Update Note: The Windsor Continuation Group has just published a preliminary report. I was tempted to do away with this series but I think not. There are two very good reasons. First, the Windsor Continuation Group report ignores the long and illustrious albeit rancorous history of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. The second reason is even better, "if we do what we have always done we will get what we always got." I thought Bishops understood this, I guess not. Let's pray that this series takes us someplace else.
On Tuesday July 15, 2008 Gregory Cameron delivered The Hellins Lecture. It was semi-subtitled: Here there and everywhere: where does the Compass Rose point? Gregory Cameron is the Deputy Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. Now, in all fairness, I really do not know Gregory Cameron nor do I understand, at least not fully, what the Deputy Secretary of the Anglican Communion is or does. But knowing who he is is not nearly as important as understanding what he has said.
I am a mere lay person in the Diocese of San Joaquin in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. I am member of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and I have been so since 1994. In my past I have served as a member of vestries in Virginia and in California. I have served on several search committees both successful ones and not so successful ones. I have known, in my past, Father Doug Edwards, now a Bishop (I think consecrated Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Sunyani) by one of the African groups working in the United States and Father John Guernsey also consecrated a bishop by one of the African groups working in the United States. As if that was not enough I ended up in the diocese that was the first to decide to attempt to leave the Episcopal Church and become a diocese in the Southern Cone. My experience on a vestry in one parish in this diocese brought me reasonably close to now deposed bishop John David Mercer Schofield. ON more than one occasion I have had perfectly pleasant and quite lengthy conversations with Mr. Schofield. I have also been privy to the machinations that went into the slow unwinding of the Episcopal Diocese. Many of us watched while Mr. Schofield slowly built a constituency of clergy he could trust. He slowly devolved all conversation in the diocese into discussions of leaving the diocese, yet, when asked point blank, “Bishop, are you leaving the diocese?”, he frequently would publish a pastoral letter stating emphatically he was not. At one point, his letter stated that the Episcopal Church was leaving him but that was only for a short while and then he never said that again. Then, when all the clergy were in place and the vestries and diocesan delegates were also handpicked and a proper home was found John David Schofield left the Episcopal Church for the Southern Cone.
Anyway, while I do not feel like an educated competent lay person I do feel like an experienced competent lay person. The primary difference being that I did my limited study after I have experienced most of this trauma and at least from that small space believe I can comment and critique The Hellins Lecture as well as move this discussion in a positive direction..
What I have done is read this work, and I believe it is a truly significant work, and then gone back and read a work by the Reverend William Wilson Manross entitled A History of the American Episcopal Church. My first edition copy was copyrighted in 1935 and is believed by most to be the most complete and significant work on the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, at least till now. You are of course free to disagree. Please share your thoughts on this, as well as anything else as we go along. I will generate several posts from this lecture in hopes that somewhere along the lines we will discover that our roots are firmly planted inside a very large, all inclusive tent that fits Americans and Australians and Africans and Asians and all of us. And the best reason I can offer is as follows.
Towards the end of the lecture the Reverend Cameron states:
“Here is the true pole to which the Compass Rose of the Communion points – not to any North or South or East or West, but to the reality in each heart of the living experience of Christ; a Christ who calls us to be transformed, who calls us to holiness, but who calls us to be profoundly committed to one another, precisely because he is committed to us.”
This is both the alpha and the omega. We will begin here and we will end here because as Greg ( I hope he doesn’t mind too much) puts it “…the Compass Rose points to here (my heart), and there (to your heart) and everywhere (to all Anglicans) calling us back to the centre – to the cross wherein God’s love is revealed to the world.”