crisis and showdown and schism, oh my!

Religion columnists are setting up their stories from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Although the meeting has yet to begin, writers are priming their coverage with dire predictions of what the Archbishop will demand at his first visit to an Episcopal Church meeting. Originally invited by the Bishops to listen to the experience of The Episcopal Church (TEC), most reporters believe that the Archbishop will come to tell TEC what to do or else.

Stephen Bates writing in The Guardian predicts:

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will demand concessions from the bishops of the US Episcopal Church tomorrow at a crisis meeting aimed at staving off the most damaging split in the churchs modern history, over the issue of homosexuality.

They will be asked to give guarantees that they will not allow the election of any more openly gay bishops or authorise public blessing services for same-sex couples and will create a structure for separate episcopal oversight for conservative congregations who disagree with the churchs liberal leadership.

and comments on possible strategies:

But with few signs of compromise, an air of fatalism and uncertainty has descended on senior officials in the Anglican communion. The strategy appears to be an attempt to minimise any split by seeking an alliance of liberal and moderate conservative US bishops behind a form of words that would strengthen previous US assurances that they will not promote more gay clergy or formally celebrate gay partnerships. They are hoping to rally support around Charles Jenkins, the Bishop of Louisiana, a leading conservative who has insisted he wants to remain within the Episcopal Church.

The position of the American presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, will also be critical in keeping the majority of American bishops together. Although the meetings will be in private, broken by one public service at which Dr Williams will preach, the bishops will be surrounded by lobbyists for both sides.

While a compromise might satisfy some in the communion, it will not be enough for African archbishops or their conservative American and English allies who are ambitious to split the church and force a realignment.

Regarding some African archbishops, Bates writes:

In increasingly bizarre moves, African archbishops in Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya have been busily appointing American conservatives mainly men who have previously failed to secure election to American dioceses to African bishoprics in recent weeks ostensibly to minister to disaffected Africans and Americans back in US churches. There are now nearly as many American bishops belonging to the Rwandan church as Rwandans.

Read The Guardian article here

Other columnists and their predictions:

The Telegraph

Associated Press

New York Times


Atlanta Journal Constitution

Christian Science Monitor

New Orleans Times-Picayune

Daily Mail

USA Today

This list above will be added to throughout Tuesday and Wednesday. Watch this space.

Jim Naughton, writing at Daily Episcopalian, reflects on the hopes for the meeting here. Just as importantly, read Jim’s primer, how to read this week’s news.

The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offers a video overview of the meeting here.

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