What The Gafcon Statement Means For Western Louisiana

If you haven’t already, read it all. Of course, the primary question for Western Louisiana is the same as for all Dioceses still in the Episcopal Church who have worked to maintain fellowship and communion with all Anglican provinces within the Communion, is will we do what is necessary to be recognized by the Primates Council of the GAFCON movement. Will we adopt the Jerusalem statement? Will we separate spiritually from the Episcopal Church and not recognize the spiritual leadership of apostate bishops, including our own Presiding Bishop? What does it mean to say:

“We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.”

It seems to me, from the statement, that Network dioceses, being a part of the Common Cause Partnership, are recognized already. Western Louisiana never joined the Network. That very well could change because of its wider recognition. Moreover, if the Primate of Tanzania signs onto this thing and joins the Primatial Council, will he make a space for the Communion Partners?

Yet, these same questions persist for places like Central Florida, South Carolina, and other network Dioceses, that being how can one accept the GAFCON statement and yet remain in the Episcopal Church? Is that even possible? Considering that only Fort Worth and Pittburgh are poised to make a break for it, with San Joaquin already having done so, what are the other Network dioceses going to do? What, indeed, do they have to do to maintain fellowship with other GAFCON jurisdictions?

On the whole, this appears to be a statement that promises more of the same. Certain provinces do not recognize ECUSA or the Anglican Church of Canada as being in Communion with them. The statement says border crossings are okay, which is a post-hoc justification for what is already happening.

What would have been truly helpful in this statement would be a recognition that Dioceses are the basic unit of the church, and to base future interventions solely on whether or not the local bishop is recognized by GAFCON. That would have given everyone a clear path to follow and possible a move toward something different. Without it, the chaos will likely continue.

It will be an interesting Lambeth in light of this statement, however. I think Leander Harding is right in that the initiative in this situation has shifted. The fence sitters are being forced off the fence. Canterbury has flat run out of time in this crisis.

34 Responses to “What The Gafcon Statement Means For Western Louisiana”


  1. 1 Tregonsee June 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    From the 14 Oct 2007 letter from +Cantuar to +Howe.

    “I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesiastical identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’.”

    This largely provides the statement mentioned in you 2nd to last paragraph. One of the very, very few things +Cantuar has said which is both clear and helpful. It isn’t much of a logical stretch to replace “in the United States” with “the greater Anglican Communion.”

    Treg

    PS While not relevant to the point, you have to admit that for an “abstract reality” that TEC sure has a lot of busy “concrete” lawyers.

  2. 2 albeit June 29, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    “It seems to me, from the statement, that Network dioceses, being a part of the Common Cause Partnership, are recognized already.”

    To my understanding, not all of the Network dioceses are members of Common Cause.

  3. 3 David+ June 29, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    It seems to me that once Common Cause transforms itself into a province and +Bob Duncan (or someone else elected by its House of Bishops)is consecrated as Archbishop and Primate, then only those dioceses that leave TEC and unite with Common Cause will be recognized by the Gafcon Council. The orthodox bishops left in TEC are running out of time to continue as fence sitters. I would also suspect that once the new province is set up, there will be an even larger rush of parishes to join it. In short, we ain’t seen nothin yet.

  4. 4 Uncle (Now Grandpa) Dino June 29, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    “how can one accept the GAFCON statement and yet remain in the Episcopal Church?”

    One cannot.

  5. 5 robroy June 29, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    The covenant promised a situation where the TEO wasn’t a full partner of the Anglican Communion – only happening at some time in the perhaps far distant future. What we have, in the here and now, is a situation where the TEO won’t be in fellowship with the majority of the world’s Anglicans. Those orthodox in the TEO were going to face this situation, now it happened sooner.

  6. 6 David+ June 29, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Most of the Global South would agree with you Uncle Dino. In fact many of them have been saying so for at least a few years now.

  7. 7 mithrax June 29, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Brad,

    I for one am waiting to see what’s going to happen with the rumours about the Traditional Anglican Communion, and Rome. GAFCON didn’t inspire me a whit. It just looks like more of the same to me. Something positive may come out of it, but I suspect that it just isn’t going to create a weather change in the Anglican Communion.

    Sure Rowan has to make a choice, but he’ll dither the GAFCON people will leave, and most people will shrug their shoulders.

    I’m starting to think that +Steenson had the right idea….

  8. 8 B. J. Kennedy June 29, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Mithrax,

    I agree with you more than you know. I am struggling over the same issues. My most recent posts on my blog reflect that. I just gave some of my thoughts on GAFCON too. It is a tough time for people like you and I, I am afraid.

    I do thank Bishop MacPherson, and Canon Riley (my rector) for all of your hard work. Your efforts are heroic and worthy of praise.

  9. 9 R. Scott Purdy June 30, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Those in North America who claim Anglican orthodoxy yet lack the will to form a new province deserve E”c”USA.

    We all deserve condemnation.

    Accepting Christ’s way and transformation usually entails separation from things we once thought we enjoyed.

  10. 10 Alice C. Linsley June 30, 2008 at 3:36 am

    The Jerusalem Declaration states who Anglicans are doctrinally. If Lambeth ignores the statement, Canterbury will be further marginalized.

    I posted a comment on this here:
    http://college-ethics.blogspot.com/2008/06/jerusalem-declaration.html

  11. 11 Texanglican June 30, 2008 at 4:08 am

    It seems to me that the Jerusalem Statement and the “Way Forward” section that follows it assume that the new province in North America will be entirely separate from TEC. I cannot imagine that its drafters believed there would be Network-affiliated dioceses that will continue to try and stradle the fence of being both orthodox and full TEC members now that the die has been cast. Fort Worth and Pittsburgh are ready to go in November, and I gather that a single vote around the same time will take Quincy out of TEC as well.

    Sadly, this means that places like Western LA are going to have to make a choice. Just being Network affiliated will not be enough. TEC is done for as far as these orthodox leaders are concerned. It is time to come out and live apart from TEC if your diocese wishes to be part of the new province.

  12. 12 G.I. Joe June 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Brad,

    Your last post and the most recent posted comment use the term “fence sitter.” Some of your (Episcopal) clerics have made this an art form. However, I think this analogy is going to become dated. There may be no fence to sit upon. Have you been in the situation where you stepped off the dock onto the fishing boat and found it moved away from the dock, but through indecision you tried to hold it in place with your foot, keeping feet planted on both dock and boat? At some point, you realized the boat wasn’t going to come back, and you’d have to jump one way or the other. Then at some point even the leap to safety becomes impossible. We know what comes next… RETIREMENT! Welcome to the world of Canon Gregg and +Bruce.

  13. 13 John Delmore June 30, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    R. Scott said:

    “Accepting Christ’s way and transformation usually entails separation from things we once thought we enjoyed.”

    What might rejecting Christ’s way and transformation entail?

    From Acts 5 (that last verse is the important one…):

    38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

    39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

    40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

    41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

    42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

    It may be time to “refrain from these men”. Or God may be transforming his Church, once again. I don’t know. I thank +Bruce for his wise and cautious leadership.

  14. 14 Timothy June 30, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I would rejoice if Western Louisiana joined the Network, however, I wonder if it is even possible.

    I just don’t see how, over time, you can maintain principled Diocesan opposition within TEC. It seems you are ultimately forced to incrementally compromise (Tennessee) or begin the process of leaving (Fort Worth, etc.).

    I was eager for the internal fight until I realized how precious my time was with my children, and how I was sowing the seeds for future problems by keeping them in an ambiguous church situation, in a denomination that I would be afraid for them to affiliate with in college. If my congregation had not left for the GS I would have left for another denomination. Life is too short.

  15. 15 Julie June 30, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Timothy is right about the diocese, I fear. I look at a new province with select churches in the diocese making the move more than I can realistically see the diocese as a whole doing it now. At one time, I had hopes. But…I think it is a long shot now.

    That is why it is so important, I believe, for those several Network parishes to be closely aligned. Sigh…

  16. 16 gregg riley June 30, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Brad

    I understand from a long time friend in Ft. Worth, and a reliable source, that once they become part of the Southern Cone, individual parishes/congregations from out side the normal diocesan boundaries will be able to affiliate with them and likewise be a part of the Southern Cone. This would be an option for some in WLA in the event the diocese as a whole fails to leave as one. I agree with Julie that going as a diocese would be ideal, but in reality I am afraid it will be piece meal.

    P.S. to G.I. Joe. The Bishop has made it quite clear that he intends to remain as our Diocesan until he reaches the mandatory age for retirement(72), as for me, I am only 61.

    Canon G+

  17. 17 One Small Voice June 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Brad,

    (This is in response to G.I. Joe)

    It is apparently eaiser to stand back and throw stones at our faithful, God-fearing leadership, than staying and defending the faith as a soldier in the Army of God.

    Each of these men you singled out took vows to care for God’s people placed in their care…not vows of one’s personal agenda. That is what is wrong throughout TEC! Not God’s will but theirs!!!!

    For those of us who have not left, we now have a place to go, if we choose to do so, thanks to Primates and Bishops who try to lead with the direction of the Holy Spirit verus threats, slander and actions of others.

    Why don’t you try praying for our Bishop and Canon Riley?

  18. 18 descant June 30, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Ah, the joys of knowing everyone on the thread, even their secret names. G.I. Joe, please report to your rector’s office tomorrow.

  19. 19 Bob G+ June 30, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    I have real issues with the segment of the declaration that says that the See of Canterbury is not essential to Anglican identity or ecclesiolgy. Dan Martins makes some definite and good comments about catholicity and what Anglo-Catholics might do in this very Evangelical (and Calvinistic – if we really adhere to the 39 articles of 1662) movement cum denomination.

    Here is a primary problem – if there is a break from the essential aspect of the See of Canterbury for Anglican identity, then what develops is just another Protestant denomination, albeit worldwide and potentially large. For Evangelicals, this really is not all that significant, but for those that are more catholic, it is very significant. So many of the justifications of those who have left TEC center around their wish to remain in communion with the ABC, but now it seems that such communion or recognition is no longer all that important, unless of course the ABC does what the new entity demands.

    The other thing I want to bring up, even though most won’t consider it significant, is that the way the Communion is currently formed, and no matter how loudly some what to shout otherwise, TEC is still the Anglican province in the USA. Now, for those who don’t care about the ABC – no problem. Yet, the sense of most within the reform movement seems to be that since those provinces that will be forming the new entity have far more active members than the Western provinces, then by default this establishes them as the “real” Anglican Church. The great numbers, after all, signify God’s blessing, right?

    Therefore, if we are to judge these kinds of thing by numbers, and since the Evangelical ethos predominates in this new entity anyway, then we must recognize that the Pentecostals/Charismatics are far more numerous than just about anyone else. Why not then simply become one of them, but with liturgy, since God’s blessing must be more powerfully revealed in the correctness of these movements since they have the numbers.

    From a Catholic perspective, anyway, this new entity will be a world-wide denomination, but not a Church. Even if much smaller and in error for the time being, those provinces that still recognize the See of Canterbury as the essential element for Anglican identity, well, they will still be the “real” Anglican Communion.

  20. 20 Cindy Fisher June 30, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Though I have never been one to respond to comments made in blog posts, I could not in good conscious let G.I. Joe’s comments about two men that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for go undefended. I echo One Small Voice’s comments and would also add that for G.I. Joe to suggest that either of these faithful men would forsake those that God has placed in their care by ‘sitting on the fence’ while they await retirement is a completely unfounded accusation. Both men are steadfast defenders of the faith and their choice to participate in the GAFCON conference is further evidence of that. Comments such as G.I. Joe’s only serve to cause further stress in the lives of these men who have made and continue to make untold personal sacrifices in their efforts to pastor those of us that are blessed to be in their care.

    I am certain the priests that are now with our Father are thankful for men like Canon Riley and Bishop MacPherson who continue to stay and defend the Church that they also served faithfully.

    Cindy Fisher

  21. 21 Mad Potter June 30, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    I do not know Canon Riley, I do know +Bruce. At a meeting at our parish very recently +Bruce restated his determination to remain in communion with Canterbury. That would seem to be a odds to being recognized by GAFCON, what ever that will turn into.

    GAFCON is a statement right now. How the Global South primates flesh out the thing will be seen at some time in the future.

    There will always be an Episcopal Church diocese in Western Louisiana. It may need to find new leadership as SJ had to do….but I think that will be after +Bruce retires, if ever.

    Even then, looking back to the post that Brad wrote about his daughter, Sarah, returning home from Hardtner…..having Camp Hardtner available for my daughter Sara next camping season is of far more importance to me than who is in what communion.

  22. 22 Mad Potter June 30, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    to make it clear…I am not quoting Brad in my comment about Hardtner…I have no idea how he ranks Hardtner in relation to the Anglican Communion,

  23. 23 descant June 30, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Potter:

    Well, I went to Hardtner as a kid, made my Cursillo there, etc. Pretty special place to me, certainly more important than the Anglican Communion. But, all politics is local.

  24. 24 Hopper July 1, 2008 at 12:59 am

    Alice says … “The Jerusalem Declaration states who Anglicans are doctrinally. If Lambeth ignores the statement, Canterbury will be further marginalized.”

    Isn’t this a bit like the tail wagging the dog? Marginalized from whom? Let’s see … this GAFCON bunch includes six primates out of — how many are there in the whole of the Anglican Communion? — more than six times that.

    And no, it’s not about the (highly inflated) numbers they represent … because if one chooses to make it all about quantity … to go the road of numbers is a very dangerous road.

    As Dr Williams said today — or was it yesterday — “…A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion…”

    No it won’t pass the test of legitimacy. Perhaps these six primates should stop claiming to speak for all Anglicans. After all, without Canterbury, one really isn’t Anglican … one is only pretending to be Anglican.

    Perhaps it’s time for the GAFCON folks to take a legitimate name for their new church.

  25. 25 Joe Roberts July 1, 2008 at 2:36 am

    I join Cindy and One Small Voice in giving an unqualified defense to +MacPherson and The Very Reverend Canon Gregg Riley. These are two men of God who I personally know to be totally committed to the ancient faith and the holy catholic and apolostic church and I am not willing to let anyone, even my friend G. I. Joe (whom I love as a brother in Christ but with whom I have frequently disagreed in terms of how best to address the sickness affecting TEC and the WWAC), impugne the good character or godly behavior of these two good and honorable and godly men. To GI Joe, I must say that I am surprised that you would make such a comment, and particularly in a public forum. Though Brad did not say it directly, I think that a timely and direct personal apology to +Bruce and to Gregg+ are in order and, frankly, I’d suggest that a public apology on this forum after your personal one, is also in order.

    As a blog author myself, I often make comments critical of actions taken by people in their official capacities. Just today I took both the Archbishop of Canterbury and TEC’s presiding bishop to task over their GAFCon reaction statements. I will continue to do that regarding their official statements, but I pray God that I can refrain from personal attacks and if I fail in that regard, I also pray that someone calls my hand and gives me the opportunity to practice Christian charity and good will and also that I promptly make an apology for that transgression.

    Conflict breeds disagreement, but it does not require us to be personally disagreeable or make our disagreement personal.

    God’s peace to all.

    Joe
    <

  26. 26 G.I. Joe July 1, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    I am responding to the above by apologizing to the site and to the two representatives to GAFCON from WLA for relating them by name to the metaphor about the boat slipping away from the dock. It was unkind and tasteless. I share the feeling of pride and admiration for their courage in attending the GAFCON meeting.

  27. 27 Jon Amos July 1, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you, G.I. Joe. You’re a good man.

  28. 28 Joe Roberts July 1, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    To GI Joe,

    Thank you good brother in Christ. I knew that you would do the right thing. God bless you always.

    YBIC,

    Joe Roberts

  29. 29 Curate July 1, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    “…A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion…”

    And Williams was appointed by whom? Which person or body was it? O Yes, Tony Blair the Roman Catholic!! So much for democratic legitimacy.

  30. 30 John Delmore July 2, 2008 at 3:42 am

    The British Prime Minister does not simply “appoint” the ABC. The PM appoints the Chair of the Crown Appointments Commission, which is then comprised of the Chair, four diocesan members, three clergy and three lay members chosen by General Synod and two episcopal members. (In addition, the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary and the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary are non-voting members.)

    This commission considers candidates and selects two, which are sent to the PM. The PM then recommends one to the Queen. The designee must still be formally elected by the Dean and Chapter of the diocese of Canterbury.

    While this seems an odd process, it is not surprising, and perhaps quite appropriate, considering the political aspects of the post under British law.

  31. 31 Hopper July 2, 2008 at 4:21 am

    Curate writes “And Williams was appointed by whom? Which person or body was it? O Yes, Tony Blair the Roman Catholic!! So much for democratic legitimacy.”

    And as John Delmore notes … this is not the full truth.

    Curate’s comment seems to me indicative of a major problem with blogs (all blogs) … where so often simplifications are half — or less — truths. Although I doubt that this is intentional … particularly in blogs about the church.

    Whether “Reappraiser” or “Reasserter” — sorry for the lack of better terms — I doubt there are many who aspire to tell falsehoods. It certainly doubt that anyone who takes the name Curate would intentionally resort to falsehood or a half truth.
    It seems to me to be due more to a lack of thorough knowledge.

    Still, this is something of which we should take note.

  32. 32 Sarah July 2, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    RE: “At a meeting at our parish very recently +Bruce restated his determination to remain in communion with Canterbury. That would seem to be a odds to being recognized by GAFCON, what ever that will turn into.”

    No, it’s not at all “at odds” . . . all of the Provinces that have signed on to the Jerusalem Declaration are still “in communion with Canterbury” — in fact, at the StandFirm blog, MP, you were bleating about why oh why they couldn’t just leave the Anglican Communion.

    I’m a very thankful Anglican right now that these Primates have chosen to take their stand within the Anglican Communion.

    Should be an interesting next two or three decades.

  33. 33 Mad Potter July 4, 2008 at 12:10 am

    — in fact, at the StandFirm blog, MP, you were bleating about why oh why they couldn’t just leave the Anglican Communion.

    SARAH, you are unkind and incorrect, making assumptions and not actually reading what I write…I type what I mean

  34. 34 Sarah July 7, 2008 at 2:42 am

    RE: “I type what I mean”

    I’m sure that you do. And I typed what you were bleating about. I had time to only look at one of the many threads on which you have commented at SF:

    “Floridian, fine….so after all of that, why why why does the GS want to stay in the (traditional Canterbury based) Anglican Communion?”

    http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/13844/#241505

    “GAFCON applies to GAFCON only. And what is the point of that? They agree on all this discipline stuff. And after all that, they stay in the apostate Canterbury centered Anglican Communion? (they may no longer recognize Canterbury as the center of the Communion, but all the other provinces still do)”

    http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/13844/#242821

    Those — along with others — constitute bleating. The subject matter of the bleating has been “why oh why they couldn’t just leave the Anglican Communion.”


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