We’ve had a curious development in the Anglican Communion’s struggle over the role of gay Christians in the Church right here in our diocese. At least, it seems that it has taken place here in our diocese. Although all I have to offer as evidence is that a certain post office box is here in our diocese. In the Chevy Chase section of DC, it seems.
Here is the story: Last week, members of the U. S. House of Bishops received a note from the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, asking them to fill out an attached survey. (You can see a copy of his note here, thanks tot Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans. If the type is too smal to read, drag your cursor to the lower right hand corner of the document and click on the document expander.)
The survey is from a group–although I can’t swear that the collective noun is appropriate–called Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion whose cover letter is here. (Thanks, again, to Simon.) In this letter the group(?) suggests that if members of the HoB got a do-over by secret ballot on the issues of +Gene Robinson and same-sex blessings, they might come to different decisions. The only contact info we have on the group, which has not publicly named any of its members, is a zip code (20015) in the Chevy Chase section of Washington, D. C., and a PO Box number.
The survey asks three questions: if you could vote in SECRET right NOW on +GR how would you vote? 2. if you could vote in SECRET NOW they are big on upper case letters) how would you vote on blessing same-sex unions? and 3. If push comes to shove (I am paraphrasing) would you side with the Episcopal Church if it were being kicked out of the Communion, or would you stick with the Communion and leave the Church?
I wish this were sinister because that would be good fun, but alas it is merely weird. Let’s review: The former AoC, who has vigorously opposed the consecration of +Gene and the blessing of same sex unions, and whose knowledge of our church can charitably be described as partial, has apparently hooked up with a group whose membership is known to him, but which he does not feel he can disclose to members of the HoB. But he knows these people well enough to assure the HoB that they can be trusted with a confidential survey on sensitive matters. The comically leading survey (We think you have changed your mind: Have you changed your mind?) is to be mailed to the PO Box whence they will pass into the hands of a secretive “sponsor” at which point the results of the survey will be collated and released at an as-yet-unknown audience at an as yet unannounced time. And this will save the Anglican Communion! (And I think we all get ponies, but that is pure speculation.)
Three quick points:
1. Consecrating a bishop differs from a round of duffers’ golf in that there are no mulligans.
2. The archbishop has done either the Diocese of Washington nor the people of one of our parishes, All Saints, Chevy Chase, any favors. He is in-residence at All Saints, part-time, when he is in this country, on and off, on a research fellowship with the Library of Congress. All Saints is one of the two Network-affiliated parishes in our diocese, and its bounds include much, if not all, of the 20015 zip code. If people become interested enough in finding out who the Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion are, the handling of this mailing leaves you only two lines of inquiry: call George Carey, or call All Saints.
3. Tobias Haller, who made the following comment on Simon’s site has hit the nail on the head as he often does with numbing regularity:
“The most serious problem with this survey is that it is being sent to the entire House of Bishops. It is a common misunderstanding to think that the House of Bishops voted on the consent to the election of Bishop Robinson. They did not. According to our canons, only bishops with jurisdiction are eligible to consent to elections. This is done, apart from meetings of the General Convention, by sending a ballot to each diocesan bishop, which he or she is then free to return (as consent) or simply disregard. An absolute majority of “consents” is required for confirmation; so every consent “withheld” in this way is an effective “no.”
I do not know who is behind this survey, but whoever put it together does not understand this fundamental feature of the polity of the Episcopal Church, concerning the election of its bishops.”