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ArchbishopWilliams2Another meeting of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops begins this week, and Neela Banerjee of The New York Times has written a concise preview of what is at stake. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will attend this meeting, and will bring the calmest voice to to the discussion. Banerjee's work is especially impressive here because she's showing more creativity in finding good sources.

It's easy enough to gather a few remarks from Integrity, the Episcopal Church Center and the Anglican Communion Network and call it a day. For the bigger picture, Banerjee turns to the Rev. William Sachs of the Center for Reconciliation and Mission, and the Rev. Ephraim Radner of Wycliffe College.

My one disappointment is that mainstream media have not yet picked up on the importance of a paper by six men who became lawyers before they became bishops. Stand Firm brought this document to light, and The Living Church has reported that Dorsey Henderson, one of the bishops whose name appears on the paper, has since distanced himself from it.

In short, the paper argues that the real threat to the Anglican Communion comes not from theological innovations in the United States, but from those Anglicans (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) who favor a covenant that holds Anglican provinces accountable for their actions. The bishops see such a covenant as violating an "unwritten and unenforceable but clearly recognized and anciently respected Anglican Constitution."

The paper is not a formal proposal, but it will shape the bishops' discussions, for better or worse, when they meet in New Orleans on Sept. 20-25.

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