I’m Episcopalian. Our church belongs to The Anglican Communion, a collection of churches around the worlds (mostly, but not entirely, former British colonies) that all work together. We’re not like the Catholic or Orthodox churches, we don’t have a Pope. The Archbishop of Canterbury acts as the default head of the Anglicans, but each church makes its own decisions.
The Primates (heads of each member church, I believe 38 in all: some represent one country, others represent many, like the Primate of South America, and the Bishop of York, because that office is kind of like second in command in Church of England), met at the ABC’s request to discuss the Episcopal Church’s recent adoption of same-sex matrimony. The meeting pretty much went exactly as we’d all expect: a bunch of African Primates were upset, and the group decided to impose some de-facto sanctions on the Episcopal Church, with a few caveats. Basically, we won’t be allowed to participate in a legislative body, but we haven’t been included in that for a while, since Gene Robinson was made a bishop. The only change is that there is an end date on that now.
However, once that three year time period (as opposed to indefinitely, as it was before) comes up, I can only imagine some sort of larger schism happening.
The Primates were also going to impose these restrictions on the Anglican Church of Canada, but since they have not officially approved of same-sex matrimony through their process, nothing was done.
Those facts make me think that the Primates, even the most conservative ones, are being pragmatic about the whole thing. They can say their hands are tied because of ‘process’ and ‘paperwork.’ Will that three years make that much of a difference? I don’t think so, but it may buy them some time.
At the same meeting, the ACNA, the group that split off from the Diocese of Pittsburgh was there for part of the time. They are not officially recognized by Lambeth/Canterbury, and their participation was unsettling to me, but I take most of that is due to me living in the epicenter of it all.
In the US, we just installed a new Presiding Bishop (our Primate), and he’s pretty awesome. He released a video from England about the meeting, and had pledged that we will not go backwards:
In the grand scheme of things, most members of local churches don’t even think about the larger Anglican Communion. Here in Pittsburgh, maybe things are a little different. Or maybe I think about them because I’m gay. Or a combination of both. Sometimes I wish I didn’t think or worry about things like this, but I know we’re in good hands. Integrity USA, the internal LGBT lobby of the Episcopal Church has a wonderful open letter, and response, to the meeting.
And of course, since this is the Internet, two friends (one I’ve worked with in person through Circle of Faith, the other, a true Internet friend) have posted their amazing sermons from last Sunday where they talk about the meeting. Both are worth reading: Scott in Franklin Park, and Megan in Kansas City (Missouri, mind you).
All my best,