This is worth a re-read in the context of Communion Partners. Perhaps Communion Partners is but the passing of the Crystal Ball.
The first real split in the Episcopal Church happened in the 1800’s led by a suffragan bishop who would go on to form the Reformed Episcopal Church. I posted something on this previously. They would be followed some 80 years later by a group of Anglo-Catholics who formed the Anglican Province of America. Despite the fact that Cummins left TEC because of Anglo-Catholic ritual that promoted doctrines abhorrent to the word of God, these two groups would later move toward organic unity.
100 years later with the advent of the ordination of women, the Anglican Synod of America, later Forward in Faith, was formed. They had collectively threatened to stay at first, but many did leave, forming numerous other continuing Anglican churches. So far, they have collectively stayed, have dwindled in numbers save for a few enclave Dioceses where they have flourished. And, yet, Nashotah House, Forward in Faith’s flagship seminary, has an unprecedented number of young men with families attending seminary. On a personal note, the men in black (because they always wear black clericals) seem to be more calm in this current crisis. If you’ve been living in a crisis for 30 years, I guess you get used to it.
Then came the First Promise Movement. The name came from the first promise made in the ordination vows, and this led to the Singapore Consecrations and the formation of the AMIA.
Before the AMIA left, the American Anglican Council formed and was considered to be to the left of First Promise and therefore all the more reasonable at Diocesan Conventions and at General Convention. Then, they were the far right. The AAC formed the Network, Common Cause, CANA, and the other offshore arrangements we see in North American Anglicanism. Pretty much all of the AAC leadership has left TEC, although they may come poke around at the next General Convention; we’ll see. I certainly hope that they do.
Now we have Communion Partners, which is just beginning to form. Are they being handed the crystal ball? Will they be the next wave to leave, or will something different happen?
Each group that has left the church initially went about trying to reform the Episcopal Church. They left because they felt they had failed. These groups ruled that the Episcopal Church was unreformable, and they left.
Well, let’s look at Communion Partners. What is this group to be about? Will they avoid the same mistakes that other groups made in their efforts to reform the Episcopal Church?
· provide a partnership to work toward the Anglican Covenant and according to Windsor Principles
The Communion Partner bishops will work together according to the principles outlined in the Windsor Report and seek a comprehensive Anglican Covenant at the Lambeth Conference and beyond.
The main difference here is this group plans to work for reform within the entire Anglican Communion. In addition to following the faith once delivered to the Saints, they plan to eschew activities which are not transparent, and to work within the canonical structures of the church.
The real question is whether Anglicanism, at least Canterbury based Anglicanism, is salvageable. I am pretty sure this will be the final outcome of the schism begun so long ago, in the 1860’s, which even pre-dates Cummins. This schism brought about the Lambeth Conference. What it will look like, I don’t know. But working toward an Anglican Covenant may now finally be coming to fruition after 150 years. It might worth working toward it for a few more years.