Anglicans Online banner
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 200 000 readers More than 10 000 links Updated every Sunday

New This Week
Everything new is here.

News Centre
News archive
News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe . . .
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
New Zealand

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
Beginnings, AO today
About our logo

 Support AO
 Visit our shop
: new items!
 Make a donation
 Thanks to our friends

Our search engine


Hallo again to all.

As the US Episcopal church prepares for its every-three-years General Convention, the level of anger and bitterness in the air is like nothing we've seen in the 25 years that we've been paying attention to church politics.

As we look at all the arguments, we sigh at the need of any of the combatants to employ 'strategy', 'tactics', or 'action plans' in what all claim is a process that should be guided by the Holy Spirit. The urge to win seems to dominate, rather than the urge to listen. We suppose that is human nature, though.

If you are entirely sure you are right about the current debate and that your side should win, please stop reading now: this letter is not for you. If you don't know what the big debate is about, please review our News Centre and News Archives.

At the first Council of NiceaeaOtherwise, we recommend that you read what we've listed below. We understand that the devil can cite church history for his own purpose; our purpose is to convince you that church governance has, since its very beginnings, been contentious.

But life has changed. Besides faster and more ubiquitous communication, we are less educated and less committed now. In the time of these councils and canons and meetings, more or less the only people in the world who had access to these documents were the people who attended the councils, and it may have taken months of travel for some of the participants. The internet gives millions of people the ability to read and understand original material, but does not easily give us the discipline to sit down and read it, nor the ability to discuss it with others. Most of the decisionmakers in today's worldwide church seem to us to be less immersed in the church than were the so-called 'holy fathers' of the early church.

If you're certain that you're right, then you can read these documents to find the parts that agree with your thinking, and feel vindicated. If you're not certain that you're right, or that anybody is entirely right, then you can read these documents to add them to the mix of what you know and what you are thinking about.

See you next week.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 27 July 2003

Special thanks to our friend MaryO'Shaughnessy for reminding us of what's in the old canons.

This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2003 Society of Archbishop Justus