unity, the reality is that unity is meaningless without discipline. And in several parishes, and even at the national level, unity is being used as a bullying bludgeon, where unity means “you have no choice, you have to let us do what we are doing.” The call to unity is one sided and there is no attempt for the progressives to say, “maybe we shouldn’t do this, for the sake of unity.”

 

So what does all of this mean for the Hackney family?

We love St. Aidan. It has been a wonderful place for our family. Two of our kids were baptized in that congregation. It is because of St. Aidan that we do morning/evening prayer together as a family. The rhythms of liturgy have shaped us, as has the weekly participation in communion.

If this was just about St. Aidan, we would stay. Dean Pinter preached a fantastic message out of Colossians on Sunday morning about being rooted in the Word and faithful to the Gospel. But the reality is, St. A is not Pastor Dean’s church. As was noted at the introduction of Bishop Rob’s talk, St. A is the Bishop’s church. So can we sit under a bishop who will not affirm explicitly the traditional view of marriage as the view for this diocese?

For the past several years I have been trying to find a place to serve. As St. Aidan toyed with the idea of being an abbey (sending) parish, there was talk of me becoming a licensed lay reader (i.e., lay preacher) and the possibility of doing pulpit supply across the diocese. But when it came to be commissioned, Bishop Rob decided it was not the right time. I am not faulting him for this. He wants to commission a group of lay readers simultaneously, which means I have to wait 17-24 months for others to go through the training (which I basically have on account of my 2.5 theological degrees). But this has felt like an inexplicably closed door. At one point, while I was at Wycliffe, I was asked why I am not on the ordination track and my response, jokingly, was “I can’t even get licensed as a lay reader in my diocese!” It was then that I learned that me being licensed as a lay reader should not be as difficult as it has been, and thus I realized that God was keeping the door closed, for some reason.

At one point in the discussion with the Bishop last night, it was mentioned that there is a lot of theological work to do in the diocese concerning this issue, and that not much had been done, theologically, scripturally, etc. I raised my hand to point out that we need to be careful to say not much has been done, and to think that we have to start from scratch, when in fact there are incredible theological resources available. Here I referenced Wycliffe and its faculty who have offered to be a theological resource for dioceses across Canada, the series of essays at the Living Church that examined several faulty exegetical and theological assumptions in This Holy Estate, and even my own availability to serve as a resource.

Part of the decision to attend Wycliffe over McMaster’s Religious Studies program was because I am convinced that theology is done in and for the church. But two completed theological degrees, and now working on a terminal degree at an Anglican seminary does not appear to be sufficient to do anything more than carry a candle once every six weeks. My continued cries of “here I am, use me!” appear to be bouncing off a closed door.

If we didn’t have children, we would probably be able to stay, and be salt and light. But we have our kids to think about. As parents we cannot raise our children in the faith alone. We need the church to come alongside us to help us catechize our kids. But, given what I have seen this week, there are leaders/teachers in our parish who hold to a very different understanding of marriage and sexual ethics, sometimes aggressively so. As a parent, I need to be able to trust my children to the care and teaching of their Sunday school teachers, and I don’t know that I can at St. Aidan at this time.

Our family is in an interesting position. I have been confirmed in the Anglican church, but Chuck and the kids have not. I am studying at an Anglican seminary. I am in love with Anglican liturgy.

So what do we do? Do we stay? Do we go? Where do we go? (There is no ANiC church in Moose Jaw.) Can I be an Anglican in exile, until such time as we are living somewhere that has either an ANiC church, or are living in the diocese of one of the seven orthodox bishops? Or is it time to close the door on our Anglican journey and appreciate the season that it was? What does this mean for when I return to school in September?

It has been an extremely hard week. The Synod vote was not unexpected, but Bishop Rob’s vote was a shock. I needed to hear him say that he voted no. I needed to hear him say that he stands with the seven bishops, that he affirms traditional marriage, and that our diocese will not be authorizing a change to the canon at a diocesan level come 2020. The thought of leaving St. Aidan is gut-wrenching, and I have cried all week. This whole situation is not unlike grieving a death in the family. And at a spiritual level, my soul feels like it wants to throw up. But here’s what I know: Jesus is faithful. The Church is larger than our parish, diocese, or the Anglican Church of Canada. God is at work, and God works not just in blessing, affirmation, and comfort, but also in judgment, discipline, and punishment. Through the Holy Spirit, our Triune God tends the branches, pruning, propping up, fertilizing, and re-planting.

 

Pray for me. Pray for my family. Pray for my pastor. Pray for my bishop. Pray for my church. Pray for the Church.

 

Amanda

Ephesians 6:10

Canadian Christianity — C&MA Ordain First Female Pastor

On Sunday, cialis the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination in Canada ordained their first female pastor, unhealthy Eunice Smith. Last year, malady the denomination voted to change the bylaws regarding ordination to allow for women to be ordained. From the news release:

Eunice has served the C&MA for more than sixty years. She has served in the Canadian Midwest District, the Caribbean Sun Region and the Canadian Pacific District. Eunice was ordained in Richmond Alliance Church, in Richmond, B.C., the church that she currently serves and calls home.

Rev. Jon Coutts, lead pastor of Richmond Alliance Church, deemed Eunice’s ordination “a celebration of God’s faithfulness to and through her over the years, as well as a meaningful, formal affirmation of her gifts and calling for ministry in the church.”

Eunice’s son, Rev. Dr. Gordon Smith, President of Ambrose University College, declared that Eunice’s ordination affirms the seeds planted through her teaching and preaching of the Scriptures, anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Eshet Chayil! A woman of valour!

 

The “Unsuccessful” Church

By all modern measures, pills the little church would be considered a failure. It never grew past 50 in attendance. Its demographic was always heavy on the seniors, ambulance with only a handful of people under the age of 25. For twenty years the church gathered in a rented facility, a youth centre, and all of the church’s belongings, from the pulpit, to the collapsible communion table, to the hymnals and coffee supplies, fit snugly into a tiny closet. (People used to joke that the little church would be ahead of the game if Christians became a persecuted minority in Canada because it could be packed up in less than fifteen minutes) In the last decade, the church began to die, literally. Every year at least one member went to be with Jesus. With the majority of the members being retired and on fixed incomes, the church operated on a lean budget. As the congregation shrank, the pastor offered to drop down to part-time status to help on expenses. More than one person asked the pastor why he kept ministering there; it wasn’t like he was making a ton of money as a full-time pastor, and now as a part-time pastor he was making bread-crumbs. His response, every time, was so long as people kept showing up, he would continue to pastor. This was a pastor that took joy in ministering to seniors, and in the ever-increasing race for “families and young people” more and more churches were neglecting their elders. This pastor wouldn’t do that to them. Seniors needed pastoral care just as much as young families.

The church was eventually dissolved. 20 years of ministry and it died. It was merged with another tiny congregation.

“Unsuccessful.” Or was it?

It was the church that I was discipled in. While I was saved through a large Pentecostal youth ministry, it was this tiny, dying church that took me under its wing and helped me grow in the faith. The pastor’s wife picked me up from home every Sunday morning, and drove me to church. I learned about being a Christian, and a woman, and a servant during those car rides. I didn’t say much, but I just listened as the pastor’s wife ministered to me through the stories of her life experiences. I learned about serving by helping to set up the rows of chairs every morning, by placing a hymnal and bible on each chair, by helping to put everything away at the end of the service. I learned about suffering and struggle as I prayed with members who were suffering from cancer, dementia, or the loss of a spouse. I learned about joy as I shared in the celebrations of 50th wedding anniversaries, birth announcements of grandbabies and great-grandbabies. It was in this church that I was baptized. It was in this church that I got to cut my teeth on leading worship and preaching. It was by this pastor that I was married, and that my first child was dedicated to Jesus.

The church may be gone, and church growth experts would say that it was an “unsuccessful” church, but they would be wrong. It’s not about numbers.

It’s about proclaiming Christ crucified and resurrected.

It’s about faithfulness.

It’s about service.

It’s about obedience.

It’s about caring for one another and discipling each other.

It’s about changing lives.

And that’s what this church did. It changed the lives of seniors who would have otherwise been forgotten by larger churches. And it changed my life. I learned about the long road of the life of faith, a life that is marked not by successive mountaintop experiences, but by the slow and steady walk of decades of faithful discipleship.

 

To Thesis or Not to Thesis, That is the Question

In the M.A. program that I am taking, salve students have a choice: they can either do a thesis (9 credit hours) at the end of their program, view or they can do an independent reading project and take two extra elective classes. Now of course there are academic requirements that need to be met to qualify for the thesis track (certain GPA, permission of the program coordinator, etc), but assuming the student qualifies, why would they choose the thesis or non-thesis option?

Usually, the thesis track is chosen if the student wishes to continue on for doctoral or post-graduate studies. Usually, the thesis track is chosen if the student has been tailoring his courses and coursework to fit a specific theme that lays the groundwork for, and builds towards, doing a 100 page thesis on the topic.

There is of course a very pragmatic question that students may consider: which one is more work? True, the thesis is 100-120 pages and a year of study and writing, but sometimes that actually ends up being less work than 6,000 pages of reading for the reading project and two electives, especially if the electives are “new” topics for the student. Sometimes course work is actually more time intensive than a sustained thesis project.

An existential question also needs to be considered: Do I love the topic enough to spend a year writing about it? If nothing else, the thesis project is an exercise in perseverance in which the student has to just have the endurance to make it to the end. Sometimes topics are chosen that just won’t hold the interest of the student for that length of time.

I have one class left this semester, and the plan has always been to start my thesis after Christmas. I’m just now starting to question that plan. For the most part, I still know that the thesis is the track I’m headed toward.

I know I have already put a lot of hours into my subject, and have tried to tailor my papers for my other courses to overlap with my thesis topic.

I know that the sustained writing project of the thesis will be an excellent exercise that will help to improve my writing, both academic and creative. If I can’t write a 100 page thesis, what makes me think I can write and complete a novel?

I know that the thesis track will offer more flexibility in terms of spreading out my workload. Instead of gearing up for “intensive” week-long modular classes, I can pace my thesis to have roughly the same amount of work each week. This will be particularly helpful as I try to re-discover a healthy school-life balance.

I think the biggest thing I’m struggling with is the existential question. I worry that I’ll finish the thesis and never want to read Barth ever again. On the other hand, that might be a good thing, as it will push me to discover new theologians and new theological traditions.

I’m tired.

I’m in the home stretch, but it’s been a long journey.

I’m tired.

Part of me wants to just find the short-cut to the end.

I’m tired.

It’s a good tired.

It’s the satisfied tired of having worked hard and accomplished much.

And even though I’m tired, I am happy. I love theology. I love studying. And even though this year has been my year of chaos, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I have learned a whole bunch about what I’m actually capable of.

I’ve learned that the project management and time management skills I learned in the secular world have a place and a use in my spiritual and educational life.

I’ve learned that theological reflection and academic study is a valid and important way to praise and worship and glorify Jesus: the Word made Flesh.

Canadian Christianity — Bishop Michael Ingham

On Monday night, site Luther College at the University of Regina hosted its annual Luther Lecture. This year’s invited guest was Michael Ingham, recipe Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Bishop Ingham was introduced as one of the 25 most influential Anglicans in the world, and given the issues and events that have happened in the diocese of New Westminster in the last decade, this is not surprising. I have spent the last two years reading and trying to figure out the Anglican Communion, and I have read about Bishop Ingham, as well as reading some of his own writings. Attending the lecture gave me a chance to see the man himself, and I hope that it will help me to better evaluate his influence and his theology without relying on some of the opinions that are coloured by pain and anger. Saying that, Bishop Ingham presented himself as a quiet, smart, and well-composed. And while there are still theologies and actions that I still strongly disagree with, and believe that have caused damage to the Anglican Church in Canada and worldwide, Bishop Ingham is not the devil incarnate, or the “bogeyman.”

To introduce his lecture, he talked about the recent controversy about whether or not the liberal, mainline churches are dying, as discussed in mainstream media articles like Ross Douthat, Margaret Wente and Diana Butler-Bass.

This leads to a need to talk about what “success” looks like or mean in Christian discourse. Is a church successful if it’s growing? Is it successful if it doesn’t? What does success look like in light of the fact that we follow a Saviour who suffered and died?

Ingham’s lecture was on the impact of the shift from modernity to postmodernity on the Christian Church. For the most part, what he said was not really controversial, as he gave a basic overview of both modernity and postmodernity. His argument was that the labels “evangelical” “catholic” and “liberal” are fundamentally modern in orientation and are thus meaningless and obsolete in a post-modern context. These labels have become political labels that represent ideologies rather than theologies, and they belong to an older generation of Christians, and have no place in the new Christianity of the 21st century. Thus, younger Christians are trying to find a way to distinguish themselves. They are post-liberal, post-evangelical, post-conservative, etc.

Ingham then looked at the evolution that has occurred within the three traditions of Christianity: liberalism, evangelicalism, and Catholicism. So for example, out of liberal Christianity has arisen post-liberalism and radical orthodoxy. From evangelicalism has arisen the emerging church movement, and from Catholicism has arisen communities like Taize.

He argued that part of the problem today is that in spending so much time about the decline of the church, we are missing the fact that new and exciting things are happening. Indeed, he emphasized that the church is not dying; but it is changing. And while changed can feel like death because it is painful, Christianity is in the process of evolving.

It was interesting to observe his confidence that he is right in his decisions and actions in his role of Bishop. His lecture demonstrated that he believes that the issue of SSM has been settled in the Anglican church, that he has won, and that it is just a matter of time before the rest of the Anglican church capitulates to his position. This was evidenced in his emphasis that the new generation of Christians doesn’t want to fight about issues or doctrine. The way he set it up, it was clear that the older generation just needs to get on board with the younger generation; that the reason the young generation doesn’t want or need to fight is because it is right on the issues.

If I had had the chance, (or the courage), I would have asked the Bishop one of  two questions:

First, what will this age of redundant and obsolete labels mean for the selection and task of the new Archbishop of Canterbury?

Second, his very concluding observation was that we shouldn’t focus on the people who are leaving the church but rather on the people who are coming, made me want to ask him if he is working at all to reconcile with the conservative congregations that left his diocese for the Anglican Network.

This was my first Luther Lecture, and I think I would go again. In the 40 years of the Luther Lecture, Luther College has hosted a diverse company of scholars and thinkers, including Stanley Hauerwas, Hans Kung, Margaret Somerville, James Cone, and Rosemary Radford Ruether. Next year, the Luther Lecture will feature Martin Marty.

An Update To The Blog

To my blog readers:

As of today, cialis my blog Cheese-Wearing Theology is now self-hosted. What does this mean? The web address hasn’t changed, cialis sale but if you subscribed to my blog while it was hosted on WordPress.com you will have to resubscribe. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. I hope that you will re-subscribe and be a part of the cheese-wearing community. If you would like to subscribe via email, unhealthy please see the link on the right side of the homepage.

It’s been a busy week as I have worked to move everything over, so my blogging has been a bit irregular. That should change this week. There are lots of exciting things to come on the blog, so I hope that you will join me for that.

Again, I just want to thank all of my readers, and I hope that the community that is being built here continues to grow.

And a big shout-out goes to Nick, who helped me get the blog all set up on its new server.

-Amanda

Another Canadian Christian Blog

Check out April Yamasaki‘s blog. April is the lead pastor at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford B.C. Also, recipe check out Emmanuel Mennonite’s church blog here.

Here a few links to some of her blog posts:

Why I believe the Bible encourages Women in Ministry

In my congregation, we work hard at having a mix of men and women in ministry–in leadership and behind the scenes, on Council, as deacons, as Committee members, as visible leadership on Sunday morning. The participation of both men and women is not just tokenism. It’s not some kind of artificial quota system. Instead, it’s a recognition that it takes all of us to be the church, it takes all of us to build the church, and God has given each of us something we can use for the common good of our life together.

Ministry is not about fancy titles or about whose name comes first. It’s not about whether men are better than women, or women better than men. Instead we are to serve God and to serve one another.

There is mutuality in ministry, where the church is not only about women submitting to men or about men submitting to women. It’s not only about the church listening to its leaders, or about church leaders listening to their people. But church ministry is about all of that–where we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21) and we submit to God (James 4:7) as we work together as the body of Christ, who is the head of the church.


Lectio Divina and Looking for Jesus

I have to admit that the nay-sayers have a point. Lectio divina as it’s practiced today can be overly subjective–how do I know that it’s God and not last night’s black bean garlic chicken that is speaking to me? How do I distinguish between the voice of God and my own imagination? That’s one reason to practice lectio divina in community–as it has been practiced in the monastic tradition–and to practice it also along with other disciplines of Scripture study that take seriously the historical, social, literary, and other aspects of the text as well as our own context today. As a check on my own wayward heart, the subjectivity of lectio divina is wisely also subject to community discernment and other study.

The ever-growing list of Canadian Christian Blogs can be found here.

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

Charles Lewis at the National Post interviews Michael Coren, salve who says that Christianity is most abused faith on earth. He’s good at pushing buttons, diagnosis and he pushed mine a little when he said, cialis “First of all, forget mainstream Protestants (Anglican, United Church, etc.). They’re barely Christian anymore, and they’ll accept anything.” Another notable quotable from the interview:

Christians are marginalized, they’re mocked, they’re told their views don’t belong, they’re told to keep their views out of the public square and keep their religion at home. And where it can be quite sinister is at universities where Christian students they’re told that their ideas are stupid. I’ve even seen it with my children who are in university. Somehow Christianity is not a valid area of thought any longer. You can bring your socialism, your feminism, your homosexuality, your anti-Zionism into the class but if you bring your Christianity that’s not to be taken seriously.

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Check out the group session at Calgary Con when the entire cast of Star Trek:TNG sits down for a time for Q and A. There’s also a special guest and a special questioner who make appearances:

Part one, two, three, four, five.

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Nick Phillips writes, What the Church can learn from Canadian politics:

…There are a lot of young people inside (and sadly outside) of the church with a lot of great ideas for helping people get to know Jesus Christ yet their voices are not being heard because the current leadership seems to be unable to shift their thinking enough to hear some of these ideas.
It’s not hard to do really, so I’m not trying to place any blame here. But when you’ve been doing the same thing for a generation it’s often hard to hear something that may be quite different.
The problem is, these are the people we are trying to reach. We are into our third generation of seriously decreased church cultured people. The few we have in the church need to be nurtured into being the new leaders so the church can be a priority once again in our communities.

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Brian LePort asks Is it Ethical to Watch Football?, and takes a swipe at MMA in the process:

I find myself a bit confused by those who watch and enjoy Mixed Martial Arts. It is blood sport and savagery. I’ve told myself that the NFL is better. MMA aims to harm people. Boxing aims to harm people. The NFL aims to keep a ball from crossing the line, right? Well, maybe not the Saints.

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And best picture of the day comes courtesy of Joel Watts:

Another Adventure in Anglicanism

In my free time (?!) I have been trying to read more about the Anglican Church. I have regularly blogged about my adventures in Anglicanism, capsule and how much I am enjoying the liturgy, online and most importantly, the practice of taking communion every week. But, as much as I like St. Aidan, I look past the local congregation to the Anglican Church of Canada and the global communion and it seems that what is happening at the national/international level is so disconnected from what I see at the local level of the little parish in Moose Jaw.

So, I’ve been reading three books. First, is Anglican Essentials: Reclaiming Faith Within the Anglican Church of Canada. Though this book is now 17 years old, the issues that it wrestles with are still the same issues that the Church is wrestling with today. Topics include, What does it mean to be Anglican in a pluralistic country? Who is Jesus? What authority does the Bible have in the Anglican church? What does Anglican worship look like? What does the Anglican Church say about sexual ethics? How does the Anglican Church do evangelism and mission? These essays are from a conference that was held in 1994 to address the future of the Anglican Church of Canada. George Eggerton writes this in opening chapter:

‘The theologies and praxis of liberalism and progressives have not brought renewed mission or cultural relevance to Canadian mainline churches. As institutions they at best remain in survival/maintenance mode and at worst face Bibby’s predicted demise. Bibby’s studies demonstrate the low levels of Christian faith, knowledge, practice, and participation in Canada…Further accommodations of cultural liberalism will result in deepening theological division, polarization, and probable schism. As with our sister denomination, the United Church, many will leave, or separate to form dissident congregations. The result, God forbid, would leave the Anglican Church of Canada mortally wounded and ill-equipped to face a new century.’ (23)

Second, is The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Crisis. This book has been extremely helpful in laying the groundwork for understanding the Anglican Covenant that has been proposed (and it looks like defeated?). Ephraim Radner and Philip Turner look at the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster and the Episcopal Church in the US and how their decisions impacted the larger Anglican Communion. It also explains The Windsor Report a foundational document for the Anglican Covenant. Radner and Turner, most importantly weigh the relationship between the global communion and the ‘local option’ and the question of authority and discipline work in the Anglican Church. Ultimately, the question is, what is the definition of communion? Is it a broader body to whom each diocese is responsible to and has to listen to (and accept correction from), or is it merely a body of federated churches who can each do their own thing without regard for others in the larger communion? From the book:

‘Within a given diocese, almost any change in belief and practice can occur without penalty. Three justifications are given for such laissez-faire practice. One I have mentioned; namely, the claim of the prophet’s mantle by the innovators. Claim a new thing—one that need have no perceivable link to the past practice of the church…Backed by claims of prophetic and Spirit-filled insight, each diocese can justify its action as a ‘local option.’ Local option within ECUSA is a term that refers to the right of a diocese or parish to go its own way (in contradistinction to common practice and belief) if there seem strong enough internal reasons to do so.’ (247)

Third, is Anglican Communion in Crisis. This book takes an anthropological approach to analyze the interesting relationship between conservative (or ‘dissident’) Anglicans in North America and the leadership in the African churches. In particular, how submitting to the authority of the bishops in Africa is reshaping the Anglican tradition in North America. The relationship between these two bodies demonstrates that the issues that face one component of the Communion (i.e., The ECUSA and ACOC) is not merely an internal issue, but has global consequences. The author writes:

‘This North/South movement opposing Episcopal Church policies is both conservative and globalist, challenging the assumptions of many scholars of global movements that globalism and progressivism are intrinsically linked…Furthermore, the globalization produced by this orthodox Anglican movement is not limited in its impact to leaders and activists, nor is it merely a process of Westernization, an exporting of American conflicts to Southern locales. This movement’s globalizing work has shaped the thoughts and lives of Anglican clergy and laity around the world, from the middle-class white Americans of St. Timothy’s who now regularly discuss news from Africa, to the Ugandan laity who now see their church as challenging Northern global dominance, and whose new cows, coffee fields, or church buildings may result from the generosity of Northern conservative partners.’ (pg 242-243)

I still don’t know what to make of it all, but I will continue reading…in my free time (?!). Anybody have any suggestions of other books that would be helpful to understand all of this?