These are wonderful times to be alive, friends. For years, conservative Anglicans in the United States have either been ignored, been told to “be patient”, or (in some extreme cases) to “shut up and join the Roman Church”. How offensive is that, honestly?
Imagine that you’re a lifelong Republican, and suddenly a small group of people took control over the Republican Party leadership and changed all of the party’s beliefs. They held a secret meeting somewhere, and suddenly proclaimed that all Republicans must believe in gay rights, abortion rights, universal health care, full support for labor unions and a dismantled military. Regardless of your personal opinion on those issues, you wouldn’t consider yourself a “non-Republican” if you continued to hold the “old party’s” beliefs would you? Wouldn’t it be more like Ronald Reagan’s famous quote: “I didn’t leave the Democratic party – the Democratic Party left me”?
That’s exactly what’s happened in the Episcopal Church. Orthodox Anglicanism has had the same beliefs since (at least) 1662, and that’s not counting the 1500+ years of belief that Anglicanism is based on. Yet, in the past 30 years or so, liberal Western attitudes have come to take control over the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States. For centuries, priests were only male. In the 1970s, the Episcopal Church said that women could now be priests, and that there was nothing that conservatives who opposed such a move could do about it.
The Episcopal Church’s liberal bent continued. In 2003, the openly homosexual Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of New Hampshire, over the strenuous objection of conservatives throughout the Anglican communion. In fact, many conservative bishops and primates (bishops that are “leaders” of national churches) in the United States, Africa and other parts of the world begged the Episcopal Church not to go through with the ordination. But, in all its hubris, the Episcopal Church did anyway. The crisis was so bad, in fact, that the Archbishop of Canterbury commissioned a group called the Lambeth Commission on Communion to investigate the matter. The result was the Windsor Report of 2004, which “recommended a moratorium on further consecrations of actively homosexual bishops and blessings of same-sex unions, and called for all involved in Robinson’s consecration ‘to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion’.
On June 2006, the Episcopal Church voted Katharine Jefferts Schori as the presiding bishop of the United States. Since then. Ms. Schori has used the power of her office to “exorcise” the American church of any conservatives that disagree with her liberal interpretation of Anglicanism. She has used canon laws intended for use in dire emergencies to remove conservative bishops from office. She has misused those same laws by approving the votes of a “majority of bishops present”, instead of a “majority of all bishops”, as is plainly required by canon law. She has unleashed armies of lawyers to sue bishops, priests and even lay members of parishes that wish to leave the Episcopal Church in favor of alternative oversight. Such lawsuits take away emphasis on the Church’s true mission, cost money that the Episcopal Church can ill afford, and alienate members both here and overseas.
Because of the actions of Ms. Schori, her henchmen here in the US, and the like-minded individuals in the Anglican Church of Canada, conservative Anglicans from all “Anglican nations” got together to form the Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON for short. Their first meeting, in Jerusalem, just ended. 1148 orthodox lay and clergy delegates, including 291 Anglican bishops, attended. They discussed several issues and, in the end, released their statement, The Jerusalem Declaration (read it in full here).
The Declaration isn’t as forceful as I’d hoped. However, read it carefully and you’ll see that it actually says this:
“Dear Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and Archbishop of Canterbury:
For years you have marginalized those Anglicans which have desired to remain faithful to the tenets of orthodox Anglicanism. You have treated the bishops and priests of the Global South with condescension and contempt. You have ignored the protests of orthodox Anglicans in the United States and Canada.
We have waited patiently while you continually promised some form of relief for orthodox believers. However, under Katharine Jefferts Schori and Rowan Williams the situation has gotten much worse, not better. The Presiding Bishop of the United States has started a ‘slash and burn’ campaign against faithful members of her own church, while His Grace has sat idly by and ignored the Instruments of Communion to force the discipline of the majority of the communion on her.
This bullshit will stop, and it will stop soon. If not, orthodox Anglicans are willing to go it alone. His Grace may come with us, or he may not. Communion with the See of Canterbury is important to Anglicans, but not so important that we will turn a blind eye to heresy and apostasy to have it. We will create our own provinces and administer them as we see fit, and will bear no interference from Ms. Schori or His Grace when we do so. And when we come, we will come bearing not the 1979 Prayer Book, but the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the ‘true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer’, and we will translate and adapt it for every province we take back.
The time for discussion is past. We, the undersigned, throw down the gauntlet to Ms. Schori and His Grace. After all, we are not the ones changing “Anglicanism”, they are.
48 Million Anglicans”
Whew! OK, maybe I embellished a little… But it’s all there. And soon, in the next couple of days, I’ll have calmed down and will offer a more nuanced look at the situation in the Anglican communion.
Until then, though… I’ll be joyful of the Orthodox Revolution that’s finally happening!