Gafcon and the Pastoral Forum

It is clear from the recent communique from GAFCON that the move to establish a North American Province without the express approval of Canterbury is unstoppable. It is a tragically missed opportunity that a robust response to the needs of alienated orthodox Anglicans in North America was not negotiated at Lambeth. I think a unified and unifying response could still be made if the Archbishop of Canterbury immediately announces a chair for the pastoral forum who is a figure credible in Global South and GAFCON quarters. Drexel Gomez and Mouneer Anis are two names that come immediately to mind. The non-negotiable needs to be that any interim arrangement of alternate primatial oversight is acceptable to the parties seeking relief. The window of opportunity for a Canterbury sponsored solution is nearly closed.

4 thoughts on “Gafcon and the Pastoral Forum

  1. Ah, it is I think important to read Communique again – again, as is the “Anglican Way” – it what is not said that speaks louder than what is. Our eyes and ears are trained to hear what is said, rather than what is not said – but for Anglicans it is often what is not said that resounds.

    They did not call for a province, they said it was a first priority. They are not being reckless with their rhetoric – and neither are the orthodox primates who attended Lambeth. No bridges are being burned.

    One of the things I think we need to avoid, especially for those of us who primarily think theologically rather than politically, is that successful political strategy is most often based more on relationships than on pure ideology. The ideology fuels the drive, but it is relationships that steer the car. This is very important – very important. You can have the best case in the world for something – the best in the world – and still fail because you didn’t build the relationships.

    Rowan Williams took a huge hit at Lambeth, make no mistake about it. He alienated a constituency that thought he was all wrapped up. He may have buyers remorse later (we’ll see), but his final presidential address laid his cards on the table in such a way that it is causing heads to spin on this side of the Atlantic.

    Note how quiet the leaders of GAFCON are right now – very quiet, even with this Communique. “Be still and know that I am God,” we are reminded in the scriptures. We are making progress when we have a quiet confidence – not a proud one or an enraged one or a frustrated one or a boisterous one – but a quiet confidence. The fact remains that Rowan Williams called a Primates Meeting (and yes, there’s all this stuff about Indaba, well, we’ll see what that means – the bishops are rather “indabaed out” right now). The call for the Primates Meeting infuriated TEC leaders present at Lambeth, and with reason.

    The next six months preparing for that Primates meeting are crucial and it’s no accident that many are feeling fatigue at the ongoing war. It is often battle-fatigue that causes many to begin to negotiate – and as we saw at Lambeth, for some influential TEC bishops, the word negotiate is a dirty word. But negotiate we must and negotiate we will. Remember, it is the meek who inherit the earth.


  2. Leander, as I said on my own DCNY blog, why would anyone believe that the pastoral forum will work when the Council of Advice, the Panel of Reference, and the Pastoral Council all failed? Isn’t this kind of thinking the very definition of insanity?

  3. The Panel of Reference failed in part because of a poor choice for leader who had no credibility with traditionalists and no particular passion to make the panel work. The caliber of the appointees could make a very great difference. The Pastoral Council was rejected out of hand by the American HOB. It is not unusual in difficult situations that solutions must be proposed numerous times before something takes hold and it still could in this case but timing and personnel are critical.

    With regard to the comments by Baby Blue. I completely accept that it is possible to miss the relational dimension of events. I do think that there still is a great desire even in GAFCON quarters to work with rather than against Canterbury and that a timely move on the part of ABC would be well received.

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