Saturday, September 22, 2007

Where Brainstorming Might Take You

What an interesting thought! Today Kendall Harmon has suggested that Bishops of the Episcopal Church might voluntarily choose not to participate in the next Lambeth Conference. Father Jake has suggested that this might be worth considering.

I think so, too. That's why I suggested it back when March I started brainstorming for the bishops. In that post, I suggested withdrawing with these reasons:

Third, the House of Bishops might decide as a body that American bishops will voluntarily withdraw from the next Lambeth Conference, just as we voluntarily withdrew from the last meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. This should be balanced with a decision not to withdraw from the next or future meetings of the ACC or from meetings of the Primates. I think this would have value for a number of reasons.

  • It would define our withdrawal in terms of our interest in mission and peace, and not in someone else’s terms of “discipline.” It would include our understanding that this was not rejection of the Communion, that we were choosing to “fast for a season,” and not to “walk apart.”
  • It would get the Archbishop of Canterbury off the hook well ahead of a crisis, without requiring him to refuse to invite any or all of our bishops. While it is unclear just how much Archbishop Williams agrees with actions of General Convention, allowing others to continue to pressure him does not serve us. While he might or might not be grateful (at least publically), that’s not the point. It shows respect for his office and our own emotional security by refusing to participate in a tug of war for paternal recognition.
  • It would pressure possibly schismatic bishops within the Episcopal Church to declare themselves. If the House has expressed its mind that no Episcopal bishop will attend Lambeth, any bishop who participates demonstrates decision to leave the House. Those who are committed to reconciliation, to remaining the loyal opposition within the House, will be willing to share in this fast for that purpose.
  • It will save a lot of money. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t contribute to supporting the Lambeth Conference, paying for all those other bishops to attend. I think we should. Our dioceses will still save a lot of money for mission in not paying the expenses of our bishops. Paying for others while not attending ourselves follows the Gospel model of going the extra mile. It may also “heap coals of fire....”
  • While there is risk that Lambeth without our bishops will make statements and take positions that we cannot accept, no one will be able to claim our bishops were complicit. Indeed, it will be hard to declare any position as “the standard of teaching for the Communion” if such a large segment of the bishops of the Communion do not participate. Considering that our bishops are a minority at Lambeth, such statements may be expected if we do attend. This would at least undermine the air of dignity and authority of such statements.
  • Declaring early that this is under consideration will give others in the Communion to express their feelings about our participation in Lambeth. Some bishops in the Global South have expressed willingness to see us excluded, however that willingness might be qualified. It would be interesting to hear whether others had a commitment to seeing us included.

I still think it's worth at least talking about. I think some measure of this is the different perspectives that thought of it. This is one of those ideas that different individuals have come up with independently - one of those moments when interested minds (I won't claim "great" for myself) thought alike (certainly, I have enough respect for Kendall Harmon that if he'd known of my work he'd have given credit). The different points of view involved, and the somewhat different contexts in which the idea arose, suggest that at least it's worth turning over. Now, as to whether there's time for the Bishops to actually work with something like this at this meeting - I don't know. On the other hand, one advantage to Kendall having this thought is that he has more connections through which to share such a thought. We'll see what happens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Canon K Harmon has given credit as of 9/22/2007, with apologies at TitusOne-Nine. And he offered a link to your interesting site.