Here's the ENS story about San Joaquin's action in their diocesan convention. This story is being widely discussed on the blogosphere but there's no reason Whitehall shouldn't weigh in.
A few things to note:
First, note the incredible condescension in the responses of PB Schori and Bonnie Anderson. Surely, they say, surely, they can't be speaking with one voice.
Second, note the four actions:
1. remove references to the Episcopal Church,
2. make the Standing Committee the ecclesiastical authority in the absence of any sitting bishops,
3. put all diocesan trust funds under the control of the bishop, and
4. permit the diocese unilaterally to extend itself beyond its current geographic boundaries.
It is claimed, in this story, that San Joaquin is following a road map laid out by six Global South primates. Although I highly sympathize with this action, I've got to admit the ecclesiological ramifications have me tangled. It seems to me that step #1, in going over TEC's proverbial head and claiming direct communion with Canterbury, is unprecedented. Canterbury, as far as I know, only has relations of communion with provinces. Is that right? Are there any other single dioceses in the world that claim direct communion to Canterbury? Even when Anglicanism was established in the American colonies, we were under commissaries of the bishop of London. Does anyone know in what form communion was formally established between the mother church and the church in America? Probably in the person of William White. That was a direct relation with a diocese. Perhaps there IS precedent for this sort of thing. At any rate, it doesn't fit into the nicely organized categories that the Anglican Communion, as of the late 20th century, was only beginning to codify in documents such as the Virginia report. But maybe it's time for a change. It's clear that the Global South primates who laid out these stepping stones were not laying them within the stream of traditional American Anglican polity, but rather within the framwork of -- what ecclesiology? Anglican ecclesiology in the late 20th century was amorphous at best. We can only hope that our days of sloppy ecclesiology are over, and that the end of all of this will be a Communion with a much more defined [read 'catholic'] sense of the church visible.
The convention also passed a resolution directing the bishop, council, and standing committee "to assess the means of our affiliation with a recognized Ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion," and bring the next convention a "detailed plan for the preservation of our relationship with the Anglican Communion."
This feels to me like an admission that the cart is somewhat before the horse at this point. Communion is a two-way street, and unless Bp. Schofield knows something we don't about the primates and the ABC's intention to reciprocate (which Bp. Schofield may indeed know), this leaves San Joaquin out on an ecclesological limb. If the ABC decides NOT to reciprocate, they're in a pickle, all Global South affiliations aside. They'd become a missionary diocese of some other province, and you'd still have the problem of geographic overlap. Does the ABC's plan for a two-tiered Anglican Communion allow for geographical overlap? If so, that would be a clear statement that real communion with associate churches has been broken, and the lower teir of the system fades into nothingness.
We've got a real ecclesiological puzzle on our hands, that's for sure. I think it all would have been solved if Archbp. Eames' commission had spent more time looking for solutions in the Fathers and less time wallowing in contemporary dilemmas. And that's the tragic flaw of the Windsor Report, now reasserting itself. Until we reach the bedrock of Patristic catholicism, we'll always float listlessly, with some manner of leak in our life-raft. Anglicans once were renowned for our knowledge of the Fathers. Where is that Anglican scholarship today? Why does it not inform our discussions and decisions? Are we a Catholic Communion after all?