Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hope for the Future: What the Primates' Decisions Mean for the Communion Praise God; I'd been praying that whole week that God would not let our Communion split. I sincerely believed that the Archbishop of Canterbury would do nothing about the Episcopal Church (and the Anglican Church in Canada; more on that, later),  leaving the conservative Primates to simply walk out on the Communion. That would mean about 80% of the Communion, the ACNA included, would leave.

Instead, we had the Primates vote to "not sanction" but face "consequences" (read: "sanction") the Episcopal Church for its formal endorsement of gay marriage.

For those who do not know, the Episcopal Church has been in a downward spiral, spiritually, for the past three or four decades. It first began with the ordination of women into the priesthood (or...did it begin with the allowance of contraception? Yes, I just went there.), and continued with the ordination of women to the bishopric, then with the allowance of an actively gay man into the bishopric in 2003 (an alcoholic who eventually had to resign, and also "divorced" his "husband", the one he was living with for seventeen years after divorcing his wife in 1986...but yeah, he fit St. Paul's requrements to become a bishop; sure. Oh! And he's totes legit wildly conservative!!!!) and the promotion of gay "marriage" in the Church, then finally had the marriage rite changed last year (2015) to include gay couples.

So this downward spiral has been pointed out repeatedly throughout the years, with little consequential action done. It has caused many divisions within the Communion, most notably the formation of the ACNA. It's also caused an international alliance of conservative Anglicans, known as GAFCON, to push for more conservative reforms and discipline against those who've pushed for fundamental changes within the doctrines of the Church.

On the week of January 11th, 2016, the Primates of the Anglican Communion gathered together in Canterbury for a meeting on what to do to maintain unity within the Church. Somewhat surprisingly, my Archbishop Foley Beach was invited to the gathering as well by Archbishop Justin Welby. Why is that surprising? Because we split from the Episcopal Church, and are not considered "fully Anglican" by the Archbishop of Canterbury, although 80% of the Communion recognizes us as fully Anglican. Initially, my Archbishop was only going to be observing the talks, with no ability to vote for any decisions to be made. We'll get to that part soon enough.

Our church parish had been praying for the gathering ever since it was first announced last year. Many of us were concerned that the Primates gathering would be unable to come to a solution, which would cause many of the conservatives to simply leave the Communion. Thankfully, that did not happen; far from it. Instead, the Communion decided, by a 3/4's majority, that the Episcopal Church needed to "have consequences" (read: "be sanctioned") for its actions in unilaterally changing the understanding of marriage. For the next three years, the Episcopal Church is not allowed to represent the Anglican Communion in any official capacity, nor is it allowed to vote in matters of doctrine or polity. Archbishop Foley Beach was not only invited to the talks, but was given full allowance to vote on the issues at hand!

You should see this interview with Archbishop Foley Beach:

You should also see this (much longer) press conference with Archbishop Justin Welby and some other Primates:

This has been nothing but an amazing sign of God's Hand on our Communion; people don't know this, but the Anglican Communion is the third largest group of Christians in the world. We are also strongly conservative, despite the image that the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and a few other groups have presented us as. There are some minor (and I want to stress, minor) problems with some of the decisions made, but I don't want to focus on those at all right now. This gathering demonstrated that the conservatives are still the majority in the Communion, that Archbishop Welby is not going to make the same mistakes as his predecessor, and that there is a real possibility for the ACNA to take the place of the Episcopal Church, if TEC does not repent of its sins (all signs indicate that it will not).

Who knows? We'll find out more within three years. For now, let's praise God for keeping our Communion together.

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