Statement of the Episcopal Women's Caucus, Integrity and concerned observers of the AAC's Convention
During these three days in Dallas, the American Anglican Council has made it clear that it is bent on destroying the Episcopal Church unless is can remake it in its own image. This comes as little surprise. The foundations and individuals who fund the AAC, and who subsidized this conference, have no interest in the health or integrity of churches. Their track record makes clear that their aim is to discredit or destroy those who oppose them in America's political and cultural debates. Many faithful Episcopalians oppose in good conscience the action taken on majority votes by the democratically elected members of our General Convention. But we would not find ourselves in this highly polarized situation were it not for the millions of dollars poured into the AAC and similar organizations by the likes of the Scaife, Bradley, Olin and Coors foundations, which have underwritten so much of the agenda of the radical right. That Howard Ahmanson, heir to a savings and loan fortune, a proponent of teaching creationism in our schools, and formerly an advocate of replacing the American legal system with "biblical law" is the AAC's most generous financial supporter should give even the most conservative Episcopalians reason for pause.
While the AAC's willingness to destroy the church if they could not take it over was predictable, the extent of its recklessness was not. In a speech on Tuesday, Bishop Robert Duncan made clear that if Rowan Williams the archbishop of Canterbury does not bend to his will, Duncan and his allies will attempt a "realignment" of the Anglican Communion which would inflict tremendous pain on just about everyone except Robert Duncan and his allies. In this new alignment, the AAC claims, a handful of American dioceses and a number of Anglican provinces from Africa, Asia and South America, would break away from the existing church and constitute themselves as the new embodiment of Anglicanism in the world.
This plan would set off years of legal and ideological battling in the many provinces that would remain within the existing church. But more to the point, it would utterly devastate those provinces that chose to join forces with Duncan and the AAC. Eight provinces almost certain to remain within the existing Communion provide more than 80 percent of its budget. Much of that money advances the church's mission in the developing world. Individual western churches provide more support to churches in Africa and elsewhere than any of the dioceses currently aligned with the AAC. The American church has made it clear that its support of the gospel in the global south is not restricted to dioceses that agree with it on issues of homosexuality and women's ordination. But expecting it to remain in partnerships with bishops who are promoting schism in the United States may be expecting too much.
Conservative Episcopalians in this country, and conservative bishops abroad need to make a prayerful decision about whether they want to be aligned with the radical right. Whatever their convictions about Gene Robinson or the blessing of same sex unions, they need to examine whether this radical course of action, advanced on behalf of ideologically-driven secular foundations with no interest in the well being of the church, is wise, whether it is compassionate and whether it is Christian. Anglicanism was born in the conflict of the Reformation. There has always been room for differing views and vigorous debate as we strive to discern the leading of the Spirit. We will not sacrifice our tradition to please a well-financed few.
The Reverend Susan Russell
132 North Euclid Avenue
Pasadena CA 91101
October 9, 2003