Conservatives plan to replace Episcopal Church with their own Anglican province

October 13, 2003

On the AAC conference's second day, attention shifted from the past and present to the future.

A morning panel dramatically titled "Intervention!" opened with the Rev. Bill Atwood, general secretary of the Ekklesia Society, speaking about the viewpoint of the Anglican primates and bishops of Africa and Asia--the global South. Atwood, who describes himself as a "facilitator" for conservative primates, described churches that largely reflect the evangelical theology of their founding missionaries and the communitarian values of their surrounding cultures-and for whom Western individualism and liberalism are antithetical.

"One archbishop said to me, 'You know, when the missionaries came here, they introduced us to Jesus. Now we don't have to travel to the West to ask Him what He thinks. We ask Him here,'" Atwood related.

Global South churchgoers maintain a "cultural repugnance" for homosexuality and find the idea of "parallel jurisdiction" alongside those who do not share that view unacceptable, he said. "As one archbishop said to me, 'We cannot be in a position of condoning evil.'" Threats of losing Western funding don't faze them, Atwood maintained, quoting Bishop Ben Kwashi of the Nigerian diocese of Jos: "'A pile of money? You can't make a pile of money so big it can insulate me from the flames of Hell.'"

No more 'muddling through'

"God willing, the defining battle of the war for Anglicanism's soul will be fought next week," intoned Pittsburgh bishop Duncan, even as he warned that the "war" itself would take "days and months, and to some extent years."

He characterized the conflict as one between archbishops in the global South and those of the "disintegrating, old" West, with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams caught in the middle. "This time 'muddling through' will not suffice," he warned sternly. "For Rowan Williams, the last British empire is his to lose."

Duncan predicted that the primates will rebuke ECUSA's Presiding Bishop, the bishops who voted for Robinson's confirmation and tolerate same-sex unions, and the Diocese of New Hampshire. He also said they will demand that Robinson not be consecrated, but that, if he is, he and bishops who participate in his consecration not be recognized as such. All who voted for the objectional resolutions would be called to public repentance within a few months.

Admitting that such actions "sound pretty un-Anglican," Duncan then speculated on the outcome if the primates decline to rebuke ECUSA. "Quite simply, that failure would come at the price of a wrenching split in the whole fabric of the Communion. I am convinced that the Global South would largely separate itself from the old West," he said. "The Archbishop of Canterbury would become little more than the titular head of a moribund and declining British, American and Australian sect. The dynamic Anglicanism of Africa, Asia and Latin America would realign with a 'first among equals' whose see might have a movable name, including places like Lagos or Nassau or Singapore or Buenos Aires."

Gradually, as Duncan described it, a "Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes" would emerge in North America, aligned with African and Asian Anglicans-a remnant ecclesiola in ecclesia, a church within a church. The AAC would facilitate the process, providing structures for the new "replacement province," which will embrace a variety of breakaway Episcopal churches, ranging from the Reformed Episcopal Church to the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).

The only sticking point, Duncan admitted, might be the ordination of women-which is acceptable in some parts of the global South and not in others. Duncan chalked that up to the failure to sustain "a process of reception" about the issue. "We need to develop understandings of how our two integrities can proceed alongside one another, until our Good Lord eventually makes this matter plain to our children and grandchildren," said Duncan.

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