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Conclusion
by Lionel Deimel
6/10/2006

The agreement between Christopher Wells and myself was that I would consider the ACI essay in light of our dialog. I think that we have likely both realized that “What it will take” is less suited to elucidating our rhetorical journey than we thought it might be. This may have caused me to seem rather more cynical than I intended. Let me, therefore, offer some final, more sober thoughts, on the task before General Convention.

In “What Should General Convention 2006 Do?” I commented in detail on the proposed resolutions. In the main, I will stand by what I said there. Although I believe the Special Commission made a few serious errors—A169 is defective in nearly every way—the resolutions are surely a reasonable place for General Convention to begin. I think they suggest a church in disagreement making a sincere attempt to be a good citizen of the community. (Not being a student of theology, I sometimes find it easiest to fall back on political metaphors. Please excuse me for doing so.) This characterization of what we are doing makes me think of the Declaration of Independence, not because we are declaring our independence—though that matter is surely on the table—but because the Founding Fathers found it necessary to explain to the world what they were doing. It was a good precedent.

We should declare plainly what we are doing (and not doing) and why. It was good that we were asked to explain ourselves at the last ACC meeting, leading us to produce To Set Our Hope on Christ. That is a good model, even if we cannot produce a book every time our church makes a decision. In particular, we should, in a resolution, say what we consider the nature of the Communion to be, an organization we do not expect to change until it is agreed that it should change. I think, moreover, that we should say what we require and what we are not happy about. I do worry about changing the nature of our relationships, but I am not unalterably opposed to considering it. Whatever “autonomy-in-communion” turns out to look like, however, we will need to consider whether it is consistent with our own theological understandings.

Despite the suggestion by the ACI and others that change is happening slowly, from an historical point of view, events within the Anglican Communion have occurred very quickly, perhaps too quickly. We need to come to a broader understanding of who we are as the Episcopal Church and what we understand by Anglicanism before we make precipitant changes to the Anglican Communion. We need to slow down enough to do whatever it is we are about to do right. Once the Anglican Communion is either broken or transformed, there will be no going back.

 

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