For those of us old enough to remember "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming", that flick that spoofed all the Red drama that characterized my youth, I think that we may be putting our hopes in the attendance of the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) in a similar bucket as those of the old movie. I do not believe that meeting with the ABC will provide a solution to the problems in the Episcopal Church (TEC) any more than the appearance of a broken down Soviet submarine did to the people of the movie. But it may be the beginning of Perestroika within the Anglican Communion.
That the ABC has been avoiding meeting with the leadership of TEC since his appointment has been obvious. His numerous meetings with conservative elements in TEC has been ominous at best and subversive at worst. I can understand that the ABC did not want to interfere in what was initially seen an internal issue in TEC. However, the omnipresence of CANA, IRD and AAC leaders in the ABC's vision as well as the spreading around of financial resources from the Uberright has made what should be an issue within the American church, an international breaking point.
I am grateful to +Paul Marshall of the Diocese of Bethlehem for his open letter to the ABC to meet with the House of Bishops (HoB) and/or the Executive Council. That letter became a catalyst, I believe, for the HoB to make a unanimous call to Dr. Williams to be with them for a time a prayer and discussion. That letter voiced a concern that many were feeling but not articulating.
We do know that ++Jefferts-Shori invited the ABC to come to meet with the HoB but was told that he couldn't work it into his schedule. Often times men have difficulty hearing what women say the first time, especially when those men are not accustomed to listening to women's voices. Perhaps the ABC will now understand that ++Katharine DOES speak for TEC!
Unlike many Americans, I do not believe that American needs to be listened to anymore carefully than any other nation. And if the Uberright had not started to interfere in the African churches with their self-righteousness, this would be an internecine squabble with in the American Church. But like the Bishop of Honduras used to say: "Being in bed with America is like an ant in bed with an elephant. It can be done but the ant is always nervous." Our size and our resources make the less wealthy national churches nervous. That nervousness needs to be assuaged and only conversation with the ABC and HoB can help assuage it.
That the ABC is coming is a good and perhaps holy thing. I do hope the differentiation that characterized the HoB in their April communication will continue to serve the Church in September. The issue is not to force the ABC to think differently. It is an invitation to be with--to be IN communion. It is time. And thanks to all on either side of the Pond who made it happen.