Thursday, January 16, 2020

The ACNA College of Bishops Communique and a Problem of Trust

The communiqué from the latest Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) College of Bishops meeting was released yesterday, and I honestly do not know what to make of it.  Part of that is that I have trust issues, but part of it is also that the ACNA has trustworthiness issues.
The section on “issues of race” illustrates this well. 
Following a video presentation by the Rev. Dr. Esau McCaulley, Director of the Anglican Church in North America's Next Generation Initiative, and the Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Bishop of the Diocese of the Southeast (REC), the College spent time in discussion and prayer about issues of race, racism, and recent mass shootings. Particular attention was given to the great need for multi-ethnic outreach and church planting, ensuring that all peoples are reached for Christ and to addressing the public witness of the Province and our dioceses on matters of justice.
Now these presentations and discussions may have been balanced and fruitful, and I actually have good reason to think they were.  But I also know Dr. McCaulley’s approach to such issues has often been not balanced in the past, including his reluctance to affirm the obvious, that people of color can be racist against white people.  I also know that “justice” has become a buzzword in ACNA for pushing a “social justice” agenda. And ACNA has become a “social justice” playground in the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, in the Matthew 25 Initiative, in the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network, etc.
So it is difficult for me to welcome this communiqué and, yes, to trust the College of Bishops.
Trust can be restored, however if the College of Bishops were to set some boundaries.  One such boundary is needed in the area of racism particularly since, thanks to Critical Race Theory and related ideologies, “racism” is now a much abused word.  Both trust and clarity require the College of Bishops make clear that the sin of racism can be committed by people of all ethnicities against people of all ethnicities. As I have written at length before, this is needful and would be helpful in facilitating both trust and conversation. 
But I do not expect the College of Bishops to do even this. I expect the trust issues to continue.  I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

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