Reconciliation at Coventry
- Wednesday, February 27, 2013
This evening’s interview was in an informal style by Bill Marsh, an attorney specializing in conflict mediation in wide variety of settings including commercial, ethnic, religious and political situations. The best way to characterize the exchange is that it was one of truth and charity. Neither Tory nor Bishop Shannon retreated from their views on the issues that led to the split between the departing congregations and Diocese of Virginia but both spoke with respect and affection for the each other.
We were surprised at the end of the discussion by the appearance of the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
Baucum and Archbishop Justin Welby became friends through their involvement in Holy Trinity Brompton and the Alpha Course. The archbishop invited Baucum and Johnston to address the conference about their friendship, which defied the odds in an atmosphere thick with legal battles.
In late January Bishop Johnston spoke about the friendship in his pastoral address to the Diocese of Virginia’s annual council:
“I have found a true brother in Christ in the Rev. Tory Baucum, who is now Rector of Truro Church, a congregation that left the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in 2006 under the leadership of its former Rector. An American, Tory was serving as a priest in the Diocese of London when he accepted the call to Truro Church at just about the same time that I came to the Diocese of Virginia in mid-2007 to be bishop coadjutor.
“… What grounded our relationship was this: we did not paper over our differences, but neither did we exaggerate them or allow them to divide us any more than the ecclesial realities and politics dictated. And ‘Grace Happened.’ We found that we had become fast friends, bound together in relationship through our mutual discipleship of Christ and our conviction that our time together is what our Lord wanted of us.
Image of Fr. Tory Baucum, Archbishop Justin Welby, and Bishop Shannon Johnston from Rector’s Rough Draft
Who said the age of miracles has passed? Seemingly, in this article, from ‘Living Church’ we have evidence of a modern miracle of two clerics, on the opposing sides of an ecclesial split between TEC and one of its recent off-shoots in the former Diocese of Virginia; coming together in Coventry Cathedral for an interview, to discuss their difference, in personal friendship and a willingness to present their own particular arguments without rancour.
It should not be surprising that the Revd. Tony Baucum, whose parish of Truro split from the Virginia diocese on issues of TEC’s ordination of Gay Bishops & Clergy , should attract the attention of Archbishop Justin Welby – with whom he shared an association with Holy Trinity Church at Brompton, who were the originators of the ALPHA Evangelical Movement. It seems only natural, too, that the Archbishop should be present at this seminal meeting between Baucum and the TEC bishop coadjutor of Virginia, The Rt. Revd. Shannon Johnston.
Can one discern, from this inaugural meeting in England, the possibility of some sort of rapprochement between TEC and those dissidents in the U.S. – like Fr.Baucum – who have separated themselves out from TEC because of their differences on the inclusion of Gays in the Church? Maybe not – if only because the differences between the two sides of the debate have been exacerbated by the raising up of ACNA and the GAFCON Provincial organisation – which has already initiated its own underground ‘churches’ in the USA, Canada and, more recently, in England through the ‘Anglican Mission in England’.
It is difficult to see the prospect of any imminent healing of the schismatic breakaways in the Anglican Communion. However, for God, anything is possible!