First of all, it seems important to me that we remember our history. To begin, we might recall where GAFCON came from:
As one example of how this "secret funding" works, remember GAFCON? You might recall that most Ugandan bishops chose to attend GAFCON over Lambeth. All kinds of reasons were given for this choice; refusal to sit with the Western apostates, solidarity with their brother bishops not invited to Lambeth, etc. Well, as it turns out, their expenses to travel to GAFCON were paid by "unnamed friends" of Abp. Orombi. Imagine that.That was back in 2009, when Abp. Orombi was the Primate of Uganda. The new Abp. of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, seems to be following in Orombi's footsteps, as he dramatically abandoned the Primates' Meeting after two days. In Uganda, the Kill the Gays Bill is still alive and well, yet we are still waiting to hear one word from the Ugandan Anglicans about this bill. Oh wait...we did hear from an Ugandan Anglican Bishop about this matter, didn't we?
...Ugandan Parliament, the watch dog of our laws, please go ahead and put the anti- Gay laws in place. It is then that we become truly accountable to our young and to this country, not to Canada or England. We are in charge!Yet, Abp. Ntagali, in whose Province such hateful laws are being considered, and supported by Anglican bishops, imagines he has the high moral road, and abandons the Primates' Meeting because he cannot sit with Americans who audaciously suggest God allows one to choose their own life partner. Amazing stuff.
If you want to understand the GAFCON Primates response, in the infamous words of Jim Naughton, all you have to do is follow the money.
There is another part of our history we might want to remember. We have been here before. My response to these most recent "punishments" is not so different from my view back in 2010:
There will be those who will have some anxiety about TEC being removed from membership in all the Instruments. That would have the appearance of TEC no longer being able to consider herself to be Anglican. And that would leave a void, which ACNA would love to step into. I no longer see that as a serious possibility. ACNA has been sufficiently revealed as part of the problem, not part of the solution. TEC is seen by some to be part of the problem as well, but the nature of our problems are quite different. By recognizing ACNA, the leaders of the Anglican Communion would be sanctioning Primates pillaging parishes in their own backyards. That notion will give them great pause. If they must choose between two problems, I think it is safe to surmise that TEC will be their choice for some time in the forseeable future.There is an important difference this time, however. In 2010, some of the Provinces involved in the border crossings to plunder wealthy parishes were also asked to step down from leadership positions. This time, it was only TEC asked to take the lower seat. What do we do with that?
We seek to understand, even if we disagree. Abp. Welby had a decision to make. If he backed TEC, GAFCON (and their wealthy Western donors) would walk. If he let TEC be the scapegoat, we could take the hit. Which we will. And schism was avoided. Not much of a gamble, really.
So, we take the lower seat, for a season. We still show up at every meeting of the Communion, maybe silenced, maybe without vote, but still present. We practice the ministry of presence. We act as witnesses for all those suffering from unjust oppression.