Another victory for Anglican nuance

Gene Robinson, the bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of New Hampshire, said at his consecration that the church could not buy the sort of publicity that his election and approval had attracted.

One could say the same of how Jill Lawless of The Associated Press summed up one decision of the Anglican Counsultative Council, which met this week in Nottingham, England:

The Anglican Communion rejected Wednesday an attempt by traditionalists to punish the Canadian and U.S. wings of the church for their stand on homosexuality, watering down a resolution that called for the North Americans to be suspended from all church bodies.

Clergy including Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the 17.5-million-member Church of Nigeria, submitted a resolution to the influential Anglican Consultative Council requesting “that the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.) and the Anglican Church of Canada withdraw their members from all other official entities of the Communion” for three years.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 30-28, with a key change — “all other official entities of the Communion” was replaced with a reference to the council’s “standing committee and the inter-Anglican finance and administration committee.”

The Episcopal Church’s own Episcopal News Service did not place such an optimistic interpretation on the ACC’s vote. Likewise, Solange De Santis of Anglican Journal — the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada — described the ACC as narrowly supporting censure of the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.) and the Canadian church.

It’s also worth comparing the AP article with coverage by Ruth Gledhill of the Times, this BBC story and this interview on BBC Radio.

As with any other meeting of Anglicans — from the Lambeth Conference to the regular meetings of Anglican primates — there is enough ambiguity in the ACC’s votes that both sides can claim victory and go home. It’s a rare thing, though, for an AP reporter to claim victory for one side in such strong language.

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  • kendall Harmon

    There was no ambiguity on this vote. There were a whole range of articles from the BBC to the ENS and even to the CP who got it right. AP sticks out like a sore thumb.

  • Matt Kennedy+

    Dear Doug,

    I’m not sure that this can be portrayed as the typical Anglican fudge and I am quite sure that the revionist spin is just that. They cannot claim victory in any legitimate way. They have now been expelled from all the councils and committees of the ACC. All four instruments of Unity have upheld the teachings of scripture when it comes to sexuality as articulated in Lambeth 1.10, and three of the four (with the exclusion of lambeth) have identified ECUSA and Canada as the cause of the current imbroglio and agreed to some form of discipline. This was a major victory for the orthodox side, especially considering the nature of the ACC. It is the most unrepresentative of all the instruments of unity. The tiny rich western churches have used it as a way of maintaining colonial control over the thriving global south. Tiny, dying churches like ECUSA have three reps each while twice or more larger and thriving churches have maybe one or two. Revisionism has been entrenched there for many years. There was some question as to whether the ACC the most liberal and western dominated of the four instruments would affirm the primates, they did, fully and completely. This was a huge victory.

  • Douglas LeBlanc

    Kendall and Matt,

    I wrote this:

    “As with any other meeting of Anglicans — from the Lambeth Conference to the regular meetings of Anglican primates — there is enough ambiguity in the ACC’s votes that both sides can claim victory and go home.”

    The reference to voting is plural, not singular. I intended that sentence as a comment not only on the vote covered in the AP’s report, but also on other votes at the meeting, such as the unanimous agreement about listening to the stories of gay and lesbian Anglicans.

    If anyone doubts that both sides are claiming victory (though not yet going home), please compare the dispatches of the American Anglican Council with those of Inclusive Church and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, which are both available on this page at Thinking Anglicans.

  • Eric Swensson

    “Inclusive Church welcomes the reinstatement of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada within the bodies of the Anglican Communion.

    “The grassroots network of Anglican Christians and various church interest groups and bodies regrets that the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham today was not able to include the North American churches unconditionally. However, that the vote taken failed to achieve a clear majority is an affirmation of the diversity of the communion and a powerful reminder of our identity as Anglicans. Now, we can move forward to the listening process called for by the 1998 Lambeth Conference and begun at the Anglican Consultative Council.”

    Whhhrrrr! So what they are saying is that since there not a two-thirds majority (though no such majority is needed) that they won?

    The first statement is untrue and the second is without factual basis either?

  • C. Wingate

    It’s hard to imagine what result would not “permit” Griswold et al. to claim some sort of “victory”. For the rest of us there’s a clear distinction between the “victory” of more (thus far) inconclusive “listening” and a clear-cut exclusion from definite organs of the church. The vote points directly at a Lambeth in which the North American churches are voted out of the communion. There’s not much nuance there.

    One of the things one hopes for from reporters is that they can relate the matter in a way that gets past the spin. the AP version is spin, ignoring the continuing precedent of exclusion in favor of implying that it didn’t mean much because it didn’t go very far.

  • Jim Workman

    Doug–Your initial points were quite clear and patently accurate:

    -The ACC votes on resolutions were such that both major sides can and will spin them.

    -The AP report was slanted to the point of looking partisan.

    Thanks for your analysis. I figured you would notice this from a Get Religion point of view.

  • J-D

    This seems typical of the ECUSA specifically, and partisans of any stripe in general. Ignore facts that are inconvenient, spin those that cannot be ignored, and make yourself feel better even when fooling no one.

    The ECUSA’s membership is dropping like a stone. THAT is the fact that matters and will ultimately declare who the “victors” are.

    May God have mercy on us all!

  • The Common Anglican

    The Church has always had heresy welling up at various times and this age is like a digital dark age. That does not mean that the Gospel will not accomplish what it was set out to do. Christ’s kingdom is here and is changing the world. Christ will not forsake His Bride, but may reform her.

    Anglicanism is a unique expression of the Christian faith and whatever may come from ECUSA (in its reform or demise), Anglicanism will remain faithful to the Gospel–though much pain will be felt in the mean time.

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