Significant or merely curious?

Some things are happening on the Episcopal right these days that are either significant or merely curious, and I am not sure which.

Not long ago, Canon Ellis Brust, formerly the executive director of the American Anglican Council, left that position to become executive director of the Anglican Mission in America. This is especially curious because just a few weeks before his departure from the AAC, Canon Brust was one of two unsuccessful candidates for Bishop of South Carolina, a diocese with close ties to the AAC.

To make things a little more peculiar, the AMiA is involved in a bitter property dispute with South Carolina. So Brust went from being a candidate to lead one party in a law suit, to leading the opposing party in that same suit in the blink of an eye. This is the first of the events that I hope someone can interpret for me.

The second event concerns the decision of the Diocese of Dallas to withdraw from the request to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternative primatial oversight. There is news of this development on the Web site of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

It says …”the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the full text of the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight (APO). The appeal, which lays out the request of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, South Carolina and Springfield, was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 20. It explains why the dioceses involved believe that APO is necessary and what that oversight might look like. Since July, Dallas has withdrawn its request, but Quincy has joined the other appellants.”

(The illustrious Jeffrey Weiss has a story on the Diocese of Dallas’ recent convention here. And Simon Sarmiento is on the case here.)

I have no idea why the Diocese of Dallas has changed its mind on APO, or why it hasn’t followed the lead of several dioceses that seem to be pursuing the ecclesial equivalent of secession. Neither do I have any sense of whether this represents fragmentation within the Network, or a decision to pursue different strategies toward a similar goal, or something else entirely. So I’d like someone to fill me in. Volunteers?

Finally, Mark Harris has called attention to a recent speech by Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network.

In this speech Bishop Duncan says several things that I consider silly, which I don’t want to dwell on, one thing that confuses me, and one that gives me some hope.

The confusing bit is where he says: “There are two churches claiming to be the Episcopal Church.” Putting aside for the moment the fact that I think this claim, if it exists, is preposterous, this isn’t what I understood the majority of conservative Episcopalians to be saying up to this point. I have understood people to say the Episcopal Church was in error (to put in gently) and needed to be expelled from the Anglican Communion and replaced with an alternate jurisdiction. I have understood people to say the Episcopal Church was an apostate church and that its dissidents should become members of other Anglican province, and I have understood people to say that at a minimum a parallel province needed to be established within the Episcopal Church for those who dissent from its current direction.

But I haven’t heard anyone other than Bishop Duncan say: We are the Episcopal Church and you are not. I’d be interested to know whether this contention is widely supported.

That said, this piece of his address tht made my ears perk up:

“We have reached the moment where a mediation to achieve disengagement is the only way forward. I believe that the other Episcopal Church – the one not represented in this convocation – has finally also come to that conclusion, as well. I believe that a mediated settlement will be in place by this time next year, or that the principals will be well on their way to such a settlement. How can we set one another free to proclaim the gospel (the Truth) as we, so differently, understand it? How can we bless one another as cousins, rather than oppress one another as brothers? The day for a serious and wide-ranging mediation has arrived.”

I have been pushing the idea of a settlemtent to resolve our current dispute, and it is a subject I hope to return to relatively soon, but not before I have something coherent to say. Unlike Bishop Duncan, I probably wouldn’t favor mediation, but negotiation. That said, I am glad to see that the bishop isn’t urging his supporters to go to the mattresses, legally speaking.

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