Addicted to the big blow-up

I’ve written before about what I call the “Congress-ification of the church,” that is, the way in which church debates/fights/arguments take on an all-or-nothing, with-us-or-against-us, to-hell-with-shades-of-grey tone. Two recent events have made me think about this anew.

This week, World Vision USA announced that it had changed its hiring policies such that people in same-sex marriages were no longer excluded from employment. Then, two days later, it reversed itself after significant pressure from its supporters.

A few weeks back, Nashotah House seminary invited the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to preach. Nashotah House has students from both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). ACNA representatives threw a fit. One resigned from the board. Various statements and denunciations were quickly issued. Nashotah House dean Edward Salmon—who until this point was always seen as a conservative—justified the decision by explaining he wanted to the presiding bishop to learn from how students from different churches coexisted at Nashotah. But he, too, had to back down a bit: the Presiding Bishop will still visit but the service will be Evensong, not a Eucharist. (Edward Salmon became for me the Thad Cochran of the Episcopal Church—the man who was a staunch conservative until he woke up and found out he wasn’t.)

Whatever you think about these particular issues, I think they reveal something deeply depressing about the nature of debate in the Christian world. Here are a couple that come to mind:

  • All our energy and firepower gets concentrated on a single issue: in this case, it has to do with homosexuality. It becomes a with-us-or-against-us attitude. There is no recognition of the Biblical truth that our identities are constituted by multiple forms of belonging and that we are created differently. Instead, diversity is forbidden.
  • Speed. It boggles the mind that in just two days the opponents of World Vision’s move could have prayerfully considered the reasoning behind the initial decision and settled on a response. We no longer seem capable of approaching issues with our default set to recognize complexity.
  • Extraordinary polemic. All of a sudden, all our firepower gets concentrated on one particular organization or institution and it becomes impossible to see how it fits into a grander scheme of things, that is the grander scheme of the life of the church, the glory of God as revealed in our lives, and the good news of Jesus Christ. I won’t link to any of this sanctimonious polemic but you can find it about both issues with some pretty easy Googling.
  • Prides in an unwillingness to listen. There is no thought that we might have something new to learn from a different situation. Instead, we approach a situation with our pre-existing blinders and whatever doesn’t fit through gets immediately filtered out. Irenicism is a dead letter.
  • Money talks. It always does, in the church or not. I am not privy to any behind-the-scenes conversation in either of these situations but it does seem that those who have the money and influence were the ones who ended up controlling the outcome.

But perhaps the most depressing thing is the way we have become addicted to the big blow-up. Every little while something like this comes along for which we are all expected to have an opinion ready to be expressed in a tweet/Facebook status update/blog post (including me). Our tempers get ginned up, we all vent a while, and then we move on to the next big thing. Does anyone remember anymore the contretemps about the Presiding Bishop’s sermon in Venezuela which produced my initial post about the Congress-ification of the church? No, we’re too busy fighting about something else. Reasoned discourse which stretches over a lengthy period of time as we make sense of what is going on no longer takes place.

Perhaps, you could say, such a venting is cathartic. But I don’t think so. These periodic blow-ups do real damage to the hard work of building the relationships that are the fabric of the body of Christ. They become individual instances that together make up a larger pattern of broken relationships and an inability to deal with difference. But doing so is, as I have argued, at the core of the Gospel.

It is no secret to say that the rise of the Tea Party, combined with Twitter, cable news, and the influence of money has corroded and degraded American politics in recent years. I want to be part of a church that shows the world a different way of dealing with disagreement. With each new blow-up, however, I worry that such a church is increasingly slipping out of our grasp.

 

iPhones, Backpacks, and the Best Travel Agency in the World: Mission and Unity in the Anglican Communion

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut has kindly posted a video of my keynote address to the diocese’s annual mission conference in early March. It’s adapted from my book, Backpacking through the Anglican Communion.

Some excerpts:

[iPhones are] an honest description of the world we live in. On the one hand, we have globalization, those forces that are drawing us ever more closely together so that distance and time cease to matter in the way they once did. On the other hand, we have the frank recognition that globalization benefits some people more than it does others, that it imposes costs on some people more than others, and that we are a long way from the Biblical model of relationships marked by mutuality, love, and mercy. The very fact that I don’t know where this device came from, that I can only hazard a guess as to who had a role in producing it, is an indication of just how broken these relationships are. St. Paul writes to the Corinthians that they cannot say to one another, “I have no need of you,” but we seem intent of saying something like, “I may have a need of you, but I’m going to do my best to ensure I don’t have to acknowledge that.”…

The way the Christian community shows its distinctiveness and difference is in the quality of relationships within it. Christians are different because we relate to other Christians in a way that is unique in the world….

There’s one more thing to say about the way in which the community of followers of Jesus is different from other communities in the world: we don’t get to choose who else is in the community. God’s love is open to all people and those who respond in baptism become members of this community. Whether we want them or not is, quite frankly, of no concern to God. The community in mission is a community that holds together a lot of difference. People from all different kinds of backgrounds and beliefs are brought together by the gracious love of God. And that’s a good thing, even though it is sometimes painful and difficult, and may make us want to scream at the top of our lungs, “I have no need of you!” Belonging to the church means believing that all other baptized Christians have something to offer us and we to them, no matter how different they may be. This is a truly counter-cultural idea….

Sometimes we hear it said that the church can find unity in mission. But the more accurate thing to say is that unity is mission. Our life together as Christians in a divided world is part of our witness to the world. Does the church model another way of living to a fractured world? Or does it simply mimic the world in its patterns of broken, global relationships?…

At its best and at its strongest, the Anglican Communion is a network of people who share these mutual, life-giving, counter-cultural relationships, people who want to make known the reconciling love of God in Christ. It is our role to seek these people out—to let them seek us out as well—and come to acknowledge the unity in which we are called to live. The unity of the Anglican Communion could be good news to a divided world. 

How the One China policy provides a model for thinking about women bishops and Christian reunion

Back when I studied International Relations—before I was introduced to the glories of theology—there was an aspect of American foreign policy I found perplexing: the U.S. supports democracy in Taiwan, arms the country, and makes it clear that a mainland take-over of the island is unacceptable. At the same time, the U.S. officially supports a One China policy. That is, the U.S. supports the reunion of Taiwan with the mainland. How can this be? How can a democratic Taiwan reunite with a Communist mainland?

It took me a while but I eventually realized that reunion can happen when the mainland becomes democratic. For the two to be reunited, both have to change: Taiwan by sacrificing its independence from the mainland, China by changing its political system. Such changes may seem a long way off, but the policy is at least minimally coherent.

One of the arguments catholic-minded types use in opposing the Church of England’s move towards women in the episcopacy is that it would harm chances of reunion with Roman Catholics. Basically, the argument goes, if we have women in the episcopacy, Rome will never talk to us again.

Readers of this blog will know that I take the unity of church seriously, and I take this objection seriously. There are profound historical, theological, and spiritual reasons why Anglicans should be seeking closer relationship with Roman Catholics, and ecumenical reunion is something for which all Christians need to pray.

But I’m not convinced by this catholic-minded argument against women in the episcopacy. There is an important and deeply true argument for having women in all orders of ministry, which I won’t rehearse here. It is one that needs to be affirmed by the church. Let’s do it already!

But what about Rome? Well, it’s kind of like China and Taiwan, Rome being China, and Anglicans being Taiwan. Reunion will come, but it will come when Rome comes to accept the validity of the argument about ordaining women. It’s not that the Anglicans need to knuckle under, sacrifice their principles, and reunite with an unchanging monolith. That monolith needs to change to make the reunion possible.

This points to a larger objection I have to the catholic types in Anglican circles, a tendency to deny the charism of Anglicanism. I don’t see the role of the Anglican churches to be to emulate Rome as closely as possible in the hopes we can rejoin them. Instead, I see that Anglicans have a unique role to play in the family of churches, one that, for instance, upholds a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and combines a catholic ecclesiology with an evangelical commitment to the faith. Ordaining women as bishops is part of that role and helps churches around the world see larger truths of the gospel, just as Anglican learn others of these truths from other Christians.

Some people see Anglicans as little more than warmed-over Roman Catholics. Rather than acquiescing to this view, I’d like to see Anglicans fill their role in the body of Christ and share their gifts with the greater church—Rome first among them. That way, we can all as Christians move towards a greater embrace of Gospel truths, first among them “that they may all be one.”

“The authority of God’s word written over all contexts”?

For a variety of reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my travels a year ago to visit with Anglicans in Nigeria. Readers of this blog might remember I encountered a curious practice. At major church events, there was the practice of “appreciation”: members of the congregation stood up, donated money to the church, and said exactly how much they were giving. (You can read my description of that event here.)

As I witnessed this, I thought about Jesus’ instruction on giving in the Sermon on the Mount:  “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your alms may be done in secret; and your father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3-4, NRSV) I mentioned this verse to several people I encountered at this service. They readily admitted the practice did not conform to the teaching but shrugged and said, “It’s our culture.”

We can debate the merits of public giving in another post. For the record, in a culture that has a huge problem with corruption, I’m open to the idea that disregarding Christ’s teaching on this count might be a reasonable accommodation to make to Nigerian culture.

I just wish Nigerian church leaders would cut the rest of us some slack. The Nigerian and Kenyan delegates to the recently-concluded Anglican Consultative Council meeting in New Zealand have released a reflection document titled “What really happened in Auckland NZ at ACC-15.” I think there are some important points in here but I was disappointed to see the strong emphasis on the apparent un-Biblicism of many Anglicans. To wit:

While there were many reports and resolutions at ACC-15, we wish to highlight our concerns over the report and the resolution on “The Bible in the Life of the Church” project…. However, we are seriously concerned that the context in which people interpret the Bible is considered as important as what the Bible actually says.

The Bible stands over context, not the context over the Bible. God’s Word changes us—we do not change God’s Word….

We call upon all Anglicans to pray that our beloved Communion will stand firm in honouring the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ as the Son Of God, and the authority of God’s Word written over all contexts, and in every matter of faith and practice.

I have no doubt of the sincerity behind this statement and the strong belief in the supremacy of the Bible. I just think that a more productive place from which to begin conversations about the life of the Bible in the Anglican Communion is to acknowledge that all of us—whatever our cultural background or context—fall short in allowing ourselves to be transformed by the revelation of Jesus Christ as entrusted to us in the Bible. Surely from that point of common ground, we can begin to make progress in our inter-Anglican conversations?

Tick Tock in South Carolina

After a big news event, reporters will sometimes reconstruct the timeline of events that led up to it. This is called the “tick tock.” (You can see an example of it in this reporting on the announcement of the Paul Ryan selection in August.) Sometimes, the tick tock is only to satisfy the truly voracious news hounds. Other times, it can be revealing.

As I’ve been sitting with the news of the inhibition of Mark Lawrence, the bishop of South Carolina, I’ve been puzzled by the timeline of events that led up to it. So I thought I’d try to reconstruct it and see if we can learn anything from it. Here’s what I’ve come up with, based on publicly-available documents.

September 18: The Disciplinary Board of Bishops writes a letter saying they’ve concluded Bishop Lawrence has abandoned the Episcopal Church.

September 18: The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina meets. The bishop is apparently asked a series of questions by the standing committee.

October 2: The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina passes a motion that they will disassociate with the Episcopal Church if anything happens to their bishop. This, apparently, is based on answers to their questions they received from the bishop.

October 3: The Presiding Bishop, Bishop Lawrence, and Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina meet to discuss their differences and seek some sort of workable plan for the future.

October 10: The Presiding Bishop is notified—via a letter in the mail—of the Disciplinary Board of Bishops’ decision.

October 15: The Presiding Bishop calls Bishop Lawrence and tells him he’s being inhibited.

October 17: Everything becomes public. The rest of us find out.

(The Diocese of South Carolina has also issued its own timeline.)

What is unclear to me is the meeting on October 3. Did Bishop Lawrence know that his Standing Committee had passed the automatic withdrawal motion? (Presumably he was at the meeting: there’s been nothing to indicate otherwise.) Did the Presiding Bishop know of the Disciplinary Board of Bishops’ decision in that meeting? (For that matter, when the Standing Committee passed the motion did they know of the Disciplinary Board of Bishops’ decision?)

Although I want to take everyone at their word, it strains credulity to think given this age of instant, always-on communication, not to mention the magnitude of the charges the Disciplinary Board of Bishops was preparing to make public, that at the October 3 meeting, neither the Presiding Bishop nor Bishop Lawrence had a hint of what was coming.

The resulting picture of that meeting is not that pretty. The Presiding Bishop and Bishop Lawrence get together to seek reconciliation. At least one—Bishop Lawrence—if not both have in their back pocket an “out” card. If this doesn’t go my way, each could say, I have the means to end this conversation, either by quitting the church or inhibiting. It’s like two gunfighters circling each other, each saying to the other, “Go ahead: make my day.”

And that, needless to say, is not how reconciliation works.

“So that the world may believe”

It is an often overlooked fact that Jesus’ prayer for unity among his followers—”that all may be one”—is, in fact, a missional prayer: one of the next phrases in the verse is “so that the world may believe.” (John 17:21) Jesus connects our unity with our witness to the world. Indeed, it seems that the pattern of relationship among believers is central to that community’s ability to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Why might be this be? I don’t want to make any guesses about what Jesus was thinking but it does seem to me that in our present environment, unity is a counter-cultural value. We live, as I have written, in an age of “I have no need of you”—politically, economically, socially. We are sorting ourselves into ever smaller groups of like-minded people. The presidential election, which has become more about turning out the base than winning over swing voters, is a paradigmatic example. For the church to live in unity in this context is intensely counter-cultural. This is why I think unity is missional; I want people to look at the church, see a different pattern of relationship than that which obtains in our day-to-day life, and think, “How do I become part of that?”

Unfortunately, of course, this is not quite how things work. Churches are divided within themselves, both at the congregational and denominational level. There are often good reasons for this—people of good faith can disagree on what it means to follow Jesus—but often these disagreements seem to swamp any mutual recognition that the other is a fellow member of the body of Christ.

These thoughts have come to mind in recent weeks as I have read, first, of the way in which the Episcopal Bishop of California was excluded from the consecration of the new Catholic archbishop and, second, the apparent expulsion from the Episcopal church of the bishop of South Carolina. Each of these events is the product of a long and complex chain of events, which I won’t claim to understand. Nor do I want to make it seem as if either is easy to resolve or that I’m saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along?” I am saying neither.

But at a time when the word “mission” is constantly being invoked by Episcopalians (with good reason) these events are for me moments of great sadness because they represent lost missional opportunities. When I hear people (from any number of sides in church debates) exulting at the “purity” of the church, I think they sound a lot more like members of a political party than the body of Christ. I find these news items to be deeply mournful and pray that we can have the grace to see others as equally baptized children of the same God. If we really believe in our baptism, it seems like we have no other choice.

It won’t solve all our problems—or even any of them—but I think it would make us more like a church than anything else we could do.

Seeds of hope in war-torn lands

In my experience, church-goers in the North Atlantic world struggle to come to grips with the expansive role the church plays in other parts of the world. The church in Sudan, for instance, teaches its seminary students agricultural skills so they can be extension agents when they return to their home villages. In the absence of effective central government, the church comes to play an outsize role—a fact that is almost always overlooked in other parts of the world.

I was thinking about that while reading Tim Butcher’s Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart. The book is excellent reporting on his journey from eastern Congo, down the Congo River to the Atlantic Ocean, retracing the steps of H.M. Stanley, the first European to make the journey.

To say the Congo has a difficult history is a profound understatement. What Butcher finds is a country in regress, less developed, urban, and safe than fifty years earlier when the colonialists left.

What struck me throughout the book, however, was the way in which Butcher kept coming across the church. When all other organs of society and culture seemed to be absent, Butcher still found friendly priests and bishops who hosted him and sent him on his way. He didn’t find many foreigners in Congo. But those he did find—and who weren’t working for the UN—were related to the church: missionary priests from the U.S. and Brazil, a missionary teacher from England. Unlike the UN types, these priests and missionaries were willing to leave their compounds and engage with the people around them.

The missionary from England tells Butcher:

The war has had one major effect in that there are only two real ways left for Congolese people to get on. Before, there was at least a system of schools to go to paid for by the state, a transport system so that people could reach other parts of the country, a health system so that if you were ill you could stand a chance of recovery. But today all of that has gone, so that you only have two real options—you join a church, the only organization that provides an education, a way for someone to develop, or you join one of the militias and profit from the war.

It’s a depressing view, this, but it also has the seeds of hope. I am reminded of John, my Sudanese friend who said to me last year before our visit to Abyei, “We are the church. We are always on the ground!” Or it reminds me of a General Synod address Rowan Williams gave last year about his visit to Congo and Kenya.

Although Butcher’s book makes for disturbing reading, I found in it the seeds of hope, that even in the most war-torn parts of the world, the church remained. And if the church remains, hope remains.

“Anglocostalism” in Nigeria and Obstacles to Anglican Unity

One of the most important developments in the world church in the last few decades has been the rise of neo-Pentecostalism, sometimes called the “Born Again” church. These denominations, particularly prevalent in Africa, are marked by their concern with spiritual healing, the preaching of the prosperity gospel, fixation on a world of good and evil forces, and much else.

What is perhaps less remarked upon is the way in which these neo-Pentecostal churches have influenced the historic mission denominations, including the various provinces of the Anglican Communion. This is one of the main things I learned on my travels in the church in Nigeria last summer. (The observations prompted the post, “What is Peter Akinola Afraid Of?”)

The Journal of Anglican Studies has just published my article, “‘Anglocostalism’ in Nigeria: Neo-Pentecostalism and Obstacles to Anglican Unity,” which takes a close look at how what it means to be Anglican is changing in Nigeria.

Here’s the article’s abstract:

In the last several decades, the religious landscape in Nigeria has been transformed by the rise of neo-Pentecostal or ‘new generation’ churches. These churches teach a gospel of prosperity, advance an oppositional view of the world, focus on a supernatural arena of spiritual forces, accord a unique weight to the Bible, and practice a charismatic worship style. One result of the presence of these churches has been to change the face of Anglicanism in Nigeria. Concerned about the possibility of diminished influence and prestige, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has responded to neo-Pentecostal churches by adopting more of its rivals’ beliefs and practices. This paper argues that this changing environment explains, in part, Nigerian opposition to efforts at global Anglican unity and argues that it is impossible to address the future of the Anglican Communion without first understanding the on-the-ground religious context in Nigeria.

It’s an academic article, which means it’s a bit longer than a regular blog post, but I hope you’ll have a read through. Already, in the few weeks since the article went online, I’ve been pleased with the e-mail conversations this article has generated with people in the Nigerian church. I’d be happy to expand those conversations to folks elsewhere.

As I have travelled in the world church, I’m repeatedly reminded of just how little we know about each other around the world. This article—and others like it, still in the pipeline—are efforts to help increase that sense of mutual understanding.

Memo to bishops-elect

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church will vote in the next day or two to confirm  several new bishops who have been elected in the last four months. No doubt, these bishops will take office full of plans for their tenure and ready to implement them. As they do, I— presumptuously—have a thought for them.

The definition of the ministry of a bishop in the Episcopal catechism includes, “to act in Christ’s name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church.” Bishops are symbols of unity in the worldwide church, representing the universal to the local and the local to the universal.

My thought for the new bishops is that they be sure to use their time as bishop to establish solid companion diocese relationships. This is not, in itself, that surprising an idea. Many dioceses already have such relationships.

What I want to urge the new bishops to do, however, is to build relationships in unlikely places. As I found out in my travels last summer at this time, there are several dioceses in the church in Nigeria that are eager for American companions. (See my posts here and here for more on this.) I heard time and again how interested people in those dioceses were in establishing relationships that moved the Anglican Communion beyond the divisive rhetoric of the last decade or more. Without ignoring the differences of opinion, these people still wanted to establish companion relationships. And yet, no matter how hard they tried, the Nigerians I met were turned away. “Sorry,” they were told. “Our churches can’t be in relationship.”

These bishops-elect have an incredible opportunity to change the discourse in the Anglican Communion from one of fracture to one of unity. (I’ve written before about the importance of companion diocese relationships.) Just imagine what a companion relationship between an American diocese and a Nigerian one could mean for the Anglican Communion.

I imagine that being a bishop can be pretty overwhelming. I imagine it can be pretty easy to end up focused solely on the pressing concerns of the diocese. My hope for the new bishops—and all bishops—is that they’ll remember to work for the reconciliation of the world.

The church—and the world—needs it.

Committing to the Anglican Communion

It seems pretty clear that the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant will not be approved by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church this summer. Having been rejected in Scotland, stymied in England, turned down by more conservative provinces, and approved by only a handful of churches around the world, the Covenant has had a tough row to hoe. It’s demise, I think, will be little lamented.

Several of the Convention resolutions concerning the Covenant politely turn it down but then use some sort of language about “committing” to the Anglican Communion. No one, it seems, wants the American church’s rejection of the Covenant to be interpreted as a step back from the Communion.

Actions speak louder than words, however, so here’s the question: what steps can this General Convention take to make it clear that its commitment to the Anglican Communion is more than nice words on a piece of paper?

Here’s a short list of ideas:

Fully fund the Anglican Communion Office. Congregations pay money to support the work of their dioceses because they are committed to work in their region. Dioceses pay money to the national church because they see that it does important work. National churches (or provinces of the Anglican Communion) should pay money to the international body that, on a bare shoestring, provides some sort of organization to the Communion and facilitates important projects like the Continuing Indaba or the Bible in the Life of the Church. The first head of the ACO (though it wasn’t called that at the time) was an American bishop named Stephen Bayne. Full disclosure, he is one of my Anglican heroes (yes I have those) and I think his legacy and his vision deserve all the support we can give them.

The budgets that have been proposed for Convention both slash (yet further) the Episcopal Church’s contribution to the ACO. I’m not sure how Episcopalians can gripe about dioceses that don’t pay the full asking when we don’t pay the full asking to the ACO. Other Episcopalians complain the ACO doesn’t do what we want, much in the way that Republicans in Congress are continually threatening to cut off funding to the UN when it “steps out of line.” Fully fund the organization and let it do its job.

Provide increased funding for the networks of the Anglican Communion. These are organizations, like the Anglican Indigenous Network or the Anglican Health Network, that bring together Anglicans from around the world to work on issues that are not, blessedly, the issues that have consumed the Communion for the last decade and more. Networks are important not only for the work they do but for the way they represent an effort to change the discourse in the Communion. The Episcopal Church used to contribute money to some of these networks as a way of bringing people together from different backgrounds to talk about important issues. That money is now gone. (Disclosure: I’ve been involved with the Anglican Peace and Justice Network.)

Challenge dioceses to be involved in at least one companion relationship. Many American dioceses, happily, have overseas partner dioceses. The companion diocese idea (which came out of work done by the Anglican Communion Office, incidentally, way back when) has been an important tool for building relationships across the Communion and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. But not all dioceses have companion relationships. Some dioceses have relationships that need to be reinvigourated. We can challenge parishes to have web sites (Resolution A025); why not challenge every diocese to have a companion? (Or two: some of the most exciting companion relationships involve three dioceses.) Companion relationships challenge the dominant Anglican narrative of fissure with one of relationship across reconciled difference.

(Convention has passed resolutions in the past encouraging companion diocese relationships but to the best of my searching has not passed one establishing an expectation that every diocese have a companion.)

Encourage the companion idea to spread to parishes. The budget of many dioceses around the world is equivalent (or smaller than) the budget of a good-sized parish in the U.S. What if, in addition to diocese-to-diocese relationships, there were parish-to-diocese relationships? (We’d have to think about how these relationships might be complementary or competing in a diocese.) There are hundreds of Anglican dioceses around the world, many eager for companions, as I have learned. There’s no reason large, mission-minded parishes can’t take the lead in partnering with them. (The Diocese of Virginia has done some exciting things around this idea.)

Encourage better communications. Communications in the Anglican Communion is abysmal. As I have found in my travels around the Communion, there is exciting work being done in so many parts of the world that few people know about because no one tells anyone else about it. Instead, the dominant communications medium in the church is something like Virtue Online, a polemical, often-false source of “news” that drives a narrative of fracture and decline. This needs to be matched with, well, facts. Solving the communications problem in the Communion is not something Convention alone can do. It can, however, take steps in that direction, like increasing funding for the Episcopal News Service so that the organization can broaden its horizons and get more Anglicans talking to one another. Right now, Anglican Journal, the newspaper of the (smaller and poorer) Canadian church does a better job covering the Communion than ENS does.

Many of these ideas cost money (not much) but, again, actions speak louder than words. If we mean what we say in these resolutions, we need to back it up. These are some of my ideas to do so. Yours?