Today, as the news broke over the internet of the decision made at the Primates gathering, I felt my heart sink. And then for just a moment it rallied - flaring in anger - before it broke. I find my heart broken by the action taken by the primates. (If you haven't seen it yet, you can read about it here.)
A few times in the document, there are references to bonds - to communion - and to trust. Rather unbelievably, this motion hopes to help restore trust. But how can it? How can we trust that our voice is heard? Or respected? When action like this is taken against a whole province - and we are specifically targeted - how are we to trust? Our polity is a bit different than many other regions in the Communion. There is a rich strain of American democracy that runs through our polity because of it's shared history with the American Revolution. We believe that God works through our conversations, our debates, and the will of the majority in our elections and votes. We have moved forward together faithfully, carefully, while keeping God's will ever before us. And this forward movement has not come without a cost. In fact, it has been deeply painful for a great many people on both sides.
I can't help but read in this document the Primates' hope that the Episcopal Church will somehow double back - and change our identity. Unfortunately, for the sake of our communion, I don't believe this will happen. I give thanks for our prophetic witness and for the ways in which we have proclaimed the Gospel of peace, justice, and grace for all of God's people - all of God's children. And I ache - because I believe that this kind of action is profoundly un-Anglican; it dishonors our heritage of healthy debate, wide differences, and deep love - a heritage that has always gathered us in at God's Table.
We will not ever all agree - but we must find ourselves again in the prayerful place of peaceful dissension. We must find ourselves again in a place where no one pushes anyone away from the table - where no one threatens to walk away - and where no one would be happy to see brothers and sisters in Christ walk away. In all groups as large as this one, there will always be radical opinions on both sides of the political spectrum - opinions that will pull and stretch us. But the heart of our Communion depends on those wide lanes in the middle - where God's people choose to live, pray, and discern together - where we make room at the table for all of God's people.
I don't know where we go from here with our Anglican brothers and sisters. I believe that God can heal all wounds and bridge all divides. And I hope that the Holy Spirit will lead us in that direction. With God, all things are possible. But I grieve this action - and what it means for our fellowship and communion. I look forward to the response of our Bishops - and their leadership and guidance during this time. I hope that you'll keep all of the Primates in prayer - and that we all might pray for God's presence among us.