correspondents

Global South

 

Steering Committee London, 16-18 July 2007

1.  We are grateful for the prayers and witness of the millions of Anglicans around the world who live out their Christian faith in complex and sometimes hostile situations. Their lives and witness offer hope to a world that is in desperate need and we have been greatly encouraged by their testimony. Their commitment to the 'faith once and for all delivered to the saints' deepens our determination to stay true to the biblical revelation and our historic tradition.

2.  We reaffirm our dedication to the vision of the church that has a passion to reach all those who have not yet come to a saving knowledge of Christ and one that is truly good news for the poor and freedom for those who are oppressed. We are saddened that the actions of a small part of our Communion family have caused such division, confusion and pain and we are grieved that our witness to the oneness of Christ and his Church has been sorely compromised.

3. We in the Global South remain committed to the underlying principles and recommendations of the Windsor Report and the various Communiques that we have issued, especially the statement that was produced during the most recent Primates' meeting in Dar es Salaam. It was the result of enormous effort and heartfelt prayer and we remain convinced that it offers the best way forward for our beloved Communion. In particular, we are hopeful that the development and endorsement of an Anglican Covenant will help us move past this debilitating season into a new focus of growth and missionary zeal.

4.  We were distressed by the initial response of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church USA issued on March 20th, 2007, reaffirmed by the Executive Council on June 14th, 2007, in which they rejected the underlying principles and requests of the Dar es Salaam Communique. We urge them, once again, to reconsider their position because it is their rejection of the clear teaching of the Church and their continuing intransi-

gence that have divided the Church and has brought our beloved Communion to the breaking point. Without heartfelt repentance and genuine change there can be no restoration of the communion that we all earnestly desire and which is our Lord's clear intent.

5. We have also been pained to hear of the continuing and growing resort to civil litigation by The Episcopal Church against congregations and individuals which wish to remain Anglican but are unable to do so within TEC. This is in defiance of the urgent plea agreed to by all of the Primates in the Dar es Salaam communique. This approach to use power and coercion to resolve our current dispute is both enormously costly and doomed to failure and again, we urge the immediate suspension of all such activities and a return to biblical practices of prayer, reconciliation and mediation.

6. Because of the categorical rejection of the unanimously agreed Pastoral Scheme and the urgent needs of the growing number of congregations now linked to various Provinces in the Global South, we have had no choice but to provide additional episcopal oversight from the concerned Provinces. We believe that failure to do so would have resulted in many individuals and congregations lost to the Anglican Communion. The rejection of the proposed Pastoral Scheme has also had a profound impact on those dioceses that had requested alternative primatial oversight. We are aware that they are exploring various ways in which they can maintain their Anglican identity apart from The Episcopal Church. We are encouraged by this and also that they are working together within the Common Cause Partnership to avoid unnecessary fragmentation. We recognize that this is a temporary measure and look forward to the time when it is either no longer necessary or they are all part of a new ecclesiastical structure in the USA.

7. We are aware of the anticipated visit by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC to the September meeting of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church USA. Sadly we are convinced that this decision, made jointly by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chair of the ACC, undermines the integrity of the Dar es Salaam Communique. We believe that the Primates Meeting, which initiated the request to the TEC House of Bishops, must make any determination as to the adequacy of their response. We strongly urge the scheduling of a Primates' Meeting for this purpose at the earliest possible moment.

8.  We have also noted the decisions of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and are dismayed by their unilateral declaration that 'same-sex blessing is not core doctrine'. While we were grateful for the temporary restraint shown in not proceeding with any further authorization, we have observed that a number of the bishops are continuing to defy the recommendations of the Windsor process. We are exploring the possibility of additional pastoral provisions for those who want to remain faithful to Communion teaching and have been affected by the continuing actions of their own bishops.

9.  We are concerned for the future of our Communion as a truly global fellowship and our witness before the world as a respected ecclesial family within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In regards to the proposed Lambeth Conference in 2008, we are concerned that the publicly stated expectations for participation have changed its character and function. It is now difficult to see it either as an instrument of unity or communion. At a time when the world needs a vision of reconciliation and unity, our failure to restore the 'torn fabric' of our Communion threatens to show the world a contrary example.

10.  We remain committed to the convictions expressed in the CAPA report The Road to Lambeth and urge immediate reconsideration of the current Lambeth plans. It is impossible for us to see how, without discipline in the Communion and without the reconciliation that we urge, we can participate in the proposed conference; to be present but unable to participate in sacramental fellowship would all the more painfully demonstrate our brokenness. The polarization surrounding the Lambeth meeting has been exacerbated because we are also unable to take part in an event from which a number of our own bishops have been arbitrarily excluded while those whose actions have precipitated our current crisis are included.

11.  We have received requests from around the Communion to call a gathering of Anglican Communion leaders. We expect to call a Fourth Global South Encounter to bring together faithful Anglican leaders across the Communion to renew our focus on the apostolic faith and our common mission.

12. This is a critical time for the Anglican Communion and one that will shape our future for many years to come. We are praying for all those in leadership that the decisions made and the actions taken will bring glory to God and encourage-

ment to all Gods people. We are hopeful for the future because our confidence is not in ourselves but in Jesus the Christ who gave his life that we might have life [see John 10.10].

The Global South Steering Committee
(GSSC) comprises:

President:
Most Revd Peter J. Akinola,
Primate of All Nigeria;

General Secretary:
Most Revd John Chew,
Bishop of Singapore;

Treasurer:
Most Revd Mouneer Anis,
Bishop of Diocese of Egypt;

Most Revd Emmanuel Kolini,
Province of Rwanda;

Most Revd Drexel Gomez,
Province of the West Indies;

Most Revd Bernard Malango,
Province of Central Africa;

Most Revd Gregory Venables,
Province of the Southern Cone

Canada

Greenhouse gas

With apologies to all bishops, priests, deacons and friends who enjoy hobbies

Hobbies are great, I suppose; we all know that more than a few take innocent relief from the daily grind by pottering about in the garden, collecting toys and various memorabilia, or whatever takes their fancy. It is good harmless stuff and not without precedent in the Church; the mind springs to bee-keeping monks, model-railway collecting bishops and scuba-diving priests. Nothing wrong with this; better than falling prey to the perennial lure of vicious amusement in its several debilitating forms.

Even so, suspicion is aroused when extramural pursuits take over, and we see to our horror that the hobby has become the man, to say nothing of the job. We would look askance, I think, at the priest who sacrificed the Mass on the altar of his train set, or at the bishop who indulged his taste for Bluegrass at the expense of his diocese. All this is obvious enough and shouldn't need saying, but it seems that it does because North American Anglicanism has succumbed to the heady siren call of rampant, wild hob-byism. The urgent, pressing need to proclaim the Gospel and build the Church has been supplanted by a leisure pursuit, by an earnest fascination with social and biological engineering.

Biology

These, to be sure, are interesting things; whence the mysterious attraction felt by elderly bishops for other men? No one knows; perhaps it is a matter of chromosomes and DNA, maybe it is some other thing altogether.

It is a tremendous mystery and one which has consumed our part of the Church to the endless employment of primates, bishops, priests, laity, lawyers and journalists, to say nothing of conventions and synods. But this is only the glamorous tip of the socio-biological iceberg; there is plenty more, famously championed by TECs Presiding Bishop, +KJS, who told us last year that, 'This Church has said that our larger vision will be framed... by the vision of shalom embedded in the Millennium Development Goals' What are these MDGs? Something to do with the Creeds and Person of Christ? Not a bit of it; they are a suite of worthy causes embraced by the United Nations, which aim to:

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, provide universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, combat AIDS and malaria, ensure environmental stability, all the while creating a global partnership for development, which will ensure tariff and quota free access for the imports of least developed countries.

Excellent. I for one hope that the UN achieves its MDGs, especially tariff free imports. Still, it seems odd that General Convention 2006, resolved these goals to be a 'mission priority,' especially given the fact that nothing else seems to be; apart from promoting gay rights and suing those parishes who feel conscience-bound to physically disassociate themselves from such an agenda. Leaving aside its sadly litigious aspect, TECs biological and social hobby has taken centre stage and the same is true for the Anglican Church of Canada. No less than its powerful ally, the little ACoC has embraced its rich cousin's hobbyism, though if anything, the liberal-minded Canadians are slightly greener.

Nuclear winter

The recent General Synod in Winnipeg made this abundantly clear. Resolution C001 called on the House to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; A213 advocated the UN's strategy to eliminate poverty, injustice and disease everywhere through the MDGs. Another, moved by the Venerable Peter Hobbs, urged the Church to foster 'just and sustainable food systems.' And, of course, the Synod set itself to abolish nuclear weapons and ban the use of tobacco products, this last motion being curiously defeated. As in the States, same-sex blessings were a hot issue, with the Synod deciding that these were not in conflict with 'core doctrine,' but failing to pass a resolution authorizing them at diocesan discretion.

This brings us back to the point; both TEC and its small northern friend have plenty to say about the environment, ending poverty and injustice in the food chain. They seek to showcase equitable treatment for oppressed minorities, such as women and homosexuals; they are good at this, but they seem to have precious little concern for anything else. The hobby, as it were, has overtaken the man; socio-biology has replaced Christ.

Protestation notwithstanding, the former appears to have taken on the modish status of 'core doctrine,' but is this so bad? What if the hobby and the man are really the same and we have all been blind to the fact for several millennia? Blind that is, until TEC and the diminutive ACoC happily stumbled across the truth and discovered the genuine article; that Christianity is ecojustice and the gay agenda? Maybe so; after all, there is a certain pedigree to believing that God is the environment and that religious duty lies therein.

Melting ice

Perhaps, but let us not pretend the religion in question has much to do with Christianity. On the contrary, it acts as a solvent on it, with faith in the transcendent deity who became flesh for our salvation fast dissolving into the worship of a divinized universe. With this in mind, it is no wonder that MDGs frame the scope of our vision; what else is there to see but the world and its concerns? Likewise with SSBs. If the All is God, so too are all acts morally equivalent and the only sin lies in the denial of the same. We see, then, that TEC and its partner are acting with perfect consistency, but they should not be surprised to find that people looking for Christianity are taking themselves elsewhere. Why sign up to a liturgical version of the United Nations when you can devote your energy to the real thing? For that matter, why should someone who is searching for a living, authentic relationship with Jesus Christ turn to a church that does not seem particularly concerned with him?

It is unquestionably the case that the masses aren't getting it - the Green Party hobbyism of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are failing to fill the pews. So by all means hail the MDGs, vote to abolish nuclear weapons, stamp out smoking, drive oppression out of the food industry and vow to eliminate gender disparity'. Even, with the 'orthodox' Bishop of Edmonton and her denomination's Synod, set about the exciting task of redefining marriage. Do this, but be sure that there will be an ever decreasing demand for the rites in question, as small congregations get smaller still, until in the end there is nothing left.

Experts predict that there will be one person left in the Anglican Church of Canada by 2056; pundits are divided as to whether this figure wears a mitre.

Michael Heidt

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