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DALLAS: Evangelical Episcopal Bishop believes compromise can bring TEC and ACNA to the table

DALLAS: Evangelical Episcopal Bishop believes compromise can bring TEC and ACNA to the table

By David W. Virtue, DD
June 27, 2018

The evangelical Episcopal Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. George Sumner, believes the Episcopal Church and GAFCON, which includes the Anglican Church in North America, can find grounds for reconciliation here in North America.

In a byline story for COVENANT magazine, he writes; "[GAFCON] needs to be taken seriously because the primate of ACNA is the chair of the Primates' Council and we must "reckon with these developments."

He goes on to ask the question, "What are we to make of the lack of any acknowledgment that we are part of this complicated North American scene? We represent a group of dioceses, including several in Latin America, which haven't left, but dissent from some of our own church's decisions. We are, demographically speaking, a sodality comparable in size to ACNA itself."

Sumner is speaking, of course, of the Communion Partners bishops in TEC who claim to be orthodox in faith and morals. Over the years, this group has shrunk considerably.

According to ENS, eight bishops prohibit same-sex marriage in their dioceses. Among these are Albany Bishop William Love, Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer, Dallas Bishop George Sumner, Florida Bishop John Howard, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt and Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs.

According to the task force, Love, Brewer, Sumner, Martins and Bauerschmidt also prohibit clergy canonically resident in those dioceses to use the liturgies inside or outside of the diocese. Four are from Central America. 10 former CP bishops have either resigned or are dead.

If Sumner and these TEC dioceses want to be taken seriously, then perhaps the first thing that should happen is that TEC should stop the lawsuits that have ratcheted up the alienation between ACNA and TEC for more than a decade. The properties will be meaningless in a decade as TEC is demographically dying and will have to sell off most of the properties anyway.

If Sumner wants recognition by GAFCON, why have the Communion Partner bishops been so silent about these horrific lawsuits against ACNA priests and bishops, the priestly inhibitions and depositions, of priests being tossed out of their parishes and the tearing away of pensions? Their silence can only be construed as cowardly at best and complicit at worst.

Secondly, TEC would need to repent of its acceptance and promotion of of pansexual behaviors contrary to Scripture, Lambeth 1:10 and history, and admit it has been wrong imbibing sodomy and same-sex marriage.

Thirdly, GAFCON and by extension ACNA, wants to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. TEC has not gotten the theological ability to do that and most priests wouldn't know how or where to begin. They would have to acknowledge that their understanding of the gospel is deficient, driven by myriad social causes, but lacking in true gospel understanding of confession, repentance and newness of life. 95% of TEC priests not only could not do that, they wouldn't know where to begin even if the handful of CP claim they do.

Fourthly, PB Michael Curry would have to reverse himself in using money to push homosexuality onto the Global South, especially African provinces and admit he is wrong.

Sumner asks, "What kind of a body does GAFCON imagine itself to be? ... a renewal movement...or alternative structure." Well, ACNA claims to be a renewal movement, but I have yet to see any kind of renewal in the CP dioceses that reflects that! Furthermore, with ACNA priests having lost so much in being tossed out of their parishes and forced to restart their lives, what is the incentive to reach out to CP bishops? The answer is none.

The term "alternative structure" was never used by GAFCON leaders; that was the invention of ACC General Secretary Josiah Idowu-Fearon. The communique did talk about a "conciliar structure" but in a much narrower sense and framework. GAFCON has consistently said they are not leaving the Communion, that they are the true inheritors of the mantle of Anglicanism and it is the other side, that is, Welby et al who have departed from the faith. What does Sumner not understand about that!

Sumner compared the situation in Northern Ireland, where combatants were willing to talk with one another and asked why not GAFCON and TEC. He asked if the Archbishop of Canterbury could be the convener of such a meeting. May I remind Bishop Sumner that that was tried when the Primates met in Canterbury, in Jan. 2016, which included Archbishop Foley Beach, and nothing came of it. Curry remained entrenched in his position and Welby walked away empty handed. Nothing has changed since then, nothing. Reconciliation is a two-way street, and Curry shows no interest in reaching out to Beach. He wants to keep his turf "pure and undefiled" from orthodoxy in order to proclaim his "doctrines" of inclusion and diversity with a schmeer of "Jesus Movement" talk to make it all look and sound good. He will talk endlessly about racism and white privilege and his favorite topic "love."

"We are, demographically speaking, a sodality comparable in size to ACNA itself," writes Sumner. Only slightly. The difference is that ACNA is growing and nearly all the TEC dioceses are withering and dying with most parishes (at least 50%) unable to employ a full-time rector. The average age of ACNA priests is in the mid-forties, the average age of TEC priests is in the low 60s. Who wants to go to bed with priests who will be filling columbarium's ere long?

Sumner writes; "I doubt that ignoring Canterbury as the embodiment of this lineage of our ancestors in the "faith once delivered" could really work long-term among Anglican Churches in Africa."

GAFCON leaders have made it abundantly clear that it is not the office of Archbishop Welby that determines what Anglicanism is. GAFCON has claimed from the beginning: "We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage." As Archbishop Okoh stated in the inaugural Synodical Council: "We are merely doing what the Communion leadership should have done to uphold its own resolution in 1998."

Here is what Okoh said recently; "We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord". What about this message does Sumner not get? Where there is no repentance, there must be realignment."

Sumner writes: "Anglicans from various perches can criticize the Windsor process and the Anglican Covenant as they wish, but sooner or later we may come to see that its conceptual pathways are unavoidable, if perhaps under different names." Both the Windsor Process and the Covenant are DOA, replaced by the Jerusalem Declaration which GAFCON has written and to which the CP bishops would have to bow, too. Are they willing? Don't count on it.

Sumner asks, "If we can consider full communion with Methodists, why could we not, on that post-litigious day, open ecumenical talks with our own fellow Anglicans?" The truth here is that liberals and revisionists in The Methodist Church are a minority, and because of their ecclesial structure it would be the liberals who would have to leave, because they would be outvoted by African Evangelical Methodists. That is the reverse in TEC. If TEC wants to make nice with liberal Methodists, then you can bet ACNA would not go down that road. ACNA is already in fellowship with evangelical Lutherans and may well unite with other fellow evangelicals in time.

Sumner: "I doubt that ignoring Canterbury as the embodiment of this lineage of our ancestors in the "faith once delivered" could really work long-term among Anglican Churches in Africa." This, of course, begs the question of who is maintaining the "faith once delivered". GAFCON leaders no longer believe Welby does as he so conflicted about homosexuality, so they won't be attending Lambeth 2020. Welby "embodies" nothing GAFCON wants or needs. GAFCON can remain solidly Anglican and ignore Canterbury; it's the faith, stupid, not the office that makes for authentic Anglicanism.

Sumner: "At the end of the day what we all need most are humility and hope. Is there a way forward amid all these conundra? "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27). To continue in a conflicted and awkward communion is not to be dismissed as mere temporizing, but can, when done with integrity, be an act of hope that something may change, or open up, that we cannot anticipate. At the very least it means that if communion does break down finally, we have done all that we possibly could. For such humility and hope we ought all to pray."

Not if heresy and apostasy continue to abound in TEC, that will never happen. The fabric of the communion has been torn and only TEC can fix it and they show no signs of doing that; that would require much "humility and hope" which they do not possess, because the revisionists have long since taken over the TEC asylum and they will never give up pansexuality for anybody, not even for God.

"I believe that concepts like "walking together or apart" or "degrees of communion" will come back into play," writes Sumner. Not a prayer. That message has been repeatedly denied by both the former Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola and by the present Archbishop Nicholas Okoh. That day is done.

Sumner can't have it both ways. He can't stay in TEC as the loyal opposition and hope to make nice with ACNA. TEC Presiding Bishop Michael Curry would never allow it and he would move to depose him and the CP bishops immediately they made any move.

TEC is a slow-moving train wreck, (but growing faster by the day) and why would ACNA throw in its lot with a dying institution, even if a handful of TEC bishops claim to wear the orthodox mantle! Already, Brewer has half rolled over and got thrown off the board of TSM for his compromise over the baptism of a child of two gay men. He is weak and will grow weaker with time as pressure mounts against him from within his diocese. He has no stomach for the fight.

Furthermore, it is now clear that as CP bishops retire they are being replaced by liberals. Witness what happened after Bishop Ed Little of Nthn. Indiana retired. His place was taken by a go along liberal establishment bishop with nary a murmur from any parish.

Sumner's hope for reconciliation is in vain. If he honestly believes that the Gospel is not being proclaimed in TEC, then he and his fellow CP bishops should up and leave, as six other dioceses have done and let the chips fall where they may. Truth is far more important than properties and pensions, but that is a lesson he and they will have to learn the hard way, if they want to learn it at all.


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