Friday, April 29, 2016

ACANZP on verge of deconstructing itself in one GS hit?

I have woken up in the night to this absurdity of our GS papers (motions, bills).

Suppose everything in the papers is approved "as presented."

Then: we would have (by 2018 confirming votes)




That is three sacramental actions of our church (sacraments to the catholic-minded among us) altered in a direction which can only be described as a progressive departure from our catholic heritage and a liberal embrace of new ways of thinking about rites which are core to our identity as a not wholly Protestant or Catholic church.

There are no prizes for being the most liberal, progressive Anglican church in the Communion.

Actually, I suggest we would be more than the most liberal, progressive Anglican church in the Communion. I suggest that we would be the least Anglican church in the Communion.

We could significantly begin to deconstruct ourselves as an Anglican church if we decide to change what we believe about all three sacramental actions in one hit. (Some might say we would simply be accelerating a deconstruction already begun).

Instead of being the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia we would be the Evolving Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Through 2020 and 2022 synods we could work on the remaining sacramental actions and even have a go at the Dominical Sacraments of Baptism and Communion. After all, we are running out of water in NZ as we allow it to be bottled up and sold overseas ... but there is plenty of spare milk ... #justsaying.

On the other hand, at a pre General Synod meeting last night a good observation was made by one of Christchurch's GS reps (re the abolition of confirmation): constitutionally, can we actually make such a change? Confirmation is, after all, firmly embedded within our Fundamental Provisions.

Calling chancellors ... dialing now sir ... yes, they will take your call ... as soon as some other legal messes in our  amalgam of canons and formularies are solved :)

Seriously: what kind of (Anglican) church do we want to be? 

I do understand that each of the proposals for change of marriage, confirmation and ordination (via recognition of Methodist orders) has its own background of concern and desire to make progress on perceived and experienced difficulties or shortfalls in our life together, and that each has its own logic as a response to those difficulties and shortfalls. But I think it right to stand back from these individual proposals and ask the naive question what the accumulation of all three changes would mean for what kind of church we want to be.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A puzzling General Synod motion: is it a change of doctrine?

From the General Synod motions (here)

Motion # 21

Anglican-Methodist Interchangeability of Ordained Ministries

Mover: The Right Rev’d R Bay                    Seconder:

THAT this General Synod te Hīnota Whānui 2016:
(a)    formally affirms, accepts, and recognizes the validity of Methodist presidency and presbyteral ministries as effectively equivalent to Anglican episcopal and priestly ministries, such that interchange is possible without the requirement of re-ordination; and
(b)   in negotiation with the Methodist Church, and having attended to necessary enabling legislation, effects an act of reconciliation of episcopal ministries so enabling a full interchangeability of ordained ministries, in accord with the Irish Model, and
(c)    agrees that the reconciliation of episcopal ministry and the interchangeability of priestly ministry could take place in the first instance by a parallel or shared liturgical act (Act of Inauguration) wherein the Methodist Connexion and the General Synod assert and affirm the mutual recognition and acceptance of each other’s episcopal ministry; and similarly with respect to the mutuality of ordained priestly ministry.
(d)   Asks the Council for Ecumenism, in conjunction with the Anglican-Methodist Dialogue Group, to attend to the preparation of the necessary legislation.

Notes (PLEASE ALSO REFER TO THE Anglican-Methodist Dialogue Group report):

1.       Enabling Legislation
Appropriate legislative measures will need to be enacted in order to establish the interchange of ministries following which an act of reconciliation can occur. Such legislation would be brought to the 2018 General Synod te Hīnota Whānui. 
2.       Recognition and reconciliation of episcopal ministries
For Anglicans, the proposal means that we recognise, effect and affirm that, in the ordained presbyter in the Presidential team, there exists a valid episcopal ministry; an authentic episcopate, capable of interchange should that ever be desired.

3.       Establish the interchangeability of ordained (priestly/presbyteral) ministry.
Once enabling legislation is in place and the reconciliation of episcopal ministries attained, the interchange of priestly/presbyteral ministry may proceed.

4.       The Diaconate
This proposal applies only to the mutuality of episcopal ministry and the interchangeability of presbyteral and priestly ministries. There remain differences in respect to the structure and nature of the probationary period that occurs (usually) between completion of a ministry formation process and the priestly/presbyteral ordination.

There is further opportunity for our two churches to work together on a common understanding of the model and mission of the diaconate and so the future possibility of interchangeability.


The Protestant in me is keen to see this kind of mutual recognition of ministry, not least because of strong and long Anglican and Methodist relationships, including many years of shared training together at Meadowbank. In a varying "churchscape" in which we have co-operating ventures and in which it is sometimes useful if a Methodist presbyter could preside at an Anglican eucharist, some kind of "interchangeability" of presidential/presbyteral ministry is logical to the Protestant in me.

The Catholic in me (yeah, yeah, some think it is so microscopic it cannot be seen) says, "What!?" Where is the episcopal laying on of hands via an episcope who is an episcope in an order separate to priests/presbyters, not by interpretation of "the  ordained presbyter in the Presidential team" as being "episcopal"? 

The Ecumenicist in me asks, 
- What effect would this approach to interchangeability of ministry have on our relationships with Catholics and the Orthodox? 
- Why, being consistent, would we not also work on something similar with the Presbyterians, who consider their "presbytery" to have an episcopal role, including in ordination of a presbyter?

The Once Was A General Synod Member in me asks,
- Should not such a motion begin with the "Anglican-Methodist Dialogue Group report" (found here) since this sets out the history building up to this motion and the arguments assumed into it?
- Why are the fuller and more helpful notes to the motion drafted in the report not the notes to the motion actually presented in the GS papers? (Those briefer notes offer technical terms and phrases which are either undefined or not clearly defined. The fuller notes in the report help us to see what changes the Methodists would also make in an "episcopal" direction.)

The Fundamental Provisionist in me asks, 
- Is this (however unintentionally) a change in our doctrine of ordination? 
- If it is, should this motion speaks as though it sets that change in place? 
- And, where this motion does speak in terms of future "enabling legislation", what kind of legislation should we have in order to change our doctrine of ordination? (Change of constitution? A formulary for recognising interchanged ministries? Let us not forget that the ordinals are part of our "Fundamental Provisions": ordination goes to the heart of who we are as Anglicans and what we believe.)

The Tui: Yeah, Right! guy in me desperately wants to ask 
- Whether we can equate our diaconate ("ordained a deacon") with the probationary period a prospective Methodist presbyter goes through following training and prior to ordination as a Methodist presbyter (no ordination as a probationer)? We can't even contemplate that can we? Deacons, we need your voice on this. The train is leaving the station!
- Also, once the enabling legislation is passed could we ordain a future Bishop of Somewhere who has been a Methodist presbyter (i.e. not previously ordained a deacon, and not previously ordained-by-a-bishop-in-the-order-of-bishops)? That would indeed be "per saltum" ordination, would it not?

Ecumenical relationships are vital, Jesus prayed that we may be one, this blog longs for Christian unity which goes beyond the "organic" or "spiritual" to real changes in our lack of inter-communion, recognition of ministries and so forth. 

Consequently I applaud the intention in this motion and acknowledge it comes from ecumenical work here in Aotearoa NZ which builds on associated work in other parts of the Anglican-Methodist world. I hope we can make progress through an amended motion which clarifies issues and responds to questions the motion-with-notes in its current form raises. 

I have no problem with the goal of "interchangeability" of ministries between Methodists and Anglicans providing we are clear about what we are interchanging and faithful to our own doctrine of ordination in respect of our understanding of "ordered" ministry. 

I think we should remember that, much as many of us long for closer relations with Rome, Constantinople and Utrecht (i.e. Old Catholics), we are closer to Methodist/Anglican mutual recognition of ministries than we are to Rome and Constantinople recognising our ministries ("null and void", lest we forget).

What do you think?

UPDATE: Bosco Peters, along with other GS matters, also tackles this motion here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Anglican Bits and Catholic Bites

Three items of note this morning:

ACNA sails very, very close to a moral and theological crisis here. Preludium offers a reflection here.

The Primate of the West Island reflects on ACC-16 here. (PS Have you seen that the West Island government is paying the French $50 billion to build submarines. Surely they are not expecting an attack from the seaborne power to their east?)

Catholics and Anglicans have been talking - again!! - about recognition of ministry, here. Having been at a joint Catholic-Anglican Ash Wednesday service this year, in the Catholic Pro-Cathedral here in Christchurch, at which Bishop Victoria Matthews preached,  I and many readers here want to say, "Let theology catch up with reality." Really, it is just about finding an aggiornamento which walks backwards into the void Leo's "null and void" Bull!

It is not as though things cannot change in the Vatican ... or can they? Our Prelatical friend from the West Island will need more smarts than an Ozzie Union leader caught with unexplained cash in his briefcase to get this audit completed!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Can we construct a better Way Forward?

Update A much simpler scheme is proposed by Bosco Peters here (among other GS matters).


My sense is that I and a few other bloggers are not alone in being dissatisfied with AWF. In fact, beating drums tell me that a number of people across many of our episcopal units are not satisfied that AWF is "the" way forward. My own summary of what we are most dissatisfied about is that, when all is said and done about the strengths and weaknesses of AWF, it does not propose a robust scheme for two integrities. Diocese by diocese choice and individual priests being able to refuse to do a blessing does not "cut it" when it comes to signing up via licensing procedures to what this church believes according to its formularies.

But I think we should pause and note that there is no particular reason to make that a great negative re the work the working group did. Let me explain: I am a great believer in arriving at the truth via failed efforts (!!), in line with Karl Popper's approach to finding by approximations what the truth is, such approximations getting ever closer on the basis of the latest approximation being falsified. If we collectively judge that AWF doesn't get us to where we think we want to be (let alone to where God wants us to be), that should be a spur to work from what has been falsified to a better position, always grateful for what AWF has illuminated for us along the way.

I think we can construct a better way forward than AWF does, and I think Trevor Morrison is correct to argue that we should. I also think he is correct to press for greater signs of mutual understanding of respective but different positions on blessings as well as to remind us that there was a vision in Motion 30 for "two integrities" which is not well developed in AWF.

At the end of the previous post I  suggested that the formation of FCANZ could be significant in finding that way forward. I said that because if we are to have a "two integrities" approach then we need FCANZ to engage with the development of the concept and to sign off on any new proposal in that direction. Ditto, observing some remarks made in the paper by Peter Lineham and Mark Hendrickson linked to here last week, a group inclusive of publicly self-identifying gay and lesbian people should also engage with and sign off on such development. That is, in a new proposal, we could see ourselves heading to towards a future GS with a settled feeling that we had negotiated a peaceful outcome. Remember we go to this GS with the AWF report declaring it is not an agreed report by the whole group!

Two Integrities?

Note that the simplest, clearest form of two integrities on the matter of blessing of same-sex relationships is for there to be a formal division of our church into two separately governed churches. A schism, in other words. But or BUT no one says they want schism, no one says they want ACANZP to divide. That, surely, provides a starting point for thinking about how we might have an undivided church with two integrities within it. That starting point being that we share a commitment to not dividing our church.

Can we find another point of common interest? Yes, we can, and that point is that we commonly recognise that there are three sides in this church on this matter of blessing, none of which looks like changing its collective mind any time soon.

One side: we want blessings to happen

Another side: we do not want blessings to happen

Yet another side: we are not yet sure on the matter and we don't want to be railroaded into one or other of the other two sides. This side, incidentally, has most to lose if our church divides.

In other words, we could have a common commitment to finding a way forward which neither divides the church nor requires one side or another to give up what they believe.

Incidentally, but not insignificantly, the three sides I describe above are present simultaneously in many of our parishes and, as far as I can tell, are present in all of our episcopal units!

Naturally some readers here will wonder why I am talking about two integrities and three sides, so why not three integrities? I see the two integrities in concept as a formal way of acknowledging the right of some in our church to explicitly believe one thing and the right of some in our church to explicitly believe the opposite. The "third" side I am talking about should have their right to keep options open simply by being part of our church without pressure to choose one integrity or another.

Key step?

It then strikes me that a key step towards two integrities within one church is securing agreement on what each integrity might permit the other integrity to believe and to perform.

A few weeks ago. Bosco Peters introduced the very helpful word "may" to the inter-blog discussion.

"May" is a great Anglican word because it implies a permissive (i.e. broad, liberal as in "open-minded") approach to matters of choice and of conscience.

My sense is that our church may hold together if

A. it can continue to permit require belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and

B. permits belief that a marriage-like relationship between two people of the same gender may be blessed providing the latter belief rests on a case* that conservatives can respect even if they do not agree with it. (A weakness of the AWF report is that it does not offer that case).

What kind of formulary?

Clearly two integrities within one church has the challenge of securing a way forward so that a blessing service is

(a) authorised for use by those who wish to use it
(b) expressive of what this church permits its members to believe concerning such a service.

That is the two integrities (however they are defined) need to act as cohorts within one church (through General Synod) in respect of (a) and (b).

My understanding of (a) and (b) is that this would need to be a formulary (i.e. a service agreed both by GS and by a majority of the diocesan synods and hui amorangi).

I am no expert so I may be out of (constitutional and canonical) line in proposing that Bosco Peters' "may" be part of any such formulary so that it is clear that the doctrine being expressed in the formulary is a matter of permitted belief and not of required belief. I invite constitutional and canonical experts to come out of their hermitages and comment!

Of course, if one reply is that "Peter, it would be unprecedented to have that kind of formulary" the easy response is "Well, Dr Expert, we are in an unprecedented situation so, just as we did with the Three Tikanga Structure in 1992, we need to invent a new way forward."

What kind of "two integrities"?

If a new way forward followed the line being taken here, two integrities would be much less about responding to a formulary for blessing a same-gender relationship and much more about how our church handles questions of ordination and appointment corresponding to two differing understandings of "rightly ordered" ordinands and clergy.

In one integrity the understanding of "rightly ordered" would remain what it currently is, in the other integrity the understanding of "rightly ordered" would be enlarged to include "ordered" same-sex partnerships.

(By "ordered" I mean, "according to some objective measure." The AWF recommends that measure be "a blessed civil marriage" but there has been criticism of that proposal and it may be that in a new proposal there is also a new proposal about what the measure should be (e.g. "a civil marriage, whether blessed or not") but here I am not going to offer further discussion on this particular issue.)

Now this is where things do get tricky and as we  try to work out a better way than AWF's "diocese by diocese" approach we can see that while it is easy to criticise this particular "way forward" it is a challenge to find a better way forward. (And I am by no means confident that what I outline here is that better way forward but I think it may offer a better sense of safeguarding of convictions for individuals and for parishes than AWF's "diocese by diocese" basis).

A first level of "two integrities"

Individual office-holders, deacons, priests and bishops may wish to indicate that they identify with one integrity or the other. This likely would impact on appointment in respect of the second level.

A second level of "two integrities"

Individual parishes and other ministry units may wish to indicate that they identify with one integrity or the other. This likely would impact on aspects of working together within the same diocese where a ministry unit's identification is different to the diocese to which it belongs.

A third level of "two integrities"

Individual episcopal units may wish to indicate that they identify with one integrity or the other. This may impact on candidates offering for ordained ministry and on applicants applying for licensed positions.

A fourth level of "two integrities"

I am going to put this level in terms of a question to be resolved rather than offer my resolution(s).

How would we work through the situation when a deacon or priest and/or  (a) (their) parish identify with one integrity and the licensing/overseeing bishop identifies with the other integrity?

It would take a lot more thought on my part and yours to work out whether these "two integrities" needed some kind of formality like a "warden" or a "council" to guide and facilitate each integrity. As I write I am inclined to think that the two integrities could be about making a formal note of some kind (individuals on a CV, parishes in a self-description on a website, etc). We already have these notes informally: Fred is an evangelical, St Swithin's will never have a woman as vicar, St Jeremiah's will only have a liberal theological priest who will wear a chasuble. Might we have them formally?

I have done my dash for this week. Your comments welcomed, especially any improvements.


If we were to start again while building on learnings from AWF and the process that has led to that report and its recommendations then we could consider:

- work on common ground between various sides, seeking before a GS (2018? 2020?) some agreement as to what the sides could be committed to, all premised on the promise of Motion 30 to find a way for two integrities to operate in this church;

- we take particular care that any resulting formulary expresses what people may believe and not what they must believe when signing licences and adherence to General Synod;

- we formulate an approach to "two integrities" which permits individuals, ministry units as well as dioceses to belong - if they choose - to one or other integrity or to neither;

- we attempt the very difficult if not impossible and answer the question I pose above re "Level 4";


Briefly, my own suggestion for a respectable case in conservative eyes is one which (a) acknowledges different assessments of what the Bible says and does not say about homosexuality, (b) in particular acknowledges that while the Bible is clear in its prohibitions re sex between two people of the same gender, it can reasonably (but not necessarily) be interpreted as silent on the specific question of a marriage-like relationship between two people of the same gender committed to lifelong loving partnership, (c) assesses a permanent relationship between two people of the same gender as pragmatically better than either a series of impermanent relationships or an unbearable life of celibacy, (d) acknowledges that the church itself has opened a pathway to remarriage of divorcees which takes a generous, non-literal understanding of Jesus' and Paul's own teaching on remarriage after divorce and thus as a consequence acknowledges that some couple relationships do not fit neatly into what otherwise appears the clear teaching of Scripture, and thus (e) opens the possibility that in good conscience a marriage-like relationship between two people of the same gender might be both prayed for and given thanks for by bishops/priests subscribe to this kind of case.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Way Forward: Section 12: A Critical Review (9)

[The full report is accessible here. The section under discussion in this post is accessible here (12). In these posts I am aiming to work my way forward through A Way Forward report, posting on a new section each Monday in the weeks before General Synod, May 2016. Pagination refers to the PDF version of the report.]

Before we begin this week's review

I commend to you a blogpost by Trevor Morrison, entitled Two Ways Forward. His opening is brilliant and unerringly focuses all our minds on where our church needs to go at the forthcoming GS (his emboldening):

"Two ways forward lie before the Anglican Church in the province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. One way is to adopt the recommendations that have been made in the report of the Working Group that was formed in consequence of Motion 30 as agreed at the 2014 General Synod / te Hinota Whanui. To choose that way is to choose to divide our Church. There is not the slightest possibility that conservative parishes and clergy will agree to remain part of a body that had accepted the recommendations framed as they are in the Working Group’s report. Nor could any conceivable amendments make the recommendations acceptable. 

The other way is to analyse why the Working Group has got it so badly wrong and to start again and do it right this time. I hope that that is the path we follow, and so I offer my own preliminary analysis here."

The essence of his critique is that GS 2014 and Motion 30 were a hopeful starting point for finding and forming two integrities in our church on the matter of blessings, but AWF provides no fulfilment of such hopes. Not least, Morrison highlights, in my words, that AWF's failure is because it does not demonstrate an understanding of what a "conservative" integrity would look like even as it effectively argues for and seeks to establish a "progressive" integrity alongside of which conservatives are thrown a few bones such as the ability to refuse to undertake blessings.

This, among other points well made, is an astute one (this time my emboldening):

"The report that the Way Forward Working Group has produced contains some useful observations and findings. Nevertheless, it shows signs of the pressure of time under which it was produced. Its preliminary sections are one-sided, representing the view of the majority who are in favour of the blessing of same-sex relationships and failing to give respectful acknowledgment of the views of the minority who are not. If the Working Group’s recommendations are to form the foundation of the ongoing recognition of two integrities within the Church, surely its own proceedings and report should have modelled that very thing, but they do not."

I leave it to you to read the whole of his post. Better still, circulate it to your GS reps!

Section 12

First, I repeat my questions noted in last week's post:

"- why beat about the bush, why not name the rites so that we are clear which is which in respect of same sex civil marriages and differently sexed civil marriages, rather than "Form 1" and "Form 2" and use your magnifying glass to work out the difference between each?

- are they too wordy?

- do we get to trial them (as part of a considered process, likely longer than two years, in accord with how previously we have done good work in adopting new rites)?"

Secondly, I pick up a point made here (in comments, and, sorry, can't remember all who have made it in respect of one issue or another), that it is more than confusing, it is dangerously verging in disingenuity to proclaim in AWF that no change is envisaged to our doctrine of marriage and then to recommend acceptance of "proposed rites of blessing" that include the phrase "civil marriage" in their title, and include the word "marriage" in their main contents. There are at least three criticisms to consider at this point:

(1) To (Christianly) bless a civil marriage for which civil marriage is a necessary condition while also distinguishing "civil marriage" from "Christian marriage" looks awfully like blurring any meaningful distinction between a blessed civil marriage and a Christian marriage.

(2) To require the blessing of a civil marriage in order to consider one or more of the couple in respect of ordination or licensed ministry position to be "rightly ordered" is a change to our current doctrine of marriage because currently we consider a civilly married person (with or without blessing) to be rightly-ordered. 

(3) To require the blessing of a civil marriage in order to consider one or more of the couple in respect of ordination or licensed ministry position to be "rightly ordered" is a change to our current doctrine of marriage because it introduces the idea that a priest is requisite to a couple becoming married (i.e. "properly married in the eyes of the church") when hitherto we have understood that the couple marry themselves before God (with priest and witnesses attesting to this public marrying, and priest praying for the marriage to be successful. I may not have expressed this criticism well and you may be able to do it better.

Thirdly, the introduction of a formulary for such blessings demonstrates that our church thinks this is a matter of our doctrine but the simultaneous introduction of a canon which permits dioceses to choose whether or not they authorise the formulary for use confuses this matter because 

(i) it implies that dioceses may choose which bits of doctrine we believe and which we do not (which seems quite odd!, if not contradictory of Anglican governance);

(ii) it raises the significant question of whether we can via a canon do this kind of dividing of the church into two integrities on this matter: 

on the one hand a canon is easily changed, at one sitting of GS, without recourse to the dioceses* and thus such a decisive piece of governance is always at risk; 

on the other hand it is very, very arguable that we cannot actually do this kind of "canonical" shaping of our church, since the precedence for doing so (re canons currently governing aspects of marriage) is on shaky legal/constitutional ground (so Bosco Peters) and the logic of doing so is non-existent (how can a canon trump a formulary when one is of lesser legal weight than the other?).

**AWF does helpfully ask that GS offer a "twice round" process on this particular occasion to the canons it proposes so that they will go to the diocese for consideration along with the proposed formularies.

Fourthly, I do not, in the light of the three critiques above, wish to actually examine the formularies in any depth. We need to sort out what we are doing, what we understand marriage to be (and not to be) and work on what it means to be a church of two integrities (i.e. in only one of which would people actually being willing to say "this service reflects what I believe as an Anglican") before we worry about the wording of services of blessing.

But if you want to think critically about the formularies, as presented in AWF, then I suggest, as above, asking these questions:

- are they too wordy?
- should we be approving formularies without trial?
- do they get the relationship, important to Anglicans, between "liturgy" and "scripture" correct, with special reference to scripture informing liturgy? 
- what are they blessing? (e.g. note at the top of p. 34 = second page of Form 1 the emphasis on friendship, "best of friendships": if we are blessing friendships, does that provide a way forward?) 

Can We Be Constructive About A Better Way Forward?

I think we can and I suggest that the formation of FCANZ could be significant in finding that way forward. Come back Tuesday, and I will explain  ...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

AuGAFCONthentically Anglican?

"Authentic" might be the new cool word for Anglicans in 2016.

The GAFCON Primates have just met, and have issued a communique, with an appendix covering the recently concluded ACC-16 meeting.

The communique includes this sentence,

"We are a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion."

See yesterday's post for the use of the word "authentic" at the conclusion of the FCANZ (i.e. branch of GAFCON) meeting in Auckland.

[This paragraph updated slightly in light of Malcolm Falloon's comment below]. The communique is interesting as it tells is that there are ten provinces represented at the meeting and two branches mentioned (Australia and, now, NZ) [but see comment by Malcolm Falloon below re how many branches there are]. That is GAFCON represents about a third of all members of the Anglican Communion. What would be more interesting would be GAFCON drawing in further members, from the Middle East and from Asia. On the whole, GAFCON looks like it represents the more conservative end of the Anglican spectrum and thus cannot (yet) claim to be the broad future of global Anglicanism.

The appendix is interesting because it claims what TEC claims for itself (see David Ould, here), that it defied the Primates' January 2016 exhortation for TEC not to vote on doctrinal and polity matters at meetings such as ACC. This tells us that American arrogance has put at risk the unity (or, if you are critical of the Primates' Meeting, "unity") of the Communion at this time.The question TEC was invited to consider was not whether it understood the technical law of relationships between the Instruments of Unity but whether it understands the importance of mutual respect and gracious consideration of each Instrument in order to deepen our fragile walking together. Just as GAFCON Primates meeting together and making statements bit by bit sets up an alternative "Anglican Communion" and de-constructs the present Communion, so TEC is destructing the Communion bit by bit as it imposes its understanding of "authentic" Anglicanism on the rest of us, an understanding that is at once legalistic and insular ("you can't tell us what to do").

Here is the thing: in the long run of Anglican history, authentic Anglican life has been the broad life of the moderate middle, considerately drawing along with it the more conservative and more liberal Anglican movements. Yes, all can claim to be "authentic" Anglicans as GAFCON has done and as I am sure TEC does too, but not all Anglicans can claim to be fostering a vision for the largest, most inclusive authentic Anglicanism.

Right now we cannot say "what the future of the Anglican Communion needs is such and such a vision of authentic Anglicanism" because the Anglican Communion today may have no future as an entity of some 38 provinces. The future may consist of two or more communions/federations.

I sincerely hope that ++Justin Welby understands that despite his best efforts, the Primates Meeting in January and now ACC-16 in Lusaka may be the calm before the storm and not the calm after the storm.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Authentically Anglican?

The second of two FCANZ conferences has led to a media release from FCANZ which indicates that the conferees stand in solidarity with the West Hamilton Community Church, a congregation which formerly constituted the bulk of the West Hamilton Anglican parish in the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki.

In the release (and its heading) the WHCC is described as "authentically Anglican."

On the one hand, we can understand the sentiment here: an Anglican congregation finds itself dissonant with the polity of the ACANZP (as WHCC did after the passing of Motion 30 in 2014) and leaves ACANZP and begins a new, independent-of-a-bishop life in a new location while continuing to believe what it has always believed and to practise what it has always practised. In ways marked by confession of faith, by custom of liturgy and by ethos and outlook, WHCC is authentically Anglican.

On the other hand, the phrase "authentically Anglican" as used here begs a number of questions about what it means to be authentically Anglican because "Anglican" speaks not only of what a distinctive group of Christians believe and practise as a congregation but also of how that group of Christians organise themselves as a church, as a set of congregations. Cue talk of bishops and synods, of constitution and canons, each of which aspect expresses the character of Anglican churches as continuous with the ancient church which found itself, post the apostles, continuing the ministry of apostolic leadership through bishops, synods, and formal rules which bound Christians into "church" rather than not-church.

As I currently understand WHCC's situation, it is a congregation without a bishop and without adherence to an Anglican synod.

Now, read me carefully, please: I do not consider WHCC to be authentically or inauthentically Anglican at this point in time in respect of relationship to a bishop and to a synod.

Simple charity and tolerance in our thinking should allow for this to be an "in between" time for WHCC while ACANZP works through its current situation at the end of which there may be an ACANZP which WHCC feels they could contemplate rejoining or an ACANZP which means that WHCC is joined by other "former parishes" or ... hypothesize your scenario! That is, it is early days for WHCC to work out how it might yet be authentically Anglican in respect of being joined with other Anglican congregations under a bishop and bound together in a synod.

But implied in my argument that now is an "in between" time is the point that sometime in the future, the description "authentically Anglican" will lose currency when applied to an independent congregation if it does not become part of an Anglican ecclesiastical polity. (As indeed has happened to the St John's Vancouver congregation of which David Short, also mentioned in the media release above, is minister: having left the Anglican Church of Canada, they are now part of the Anglican Church of North America).

A related general point re Anglican congregational life in NZ

There is a further point I feel bold to make, while thinking about "authentically Anglican", prompted by travelling and passing a church sign along the lines of "St Swithin's Community Church" [I don't know of any actual "St Swithin's" in NZ, so no critique implied if there is a St Swithin's hereabouts!]. A number of Anglican (and other denominational churches) in recent times have headed in this direction re public declaration of identity as a church. The driving force is missiological: how might our church best connect with people in the local community? Not by use of words such as "Anglican" or "Methodist" which (a) are incomprehensible to a post-Christian community, and (b) may be off-putting to the odd transitioning Christian without denominational allegiance looking for a new church.

But I wonder if the ecclesiological consequences need some theological discussion? Once I understand myself congregationally as belonging to "St Swithin's Community Church," do I not distance myself from the underlying Anglican polity of St Swithin's (the one to which, in actuality, the minister and office-holders of the church are legally bound) and (unconsciously) prepare myself to support the congregation leaving that polity if (suddenly, surprise, surprise) the congregation realises that the somewhat distant-to-them Anglican mothership is heading in an uncongenial direction?

Now there is a theological discussion to be had on this matter, both deep and wide.

Many Anglican parish churches (whatever their public nomenclature) are now gatherings of an eclectic range of denominational backgrounds.

- What does "Anglican" mean in this situation where a significant portion of the congregation has no particular loyalty to Anglicanism as "character" or as "organisation"?

Many parishes are struggling to connect well to their local communities and the "Anglican" character of their congregational life can raise sharp questions for minister and vestry as they engage with what their mission is.

- What does "Anglican" mean in this situation where the community shows no particular signs of being drawn towards Anglicanism as a form of Christian life?

That is, at a point in the life of ACANZP where we are contemplating one of the more significant questions of our life as a "church" (how do we decide things via canon/formulary? might we organisationally stay together or walk apart as a result of a decision or decisions soon to be made? does our constitution even permit us to make decision or decisions some are pressing GS to make?) we also have a significant question about our life as a "mission" (how should we be known in the community? what frankness do we have as a body of Christians as we disclose/obscure our underlying commitments and institutional loyalties? what is the character of Anglicans-in-mission and is it different to the character of Anglicans-in-church?)

Of all the things the 21st century is saying to the church in the world, the clearest message is this: we can only be church when we are church in mission, there is no either/or and we should not think and act as though there is.

What is ACANZP and its many hued congregations of varied names to do?

Answers in comments, please! 

And hurry, we do not have much time ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It is not just a question of orthodoxy

Bear with me.

Accept, for the moment at least, that 90% of Anglicans in ACANZP believe the creeds, including the bodily resurrection of our Lord. That is, with some notable exceptions of clergy and others who publicly proclaim their doubts and uncertainties, we are an orthodox creedal church.

Imagine that the vote(s) at General Synod in May reveal - surprise, surprise - a divided church on human sexuality, and for arguments sake let's suppose it is a deadlocked synod re blessings of same sex relationships at 50:50.

Has our church suddenly become unorthodox because on this one matter of how we understand the gospel in relation to homosexuals we cannot subscribe to a traditional line on sexual morality?

In my perambulations around the intersphere, sharply so in a Twitter exchange last night, I have been reminded that many Anglicans deem holding to that traditional line a matter of "orthodoxy".

I want to suggest here that doing so is simply unfair, unjust and lacking compassion and appreciation for the concerns and care which lies behind proposals to bless same sex relationships.

Yes, I can name one or two Anglicans in our church who are wildly "liberal" on various doctrines and for whom the support of blessings is one more step along the way we go to embracing change, affirming the zeitgeist, etc.

But only one or two. In all my years of conversing about these matters the length and breadth of our church, the overwhelming experience I have had is of people concerned about their gay children, their lesbian sister, their best friend who has recently and bravely "come out." Concerned, that is, to be part of a church which shows in word and in deed, in "headline" message as well as in not so public messages, that our church is a church which is compassionate and caring AND ORTHODOX.

There is no conspiracy, deliberate or accidental to de-orthodoxify our church. All the believers in the bodily resurrection of our Lord who also propose that we bless same sex relationships will continue after May to believe in the bodily resurrection of our Lord.

I earnestly ask readers here to take care in what we think about the "other" in these matters.

This request works the other way: it is very unhelpful, and not particularly Christian when proponents of same sex blessings zoom to judgment on those who oppose such blessings, using terms such as homophobia and bigotry, and presume that opponents lack compassion and concern for the GLBT community. That, likewise, is unfair, unjust and lacking compassion and appreciation for the concerns and care which lies behind opposition to blessings.

Again, my conversations over the years have revealed colleagues who oppose blessings with close family members and lifelong friends who are gay and lesbian. Their compassion has not changed one whit because, after long and serious consideration of the matter (including, let us never forget, consideration of the salvific issues at stake), they (I) continue to hold that the church cannot claim that God blesses such relationships.

So, as debates intensify in the next few weeks (and, no doubt, thereafter) could we please:
- refrain from charging proponents of blessings as "unorthodox"
- refrain from charging opponents of blessings as "unloving".

Thank you. I know you will rise to the challenge!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Way Forward: Sections 10 & 11 & a nibble at 12: A Critical Review (8)

[The full report is accessible here. The sections under discussion in this post are accessible here (10), here (11) and here (12). In these posts I am aiming to work my way forward through A Way Forward report, posting on a new section each Monday in the weeks before General Synod, May 2016. Pagination refers to the PDF version of the report.]

Before We Begin This Week

I gladly alert you to the following posts by Bosco Peters where he raises significant questions about the process of our church in the past and in the run up to this year's General Synod. I myself am pondering the issues he raises, and any insights are welcomed (first at Liturgy itself) but also here (in particular as it relates to the contents below).

Divorce, Remarriage, & Blessing Same-Sex Couples

The second post has nothing directly to do with A Way Forward but it is a very useful reminder that there are other IMPORTANT issues coming before this year's General Synod!

The End of Confirmation? 

This Week

Section 10 is the "Proposed Schedule to Part B of Title G Canon III"

Section 11 is the "Proposed Motion for General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui 2016"

Section 12 is "The Proposed Rites of Blessing"

Section 10

To a considerable degree we have already critically reviewed this schedule in our review (here) of Section Five.

This section does nothing to assuage the concern of many in our church at this time that we do not know that God blesses same-sex partnerships. The preamble to the schedule rightly says,

"The tenor of formal blessings offered in public worship is plain: it is God who blesses, so the bishop or priest and the assembly are both seeking and announcing God's blessing upon some person or persons. These blessings are not the Church granting God's blessing, but declaring it. This involves confidence and trust that God is pleased to bless that which the church blesses."


But, but, but, but, how do we know that God blesses something which (to be diplomatic) we hitherto have thought God does not bless?

The next sentence is the report's stab at an answer,

"In the case of blessing a married couple, that confidence is expressed in recognising God's blessing already at work in the couple's lives and rightly asking for God's continued blessing".

This is followed up by "five primary reasons" for announcing the blessing of God on all legal marriages contracted "in a setting other than the Church". The reasons, as outlined here, are a concise expression of those given in Section Five. They are: Love, Union, Covenant, Gift and Household.

There is nothing here which voids the criticisms of Section Five.

There is nothing here which tells us how we recognise God's blessing already at work in a couple's lives. There is nothing here which distinguishes (say) a polygamous or incestuous relationship (each of which is capable of "love, union, covenant, gift and household") from a marriage between a man and a woman. Finally, there is nothing here which answers the question if the Bible speaks negatively of sex between two same gendered persons what biblical grounds do we have for now blessing a civil marriage between two same gendered persons.

In other words, if this is to be a Schedule to Part B of Title G Canon III, that is, to be a record of the church's teaching on "blessing of civil or non-Christian marriages" then it is not yet of the substance that could reflect the heartfelt if not "headfelt" agreement of the breadth of our church.

Incidentally, in the cited phrase above, "non-Christian marriages", what does that mean?!

I think it means "marriages contracted in places not presided over by a Christian minister"because, surely, the blessing we are talking about is a blessing to be given to married couples one of whom (at least) is a Christian!

I suspect that some of us would be happier if we were talking about "praying for" a couple rather than "blessing" a couple: if in conscience a same sex Christian couple civilly marry and then come to the church to be prayed for, would a pastor not want to pray for the couple? For instance, that, whatever we make of their choice before God, we pray for their love for each other to increase, for their covenant with each other not to break, and such like.

Section 11

I have no particular comment to make on the proposed motion since it is what it must be in order to attempt to forward the report and its recommendations in the synodical life of our church.

Section 12

I am going to attempt to have something decent(ish) to say about the proposed rites of blessing next Monday and (possibly) the Monday after that. But here it may suffice to say:

- why beat about the bush, why not name the rites so that we are clear which is which in respect of same sex civil marriages and differently sexed civil marriages, rather than "Form 1" and "Form 2" and use your magnifying glass to work out the difference between each?

- are they too wordy?

- do we get to trial them (as part of a considered process, likely longer than two years, in accord with how previously we have done good work in adopting new rites)?

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans NZ - style and substance

Some 360 participants turned out for the first of two Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (NZ) conferences, held at La Vida, Christchurch (and the second begins tomorrow at St Chad's Meadowbank). I estimate that 330 of the 360 were from the Diocese of Christchurch and 30 were from Dunedin, Nelson and Wellington Dioceses. By my count 30 Christchurch clergy were there, including vicars or priests-in-charge of 19 parishes, with 7 clergy from other dioceses. That is probably the largest Anglican conference held in NZ in a long decade. (I do not know how many are registered for the Auckland conference).

The event was well organised and superbly led from the stage by Amy Hayward (MC and worship leader) and Jay Behan (Chair of FCANZ).

We had a Bible Study led by David Short,  of St John's Vancouver, three addresses by Vaughan Roberts, of St Ebbe's Oxford (and Canon of Christ Church Cathedral in the Diocese of Oxford) (True Sex, True Love and True Unity), each speaker was interviewed, and there was a workshop space in the programme with five workshops on offer.

For readers here tremulous about the possibility that the day was long on hellfire and brimstone and short on gentleness and grace, let me assure you that it was the latter and not the former.

For readers here anxious that somewhere in our church there is space for clear, convictional, conservative/traditional teaching on sex, based on the principle that sexual intercourse is approved by God within a marriage between a man and a woman and not outside of such marriage, then yesterday was that space, particularly in Vaughan Roberts' first address.

For readers here troubled by how such convictional teaching sounds when it comes from the proverbial happily married mother or father of multiple children, let me tell you if you do not know or remind you if you have forgotten, that Vaughan Roberts is a same sex attracted single man who lives celibately. I salute him for his personal courage and I salute the FCA organisers for inviting him to speak to us. There was an authenticity and integrity to what he had to say which would not be present if (say) I had been the teacher for the day.

For readers here anxious about how the future of our church will unfold then the conference was a clear reminder that there are matters to be anxious about, all of which turn on whether General Synod comes to a decision or decisions which we can live with. The conference was a frank and robust reminder that synodical government can make decisions which cannot be lived with by the whole of an Anglican church. This was so especially when we heard from David Short (whose church, then St John's Shaunessy Vancouver, tried to stay within the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada when that Diocese first agreed to and then implemented blessings of same sex relationships, and found that, in the end, and to great personal cost to David as well as to his congregation, this was not possible).

So, an interesting day, an informative day, and a day which may turn out to be instrumental in clarifying 'the' way forward some Anglicans will go in, depending, of course, on what General Synod makes of 'A Way Forward'.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Three Differing Critiques of "A Way Forward"

It is my privilege to have received recently two Kiwi critiques of A Way Forward and I have the permission of the authors to publish their critiques to Scribd and link you to their papers. I have also discovered a third critique, UK based, to which I want to link readers here.

Note, these are not all from the same perspective, and certainly not all from "my" perspective!

Les Brighton (NZ) writes here.

Peter Lineham and Mark Henrickson (NZ) write here.

Martin Davie (UK) writes here.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

While all may not be well, it is much better than the rumours

News and views out of Lusaka, ACC-16, are of interest.

While all may not be well with the Anglican Communion during the first part of the 21st century, it does seem to be in better shape than some rumours would have it.

Notably, TECian +Ian Douglas, heeding the general situation, has decided not to allow himself to be nominated as Chair of the ACC Standing Committee.

+Josiah Idowu-Fearon has made some statements (here, here, and here) which suggest that, far from ACC-16 heading down a divergent path from the Primates' Meeting, there is coherence between the two meetings and thus some semblance of possibility that the bulk of the Communion is going to "walk together".

The third of the links to Idowu-Fearon's statements is particularly interesting as it implies a TEC which has a new found resolve to treat conservatives within its life well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Downton Abbey, meet Lambeth Palace

Truth is often stranger than fiction and no better current example is at hand that the extraordinary news in the last few days that Archbishop Justin Welby has discovered, indeed his own mother has discovered, that his father is not Mr Welby but one Anthony Montague Browne, famous as Sir Winston Churchill's last Private Secretary, later knighted and always at the heart of what the British like to call "the Establishment."

Unconfessed liaisons (until later discovered), brief flings with devilishly handsome gentlemen, all is revealed in the last episode of the current series, this is Downton Abbey. But this time the fictional doings of the Establishment have been transformed into reality in Lambeth Palace.

On the one hand this is none of our (Anglican) public's business though our slight excuse for interest is that the story has winged around the world, appearing in newspapers in far flung colonies.* On the other hand the unflappability of Archbishop Justin and of his (reformed alcoholic, faithful Christian) mother, Lady Jane Williams is an impressive testimony to God's work in their lives.

Most notable is this statement of identity from ++Justin:

"“There is no existential crisis, and no resentment against anyone. My identity is founded in who I am in Christ.”"

He is a new creation, whatever the old order of creation was up to!

ADDED: Alexander Lucie-Smith has a nice column of appreciation of the situation.

*The other day our Prime Minister, John Key, in an interview kept referring to NZ as a British colony. I am sure he meant "former British colony." At least, I hope he did. He is famous for having spent a weekend at Balmoral with the Queen and the Duke. I hope no secret deals were done about offshore islands ...

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Way Forward: Section 9: A Critical Review (7)

[The full report is accessible here. The section under discussion in this post is accessible here. In these posts I am aiming to work my way forward through A Way Forward report, posting on a new section each Monday in the weeks before General Synod, May 2016. Pagination refers to the PDF version of the report.]

If our church changes the status quo almost certainly some change consequentially will be required to our canon on marriage, technically titled within the raft of all our canons as "Title G Canon III".

Page 25 explains the proposed changes to the canon (i.e. if we agree to blessing of civil marriages) and the following pages in this section set out what the new canon would look like if the proposed amendments and additions are agreed to. For the sake of time I will focus here on page 25, save for one point I make about a possible missing word on page 27.

The first proposed change is that as a church we will no longer have our own list of "forbidden marriages". Rather we will conform our understanding of forbidden marriages to the state's understanding of forbidden marriages. I believe I am not alone in being perturbed by this proposed change: it is a small but significant step in which the church gives away its own sense of right and wrong in conformation to what the state thinks (which, on such a matter, will be largely what the surrounding culture thinks). I would not and could not vote to support this change. Incidentally, I see nothing in the AWF report itself which requires this change.

The second proposed change will enable the blessing of civil marriages (i.e. any civil marriage between any kind of couple). I make not further comment here about such blessed relationships since comment is already made in previous posts in this series.

A missing word?

On page 27, Part B: Of Civil Marriages, 1.1, I am wondering if the word "provided" should be added into this clause as it seems to be saying that "A minister may conduct services blessing a civil marriage ... Tikanga Pasifika [PROVIDED] a. the General Synod ...; and b. the Synod ... for such a civil marriage."

Without "provided" clauses (a) and (b) seem to hang there, and, in particular, it is less than clear that the minister may NOT conduct such a service if her or his Synod had not authorised the use of such a service.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Primatial Ministry in Lusaka and in Rome [UPDATED]

UPDATE Ross Douthat kind, sorta agrees with me! Read him here .


A superb address from ++Welby at the beginning of ACC-16 in Lusaka repays some attention, especially around the concept of "reception" in connection with "common discernment." Here, for instance, is a key passage:

"The Anglican Communion only works when the relationships within it are good enough to permit a common discernment of the way in which we are being led by the Spirit. And historically this has been seen in what is often called reception."

In other words, get beyond the legal machination of which Instrument of Communion can or cannot tell another instrument what to do and ask what the Spirit is saying and how is that being heard in common. A divided Communion is the only result of that legal protestation. A united Communion is a possibility if we resolve to walk together and to work together.

++Justin gives a masterful insight into what the Primates achieved and into what they might have failed to do.

(Incidentally the address is also a significant summary of Communion history and of Anglican engagement with an ever changing world!)

Meanwhile, also overnight in Kiwi terms, Pope Francis has released his much anticipated exhortation re marriage and family life, Amoris Laetitia, building on the discussions and deliberations of two recent Synods.

The full text is available here.

The Catholic Herald has a report here with links, including this link to a handy five key sections.

Now there is much to discuss here and we may or may not be able to come back to this document at ADU. But I note this as a point of commonality with ++Justin's address. The Herald general report on the document cites this passage:

"“Neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases. What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases.”"

It strikes me that this is Roman-speak for (1) an evolving common mind of the church which places more weight than previously on local decision-making; (2) to avoid schism there will be no sudden change of the rules and regulations as printed in current documents but there are other ways to evolve doctrine than risky ventures in explicit changes. That is, Rome is also saying, in its own way,

"The [Roman] Communion only works when the relationships within it are good enough to permit a common discernment of the way in which we are being led by the Spirit. And historically this has been seen in what is often called reception."

What do you think?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hermeneutics of Hospitality by Prof. Chris Marshall

You can see the Professor Chris Marshall lecture delivered in the Diocese of Christchurch last Friday here. Powerpoint slides to go with the lecture are here.

I have embedded the lecture below:

For something to read as a counterpoint to Chris Marshall's emphasis on conscience and mercy, you may like to read this article from First Things.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

[BREAKING PETITIONS] When is not a Blessing a Blessing? and other news [UPDATED X2]


Yesterday I learned that not one but two petitions are circulating in our church in the run up to General Synod.

In no particular order of priority (since I will give you the order of my discovery of them)

Clare Barrie, Vicar of St Luke's Mt Albert in the Auckland Diocese, is circulating a petition (here to sign) with this as the key request,

"It expresses the hope I share with many Anglicans that our Church will become a place that welcomes all, including sexual and gender minorities and their friends and families. 
After many years of study and discussion, this year's GS/THW will consider a report entitled 'A Way Forward'. The report's recommendations are very limited - Anglican clergy would still not be able to marry same-gender couples, for instance - but they include some small but significant steps towards becoming a more welcoming place for LGBTI Anglicans. 
Please add your voice to this petition so that Members of GS/THW will understand the depth of anguish being caused across our province and beyond by our current exclusion of LGBTI Anglicans from our life. "

The Latimer Fellowship of NZ (of which, he says, with David Cameron-like transparency, I am a Vice-President), is circulating a petition (here) with this as the key request:

"WE the undersigned members of the Church of the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia express dismay that there is a motion before the Synod authorising the church to bless same-sex civil marriages and to ordain people in such relationships as recommended in the report A Way Forward / He Anga Whakamua / Na Sala ki Liu, and do pray General Synod / te Hinota Whanui to reject the recommendations of the report."

So here is a teaser question to ponder today: could one sign both petitions with a clear and consistent conscience?  

No, dear broad Anglican, the answer is not, "Of course we can because we're Anglican." Nor is it "Of course we can't. Anglicans don't sign petitions unless it's for Saving the Planet."

I am looking for something more theologically informed than that :)

Wales has gone the less than full monty on blessings of same sex relationships, with notices here and here.

In my own (quick) estimation of what is going on with Welsh not-blessings which look like blessings (though see comments to the Thinking Anglican article) is that I remain of the view that worth exploring by one legal means or another in ACANZP are services of blessing which are authorised for use (i.e. may be used) but which are not formularies (i.e. make no pretence of incorporating words which imply they represent the common mind of our church and therefore what must be adhered to by licensed ministers as expressing what we believe together.)

On a different note, and with regret that I myself cannot be present, Bosco Peters' notes that a celebratory eucharist is to be held at 6 pm Tuesday 12 April at St Michael's and All Angels, Christchurch - celebrating ten years of Liturgy ministry through the internet.

And just before Lusaka we learn the extraordinary news that the Kenyan delegation are ignoring their Archbishop's request for them not to go to ACC. We can agree with Archbishop Eliud that indeed godly order has broken down ... but who has broken it down????

Now, from the "you wouldn't read about it and believe it" department of worldwide Anglican news, we have allegations-with-evidence of fraudulent activity by, let's be diplomatic, a "senior" Kenyan Anglican church leader. Read it all here and ask yourself ... well, loadsa questions like, "What's really going on in churches we in the West think of as monochromatic?"