Territory? What Territory?

It seems that the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Bishop Suheil Dawani, is upset that his Global South counterparts are having a conference (GAFCON) in his town without having consulted with him.

From a purely tactical standpoint, I can’t blame the Africans for doing it this way.  They’re in an interesting position; their "primus inter pares" (Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams) is personally unsympathetic to their stand, something the Africans’ American flock needs to figure out.  They need to be seen as preserving unity while distancing themselves from TEC and ACC.  They need to be seen as tough on homosexuals for the sake of their Islamic rivals and, to a lesser extent, the other Christian churches in their countries.  They need to preserve the integrity of Christian doctrine and life, and that includes sexual morality on all levels, to please God, which is most important.  And they need to do all of this in the fishbowl world that the Internet has created.

Given the disparate nature of the Anglican Communion on all of these issues and more, their penchant for secrecy and sudden announcements–and perhaps leaving out a party or two to start with–is entirely understandable.

One thing that would simplify the whole discussion is a re-examination of the whole issue of territory.  As a "catholic" church, Anglicans traditionally are big on the idea of "one territory, one bishop."  But since the Anglican communion is the result of a secession itself, that’s already blown.  Just take a look at all of the Catholic and Orthodox bishops resident in the areas where there are Anglican/Episcopal bishops.  The Orthodox make things even more fun by having one or more "national" churches in a single territory such as the U.S., where most Orthodox believers (excluding the refugees from Anglicanism and other places) are descended from believers from a wide variety of places (Greece, Russia, Serbia, the Middle East, etc.)

Rowan Williams unnecessarily complicated the issue by excluding the American bishops consecrated by the African and Southern Cone churches, which led to this "alternative" (I use this term reluctantly, since it’s one of the GLBT community’s favourites) conference to Lambeth.  If the Anglican Communion wants to stay together in any form, perhaps the first discussion that needs to take place is the issue of territory.  If the Orthodox can figure it out, why not the Anglicans?

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