Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Not-So Anglican Covenant

Here is a wonderful reprint from The Lead at Episcopal Cafe. A friend passed it on to me. You can read the whole article here:

For all you non-Episcopalians out there, the Anglican Covenant is supposed to be an agreement that the various world provinces of the Anglican Communion sign on to as a way of governing our common life. Some of us thought a common confession and worship were supposed to be our cohesion, but some others want the ability to punish, those who step out of bounds (which, in their minds, means the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. The reason: our attitudes towards gay people, blessings, and ordinations). Others see it as a way to punish provinces that cross bounds, such as the Nigerian churches accepting American churches as part of their dioceses. Many of us find the whole process repugnant and unAnglican. And now, apparently, the mother church cannot sign on anyway. Read on:

Church of England can't sign Anglican Covenant
Peter Owen of Thinking Anglicans calls our attention to what may be the most overlooked aspect of the current controversy in the Anlgican Communion, namely that Rowan Williams believes that the solution to our problems lies in the development of an Anglican covenant which the Church of England CANNOT LEGALLY SIGN. (excuse the capital letters, but really...)

Note this response from the Secretary General of the Church of England to a written question from a Synod member:

Mr Justin Brett (Oxford) to ask the Secretary General:

Q2. What research has been undertaken to establish the effect of the Church of England’s participation in an Anglican Communion Covenant upon the relationship between the Church of England and the Crown, given the Queen’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and the consequent tension between her prerogative and the potential demands of a disciplinary process within the proposed Covenant?

Mr William Fittall to reply as Secretary General:

A. The Church of England response of 19 December 2007 to the initial draft Covenant noted on page 13 that ‘it would be unlawful for the General Synod to delegate its decision making powers to the primates, and that this therefore means that it could not sign up to a Covenant which purported to give the primates of the Communion the ability to give ‘direction’ about the course of action that the Church of England should take.’ The same would be true in relation to delegation to any other body of the Anglican Communion. Since as a matter of law the Church of England could not submit itself to any such external power of direction, any separate possible difficulties in relation to the Royal Prerogative could not in practice arise.

A pattern is beginning to emerge here. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada must cease blessing same-sex relationships, but the Church of England does not have to because it does so quietly. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada must relinquish their autonomy and sign on to a covenant that will almost certainly be used to marginalize them, but the Church of England doesn't have to because it is an established church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury continues to demand from the North American churches what he does not ask from his own people. And the peculiar thing is that nobody seems to find this objectionable.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Result

And guess what? They did not print my advice to the new president. Go figure.

More comments coming soon. It's been a busy week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Letter to the President Elect

I received this request in my email yesterday from a features reporter:

"I’m working on a story that will run Nov. 8 on how local faith leaders would minister to the next president, whoever he may be, should he choose your parish to worship for a Sunday or weekly before Inaugural Day. It could be a letter to the president or just a thought or advice on healing divisions. If you are interested, I’m looking for a written paragraph or two at the most, and will run them as written.

"I’m trying to collect these before the votes are tallied because I truly want this to be a story more about what the president inherits and how he/she might best with it."

As I wrote my response, I realized there were several ways to respond here. I could have outlined a strategy for regular meetings and helping him to think through the implications of his new position in spiritual terms. Unfortunately for him, I have been reading Jesus for President with my congregation (If you have not read it, you need to.), so I am not very inclined to think in terms of fixing the political system as much as I am thinking about how we are called to live within a different landscape, the Kingdom of God. Hence, I gave the following response, which was simply my challenge to try to live as much as a Christian as is humanly possible in that job. Hey, if you get just one chance to speak to the President, say what is on your mind!

"Mr. President: Congratulations. Please remember that Jesus, the author of the faith you confess, never held public office and rejected the temptation to rule. In order to do your job well, you will have to worry less about maintaining power or getting reelected and more about caring for the people of this nation and the rest of the world. Show all of us that that the true America recognizes that people are more important than empires, food is more important than bombs, and housing and medical care are more important than our reputation.

"Remember that Jesus rejected violence, even to save his own life; reject torture, reject revenge, and reject nation building, all of which seek to serve our own selfish ends. Remember that God gave the world to us with the instruction that we be its stewards; be a leader for a new way of relating to the land we have so severely abused. Remember that Jesus spent most of his time with the poor, the outcasts, the despised, the criminals. the workers, the foreigners in the land, and even the people of other faiths; befriend and welcome those who are considered the ‘others’ in our world. Finally, no Christian acts in isolation; find a way to maintain your life in a faith community."

So what would you have written?