Some know that I follow the Episcopal Church pretty regularly recently, ever since the consecration of Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson and election of Right Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as the Presiding Bishop and a Primate catalyzed schism and dissent in the Church. American churches have switched affiliations to join Communions across oceans, and bitter fights have arisen in the American courts about what to do with property owned by those churches. Strange systems of "complementary bishops" have arisen for folk who can't deal with bishops they don't have faith in, the Anglican Primates have failed to come up with good solutions to both gay and women bishops, and the whole thing is seeing some pretty nasty responses.
I watch the Archbishop of Canterbury and wonder what he's thinking of all this.
The measure was able to pass primarily because the more conservative members of the Episcopal Church have affiliated with other parts of the Anglican Communion, and are no longer part of the Episcopal Church in America. In other words, they took their balls and went home, and this freed up the House of Bishops to move on this topic without their votes.
I watch with deep interest, because I look at things like D025 and wonder at the bravery of the Bishops who voted for two-to-one it: they did so knowing full well that it could end in a break from the Anglican Communion. I can imagine the heartbreak and joy that they experience with this vote. . . for all they try to downplay the importance of this vote, saying that it simply affirms that openly gay bishops can be consecrated, and that it does not say that they will ever confirm an openly gay bishop in the future, they know that this is not how the Communion will see it. This heartbreak must temper the joy they feel at embracing the civil rights they feel LGBT persons deserve. It is freedom and fear, all bundled into one great emotion.
I also look at those congregations that left the American Episcopal Church, and I wonder how they feel, knowing that their exit may lead to a break in communion. I imagine that they question the decision, that they feel that they are partially responsible for any break that may occur. I suspect that they also feel the thing we all know is true: they're isolating themselves and becoming part of a great minority that will eventually lose the fight to keep rights away from same-sex couples. I cannot imagine what the feeling is among those congregations: not only have they chosen a losing side in this battle, but they have lost the war by refusing to work with others of differing values. . . and potentially destroyed or seriously disabled the Anglican Communion as a whole.
Only time will tell how things go from here. My conjectures of a break in Communion are just that: conjecture. But I know that it's a real fear among Anglicans. It may yet happen.
Today, the House of Bishops is expected to take up the question of blessing same-sex unions. I wonder how, exactly, that will go, as well.