A New Development?
It seems to me that with Abp. Akinola's installation of Bp. Minns, we have witnessed the high tide of the realignment movement; its waters have begun to ebb back out to sea. For Abp. Williams has signalled--rather clearly for him--that he thinks they have overreached, and there is no Exodus of parishes and especially dioceses to CANA, which now appears to be merely the latest addition to the Anglican alphabet soup. Surely the tide may come back in--Minns & co. may somehow succeed in moving the realignment project significantly forward. But it seems to me the whole installation spectacle tarnishes their effectiveness as leaders in that movement, such that they join a growing list of other conservative Anglican leaders who have recently overreached. E.g. how do Fort Worth's Standing Committee declaration, Bp. Bena's high profile lateral mobility, or Rev. Armstrong's new allegiance look now? They might have taken a longer look before leaping in that particular direction.
So where is there an effective Anglican leader with the right profile for aiding the realignment project now? Is there anyone left? I think the answer is pretty clear: Abp. Gomez. His recent trip to the Diocese of Central Florida for a speech to our clergy may confirm his willingness to provide leadership among conservatives, and he has not yet diminished his capacity by overreaching; indeed, he is an official part of the covenant-making process at Abp. Williams' request. He could not be better placed in the AC at the moment for conservatives without actually being in the CoE.
Where might he take things from here? We already have an indication: he will continue to be a vocal critic. His speech in Central Florida brought up trust: How can the Primates trust PB Schori now, after she has left Tanzania out to dry? Yes, he was critical, but as far as speeches and issues go, it sounded rather tame. I mean, a breach of trust is something we can deal with more effectively than reaching agreement over, say, how to read Scripture. It sounded like his feelings were hurt, and he for one would like an apology. In other words, it might seem to some conservatives that Gomez lacks the right, well, zing to lead the faithful into realignment; just how much interest and commitment can tame critique sustain? "Gimme some hyperbole here; I gotta breathe!" In contrast, Iker, Minns, and Duncan had the required zing and a bit more, so far as I can tell.
But note what happened on the heels of Gomez' speech: in stepped Rev. Radner with another ACI, Inc. piece--this one arguing the crucial importance of the trust issue. An accident? I think not; Radner seemed to me to be amping up the good Archbishop's speech for domestic consumption, trying to add the zing and zap to which many Anglican conservatives thirsting for realignment have become accustomed.
To speculate: it may be that we will see them working together more and more, and that they will form the effective nucleus of conservative leadership of the realignment movement for the near future. Note "effective": there are of course other leaders, more or less charismatic (Weber's sense), among conservatives who will--I believe--not be effective, who won't have communion-wide power to move in a positive direction. Thus, Abp. Akinola surely continues to have great power, but I gather something subtle has changed in his ability to wield it in a positive way; n.b. simply leaving the AC would not be wielding power in a positive way. Perhaps Abp. Akinola's retaining credibility among mainstream CoE evangelicals, the kind who prefer Wright to Sugden say, as a reasonable leader was a necessary condition for his remaining an attractive leader-figure for that group. At any rate, simply leaving the AC would not accomplish realignment.
But wait--when did either of Gomez or Radner commit themselves to realignment? So far as I can tell, they have not. This is why, in my estimation, the movement has begun to ebb. Those conservative leaders with the best prospects for future positive action are relatively attached to communion-wide institutions, and now, esp. in light of Minns' installation, that attachment seems to pull against actual realignment. Paradoxically, the realignment movement's probable future leaders will not be aiming specifically at realignment, but at something more, well, institutionally oriented. For the moment, the realignment movement has been neutralized.That's a new and recent development, and one worth celebrating here in the shadow of Pentecost.