Something that you might have missed on Monday was a very interesting programme in the This World strand on BBC2 called Battle of the Bishops.
The programme primarily focuses on Archbishop Akinola and some of the other GAFCON during the run up to the conference. There are also contributions from Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral and Bishop Tom Wright, and a visit to the Falls Church in Virginia, one of the most high profile split congregations (it counts several high ranking government officials amongst it’s membership, and can count George Washington as one of it’s former Churchwardens) where the bulk of the congregation have split from a small group that remain loyal to the Episcopal Church.
Aside from seeing some of what went on at GAFCON, the programme also shows something of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, and in particular a hint of the almost explosive level of growth that the Anglican Church in Nigeria is enjoying. I certainly don’t expect that as a programme it will make anyone change their minds, but it certainly underlines the fundamental differences in what those in Africa understand it is to be Anglican, and how we in the West understand it.
The programme will be available on iPlayer until next Monday, and I highly recommend taking a look if you get the opportunity.
Before the fall out from the convention has even settled, it looks like the election of a new Bishop of Newark, a post previously held by John Shelby Spong, is going to cause more arguments, as one of the four candidates is gay. The diocese have said that the committee deliberately avoided discriminating against candidates on the grounds of sexual orientation. Essentially, they have handed the decision to the members of the congregations in the Newark diocese, and as with the recent election in California it will be their choice of Bishop that will ultimately trigger, or avoid more arguments.
In the UK, Ruth Gledhill’s article in the Times yesterday that assumed that any Anglican covenant would be defined in terms of the conservative position has produced a swift response from Colin Slee, pointing out firstly that no covenant has been defined, and also floating the question as to whether many congregations in the wider Church of England, such as his own in Southwark, would sign up to it either. This offers the possibility that the Church of England as a whole may find itself theologically closer to the liberal provinces that include Scotland and New Zealand as well as the US and Canadian churches than the conservative provinces in Africa and Asia, and drafting a much more liberal covenant than the conservative churches could stomach. This of course raises the possibility that ultimately it may be these conservative provinces that will find themselves excluded, rather than the liberal wing.