Monday, April 16, 2012

Canadians in Rupert's Land Name It -- Reject Anglican Covenant

I have never considered the Diocese of Rupert's Land (Anglican Church of Canada) an enclave of liberalism. Some people in the Diocese have issued a statement against the Anglican Covenant. Therefore, I'm doubly impressed by their statement. You can read the whole statement at the No Anglican Covenant blog or below.

I especially appreciate this frank statement from them:
Finally, of course we are aware of the reason that this document has been born, but on which the document is entirely silent, namely, the matter of gay and lesbian persons’ rights in regard to marriage, ordination and consecration.
I agree. Many of the proponents of the Covenant claim it's about ecclesiology. But, looking at the genesis and history of the Anglican Covenant, it seems to me the whole thing grew out of anathema toward gay/lesbian people -- especially those in holy orders -- in the Anglican Communion.
I appreciate the observation that the people who forced the Anglican Covenant are silent on the bigotry that spawned it -- namely, their hatred of gay/lesbian people and our relationships. Thank you, Rupert's Land, for pointing to that. Many of us point to the ugly heritage of racism in our history. Someday, I hope the proponents of the Anglican Covenant will be named as the bigots they are. Their supposedly Biblical hatred of gay men and lesbians is the veneer behind which they hide. One day, they will be remembered alongside the bigots who repressed the Africans in South Africa and the African-Americans in the U.S. South.

My Anglican heart sang when I read their statement of the Anglican virtue of "muddling through." They write:
Anglicanism works best when it is allowed to muddle, rather like John Ralston Saul claims Canada works best. Muddling is also an important aspect of listening for the Spirit. We muddle big ideas and changes for a while, often quite a while, but then we move, as in the ordaining of women. We trust and hope that we will get over our sexuality muddle relatively soon. In the meantime, we don’t need the pressure and promised endless process of the Covenant to place a stumblingblock in the midst of our muddling.

Each autonomous Anglican Church lives in the midst of cultural and other conditions that profoundly shape its missional response to the gospel call for justice and compassion. It is our central task to search in each time and place for that faithful response, which will differ as we perceive that call. While acknowledging that change can be both painful as well as liberating, we ought not to chain ourselves to seeking agreement across vastly different cultures and contexts before responding to the Spirit’s call for justice, compassion and inclusion.
I think they are right. We have had other fierce debates in the history of the Anglican Communion -- from questions of vestments and altar candles to the question of women's ordination. But the ordination of gay/lesbian persons is what first that threw some members of the Communion moving to a juridical instrument and breaking communion with other Anglicans.
There have been serious debates in the Anglican Communion which touch upon matters of salvation. The blessing of same-sex relationships does not touch upon salvation, nor do the ecclesiological questions about ordination or consectation of partnered gay/lesbian people. Yet some people have chosen this to be the issue upon which to break the Anglican Communion.

Doesn’t that make it clear? Some forces in the Anglican Communion are more icked-out by the LGBT issue than they care about serious theological issues in Christendom.

I should pity them … were I not so angry at them.

Addenda:
The full text of the RupertsLand letter has been published here and is copied below.

You can see the The Anglican Church of Canada's Governance Working Group on Legal and Constitutional Issues (June 2011) here.


Here is the full text of the letter from Rupert’s Land Anglicans:

March 24, 2012

To Rupertsland Anglicans

Dear members of the Body of Christ
We are aware that the Diocese is studying the final version of the Anglican Communion “Covenant”. There have been several deanery meetings, and it appears that further meetings may be scheduled, with a view to bringing recommendations to Diocesan Council and thence to Synod this fall.

We know too of the extensive literature opposing the Covenant that has developed, as for example in the website www.noanglicancovenant.com.We have also reviewed the General Synod document in the link below which sets forth serious procedural and doctrinal questions to which there do not appear to be answers at present. Finally, of course we are aware of the reason that this document has been born, but on which the document is entirely silent, namely, the matter of gay and lesbian persons’ rights in regard to marriage, ordination and consecration.

While it is quite appropriate to study new documents that attempt to speak to our faith in relevant and yet historically faithful ways, we do not wish to debate the contents of the Covenant, confusing and unclear though they are. The much more central issue is the assumed need for the Anglican Church of Canada to subscribe to this latter day creed, with its quasi-judicial processes in section three and four.

The best test in regard to the need for such a document is to ask, “What would happen if this document were adopted, and then a real issue came along that promised division among the world-wide Anglican Communion?” Appropriately enough, there was such an issue 35 years ago, namely, the ordination of women.

What would have happened regarding the plan to ordain women when first it was being advocated if the “Covenant” were in place 35 years ago? First, there would be notice given about the plan to ordain women. Then unhappy churches, some of whom still today do not ordain women, would express their discomfort through the world councils such as Lambeth, or the meetings of bishops. Then would come committees, consultations, theological debates and more process. Finally, if the initiating church stuck to its plans, it could be “sanctioned”; thrown out of wider church councils, or even perhaps be declared to be “not in communion”.

It seems to us that this is not an exaggeration. Some parts of our world-wide communion still do not ordain women, let alone consecrate women bishops.

Anglicanism works best when it is allowed to muddle, rather like John Ralston Saul claims Canada works best. Muddling is also an important aspect of listening for the Spirit. We muddle big ideas and changes for a while, often quite a while, but then we move, as in the ordaining of women. We trust and hope that we will get over our sexuality muddle relatively soon. In the meantime, we don’t need the pressure and promised endless process of the Covenant to place a stumbling block in the midst of our muddling.

Each autonomous Anglican Church lives in the midst of cultural and other conditions that profoundly shape its missional response to the gospel call for justice and compassion. It is our central task to search in each time and place for that faithful response, which will differ as we perceive that call. While acknowledging that change can be both painful as well as liberating, we ought not to chain ourselves to seeking agreement across vastly different cultures and contexts before responding to the Spirit’s call for justice, compassion and inclusion.

Please give this letter and the document in the attached link your prayerful consideration. If you have not yet done so, please read the Report of the Governance Committee of our National Church at the website below. Other helpful websites are listed as well for further reading. We have attached the letter as a Word doc. file as well for ease of forwarding.

If you wish to join your name to ours in sending this letter to a wider audience, please reply accordingly to this email. You also may wish to know that we have informed the Bishop about our intent, and shared with him this letter.

5 Comments:

Blogger Pfalz prophet said...

So elegant, isn't it, that the ACofC brings up the elephant that has always been in the room. Bless them for their honesty.

A rector of mine in a large suburban parish (i.e., somewhat conservative) celebrated +Robinson's election as an opportunity to discuss something not previously discussed. Brilliant tactic. We discussed, and we actually listened to each other and respected each other's viewpoints in typically Anglican fashion. Here's ACofC's opportunity, to stick to the issues and muddle through them. Thanks, Lisa.

4/17/2012 4:32 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for your comment, PfalzProphet.
Yes, I think their statement is utterly brilliant.
Like you, I commend them for naming the elephant in the room. While others have hidden behind supposed theology, this statement names it for what it is.

If those "conservatives" were true to their beliefs, they would remind us (as they said before) that women are not "fit matter" for ordination -- that the chrism of ordination can no more adhere to women than it could to a cat or primate. Thus, the ordination of women -- and receiving the Eucharist from women -- would be a matter of salvation. But, of course, they don't, for some of them have accepted the ordination of women. Instead, they rail about ordination of gays/lesbians, which is not a matter of salvation.

It should be patently obvious whence comes the rejection of these people, and I am grateful for the people of Rupert's Land for naming it.

Thanks for sharing the experience in your parish. Hooray for your rector and for you! I had a similar experience in my parish.

4/17/2012 7:59 PM  
Blogger David@Montreal said...

Lisa
thank you so much for getting this out there, and thanks to Mimi for pointing me to your post.

writing as a Canadian living in Quebec, I suggest that the courage & honesty of this document is set in an even larger context: the fact that for more than 20 years our LGBT tribe has had FULL prtection under law, and that NATIONALLY lgbt Canadians have had the right to legal marriage for a decade- something also available in several dioceses of our Church, including my own.

to the vast majority Canadians,(with unfortunately the exception of our current gov't of conservative .... idiots) lgbt full inclusion is a non-issue.

for the me, the second-saddest element of this whole story is the fact that our Church which is supposed to be a prophetic, healing presence in the world- the living Body ofr Christ no less, are so persistently refusing the gift of Ruach by denying the larger understanding of God's grace in the lives of our people. If they were honest about their Christian history they'd see that She has always used 'the least of these' to pry open hearts and minds to a larger appreciation of the 'Love beyond our wildest imagigning' which created and redeemed us.

rejoicing at the example of Rupert's Land,i'm hoping it will set the example and momentum for other Canadian dioceses to do likewise where till now they have maintain an awkward,polite silence.

thank-you again Lisa

4/19/2012 10:09 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

And I thank you for your comment, David. It is profoundly sad when the government is more attuned to the Spirit than is the Church.

Could you help me out on the "politics" of the Canadian Church? It's my impression -- from watching the last ACoC synod on the web -- that Rupert's Land is one of the more conservative dioceses. Am I correct?

4/19/2012 8:49 PM  
Blogger David said...

Lisa
sorry for the delay in getting back to you.
my sense/experience is that 'conservative' would cover R.L. diocese as it is part of the Canadian 'north.' Individual bishops (invariably imported from the south) have been very strong figures in the history and life of the diocese, but some of the most interesting and vital Anglican's i've met have come from that diocese- very much engaged what is happening to the earth and to their territory; very concerned about fossil-fuel dependency; and living out of a space which is profoundly conscious how deeply we are all connected. i've been joyously surprised in meetings with individuals from R.L. more than once.

4/26/2012 8:18 AM  

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