January 2, 2008

The Voice of Reason... er, England

I was just reading through the Church of England’s response to the Draft Anglican Covenant, and was pleased to see that in a number of respects they raised some of the same red flags that I had. Among these is a sensitivity to the extent that the Primates or other Instruments have authority to intervene in the internal affairs of individual provinces. (The Church of England report on one hand seems to think this might be appropriate in extraordinary circumstances, but notes on the other that it simply wouldn’t do were England itself to become the object of such tender mercies. It depends upon whose unicorn and lion are being gored, I take it.)

However, there are a few truly odd sections in this response. The one that most surprised me was the objection to the language of section 2 paragraph 3

that it [the member Church] holds and duly administers the two sacraments ordained by Christ himself — Baptism and the Supper of the Lord — ministered with the unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution, and of the elements ordained by him

in raising the specter of the old battles over the number of the sacraments. But this clause is straight out of the Lambeth Quadrilateral; and hardly likely to create a fuss now if it hasn’t for 120 years!

Of greater concern is the pernicious doctrine alluded to in the first comment on the Preamble:

Are the churches of the Anglican communion, properly so called, the thirty eight national bodies that belong to the Communion or are they the dioceses of the Communion gathered round their diocesan bishops? This is not just a theoretical ecclesiological question, but also a practical one since it raises the question of whether the bodies that should subscribe to the Covenant are the national bodies or the dioceses. This issue does not require a revision of the text, but it is something that needs to be addressed.

You bet it does. This notion that the individual dioceses of a national church somehow relate directly to the Primate of All England is also suggested by His Nibs Himself in his letter to Bishop Howe. This novelty (apart from the invitations to Lambeth, which are of course the domain of the Archbishop) appears to have arisen as kind of Alexandrine Gordian Knot solution to the problem of “Windsor” bishops within “non-Windsor” churches — allowing them to remain somehow part of the Transcendental Anglican Communion even while the church of which they are a part is excluded or demoted.

This is indeed not just a theoretical question, but a very practical one, and it utterly undermines the concept of provincial identity (to say nothing of autonomy!). Let me say this just once more: while the sacramental fullness of the church subsists in the community of the faithful gathered around its bishop, the basic unit of the church is not the diocese, but the Province. The former is a matter of sacramental theology; the latter concerns church polity. And ignoring this distinction between the two is creating a great deal of confusion. If dioceses are free to affiliate without regard to their participation in a Province, why should not the diocese of London, for example, bypass its participation in the Province of Canterbury and affiliate with the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East? Shall we end up with an Anglican Communion that is a patchwork of embassies on foreign ground?

This uneven performance even by the Church of England strengthens my misapprehensions about the Covenant Process as a solution to our presenting problem. While I am committed to seeing it through, I urge further caution and postponement of any final action on this matter at the upcoming Lambeth Conference. Let us work through this without rushing to Law as a solution when Charity seems weak. As I noted in a comment to the Diocese of NY response to the Covenant last spring:

How does a Covenant solve the problem? If folks are unwilling to abide by informal agreements, can they be expected to abide by a contract? The old idea that Philip Turner once advanced (vows empower people to keep them) is on the basis of prima facie evidence quite false. And speaking as a pastor, it would be unconscionable to advise an engaged couple who were having difficulties in their relationship to “go ahead and get married” — as if that would solve, rather than multiply, their problems.

Tobias Haller BSG


Anonymous said...

There will be a covenant and it is being hammered out NOW.

Therefore, the most influential thing is not to make general points or criticisms but to SUGGEST SPECIFIC REWORDING OF THE TEXT and then argue for that wording. The smallest changes are best, but they can be radical in their effects.

It's all up for grabs. But only until Lambeth 2008, after which the thing becomes much less fluid.

The beauty of the CofE response is that it is an ACTIVIST response; it picks up the draft and, with no deference to Drexel Gomez or anyone else, actually changes it to suit the wishes of the CofE group.

Anyone else who wants to achieve results has to work in the same way, I think.

Anonymous said...

"...it utterly undermines the concept of provincial identity (to say nothing of autonomy!). Let me say this just once more: while the sacramental fullness of the church subsists in the community of the faithful gathered around its bishop, the basic unit of the church is not the diocese, but the Province."

I understand that one can argue that this model is preferable. I'm not sure that it has ever represented any sort of Anglican consensus.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has caught much grief for his use of the term "Anglican Church." But the term is used by Newman, and Eliot, and, among Anglo-Catholics, at least, the notion of "autonomous provinces" seems radically at odds with the whole idea of catholicity. The former Bishop of the Rio Grande identified that notion as the primary reason for his departure, if I recall correctly.

{The Eastern Orthodox have a conception of "autocephalous" churches--how far that idea approaches "autonomy" I don't really know. But it has certainly come to support a common experiences of overlapping terriorial dioceses.)

In any case, if the provinces are truly autonomous, then the recent encroachments by Africa and South America in the United States plainly cannot be dealt with by any central superior authority. And if there is some need for discipline, or at least guidelines, to prevent the autonomous provinces from becoming competing sovereigns, surely it must come from an agreement of the provinces themselves. Call it a compact, or federation, or covenant (and the latter term does indeed carry some negative baggage for Anglicans from Presbyterian history), but it does seem that the emerging conception of provincial autonomy itself makes necessary an agreed definition of the scope and extent of that autonomy.

rick allen

P.S. I notice that increasingly in these blogs I have to post "anonymously" or not at all. Do you know what the deal is?

Jon said...

Why should we believe that holding that the diocese is the basic unit of the church mean that the diocese is free to affiliate wherever it wishes? It seems at least as reasonable to say that the framework of commitments within which a diocese and its clergy are brought into existence is invariably binding on the diocese even if it is the basic unit of the church.


Marshall Scott said...

I share your concerns. I fear this Response and re-Draft point toward greater centralization of authority in the Instruments of Communion, and especially with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates, undercutting both the ACC and national churches. This is clear, not only in the comment about dioceses, but in the assertion of authority of the Instruments that is "not only moral, but spiritual, pastoral, and doctrinal;" and in the assertion that the Primates Meeting is the "executive committee" for the Lambeth Conference - which, in the past, has not developed policy or program to "execute."

I believe that Archbishop Williams wants that. That is, for all his protestations that he does not wish to be pope nor to see some Magisterium or Cardinalate established, he believes that to be a "Communion," we need to be more like what Rome has described as a "Church." Since it appears that this was largely a work of CAnterbury and York themselves, and not of a larger committee, I'm not really surprised this Response and re-Draft takes that shape. I am, however, disappointed.

Marshall Scott said...

Oh, and that's not to mention that egregious assertion that the Instruments might somehow authorize "extraordinary" interventions across national church lines....

Greg Jones said...


I think you raise a very important flag about this ecclesiological question of diocese vs. province. You suggest that treating dioceses as the basic unit of Anglican Communion could lead to the rise of 'free-range dioceses,'or the willy-nilly realignment of dioceses under extra-territorial oversight arrangements. I wonder if that is necessarily so?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the comments.

Badman, I agree that there will be a document that emerges out of all of this discussion, but I don't have any confidence that it will be of such a nature as to bring the necessary support, either at Lambeth or in subsequent acceptance by the provinces. As it now stands, I would junk the Drafting Committee's version altogether, and go with the Inter-Anglican Mission proposal, or perhaps the Church of Ireland version. I anticipate there will be a good deal of paper shuffling going on at Lambeth, and no proposal will likely be adopted simply as submitted. I do like the English approach, because it offers specific amendments; and I think in most cases their suggestions mark improvements. But I still think their version (which may, simply because of its source, become the new "draft") will still not be adequate to please a significant majority.

Rick, first of all I don't know why you are not able to sign in, unless you don't have the "new" form of a Google account, which I think is now required.

But on the matter of substance, regardless of the romantic views of Anglo-Catholics, they would hardly suggest that the word "church" applies to each individual diocese except in the sacramental sense I described. In the ecclesiological sense (that is, in the structural reality of the church) the metropolitan (i.e., provincial) structure has long been explicitly recognized as the basic organizing principle for a church. (In the undivided church, the primary reason was to prevent individual bishops going off the deep end or coopting a diocese by appointing their successors; the ancient canons required three bishops and metropolitical consent to make a new bishop for a diocese.) This principle is explicit in the 39 Articles and the Preface to the BCP -- the "national or particular church" is the basic organizing principle in Anglicanism. It would be nice if anyone could point to any authoritative support for the notion that in discussions of polity "church" is meant to refer to an individual diocese apart from its metropolitan or province. I know of none; hence my argument this is a novel understanding developed ad hoc as a possible way to solve the present crisis.

Autocephaly is similar to autonomy, in the sense that it means the province is not answerable to any higher authority for the creation of new bishops. The buck stops with the metropolitan. (The current overlappings in much of the world are seen by the Orthodox as deeply embarrassing violations of Tradition, put up with only on the basis of cultural differences. They are working very hard to try to diminish these anomalies.)

And yes, the lack of a superior synod or governance does leave violations such as those by Nigeria, Kenya and Cono Sur without a mechanism for enforcement. As usual, one had hoped that the ordination oath (to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of The Episcopal Church) would have been sufficient: but, of course, as I note, vows do not of themselves enforce obedience.

Personally, I take the laissez-faire approach; that is, if Truro wants to affiliate with Nigeria, let them -- only follow the church and civil law and leave the assets behind. In a pluralistic society we have no control over the actions of individuals except to the extent the have impact on the legal structures. I do not share Canterbury's qualms about having a different stripe of "Anglican" church on every street corner. Perhaps this comes from being an American, living in a society with so many churches functioning side by side. We do not absolutely need this question to be settled by an international agreement; and as a number of foxes have a hand in the protection of the henhouse, I'm leery of any such development!

Jon, I think you are correct; the question is to a large extent academic, as the laws by which the diocese was created clearly indicate its connection to the source that created it. Only General Convention can grant independence to any diocese -- and the canons only provide for that in the case of dioceses not part of the territorial US.

Marshall, thank you for the support.

Peace to all, and keep discussion going here and elsewhere!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Greg, our comments crossed in the aether.

I'm not sure it is "necessarily" so that the view of diocesan autonomy will lead to a "communion of shreds and patches" -- but that is what is happening, and it appears to me the current crises is the reason the argument is being advanced. As I said above, can anyone point to an authoritative source for this teaching of what amounts to diocesan (rather than provincial) autonomy, in the historical documents of our tradition, or the Catholic tradition? The only separate dioceses in the Anglican Communion are those extraprovincial dioceses that are such because they are either too small to be provinces on their own or there is some (secular) political reality that mitigates against their complete autonomy. (Bermuda, Spain, Portugal; at one time Cuba).

Greg Jones said...


I think -- historically and theologically speaking -- that this whole question of diocese vs. province is very, very interesting. And it's just the sort of thing that we ought to be talking about as Anglicans who love to use our minds and read our books and discuss this kind of stuff. What fun it ought to be. I've grown tired of the fight, and am newly interested in the conversation. I have just posted my thoughts over at anglican centrist -- but I look forward to the departure of the Separatists so such discussions can take place with a lower 'threat level' -- if you know what I mean.


Jon said...

I know of no authoritative source that says that the basic autonomous unit of the church is the diocese, but I don't see that autonomous and basic unit belong together in the material that has been coming from the ABC. Certainly the PB is clear that dioceses aren't autonomous even though a page on TEC's website identifies the diocese as the basic unit of the church. A quick google search also brings up websites from a variety of TEC's parishes say the same, and talk as if this view were held by all Anglicans.

If we look at other churches, Rome also teaches that the diocese is the basic unit of the church (although popes have also referred to the family as the basic unit of the church) and the thought of describing Roman dioceses as autonomous strikes me as incredibly funny. Everyone else seems to think that the basic unit of the church is the parish.

I think there are two tentative conclusions to be drawn from this. First, it is a probably a mistake to assume that the basic unit of the church is the smallest autonomous unit of the church. Second, the basic unit is not often thought of as a group of bishops centered on a metropolitan.


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the comment, Jon. I think what you are seeing here is the tension between what I referred to as the theological "unit" and the "ecclesiological" unit. The diocese can be seen as a "unit" under the former, but not under the latter.

Much also depends upon what one means as "unit" -- that is, one might say that a brick is a "unit" of a building, or a cell is a "unit" of the body. But the issue at hand isn't really about "units" as such, and frankly I find that language unhelpful. (Ultimately, the "unit" of the church is the individual baptized person, isn't it?)

Rather, I see the question in the organic way in which Saint Paul described it: what is the smallest entity that can be called "church" in such a way that it is capable of carrying out all of the functions we attribute to a church. And this is where the question "what do you mean by the functions of a church" arises. A Baptist will have a very different answer to that question than a Russian orthodox believer. As, I think, would most Anglicans, for whom the episcopate, locally adapted, is an essential element of the Church. And in order to have a continuance in the episcopate one needs to have at least three dioceses. This is why a diocese is not in itself a self perpetuating "church" but is instead an "organ" of the larger body of the church. (I prefer "organ" to "unit").

I hope this makes further sense of where I am coming from in this present discussion.

Anonymous said...

I think Jon is right that "basic unit" does not necessarily translate into "autonomous."

"Ecclesiae particulares, in quibus et ex quibus una et unica Ecclesia catholica exsitit, sunt imprimis dioceses....." "Particular churches in which and from which exists the one and unique Catholic Church are first of all dioceses...." In Catholic ecclesiology the Catholic Church is a communion of local churches, mostly dioceses, plus a grab-bag of structures for particular situattion (territorial prelatures, etc.). One is a member of the Catholic church through being a member of a particular church. Strictly speaking, I am not a member of the Church of Rome, but a member of the Church of Santa Fe (the one that is communion with Rome, and thereby all the others in communion with Rome).

I am a little surprized to realize my own ignorance about how Metropolitan sees arose. One imagines it was perhaps a matter of discipline, but I don't know that. In the Church today they continue as important administrative units, supplemented now by a new intermediary, the National Conference of Bishops. But, frankly, I couldn't have told you the boundaries of the Ecclesiastical Privince of Santa Fe until I looked it up on Wikipedia this morning (it's New Mexico and Arizona).

Toby, you are much familiar with Richard Hooker than most of us. In looking at some few excerpts I have access to he speaks much of dioceses and little of provinces--but then the C of E has two, am I correct? Canterbury and York? Yet surely most think of the C of E as one Church, unless one's notion extends to the whole Anglican Communion?

Jon, I think you are also right that, for most of us, the basic unit is the parish. There was some long discussion of that point over on Preludium, and my only quibble with it (I didn't jump in) was the sort of notion that it's an "either/or". Plainly among us Catholics there is a "strong" hierarchy with no real sense of autonomy (there is the notion of "subsidiarity," if I spelled that right, not quite the same thing). Nevertheless, much as I appreciate the pope and his role in the Church, and that of Archbishop Sheehan, neither has much real effect on my life as a Christian. The parish is where we worship, learn, have fellowship, and perform our common service. It is basic in the experiential sense, not the constitutional sense. It would not exist were it not for the historic chain of teaching and governance going back to the apostles. But that chain, essential as it is, tends to be rather invisible.

--rick allen

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...


The Roman understanding of this is very interesting, but it is not properly speaking the "Catholic" understanding, nor is it directly applicable to the situation in the Anglican Communion (except to the extent some seem to think it a good idea).

Your citation from the Roman Catholic Canons (368) has to be understood within the whole context of those canons, and the view of the nature of the church found therein -- so to talk about the dioceses apart from union with the hierarchy ending with the chair of Peter (since unity with the incumbent in that chair is held to be essential to the subsistence of the "one and unique" church) really makes no sense.

Moreover, it is fair to view the RCC as a collection of dioceses because any national or provincial structure is intended for territorial and administrative matters. All dioceses relate to Rome because every Bishop is ultimately in a direct connection with the Supreme Pontiff -- who in this case is exercising a kind of supreme metropolitical authority: no one becomes an RC bishop without the pontifical mandate. This is also why the RCC does not require three bishops to make a new bishop (though it is recommended more participate.) See canons 1013-14.

In the wider catholic world, the fourth Canon of the first Council of Nicea makes it clear that the individual diocese is not capable of sustaining itself alone, but must have the consent of the bishops of the province (or at least the metropolitan) to have a new bishop when the old bishop dies.

Speaking historically, too, the church is not "built up" or "assembeled from" individual dioceses -- thus I think calling them "units" is misleading, and the Roman canon 368 suggestion that the dioceses come "first" is rather undermined by canon 369 that sees the diocese as being "entrusted" from above. In fact, originally there were no dioceses at all, only the disciples and apostles, and the dioceses developed later as subdivisions of the whole church, territory by territory by missionary expansion. This is not a chicken and egg issue: the church (as the body of the baptized) comes first, then the creation of dioceses or provinces or whatever. If there is a "unit" as I say, it is the baptized person.

The situation in England (now one church with two provinces) is in part a matter of history: the church predates the nation as such. York became a province due to Pope Gregory III elevating the bishop and sending the pallium in 735; much of the rest of the land was occupied by pagan Danes at the time.

Hooker says little about this matter because, of course, there was no question about the understanding of the national church by law established in England in his day. This principle goes far deeper than Hooker right to the 39 articles, which clarify that the national church is not to be meddled with by any foreign bishop. The recent suggestions that dioceses in other parts of the communion somehow should be under a direct relationship with Canterbury completely undercuts this understanding, and is dangerously close to the papist concept of dioceses being directly connected with Rome.

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating discussion, rather hidden away in the comments. Would you consider working up a blog piece on this, like your series on same sex relationships? It is a worthy subject, about which most of us have previously thought very little, but which looks set to be critically important.

I am sure that the crescendo of suggestion from England that the diocese is at least as important as the province for Anglican Communion membership is not just a reflection of Roman ecclesiology. Nor is it designed to benefit conservative US bishops like San Joaquin and Pittsburgh. I think it is designed to break the stranglehold of the primates. There is no way (for example) that Akinola will be at Lambeth 2008. But many other Nigerian bishops may be. And while this connection holds, the prospects of a return for the whole province are preserved, more than in the case of a total break. The same goes for other provinces - for example, in Central Africa, the Bishop of Botswana can stay Anglican although the primate and other bishops may not. This also explains the original courting of the so-called Windsor bishops, although I think the Anglican Communion membership of the whole TEC province now looks securer than it did before.

Those, I think, are the tactics. But what I love about your discussion is that it takes the question onto its proper level, which is about the whole nature of the church and its relationships, across the ages, past and to come, and I am hungry for more!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dear badman,
You have put your finger on it, I thihnk -- this idea of the diocese as preeminent locus opposed to province is a two-edged sword: and I agree that Rowan is probably thinking along the lines you suggest. The problem is he that he has failed to see the unintended consequence, and here in the US his comments to Bishop Howe were immediately seen as a green light to diocesan "realignment" away from the province.

If there is a real impulse to lessen the role of the Primates, that is not making it through to the various Covenant proposals (at least those whose heritage lies with the Drafting Group. Personally, I would refocus the task of the Primates on their own provinces, rather than as an inter- or super-provincial body. That task, I have long argued, belongs to the ACC.

Thanks for the comment, and perhaps I will try to put this into a more fulsome reflection -- though much of what I am saying here has been said before. See in particular States of Things and The Anglican Triad.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that a little history will go a long way in this matter.

My guess, on thinking about it, is that The Episcopal Church's claim to autonomy rests to a large extent to its having been, in fact, at one time, for all intents and purposes, independent. Insofar as it voluntarily came into closer communion with the church from whom its clergy derived its orders, it would naturally be more inclined to think that some degree of autonomy was retained than if it had been (as I imagine most of the Global South provinces were) a missionary province for most of its existence in a dependent state on the mother-see of Canterbury.

From that perspective, am I correct, Toby?, the Anglican Communion is more like a World Council of Churches, more a federation of independents than an entity calling itself a church.

That perspective, of course, would be anathama to an Anglo-Catholic, whose "three-branch" theory would seem to exclude the idea of theological autonomy in the English branch as strongly as do the Greek and Latin branches.

It is one of the weaknesses of my own understanding of Episcopaliansim that I have tended to read the Anglo-Catholics more than anyone else. Even the principle of governance has interestingly moved, it appears to me, to a compromise between traditional episcopal governance and a presbyterian system. Your House of Delegates, with its mix laity and presbyters, looks remarkably like a Presbyterial General Assembly to me. Making it one house in a bicameral assembly, with bishops in the other house, seems to move it much farther from the norm of episcopal governance contemplated by, say, Hooker, in his delineation of the office of bishop. That says nothing about its wisdom or utility. But it does probably represent a different understanding of the authority of bishops from others in the same communion.

--rick allen

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Rick, I would say that the US franchise is normative in most repects when you look at church governance in Anglicanism. In England, of course, lay participation was originally exercised through the powerful means of King in Parliament. In more recent times, the English General Synod includes laity and clergy as well as bishops, and all share in the governance of the Church. This is true in virtually all of the Anglican provinces -- though in many places the appointment of bishops comes about through the House of Bishops (Nigeria) without lay or clerical involvement. The English, until recently, had the Crown and State involved via the PM -- though I understand there are moves afoot to take this function back into the bosom of the church, I doubt it will be the province solely of the bishops!

Given some of the statements emanating from Nigeria, I think it is they, rather than we, who have abandoned the notion of a Canterbury-centered communion which is more than a federation. I don't think you can lay this at the feet of the colonial character of some of the Global South provinces -- as others that share that history are perfectly content with Canterbury -- and the US! If you want the real source of the division, a little history is indeed helpful: and one need look no further than to see by which of the English missionary societies an area was evangelized: the high-church SPCK vs the low-church CMS. Compare, for example, South Africa and Kenya! Those with a "high" view of the church favor communion; those who see the faith under the flag of Evangelical personal salvation... well, do I really need to say more?

I would say we Anglicans (those who value the communion, that is) regard ourselves as "a church" in the theological sense (the one the Anglo-Catholics are using), but not in the political sense of church governance. In this respect we are more like Eastern Orthodoxy (which recognizes only one true church, but divides the governance of that church up among the various national traditions) than we are like Rome (which insists on combining -- indeed sees combining as essential -- governance with theological viewpoint.

What we are seeing now, I think, in some Anglicans (including +Rowan) is a romanticization of the episcopate that is quite out of keeping with the Anglican tradition -- one need only read the ordination rites to see, for instance, that the "teaching office" belongs to the presbyterate, not the episcopate.

And, of course, if "our" ground has shifted, it is probably Rome that started it, when in Vatican II the age old tradition of the episcopate being a superior form of priesthood as opposed to a separate order, was undone. +Rowan's recent writings and comments seem to be unduly influenced by post-Vatican II changes to the tradition!

Anonymous said...

The express idea of the whole church as the unity of (mostly) dioceses seems a pretty good summary of the ecclesiology of Vatican II. But surely that's not entirely new. I was looking last night at St. Cyprian's third century De Ecclesiae Catholicae Unitate, in which the Church's unity has a twofold expression, the unity of the whole in the Chair of Peter, and the parallel and equally important unity of the bishops. Surely that is one root of the conception of the Catholic Church as both a single, universal Church and as a communion of particular churches, what we would now call dioceses, gathered around a bishop.

As to provinces, whatever their origin, they were certainly not organized around a conception of nationality. The Eastern conception of the national patriarchate seems to me an unfortunate legacy of the Constantinian settlement; how closely that parallels the conception of the ecclesiastical province I honestly don't know. That model certainly had more than a foothold in the West, up unitl the Gregorian Reform, which of course in Anglican/Protestant narratives is a story of papal ambition and aggression, and, from the Catholic side, is a tale of the Church's freeing itself from the domination of kings and princes.

--rick allen

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Rick, I think we are here conflicted over an issue not unlike that which on another post is generating confusion between Chris Jones and me.

There is no question that "the church is one" in the sense of all bishops (and that includes all forms of historically locally adapted episcopate, of which, in Cyprian's day there were really only three -- monarchial, presbyter-bishop, and chorepiscopus -- and one of those rapidly fading out of existence) versus the various political structures for the organizing of the church.

I would say that the coming into form of the national churches is not a result of the Constantinian settlement, but rather a recognition of the limitations on travel, and a close geographical binding of bishops to their dioceses, already well evinced by Nicea I. It was as much about stability as politics.

And I would suggest that the present model for twofold unity finds it basis first in baptism, and then in the collegiality of various church bodies -- and it is in this latter that the divisions have appeared.

The Reformation, of course, was a major factor in the "fixing" of the concept of the "national church" in the West, from the English establishment to the German "cuius regio eius religio" settlement. But I still see the national churches of the East (based more on linguistic / cultural history) to be a closer analogy to the Anglican solution emerging through the 19th century: a communion of national provinces lacking a central government, but functioning as a fellowship with a common heritage. The present divisions actually result from different strands in that heritage, as I mentioned above.