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Tim Morgan on “A Journalist’s Observations of the Anglican Communion”

Here are my notes from:

“A Journalist’s Observations of the Anglican Communion”
Date: Wed., Oct. 28
Time: 12:20 p.m.
Location: 0015 Westbrook
Duke Divinity School
Tim Morgan of Christianity Today will speak on “A Journalist’s Observations of the Anglican Communion” at a brown bag lunch seminar hosted by the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies.

Disclaimer.  These are not exact transcription or exact quotes but rather just my rough notes.  Still, I know many of you would love the chance to get a glimpse into discussions like these that are happening around Duke Divinity School so I think it is worth posting the notes. 

Jo Bailey Wells: Introduction: Tim has worked for Christianity Today for 17 years.  He does features and cover stories and travels the globe.  1/2 of CT’s staff is Anglican/Episcopalian.  He covered Lambeth.  He did undergraduate degree at Gordon College and MS in journalism at Boston University. 

Tim Morgan

  • It is difficult to keep up with everything.  People experience information overload and get disoriented and anxious. 
  • When I was at Lambeth, the leaders were in constant state of anxiety but they were in denial and would never say that.  E.g. People said, “I can’t do an interview with you but I like the Bible studies.”
  • Global snapshot: In Africa, we see tremendous turn inward.  Sudan . . . Kenya . . . Uganda . . . Nigeria—tremendous change.  In America and Europe too.  There is turn inward in large organizations.  The exception is in Asia. 
  • The greatest global opportunities are in Asia: India, China, Pakistan, Singapore.  We need to be asking ourselves, “How are we engaging with Asians?”
  • A big story in foreign policy is China’s influence in Africa.   
  • I’m glad you are passionate about Sudan as I am.  Sudan and Madagascar are both ordaining new bishops.  There it is moving outward. 
  • From outside the Anglican Communion, people don’t understand it.  Within the Anglican Communion, people in the church want to know what they should do if they disagree. 
  • What is my mission?  My mission is to shape the response of Christians to change through truth-revealing stories. 
  • I went to GAFCON event with conservatives and then went to Lambeth. 
  • When I was working on the story about all the events, my editors wanted me to do 1200 word story because most readers of CT aren’t Anglican.  I thought—I did 6 weeks of my life covering this!
  • Canterbury Cathedral is falling apart.  A buff guy was cutting stones in half with handsaw.  He was rebuilding the cathedral.  That became a metaphor for me.  The way the Anglican communion functions—the power is at Lambeth but the culture is at Canterbury.  The culture of Canterbury was being side-stepped.  We are called to culture of martyrdom and pilgrimage of Canterbury. 
  • Jo Wells: There is Canterbury Court in the summer which Duke students can attend. 
  • Elise: I went on the program.  It was beautiful—bringing young priests and seminarians from all over the world—so it was symbolic.  The people at the Cathedral call everyone pilgrims and not tourists.  Everyone is a pilgrim even if they don’t know it. There is an attitude of service there.
  • TM continues: Pilgrimage in Jerusalem or Canterbury is an immersion experience.  It is like a Christian summer camp—plucked out of your setting and put in the Christian community.  Immersion experiences can be negative. 
  • I have been to Rwanda 4 times.  The East African Revival is one of the most important revivals in Christian history—this was Anglican revival. 
  • Anglicanism is reshaping itself.  My job is to think and imagine the new shape of Anglicanism.  The old shape has failed it.  Anglicanism and Anglican Communion were coming together but after 1998 there was divergence—slowly coming apart. 
  • Pope and his new overture toward Anglicans.  Anglicans have new relationship with other parts of Christendom.  Rick Warren is way ahead of the game.  He has been meeting with other denominations since 2004.  I have interviewed him many times and traveled with him.  Primate of Anglican church in Africa who represents 5 million Anglicans is asking Rick Warren how he can do his job better.  Primate has humility and Warren is taking time to say, “This is how I do it.”  Now Catholics want Anglicans. 
  • Metropolitan Jonah—major conference between Anglicans and Orthodox in Wisconsin—a few weeks ago.  Metropolitan Jonah was raised in the Episcopal church.  There is lessening of ties within Anglican Communion and increasing ties with other Christians. 
  • Anglican Communion is functioning more like a network.
  • Technology is driving change a lot in the church.  From the top to Christian education. 
  • Networking is powerful and dangerous.
  • Who are you in communion with?  And who are you networked with? 
  • Now I can be directly in contact with an African leader. 
  • Archbishop Bob Duncan and Bishop Mins are on Facebook.
  • The shape must be Trinitarian.
  • Graham Pulkingham. 
  • A few specific observations about the church in the UK.     
  • The amazing thing to me is the silence by top Anglican leaders. 
  • Rowan Williams: I didn’t know until the last minute.  That is like “the dog ate my homework.”  We knew this was coming.  The Archbishop of York, Wales or Scotland have not commented. 
  • Story in Times of London—Roman tanks on Lambeth lawn.  They are sensationalizing it. 
  • The biggest challenge before us is relation to state. 
  • Every day I get emails about inhibiting of freedom of religion.  It poses the greatest threat and challenge. 
  • The genius of the first amendment from interference of the state and giving license. 
  • You may see disestablishment of religion in UK—stranger things have happened in British history.  What is the state doing? is a critical question.  Is there a consensus about diestablishment?  Some say, “Bring it on” others would be horrified. 

Questions and Answers:

  • Q: What does Canterbury being the center have to do with GAFCON networking?  Where do we get creative ideas from—perhaps from Rick Warren and Metropolitan Jonah? 
  • Tim Morgan: This is what we call “creative tension.”  The culture of Canterbury is enriching perspective—your journey as a Christian is a pilgrimage. 
  • Q: Culture of Canterbury?  Technology and disembodiment?
  • TM: People in history had awareness of martyrdom and their spiritual lives were enriched by physical journey.  It has mystical quality but sense of sacrifice—speaking truth to power and the quest for justice and the embodiment of the gospel.  There is an incarnational quality that is very powerful and palpable.  It is leaving your place of comfort. 
  • Jo Wells:  Canterbury is very beautiful but there is no money. 
  • TM: If it is all technological and disembodied, we lose something.  But technology can be used for the furthering of the gospel.  Consider Billy Graham. 
  • Q: Some people see Canterbury as culture of oppression and dominance. 
  • TM: In its past, it was the place of standing against power, the throne, the king.  I went to Zanzibar with Archbishop of Canterbury and celebrate the abolition of slavery.  (That is another cathedral that is falling apart).  In India, there are many stories of oppression in the name of Christianity.   
  • Q: Rick Warren.  Is Anglicanism capable of producing such a person and would we want to? 
  • TM: It is is not beyond the capacity of the global church.  It is hard for people in UK and USA to understand that we are not in the majority.  In Rwanda, they use Anglican prayerbook but sing no Western hymns but rather dance to Rwandan songs.  Great Anglican leadership in Israel, Egypt, Malaysia and Singapore. 
  • Q: Sensory overload.  Do Christians perpetuate the noise?  Should we resist to keep the reverence for the sacred?  Do we need to be extremely countercultural?   
  • TM: When technology begins to damage relationships, we are in the red zone.  Firing off angry email, etc.  When local churches, use technology, e.g. they set up auto-debit for tithe—it can be a problem.  The tangibility will sometimes do us some spiritual good.  Part of it is self-awareness and generational.  My 13 year old daughter is using technology in ways different from my parents who have trouble with email.  I am interested in the subject of intimacy.  God wants to have intimate relationships with us but because we are fallen, that is distorted.  We should be countercultural.   
  • Q: Is Canterbury a way to say what is essential to Anglicanism?  Are you using Canterbury in iconic way to express what is deepest about Anglicanism? 
  • TM: Bishop Lyons from Wheaton College is a bishop in Bolivia.  What can Anglicans offer in Bolivia with Roman Catholics and Pentecostals?  Lyons: “We bring balance.”  Charismatic Anglicans, Confessing Anglicans, Anglo-Catholic—coalescence.  Re-awareness of idea and meaning of Canterbury is a common experience.  Often among clergy they say there is conflict around vision.  Before you have shared vision, there must be shared experience.  Before you have common language, there must be shared experience.  The experience of gospel of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  At Lambeth, people talked past each other because there is no communion.
  • Q: GAFCON tried to trump Canterbury with Jerusalem.   
  • TM: It is true that we have to get back to Jerusalem but we also have to get Canterbury.  Peter Jenson—very reformed and not charismatic.  But he is meeting with people influenced by East African Revival. 
  • Q:  Christianity Today tries to bring people together.  There is decline of Anglicanism in North America.  Anglicans in US influenced by Pope on one side and Rick Warren on the other. 
  • TM:  I would describe myself as a family man—kids, nephews, uncles, aunts.  It is important in my faith to do delabeling.  I have learned this from my son—he hates the labels on his shirt so we take them off before he wears them.  I take off the labels.  I see you as a brother or sister or aunt.  I grant you a visa to come into my house—to be in relationship with you.  Nation-states keep close control of the borders.  We are in the family of God and this is profoundly counter-cultural.       

Here are a few articles by Tim Morgan:

Conservative Anglicans Create Rival Church
Top leader Duncan expects to see Episcopal Church 'displaced.'

Defending the Faith
Conservatives face huge obstacles in putting Anglicanism back together.

The Come-Back Bishop
Ousted conservative sees a new center emerging in the Christian West.

Global Ultimatum
The larger meaning of Anglican leaders' demand that the Episcopal Church change its ways.

Ready to Walk Apart?
Episcopal bishops reject oversight from "distant" prelates.

Global Anglicans Flex Muscle
Conservative bishops join forces to counter potent revisionist wing.

Anglicans 'Severely Wounded'
At a top summit in Egypt, conservatives call for a Scripture-affirming covenant.

Purpose Driven in Rwanda
Rick Warren's sweeping plan to defeat poverty.