Conservative Anglicans and Episcopalians who were to decide whether or not to officially break from the Episcopal Church, USA, this week concluded an annual council meeting Wednesday still unsure of what God is going to do.
The Anglican Communion Network convened 80 delegates together from around the United States, affirming their central need for the "reformation of behavior" as Anglicanism in the United States has been on the rocks for the last three years.
"No one can any longer say that 'nothing is happening,' though some, despite all this evidence to the contrary, remain prisoners to that mantra," the Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, moderator of the ACN, told the delegates. "These last three years have seemed interminable..."
Since the consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop New Hampshire's Gene Robinson in 2003, divisions within the U.S. Anglican arm broke out with most Anglican leaders worldwide saying gay relationships violate Scripture a minority position in the U.S. church. The ACN, representing 10 conservative U.S. dioceses and more than 900 parishes within the Episcopal Church, was soon birthed and is now in the midst of dealing with the nuts and bolts of building and maintaining "an orthodox Anglican witness and ministry."
The conservative Anglican leaders have appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, for an alternative primatial oversight to affirm their strict stand with the worldwide communion and to "be that part of the ECUSA that has 'not walked apart' from the Communion that has sacrificially and faithfully stood for what is the Communion's articulated teaching and for what are the accepted boundaries of its order," Duncan stated in his address at the council meeting.
Unless Williams addresses the concerns of U.S. conservatives to distance themselves from the Episcopal Church, Duncan said the global Anglican Communion will lose shape as a unified body.
Although the network has called on the majority of the Episcopal Church to repent, Duncan told the network's delegates, "We too, are every bit as much in need of repenting."
"Our struggle is not about sexuality," he continued, "it is about sin. The 'fix' is not about them, it is about us. The whole world is drawn to the Body of Christ when the Body of Christ looks like Jesus, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else."
The dioceses discussed what the reformation of behavior would look like in such areas as holiness in personal life, worship, constitutional and legal positions and church planting. The network is also continuing its work on a Covenant Declaration of the Common Cause Partners" to outline basic and unifying theological commitments that the dioceses join together in making. The document will be further refined at the Common Cause Roundtable meeting Aug. 16-18 in Pittsburgh.
The recent council meeting follows ECUSA's 75th General Convention in June, where the church expressed regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the 2003 convention and decided to "exercise restraint" in the consecrating of homosexuals a move that disappointed gay advocates and brought relief to those opposing homosexual ordination but still wanting to stay in the communion.
While acknowledging the major changes visibly occurring within the Anglican body and expressing concern over an unraveling communion, Bishop Duncan told delegates, We dont know what God is going to do. We do know that God is faithful to His people and that God has a purpose for Anglicanism in the World.