Friday, October 13, 2006

Panel of Reference Recommendations

The recommendations of the Panel of Reference regarding Diocese of New Westminster are out. I'm not going to comment on them specifically as there are sites that have already done so and who cover most of what I would say anyway. I will say that I share a concern with many about the reference to GS 2007. It is possible to interpret that the panel is expecting that GS 2007 will step back from the progress made regarding full inclusion of GLBT in the life and sacraments of the Church. What happens if that is not the case? I do, however, celebrate the affirmation that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of New Westminster are in communion with the Church of England. You can find the report at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/reference/docs/report_october.pdf(For those of you who are used a bit more sophistication in the use of links I apologize but I am just learning this thing.)

What I would like to comment on is the responses of two Primates from the "Global South". Of course we all know that I have a problem with political speak so I may miss a few things. You can find the responses which I am refering at http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/1307/ . There are a few assumptions of which I question the validity.

The response by +Gomez states:

"The claim is not in relations to the Church of England but 'the Church of England throughout the world,' that is, the Communion. It is clear that many provinces are not in communion with the bishop of the diocese and so the Panel needs to make clear how they can fulfill their clear declaration to 'remain in communion with those whom they regard as faithful' as long as they are under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop. The Panel seems to want to say there is no problem because parts of the Communion have not declared impaired communion with the diocese and even those who have not declared it with the parishes but (a) it is not clear how the Panel makes sense of this latter claim canonically or ecclesiologically and (b) if there is any doubt many of the Provinces will make clear that indeed "In order to continue in full communion... 'we cannot at present function in structural fellowship with Bishop Ingham and the Diocese of New Westminster. (AS 3.2.3)". This is a crucial stage in the Panel's whole argument and it is precarious to say the least. In paragraph 25, the Panel's response to the request for special arrangements given the current status of the Diocese and Province within the worldwide Anglican Communion. However one describes it, the situation is clear and unprecedented - the province of which they are part, as a result of the actions of the diocese of which they are part, are currently unable to participate in the Instruments of Commuion."

I question the questioning of the Panel's arguement. +Gomez appears to base it on the idea that the Diocese of New Westminster is currently unable to participate in the Instruments of Communion. In order to answer this I would include the Anglican Church of Canada in that statement as there are certain Instruments of Unity (Communion) that the dioceses do not participate in on an individual level but rather through the Anglican Church of Canada. Unless something has happened of which I am unaware we are still able to participate in/with all Instruments of Unity.

We are still in communion with the ABC (the Panel's report makes that clear). We are still attending Primates meetings. The indications are that we will be invited to Lambeth. Although we chose to respect the wishes of the last Primate's meeting and did not actively participate in the last Anglican Consultative Council, we are still able to participate if we so wish. I would say that this puts Gomez's arguement on shaky grounds.

Venables writes:

"Global South Primates are committed to working with Communion structures to implement the steps and solutions that the crisis requires. Unless there is a radical revision of the Panel's operation, it does not appear that it will offer solutions of adequate or appropriate substance."

Is he really saying that unless the Panel says what we (the Global South) wants it to say, we will not accept that what it has to recommend as valid? I find this interesting because it was on the request of the Primate's that the panel was set up in the first place. Now that it does not support what the Global South Primate's have proposed in the Kilgali communique, they find it lacking.

The item that both the Primate's fail to respond to is that of crossing boundaries. Once again I find that interesting especially given Venables sponsorship of the Diocese of Recife. What does concern me in light of +Gomez's response is his appointment as chair for a new Anglican covenant as well as his being one of the four "wise people" with whom the ABC consults.

8 comments:

shawn said...

Hey there Ann Marie! Good to see you tonight - Integrity is sure a lively bunch, n'est-ce pas?
I've not followed this whole "panel of reference" thing very closely, so I don't know all the ins and outs. But it sure is interesting to see the responses it is generating - have you see the Essentials Network (or whatever it is they're calling it) response yet? Very ominous sounding.... wonder what threat is insinuated behind it.
All this politics ... nasty on the soul after a while. I just had a good email exchange with a lesbian priest in the Old Catholic Church of Canada, who had been an Anglican priest for 20 years. She said it was so good getting out of the toxic spirituality of reactionary religion, into a church body that actually let her get on with the type of pastoral ministry and mission that the church needs. I tell you, there are days when I seriously consider it. And who knows what I will do after GS07. Even if the church moves strongly toward local option, Bishop Rod has said quite clearly he is not going there. So what am I to do? I can't wait this out ... I feel like my own soul is dying from having to uphold such an unjust law. I feel like I'm lying to myself, as well as betraying Queer folk in the church.
In my mind, in 20 years we will look back and see the damage we have done, and know that its something very similar to the damage done through the residential schools. And I will be asking myself what I did to stop it...
I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out.
Peace,
Shawn +

Ann Marie said...

Shawn,

To some extent I know how you feel. I went through these questions in seminary. I remember talking to my father one night in Tim Horton's. It was that horrible week when I had been told that doctrinal lines should be drawn and people who supported same sex relationships placed on the outside. I attended the Ash Wednesday service and every one taking part in the service was male. And I had just been told by Claude Payne that had I approached him as a postulant, he would not have accepted me. I had to go to Timmie's with Dad because Mom was having bridge at their house. I broke down crying. Dad pointed out that there were other places where I would be accepted, that I wasn't alone. The problem was that I wasn't at those other places and didn't see a possibility of being there.

I guess two things keep me going. One is the fact that in the '60's and 70's a number of "liberals" left the Church. And we see the strength of the "conservatives" as a result. The other is the reason why my Dad went back into the priesthood after burnout. That was that if he didn't there wouldn't be a voice for other possiblities. So I figure that for me to leave the diocese or to do something which my affects my being present as an ordained priest, leaves the possibilities I present voiceless in the deanery or among the clergy. So for now I remain and try to continue dialogue with others. Not easy at times and at times costly on a personal level. Biting my tongue was never my forte.

You have to do what you believe is right. Place the matter in God's hand and look at it through God's heart. Where are you most effective in furthering God's kingdom. You know that I will support you whatever your decision is. My concern, if you chose to move ahead, is what happens to the people at SNM and at Integrity. You have a valuable and effective ministry in both those places and you have these people's trust and respect. As far as Integrity is concerned, the priests who would be most effective (at least in my mind) have left the diocese. But on the other hand, how effective are you going to be if you start suffering spiritually over not being true to yourself? I'm sure these are questions that haunt you and I'm sorry to say that what ever decision you make, those or other questions will probably continue to haunt you. “Did you make the right choice?” “What if...?”

For my part, I question whether my acceptance that I will toe the line (at least for now) is really as altruistic as I say. Is it because I want to stay and be a voice and presence or is it because I'm too cowardly to face the consequences. As you know, I have considered other denominations. The thing it keeps coming back to is - if we all leave what then what? Who will be left to support those who believe they have to stay? My recent experience with healing stands out strongly. Would the person have made the strides they have in accepting themself had I left. I praise God that through my just being present, God was able to bring healing. I think of certain people in the various places I have lived. I really haven't done anything and yet through my presence in their lives, God has brought various healings, acceptances, gifts. I did nothing except be present. I still don't know what exactly these people are thanking me for because I have not been aware that I have done anything - probably because I have not, God has. I hold on to that, that my presence with the men in this diocese will make a difference. I haven't got a foggy clue how, but I will continue as long as I can and still maintain my health on all levels so that God has an avenue to work through.

But that is me. We need people who will stay and continue to be a presence, a reminder, a possibility. But what is the point in staying if the buttons aren't pushed to encourage us all to be stretched. And that's where we need the people who act. That's why each of us is created differently. For you, your soul dies through inaction. For me, my soul dies through not staying and being a voice. Through each of us God works. The trick is to discern how God wants to work through us and then accommodate God.

If you weren't struggling with the decision, I would be worried. If the decision were an easy one or cut and dried I would worry that it was the wrong one. Giving birth to things is not passive nor is it painless. It is through the baptism of fire that we truly listen to and heed God's call. And God calls each of us differently for different things. May God bless you in your discernment and continue to support you with God's loving arms through whatever the decision you make in God's name.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

shawn said...

Ann Marie,
Thanks for your care-full response. I appreciate your support, and our ongoing conversation - its very helpful in my discernment. And I hope that having this conversation in a public (sort of) forum might help others who are also sorting through the issues.
The past couple days have been very good. I've felt really connected with my communities (Christian and non-Christian alike). I think its when I'm feeling alienated from my communities that I'm more likely to feel like just cutting ties and moving into a new sphere. Its easier to envision leaving the Anglican church when I'm not surrounded by particular people and concrete relationships which give me life. Keep praying for me, as I pray for you, and we'll both keep praying for this broken world which God loves so much.
Peace,
Shawn +

Ann Marie said...

Shawn,

To some extent I know what you mean. I was all set to throw in the towel in September. I came out of my vestry meeting wondering what on earth was the use. I know the telephone wires burned between my house and my parents as I fumed and cried. And then came October and hope.

I was worried when you were talking about the Lutherans and their openess to some sort of future with the Anglicans. The message I had been getting from my people was - we'll close our doors when the time comes and that will be it. After you had spoken with me, I was thinking, "Oh great, the Anglicans are going to let the Lutherans down yet again." Then on Monday morning on coffee row, one of my Anglicans was talking about your sermon and the story about heaven and hell and self-sufficiency and then went on to mention some sort of arrangement with the Lutherans. I was thinking, Thank you God for Shawn. This is one of my more negative people and she's talking about a future with the Lutherans rather than just shutting our doors. Alleluia! I am now a lot more hopeful although I am still holding off on pushing them. I came to the realization this summer that they needed time to grieve for the loss of what they had hoped for so I backed off on pushing any decisions or work for the future. I am listening for signs to move ahead and this was certainly one of them. God does work in wondrous ways and angels do come in many shapes and sizes.

joseph said...

Hi Ann Marie - just discovered your blog and put up a post link.

blessings

Ann Marie said...

Hi Joseph,

Welcome.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

shawn said...

Greetings!
Has anyone seen the recent statement by Archbishop Buckle? When I go to the link on the ACC website, I can't get the blinkin' document to open! Somebody help me out!
Peace,
Shawn +

joseph said...

I've seen the statement - it opened after a re-direct to a pdf file. Maybe the site is more friendly to some web browsers than others? (I'm using Safari - I'm on Mac)