Once More, Clearly and Charitably:
Deimel and Wells on the Issues before Us

by Lionel Deimel
6/8/2006 – 6/10/2006

Introduction to the Dialog

Although I sincerely wanted to encourage people to engage the issues before General Convention more fully, reading and responding to “Wounded in Common Mission” was difficult for me. To explain why, I offer two disclaimers. First, I am not an Anglo-Catholic, or even a cradle Episcopalian. I grew up Presbyterian in New Orleans, believing, ruefully, that Roman Catholics represented the dominant American religion. I developed a certain fascination with theology as a teenager. Because Catholicism seemed so alien to a Presbyterian and because the Roman Catholics seemed to exhibit a propensity to fabricate doctrine out of whole cloth, however, I was not immune to what Christopher Wells called “old-fashioned anti-papal and/or anti-curial fear-mongering.” (To the degree possible, I have gotten over it.) My second disclaimer is that I am not a theologian, and that by choice. If we can only be saved by correct theology, I reasoned, most of us are doomed, having no sure way to escape our fate. I therefore refused to accept such a gloomy notion and concluded that my efforts were best expended on other matters. By training, I am a computer scientist or, when the occasion demands, a mathematician or logician. My language should be understood with the foregoing in mind.

 

Reflection on “Wounded in Common Mission”

It is a delight to encounter, in “Wounded in Common Mission: The Term of Inter-Christian Divisiveness,” an Anglo-Catholic perspective, and one not simply focused on women’s ordination. Whereas I hardly resonate to all that is said in this essay, the ideas certainly have to be taken into account if we are to claim the comprehension of Hooker that I have commended elsewhere. Of course, the view offered by Christopher Wells is also an ecumenical one, which, although it does not clearly simplify the decisions we are called to make, alerts us to wider issues that we may face “down the road” or might even provide context or considerations that can be of some use now.

“Wounded” does not come from the extreme wings of either the Evangelicals or the Anglo-Catholics, which, in these times, is surely a blessing. It is devoid of the threats, deadlines, and non-negotiable demands that we have become increasingly used to hearing. Its temperate tone encourages engagement, study, and further discussion. It is rational and well informed. Would that all the pronouncements being made in this difficult period manifested the thoughtful calm seen here. If this essay fully represented “the other side,” those who see their job as defending and protecting the Episcopal Church would, I suspect, be more inclined to negotiate, and even compromise, than they currently are. Unfortunately, the angriest elements of the Anglican Communion confronting our church are Evangelicals. They raise different theological problems, and their behavior at last year’s Anglican Consultative Council meeting (inter alia, as Wells would say) suggests that graceful concessions now would be answered by remorseless exploitation and ever increasing demands in the future. “Wounded” does not address directly what we are to make of this, and this is a weakness of the paper, at least if it is to provide useful guidance in our current situation.

Other general characteristics of “Wounded” are to be commended. The essay views neither Scripture nor doctrine nor polity in simplistic terms. In particular, it takes Scripture seriously and does not view it as fixed, immutable, and obvious to anyone who will only consider it honestly. In spite of other assertions and rhetorical strategies that cause me reflexively to raise my defenses and adrenalin level from time to time, “Wounded” is a welcome change from what passes for theological discussion in my home diocese of Pittsburgh or on certain Web sites, where “provisionality” (even if encountered in close proximity to “penitence”) and “evolving discernments” are not often encountered, much less the Hooker trio of “Scripture,” “tradition,” and “reason.”

I appreciate Wells’ wanting to place discussion within a “scriptural and theological frame,” something I have been accused of being guilty of failing to do. (In my defense, I would note that my writings have most often been about the bad behavior of religious partisans—arrogant bullying, misrepresentation, and flagrant violation of established rules—that most readers would recognize as such without reference to a list of biblical footnotes.) Whereas I do not always agree with the inferences drawn, the essay uses Scripture with integrity, which is not a given in much of the argumentation we have seen in recent years.

A similar integrity can be seen in the presentation of facts, which appear here without the distortions and misrepresentations that many have come to expect. For example, it is plainly acknowledged that the Windsor Report represents the Anglican Communion as some wish it to be, rather than as it is or has been. Likewise, Wells frankly acknowledges the liberal wariness of “the putatively Romanizing tilt of The Windsor Report.” He demonstrates a sanguineness I do not always share—I do not view the Roman Catholic Church as being as accommodating as he suggests, for example—but we perhaps interpret the evidence differently.

In Section I, “Banishing Fear: ‘Anglican’ Evocations within Earshot of the Church Catholic,” Wells writes of how our dialogue is normed by past decisions. This is certainly a very Anglican observation, although our past can be both a blessing and a burden. I am cheered, nevertheless, by his speaking of “evolving discernments,” and not of “the faith once delivered to the saints,” which tends to preclude further discernment. His willingness to use such a phrase might encourage Episcopalians to view “until a new consensus emerges” (quoted in the essay from the Windsor Report) as something that might actually be allowed to happen. Alas, the pressures being brought to bear on the church from the Anglican Communion are not coming principally from those sharing Wells’ point of view.

Even when I do not share the conclusions in “Wounded,” I sometimes smile in recognition when reading Wells’ analysis. I do indeed fear “the prospect of over-centralization” in the Communion and appreciate that others may fear “the prospect of doctrinal incoherence.” As a logician used to dealing with a more formal notions of “coherence” in logistic systems, however, I am hard-pressed to name a religion that could ever claim “coherence” in the more scientific sense. Christianity would do well to continue to emphasize faith over coherence.

In one context or another, “accountability” occurs several times in this essay. I was struck by the phrase “accountability to all our sisters and brothers,” for example. “Wounded” caused me to think more about accountability and the notion of “accountability to other Christian churches.” As a church, I believe we do have to explore this notion further. To begin with, if “accountability” is not simply to be a proxy for “subjugation,” the accountability must, at least, be mutual. If we are, in some sense, accountable to the Church of Nigeria, then surely the relationship must be symmetric—the Church of Nigeria should be accountable to the Episcopal Church. “Accountable” suggests a requirement that behavior be explained (as our church did at the 2005 Anglican Consultative Council meeting, for example), not necessarily that the explaining party be answerable to a higher authority. Is the “Anglican Communion” becoming a higher authority? To what is it answerable? There is more than meets the eye here.

I admit to being somewhat perplexed by Section II of the paper, “Terms of Engagement.” Although I think I gained little insight into the “grammar of recognisability” here, the story told by Wells would be viewed in a positive light by nearly all Episcopalians, I think. I am unconvinced that the story necessary leads the reader to find an “urgency” in “not separating Christian unity from Christian mission.” I can imagine myself on the mission trip described, yet I can envisage a different trip with different people and different understandings that would seem to me no better and no worse at ministering to our neighbors on this planet.

Whereas this essay is intended to be about what I find useful (in a broad sense), I cannot resist objecting to Wells’ call for us “to return to a common reading of Scripture,” as he does in Section IV, “Wounds in Communion.” (When I read this sentence, I wrote in the margin of my copy of “Wounded”: “No! No! No!”) I cannot completely understand this assertion in the light of what I see elsewhere as a less doctrinaire attitude toward Scripture. I do think that more discussion about how we read Scripture is indicated, but the traditionalists are probably correct when they identify this as the greatest divide between them and other Episcopalians. I can imagine our living with this divide, but not our bridging it. In any case, we need to foster biblical literacy—through education, not indoctrination—among both laypeople and clergy.

There is much in “Wounds in Communion” and in the next section, “Finding Ourselves in Scripture,” that is thought-provoking, but there is insufficient space to discuss it fully here. The “wounded” metaphor is helpful, I think, though it invites further discussion. As one whose journey has taken him from the belly of Protestantism to the Episcopal via media, I would have hoped for more talk of joy and less of sacrifice here, which can become tedious after a while. I personally believe that our wounded unity is more about how we behave toward one another than about differences in our beliefs. If we had a reliable way to discern Truth, mandating doctrinal unity would be appropriate. Alas, Truth (capital T) is not so easy to discern, and Wells seems to admit this in the first paragraph of Section VI, “A Holy and Acceptable Sacrifice,” where he speaks of the fond desire for mechanisms “that enable us to extract the truth-as-we-now-accept-it from its extraneous husk.”

It is in Section VI that we, at last, get to the issues with which General Convention must deal, to what Wells calls “the most difficult decision before American Episcopalians.” Can we not commit to respecting 1998 Lambeth I.10 as the Christian standard regarding human sexuality even if we believe its assertions to be untrue? And can we implement moratoria “until a new consensus emerges”? If the only context for these questions were internal to this paper, the answer could perhaps be yes. As I said earlier, however, the Episcopal Church is not responding to a communion of Christopher Wellses. Those who are demanding affirmative answers to those questions, both within the Episcopal Church and in the wider Anglican Communion, have not always acted in good faith. Acceding to their demands may simply be encouraging their continued sinful behavior. Alas, the answer to Rodney King’s question, “Can we all get along?” is not easily found.

 

“Rethinking “Saving Anglicanism”

y basic thesis in “Saving Anglicanism” was that Anglicanism is threatened by the current crisis and that Anglicanism, as a particular approach to the Christian Gospel, is not an assured feature of the fellowship of churches that bears its name. Because of what it can contribute to Christian thought and practice, we must, I argued, save Anglicanism at all costs, while preserving the Anglican Communion if we can. A secondary theme of my narrative was that the “militant traditionalists” within and outside the Episcopal Church—the term was intended to be descriptive, not disparaging—are trying, not always by fair means, to rid our church of “error,” which includes the very notion of theological diversity many consider essential to its identity.  I raised the possibility, without necessarily advocating it, that resisting the demands of the Anglican Communion—increasingly, the “requests” of the Windsor Report seem to be turning into demands—might be a helpful strategy. Doing so, of course, would surely not be a short-term fix.

“Wounded in Common Mission” has not caused me to reject any part of this thesis, but it has given me greater perspective regarding both our present circumstances and how we might proceed. Let me offer some observations.

Christopher Wells' ecumenical vision is, in this season of religious strife, an attractive one. Although, on first reading, I found the narration of his mission trip to Mexico a confusing digression, upon reflection, it seems more a useful exemplar of a proper response to Christ’s call to us as his followers. Would that we were spending more time on mission trips and less time on global fights for ecclesiastical supremacy. At the same time that Wells is focusing our attention on relations with other provinces and other churches, certain deputies to General Convention are announcing that they are in impaired communion with other deputies and will therefore not share the communion cup or Bible study with them. How sad that, within the Episcopal Church, we cannot even get along with one another.

“Wounded” reminded me that the diversity in Anglicanism is indeed great and that certain viewpoints often go unheeded because they are expressed in a small voice or because those holding them are thoughtlessly grouped, in the minds of those of one party, with the partisans of another. It is common human failing to do this, but our perception, imagination, and reasoning are human, and our plans, even for the Church, even the Church led by the Holy Spirit, are necessarily faltering and unsure. I do believe that there is such a thing as human progress, even in the shepherding of Christ's Church, but the way is often shrouded in fog, and the path is not always straight.

Wells’ perspective presents a challenge to me, both because it is less familiar and because it is advanced in a manner to which I cannot object. It is but one position easily lost sight of. Too often, those on opposite sides of fault lines within the Episcopal Church have concerns for the noncombatants—surely a majority of our members—that are primarily about whether the silent ones will “defect” to “the other side” or simply leave the church because it seems to them not to be spirit-filled or because it simply fails to meet their spiritual needs. How many have we excluded from our conversation? How many simply want to be left alone?

Although I have complained about the angry rhetoric of the militant traditionalists, I find myself being held responsible for allegedly similar discourse, and the present dialog with Christopher Wells challenges me to meditate upon this state of affairs. Whereas I consider much of “Saving Anglicanism” to be history, it is surely not dispassionate history, and, though I tried to avoid name-calling, those about whom I wrote have surely been stung by my words. Engaging Wells here has been personally therapeutic—and, I hope, somehow useful to others—although Wells is not among those I have called militant. Nonetheless, I would welcome dispassionate discussion with those most associated with “the other side” in the current disputes.

It may be that most of what needs to be said has been said, and it is merely for the Episcopalians about to assemble in Columbus to decide where they want to go from here. Wells’ discussion may offer us some help, however. For example, he has identified some of the fears of the parties now in conflict.  Fears on one’s own side are talked about less than perceived injustices and injuries visited upon one’s friends by others  And yet, those fears may represent important issues that must be addressed in any effective reconciliation. For example, I do indeed fear “the putatively Romanizing tilt of The Windsor Report” that could “undo the advances of progressive causes.” Recognizing such a fact may suggest ways of addressing it without simply resorting to intransigence when compromise or sacrifice is asked. In particular, the feared outcome can be addressed explicitly and separately from the action whose consequence, it is thought, might ultimately cause that fear to be realized.

My view of the nature of Anglicanism was a given in “Saving Anglicanism,” and I assumed that most readers—not including the militant traditionalists, surely—would share that view. One of the candidates for Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Stacey F. Sauls, of Lexington, recently wrote a helpful essay to his diocese, “What’s really at stake (and it certainly isn’t sex).” Bishop Sauls puts it this way:

There you have it. The first vision of Anglicanism sees our character as having continuing validity and perhaps being uniquely suited for our times. The second sees our character as severely deficient and constitutionally weak. How the two can coexist with so fundamental a difference is not clear. The difficulty is this. The second vision intends to replace the first, not coexist with it (New Yorker, p. 65). At the same time, if the first does not make room for the second to be heard, the traditional Anglican approach of comprehensiveness will be no less endangered. Anglicanism cannot be legitimately defended by stifling dissent any more than the American constitutional principle of freedom of speech can. It is quite possible that the traditional Anglican approach to spirituality, theology, and seeking God’s truth may well vanish from the earth. If we Episcopalians allow that to happen, what I always believed was our most important characteristic will have become our tragic flaw.

Bishop Sauls’ view may be unnecessarily gloomy, but he has put succinctly what is perhaps the central dilemma facing General Convention. It is a predicament being faced only obliquely, however. We are being called upon to act with a view of preserving the Anglican Communion, yet I think that Wells and Sauls and I could all agree that we must consider what that means because not everyone has the same outcome in mind. What are the opinions that have to be considered in this matter, and how is that consideration to be played out?

The experience of the Lambeth Commission on Communion offers a cautionary tale here. Its job, in retrospect, was to settle down what was seen to have become an unruly Communion. In failing to address the problem of homosexuality, it failed to address the underlying problem posed by Bishop Sauls: what is (or is to be) the ethos of the Anglican Communion? If we continue to follow the path set out by the Windsor Report, we will, no doubt, find ourselves developing a covenant that, in a fashion similar to that pursued by the Lambeth Commission, will be developed with an eye toward preserving “unity” without examining the underlying theologies competing, sometimes under the cover of darkness, for supremacy.

In “What Should General Convention 2006 Do?” I suggested, perhaps with a bit of mischievousness, that the Episcopal Church might want to express its regret for “its failure to mend divisions within it, which has resulted in the export of those divisions to the wider Communion.” Upon reflection, this idea seems less frivolous than it did at the time. As Episcopalians and as members of the Anglican Communion, what is needed is for everyone to step back from the brink, for us to take a look at ourselves and our sisters and brothers in Christ, and to ask what kind of church we mean to be offering to a broken world. Are we really ready to go about “fixing” the Anglican Communion while our own church has serious divisions that we have clearly handled badly?

 

 Another Look at the Resolutions

The anonymous essay “What it will take” that was recently posted to the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) Web site looks at eight arguments advancing the adequacy of the resolutions proposed by the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and it finds them wanting. The task that Christopher Wells and I set out for me here was to review the ACI essay in light of our dialog. I will not dissect the ACI arguments and examine the resolutions with the same detail found in “What Should General Convention 2006 Do?” Alas, this exercise may be less enlightening than we had hoped. I will, however, have more to say in a separate conclusion. The headings like the one below are taken from “What it will take.”

Firstly: The expression of regret is clear and strong and meets what is asked of ECUSA by The Windsor Report (TWR).

The ACI disputes both points with respect to Resolution A160 Expression of Regret. Apparently, it would like something along the lines of “We’re sorry we did it; we know [or, perhaps even better, knew] it was wrong; and we won’t do it again.” The Institute argues that the apology here—essentially the same as was earlier tendered by the House of Bishops—is inadequate. It is one of the frustrations of this whole affair that no one quite seems to know (1) what an adequate apology is supposed to look like, or even (2) who gets to decide whether an apology is adequate. This is the kind of confusion that results when there are no rules in place, but some parties act as if there are. The Windsor Report (§134) recommended that

the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion

Resolution A160 seems to satisfy this request. General Convention is unlikely to admit its actions were wrong because most Episcopalians (those at General Convention, anyway) do not believe they were. One has to question the ethics of demanding contrition when there is no sense of having done anything wrong.

Secondly: ECUSA can do no more than these resolutions because it has a clear and long-standing commitment to LGBT people and it cannot be expected to go back on these commitments at GC 06, indeed it must (as it does in some of the proposed resolutions) clearly restate and reaffirm those commitments.

The ACI suggests that General Convention, if it believes this, “should recognise that their understanding of their commitments to LGBT people is strictly incompatible and irreconcilable with their commitments to the Communion.” However accommodating General Convention might want to be here, it is, in a moral sense, caught between Scylla and Charybdis. It is one thing to agree to jump overboard voluntarily because one has been asked to lighten a sinking ship. It is quite another to agree to throw someone else overboard for the same purpose. The most charitable view here would be that there are plusses and minuses both to “accommodating” the Anglican Communion and “accommodating” LGBT people.

Thirdly: To demand full and clear compliance with TWR is a sign that certain people are just being punitive and sticking to the letter of the law in relation to ECUSA. This is perhaps evidence that conservatives will never be satisfied as, in a quest for a ‘pure church’, they want ECUSA to become something it is not and never shall be.

I have no idea what “sticking to the letter of the law” refers to here. It is not clear to me that there is any relevant law to stick to. Anyway, ACI says that, if the Episcopal Church does not coöperate with the Communion, then it cannot complain if it is judged to have “walked apart,” and it recommends that our church “call their bluff,” referring to people who seem determined not to be satisfied. Again, of course, there is the problem of who has to be satisfied.

Fourthly: Those most insistent that ECUSA comply fully are not applying the same stringency in relation to TWR’s other main recommendations, notably the cross-boundary interventions by some in the Global South.

ACI has a long explanation of why diocesan boundary crossings are not the indignity many think them to be. If communion implies mutual accountability, however, why should the Episcopal Church not insist on a moratorium on any parish within the bounds of an Episcopal diocese coming under the authority of any bishop of another province? The Special Commission should, perhaps, be asked this question.

Fifthly: Even if ECUSA at GC fails to respond fully and unambiguously to TWR, the trajectory of ECUSA’s response to Windsor is clearly strongly in the right direction and so it would be wrong to then penalise them.

The whole premise of the ACI essay begins to seem silly by this point. The essay is countering arguments “that have been advanced in various circles,” although no details or citations are offered. The ACI argument is of the “on one hand ... on the other hand” variety. Most notably, however, the essay points to the scolding of the House of Bishops by the Bishop of Exeter regarding the inadequacy of the “exercise very considerable caution” language of Resolution A161 Election of Bishops. (Episcopal bishops are said to have been alarmed, rather than incensed by this.) Is it really proper to treat our church like a wayward child? General Convention should do what it is going to do and take the consequences, whatever they may be. Our constitutional slowness in responding to rapidly changing situations is rightly pointed out by the ACI. We probably have the best polity we can afford. In the short run, in any case, it is what it is. Perhaps General Convention should give advice to the House of Bishops and Executive Council, suggesting what they should do in various circumstances that might arise. This would, I suspect, make a very interesting topic of discussion in Columbus.

Sixthly: This call ‘to exercise very considerable caution’ is the best that can be gained from GC because the structure of ECUSA’s polity means GC lacks authority in relation to the process of ‘the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops’.

The ACI spends a whole page on this one. I do no think the argument the ACI is trying to refute actually holds much water. Apparently, the Special Commission considered an outright moratorium and rejected the idea, not, apparently, because it considered such a move unlawful or ineffective.

Seventhly: As ‘actions speak louder than words’ and in practice 'extreme caution' means that it won't happen again this level of commitment should be acceptable to the wider Communion for as long as such caution is shown.

(Does any native American speaker use the word “seventhly”?) I wonder if the ACI is not fighting a straw man here (should I have said “straw person”?). Nevertheless, Resolution A161 is surely going to be one of the most controversial resolutions, and it is difficult to defend against the charge that the proposal from the Special Commission is disingenuous. More straightforward would be for us to say that we will not implement a moratorium but that we will urge Episcopalians not to elect gay bishops simply to make a point. What veto power do we get in return over, say Nigerian bishops? Can we demand a moratorium on bishops in other provinces who think women should not be ordained? If communion is to mean anything, should we not speak plainly to one another and dispense with the winks and nods. The Anglican tendency to hid the truth behind weasel words should be subjected to serious theological scrutiny. I suspect that one could make a case for minimizing it in Christian dialog.

Eighthly: The proposed resolution on pastoral care and DEPO should be sufficient for those who remain unhappy with ECUSA’s actions or who wish for stronger commitment to TWR’s proposals.

The ACI seems not especially fond of DEPO: “Many parishes committed to the Communion and TWR who find their bishop is not willing to accept TWR in full will find it difficult to receive his or her pastoral care or even, in some cases, recognise his or her jurisdiction.” I am perplexed that willingness to accept a complex and controversial report “in full” can be considered adequate justification for having nothing to do with one’s local bishop. Am I missing something here? The Episcopal Church is being asked to submit to the “authority” of the Anglican primates who, in fact, have no authority over our church, yet Episcopalians are expected to reject the legitimate authority of their bishop simply because he or she does not hold a committee report in reverence?

The ACI concludes its piece with speculation on what will happen if the response from the Episcopal Church “falls short.” (It will, in the eyes of some, of course.) Because this section is largely speculative, I will not say much about it. The last paragraph, however, is chilling:

Alongside this ways could perhaps also be found of assisting more orderly differentiation within ECUSA. Recognising the centrality of the diocese within Anglican structures, diocesan conventions and bishops could be encouraged to take on board the full requirements of TWR and walk the painful path of reconciliation. If this were to happen then it would allow the Communion greater clarity in distinguishing within ECUSA between those committed to TWR and those who are satisfied simply with an inadequate response from GC and who, in many cases, are committed to follow what they believe is a prophetic path in disregard for Communion teaching and the disciplines of interdependent life in communion.

This is nothing short of a threat to divide and conquer the Episcopal Church, arguably the result desired by the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. The willingness of elements of the Anglican Communion to resort to such unprecedented and extra-legal tactics hardly encourages the move toward a more thoroughgoing “autonomy-in-communion.”

 

Conclusion

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.