Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sarah Hey: Victories & Defeats on the Fields of “Process”

February 15th, 2007 posted by admin at 6:44 pm

As we all know by now, it is going to be a very long long five days.

As I mentioned in this morning’s panel discussion, there are about a dozen options for discipline, new provinces, and the covenant, all of which are “variables” or “negotiation streams” that one puts into the equation or brings to the table, depending on your metaphor. The Tanzania meeting could appoint a college of bishops, it could allow internal episcopal oversight to parishes in other revisionist dioceses, it could recommend denying invitations to Lambeth of non-Windsor compliant bishops, it could strengthen the covenant draft, it could . . . take any number of positive actions that we have not yet imagined.

But one thing is quite clear. The battles that are being fought — the battles that lead to victory or defeat in the “Anglican Wars” — are over “process.”

Let’s talk a bit about “process”.

One of the ways that one accomplishes decisions that one wishes to accomplish in a group is by placing “facts on the ground” in advance of decisions. Those facts might be, oh, say illegal consecrations. They might be apparatchiks making “official, public pronouncements” declaring certain items “off limits”. They might be unbalanced appointments of committees. And of course, they might be, say, a report issued from a subcommittee.

Whatever the means, “process” decisions are important, as they ultimately [though not inevitably] lead to “actual” decisions of a body as a whole. But be that as it may, the more that “process” decisions guide a body’s deliberations, the more we can assume that the actual body is divided as to goals, values, and even foundational worldviews. A body that is “unified” in these matters, depends far less on process decisions than a body that is divided.

Here might be a good place to recognize the five groups that are represented at Tanzania, each with their own agendas, values, and worldviews. On the “conservative” side are the “Federal conservatives” and the “Communion conservatives”. Ominous rumblings from both sides, attempting to blame the other should defeat of the conservative position occur at this meeting have begun. Jordan Hylden’s article in First Things, for example, seems to imply that, if the evangelicals do not “yield” their values and agendas, the communion will be lost and it will be the evangelical’s fault. I have heard the same from the opposite side.

Let me assure, personally, both conservative “groups” that I and many others will have no sympathy for these cries of blame by either side, should they dramatically fail at working together. Both groups are made up of lovers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is no excuse for not respecting and working through the values of those groups so that both may live in integrity within the Communion. No excuse.

Read Sarah’s full analysis here.

Sarah Hey is a lay leader from the diocese of Upper South Carolina and a regular contributor to Stand Firm. She is known to have a certain phobia about elves. She has a book of essays due to be published soon: Little Stone Bridges: A Battle Plan for Christians in a Faith Under Siege. Her commitment to networking and educating laity is an inspiration, and her comments keep us laughing.


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