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Married February 2, 1974
Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]
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RE: What would be lost if The Episcopal Church pulled out of the Anglican Communion?
*******, In a couple of places I thought you might be thinking me to be willing to yield our convictions or our polity as a way of staying in the Anglican Communion. I do not for a moment believe that. For example, you in Canada and we at the Executive Council in TEC chose to attend the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham as observers, without seat or voice. I spoke forcefully against that decision before we made it in Executive Council. Our straw vote initially was one-third for going and keeping seat and voice, one-third for not going at all, and one-third for going as observers without seat of voice. IN the real vote, people went for the 'middle' of those three. That proved itself to be a mistake: when we were out of the room, the primates seized that opportunity to push for more power for themselves. I completed my term on Executive Council in 2006. I doubt that Executive Council would vote the same way again having been burned. I believe that our two provinces should stand by our principles. Nothing in the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council gives authority to it, or to the primates, to require conformity. Unity is an important goal; conformity is not. Jesus did not pray that "you all may agree"! We are a communion, not a church. The Anglican Communion has no curia. We have always embraced comprehensiveness. At this historical juncture, it is especially important to be at the table to argue for that position. If we must leave the Communion, let our adversaries do their own dirty work; force them to violate their own constitution, which has no mechanism for removing a province, only a mechanism for adding a province. Nor am I trying to say that all networks would be impossible if we cease to be a part of the Anglican Communion. I would rather stay and work for what we can achieve in this one. Any network will be flawed. I am not interested in church shopping. I would prefer to be as faithful as I can be with those of us who choose to remain in this one. While I understand your conclusion that the Communion networks are not working, I think that conclusion is premature. Our job is to plant seeds, not to harvest them. Almost all of us grow and change our mind, but few of us require a Damascus Road conversion to be prompted to do so. I am amazed at the dozens who write me every month telling them how I helped them change their minds of these very issues, by something I wrote or said 10, 20, or 30 years ago, and often I never knew these people. Some whom I did know never seemed to budge when we had these discussions which they now remember as seminal. I agree with you that some of the flaws in our Communion deserve urgent attention, especially in The Episcopal Church where we have tended to send money, not people. I was shocked at how few in the Communion came personally to help following 9/11 or Katrina. We in TEC rarely let ourselves be vulnerable: we too often portray ourselves as the fixers, not as those in need. Perhaps we have ourselves to blame that with a few exceptions we had only a few nice notes regarding these disasters. (I expand this paragraph a bit more in a new post in my Natter collection at "Why do so many in the Anglican Communion hate the Episcopal Church?" at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/natter/msg00118.html Everything I say in this regard is tentative, as I struggle to come to a better understanding. Lastly, do not judge the effect of conversation by listening mainly to the replies of the day or the month or even the year afterward. Have great expectations of those who are watching and listening and for now, and maybe for a long time, saying nothing at all. The Episcopal Church as late at 1979 held views that are close to those of Lambeth 1998. If we could wait patiently for our own province to come to new understandings, cannot we wait just as patiently, persistently, and lovingly for provinces elsewhere to reach new understanding? Conversations are beginning locally all over the world. One of the reasons our adversaries are so frantic about that (and do their best not to participate in them) is that they know in their heart of hearts they cannot stop the changes effected by conversations -- if not changes of minds, changes of heart, our hearts. It's much harder to make a scapegoat out of someone you know as a person. Joy to you. Whatever we decide about the Communion and whether we want to be part of it, may we be stretched to see God's face in those who most disagree with us. Louie
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