Revisiting “The Question”: Stewardship

Returning to the question of whether continued membership in the Anglican Communion is in the best interests of the Episcopal Church. Let’s examine the issue from the standpoint of stewardship.

This year the Episcopal Church will contribute more than $750,000 to maintain the Anglican Consultative Council and the Communion Office in London. The Episcopal Church contribution accounts for roughly 30 percent of the office’s budget. Over the next three years our total contribution will be $2.35 million.

Is this money well spent? Several church leaders, including our former presiding bishop, argued in the affirmative during debate over this issue in the run-up to our General Convention in 2006. Their arguments are relayed in this story from ENS.

My question is whether we should continue to be so generous in our support of a body that a) requested that we not exercise our voting rights at its last meeting; b) permitted the Akinola-led opposition to use our withdrawal to push through legislation that would not have passed had we participated; c) has become increasingly curial in its functions as the Archbishop of Canterbury has pursued his plan for an Anglican Covenant and d) houses the odious Panel of Reference, created at the behest of foreign Primates eager to meddle in our affairs on behalf of those who oppose the full inclusion of gays, lesbians and women in the ministries of our Church?

I will grant that I have phrased this question in a loaded way. But our relationship to the Archbishop of Canterbury seems to be deteriorating rapidly–witness his arm’s length treatment of our Presiding Bishop, his unwillingness to request civility from Primates who have attacked her, and his unwillingness to pay a public visit to any of our churches.

The relationship with the Communion office does not seem to be much better. If one looks at the roster of the Covenant Design Committee released yesterday, and, even worse at the roster of those asked to comment on papers presented to the committee, it is clear that the deck is being stacked against those who favor many of the positions our Church has arrived at through its democratic processes in recent years. (The lists are here.)

If one reads through the Panel of Reference’s recent attempt to pressure our Church into rewriting its canons on women’s ordination, the threat to our self-governance is evident, as is the threat to the progress we have made toward the full inclusion of all of the baptized in the ministries of our Church.

I understand that there are people out there who want to destroy the Episcopal Church, and what it stands for. I am increasingly coming to believe that there are others who would enable our destruction. What I need someone to explain to me is why we are subsidizing their efforts.

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