Updated Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Note the change in title...the question mark is gone.
The Lead on the Episcopal Cafe has a report from the Telegraph, which the Living Church has confirmed, that
A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel Church for conservatives in America in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provoking the biggest split in Anglican history, The Daily Telegraph has learned.In a piece that I wrote for the Daily Episcopalian and posted yesterday, I said that it looked like there were elements of the conservative/reasserter movement that was ready to bolt the communion no matter what the Archbishop of Canterbury said. If the Telegraph is right (and they have been spectacularly wrong before) then it looks like it will be happening faster than expected.
According to sources, at least six primates are planning the consecration of a prominent American cleric as a bishop to minister to Americans who have rejected their liberal bishops over the issue of homosexuality.
This was precisely what Fr. Ephrahim Radner warned against: the splitting up of the conservative coalitions into bite-sized chunks. If what the Telegraph says is true then this would be the third such group behind CANA and AMiA in the US/Canada. +Duncan's Common Cause meeting would be off to a very bad start because the Network was supposed to hold these groups together and it seems that significant players have run out of patience.
We will know more when it is announced who their Bishop designate is, and if the number of Primates involved is as many as the story indicates (which I personally seriously doubt, but then I have been spectacularly wrong in the past, myself).
If true, it is really amazing that these guys could not hold it together until October at least. Are they planning to consecrate or appoint their Bishop before the House of Bishops meeting? And do they honestly think this will help them gain leverage? Are these jurisdictions trying to outflank each other in some vain idea of trying to pick up more disaffected Episcopal Congregations?
By acting now, there is much less likelihood that there will be any interest in any compromise in the fall that would take into account the concerns of these groups. They will have disenfranchised themselves from the Windsor Process, and so will give more space to the groups and members of the Communion they oppose.
Another effect of this is that fewer churches (and dioceses?) would likely leave the Episcopal Church and join them. This will make it more uncertain and less appealing to congregations and clergy who are unhappy with the Episcopal Church but who are on the fence about changing jurisdictions. Between the costs of litigation, the questionable legitimacy, and the lack of cohesion between groups, switching looks less and less attractive to communities who are seeking doctrinal and spiritual stability in changing times.
If this keeps up, by the time ++Rowan comes back from sabbatical, the whole mess could have solved itself.
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George Conger reports that the Anglican Church in Kenya will consecrate former Episcopalian Canon Bill Atwood (that's him on the left standing with the Prime Minister of the Bahamas) of the Ekklesia Society as a Suffragan Bishop to Congregations under the care of the Anglican Church in Kenya in Nairobi.
According to a letter from Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, it is part of a coordinated plan that would include other unnamed Primates for a Province in the United States.
Is this a break-up of intruding Archbishops into Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and Charismatic jurisdictions? Will the line up according to who and who will not ordain women? Can Archbishop Nzimbi bring together these disparate groups under a single "province" to create "facts on the ground" in time for Lambeth? Are these three groups going to duke it out to claim the crown of "legitimate orthodox province" in the USA?
Thinking Anglicans and the Lead have these stories (here and here). Stay tuned.