The province of the Anglican Communion known as the Southern Cone has been in the news over the last week. “Where and what is the Southern Cone?” I hear you cry. Well, the province has no website as far as I can see, meaning that I had to use my imagination somewhat:
In the real world of course the Southern Cone is an area in South America including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. The Anglican Communion website has a page with a map. By the way if any Southern Cone folks are reading – click here to see how you could make yourselves a website in about three quarters of an hour – it will save your poor Primate having to make major announcements via the comments sections of other people’s blogs.
So, why is the Southern Cone in the news? Well, in summary, the province has offered to look after dioceses in the Episcopal church in the USA which are not happy being in the Episcopal church in the USA. The Telegraph had this article about it last week, and the Times this one. (It might be noted that Ruth Gledhill’s arch-nemesis Andrew Brown had some things to say about this latter piece.)
Several aspects of this strike me as quite interesting:
One. This isn’t only about homosexuality. It is about women too. As the bishop of one of the dioceses has said:
…Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from the Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood.
Two. The breakaway dioceses are, if I understand things correctly, from the extreme high anglo-catholic ‘Forward in Faith’ side of the church. Think incense and very tall candles. On the other hand the Southern Cone province is deeply Evangelical. Think clergy in suits and ties and 1970s choruses.
One wonders how they will decide upon the order of service, dress code and music when they get together for big services and other such occasions. I think the fairest way would be to write all of the elements of the service on small slips of paper and get each side to pick in turn. I’d explain further, but it’s lunchtime.
Who knows, perhaps my Southern Cone diagram with a big dividing line across the middle wasn’t so wide of the mark after all.