‘Sleeping in separate bedrooms’

Here’s an interesting article about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposal to turn the Anglican Communion into a collection of churches that are united through Canterbury but not with each other, especially in areas of doctrine.

Welby believes that his proposal would allow him to maintain relations both with the liberal churches of North America, which recognise and encourage gay marriage, and the African churches, led by Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, who are agitating for the recriminalisation of all homosexual activity in their countries.

Both will be able to call themselves “Anglican” but there will no longer be any pretence that this involves a common discipline or doctrine.

Asked whether this represented, if not a divorce, a legal separation, a Lambeth source said: “It’s more like sleeping in separate bedrooms.”

I thought, of course, of our divisions in the United Methodist Church over the same issues. I wonder if this is a plan we should consider or a warning about the dangers we face.

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4 thoughts on “‘Sleeping in separate bedrooms’

  1. I followed the Anglican turmoil for years until I bailed out and became a Methodist. The problem is that the conservative (mainly African) churches refuse to be in communion with the progressive Western churches, especially USA and Canada. A lot of their bishops never bothered to show up for their Lambeth Conference that meets every ten years. The Archbishop of Canterbury has tried almost everything and this is one more desperate attempt. The Africans want the US and Canadian churches to face some sort of consequences. Not going to happen. This effort is doomed. Within this country there are now competing Anglican organizations being recognized by African bishops but not by Canterbury. The ABC will have to recognize these American Anglican churches if he wants the Africans to come to the table. If he does then the American Episcopal church will have a cow. Its a stand off.

  2. One big issue is the connectional nature of our finances. The rest of us subsidize the Western Jurisdiction bishops. The Western Jurisdiction pays the lowest percentage of the General Church apportionments.

    How do we let everybody do what is right in their own eyes while asking everyone else to subsidize their record of failure?

  3. The “sleeping in different bedrooms” idea mirrors what I understand of the two jurisdiction approach of Chris Ritter. In that proposal, there would be an evangelical jurisdiction and a progressive jurisdiction (and perhaps a moderate jurisdiction, as well). Both would be loosely connected via the overarching structure of the UMC, but each would be basically self-supporting and have different standards for ordination (for instance) and marriage. It would not be perfect and would be difficult to enact (requiring constitutional amendments), but it has potential to allow us to remain within one (looser) structure while allowing freedom of conscience.

    1. I might go for that. But do not assume that this split can be done in a controlled manner. Unforeseen consequences will follow and there is no telling what will happen. Once the bitter local fights are over and each church decides which jurisdiction it will be associated with I would want assurances that not one single dime of my pledge goes toward any progressive church, agency, cause or pension plan.

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