Watching For the Time
THE PRIMATES MEETING has come and gone, and the critique of what happened and didn’t happen is mixed in the minds of traditionalists on this side of the Atlantic.
Two things are clearly agreed upon. One is that an incredible amount of intercessory prayer was offered up, and we’re literalists enough to claim the unshakable truth of our Lord’s words, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it (or are receiving it), and it will be yours.” (St. Mark 11: 24) The second is that from all reports (having myself spoken to three Primates) the Archbishop of Canterbury was not a strong voice for restraint and correction in the Anglican Communion, and a clear sign for a new day for the way the Primates would govern the Church and themselves never appeared.
So we’re left with a situation in the aftermath of intense prayer and less than encouraging results that could leave one in a state of despair, or at least spiritual confusion.
There were certainly many voices before Kanuga, which said that we American traditionalists were putting our eggs in the wrong basket. The Bishop of Pennsylvania (the one whom 1, and other FIFNA rectors, will not permit to celebrate and preach in our parishes) matter-of-factly stated at a recent Good Shepherd vestry meeting, “Nothing will happen at Kanuga”.
What we now know is that every attempt possible was made by the revisionists, every clever political maneuver imaginable, as Canon John Peterson was their banner bearer.
Upon reading the Pastoral Letter from the Primates, one struggles to have spiritual satisfaction and peace with the one paragraph that speaks somewhat to the crisis that plagues ECUSA, and that grows at the speed of aggressive cancer in the larger body of the Anglican Communion. We read from the Primates:
“We have been reminded of alienated groups within the Church’s own life. Some of our number spoke of the difficulties of those who are estranged from others because of changes in theology and practice-specially with regard to the acceptance of homosexual activity and the ordination of practicing homosexuals-that they believe to be unfaithful to the gospel of Christ. We have committed ourselves to seek for ways to secure sustained pastoral care for all in our Communion. We also resolved, as we did at our meeting last year in Porto, to show responsibility toward each other, and to seek to avoid actions that might damage the credibility of our mission in the world.”
One reads the paragraph over and over, and is led to say, “Oh sure”. Secure sustained pastoral care for all in our Communion. “No, … no way, … sorry guys, … I don’t believe you.” I being one who did say that to myself, was suddenly reminded of the reality of God, and the immensity of God, and the mysterious slowness of God, and again the prayers. Our prayers were heartfelt, intense, focused, specific, all-day and all-night prayers. God will not be mocked. God has a whole lot of honour. Hmm, so what’s going on here? Allow me to take a stab at that question.
Despite the blatant politicking and the pooping-out of Archbishop Carey, the Primates do know that there is a crisis of faith and order in parts of the Communion, primarily in and being exported from ECUSA. No matter that Frank Griswold has said and keeps saying that all is well, this is not believed. There is a growing alliance amongst godly Primates to do something. These men, it goes without saying, come from incredibly diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives which amounts to a variety of mind-sets on what should be done, and when action is called for. As Archbishop Kolini of Rwanda stated in a post-Kanuga interview:
“The denial that there is a problem, I think it is now on the carpet; it is no longer on the surface. There is recognition and an acknowledgement that there is a problem. But how the problem is going to be solved remains a problem. We have different approaches. When are we going to have a common mind and say that this is the way the problem is going to be solved, that I don’t know.”
The Singapore conversations were not criticized or condemned by the Primates, much to the dismay of George Carey. No one picked up on the attempt to discredit the Anglican Mission in America.
Now that’s my brief and rather loose analysis of Kanuga. The question remains what does all this mean for us here in the States, especially the Forward in Faith folks?
As I write this, I await news from the ECUSA House of Bishops meeting. I also wait to see what the Bishop of Pennsylvania will do come May 15 – the deadline I and other rectors have been given to receive a full episcopal visitation from him, or else. The “or else” is the threat of inhibition and deposition. I haven’t been losing sleep about either. In fact, God has been gracing me with a desire to rise early each day (earlier than normal) in quietness and in confidence, to find strength. Thanks be to God!
I am watching the power of the Holy Spirit taking hold of all that’s been jumbled about in the efforts of traditionalist and orthodox folks, the many-times bumping together and ricocheting apart of truly common efforts for reformation and forward-moving action. being brought together. AMiA and FIFNA are coming together slowly, deliberately, and humbly with prayer and plain speech between us. What is so promising is the recognition that the Anglican expression of Christianity is whole when there is a dynamic synthesis of the catholic and evangelical. It can be done. It should be done. It is happening, and God (the One we beseech for help in prayer) is the architect.
That’s all I’ll say because that’s all I know. I hold no cards close to my chest. There’s nothing I withhold. The clear reality is that God is very active (is He ever not?); and that He is bringing together a number of regiments of different uniforms and insignias. He’s authoring in one binding a collection of strategies and passions to make a new textbook for spiritual warfare-spiritual warfare that takes the strengths of the several divisions into greater force of Gospel energy.
I will close by saying that AMiA and FIFNA share a common hope and prayer that Archbishop Gomez’ and Sinclair’s To Mend the Net will be seriously studied and be a catalyst for a new methodology of Anglican order. As we in AMiA and FIFNA submit to the movement of the Spirit, we pray that the same Spirit moves the Anglican Communion’s Primates to a new day. Maurice Sinclair, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, in his gentle, patient, and yet determined way, said it well in a post Kanuga interview.
“Among the points I was able to make from To Mend the Net was that we do trace a process in the Anglican Communion where this whole matter of international decision-making and the authority of the primates, is gradually, gradually, gradually being worked out”.
God’s timing is a mystery, and because of that we pray for the gift of discernment -when to act and when to be still, and how to be open to the integration of both. God is good, all the time.
David L Moyer, SSC is President of FIFNA and Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont, in the diocese of Pennsylvania