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Austin Cline

Conservative Anglicans' Plans: Church Within a Church

By June 22, 2005

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For the past couple of years, conservative and liberal Anglicans have fought over what should be done about gays in their church. Liberals want to welcome them, even ordain them; conservatives want them to stay in the closet and/or become straight. Conservatives have not gotten their way, but they may have a plan for how to deal with that.

Stephen Bates explains that conservative Anglicans intend to create a church within a church they'll stay in the Anglican Communion, but only barely:

The draft organising constitution for a group to be called the Anglican Global Initiative envisages that it would operate within the Anglican communion. ... The AGI would form an umbrella body to represent American Episcopalians, Canadian Anglicans and English conservative Evangelicals who have vociferously defended the church's traditional opposition to homosexual practice and castigated bishops who have taken a more liberal line on the issue.

Contextual evidence suggests the document was drawn up this year, before the church's primates met in Northern Ireland and agreed to suspend the US and Canadian churches from meetings for three years. ... Bishop Michael Ingham, of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster whose decision to authorise a service for same-sex blessings has led to his condemnation by conservatives, said: "The existence of this constitution is scandalous. It suggests there is no willingness to engage in the conversations or the listening process called for by the primates at the Northern Ireland meeting."
[The Guardian]

These plans aren't set in stone yet and so things could change. Although it would mean that conservatives would remain within the Anglican Communion, I suspect that many liberal Anglican leaders will nevertheless regard it as a form of betrayal especially given how early these plans were first drawn up.

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