on y danse, on y danse...
There is due to be announced in short order the creation of what is being billed as a new and improved second Anglican Province in North America, consisting, among other things, of the some of the people, clergy, and former bishops of the dioceses of San Joaquin, Quincy, Pittsburgh and Fort Worth.
As Mark Harris has pointed out this would represent a very small fraction of the total membership of The Episcopal Church, even if the departures from these dioceses were total — which none of them are; the dioceses will continue as part of The Episcopal Church, though reduced in numbers for the time being. This is not to say it is insignificant, only to point out that what it signifies is not a great division in The Episcopal Church.
It may herald, however, a beginning of a larger schism in the Anglican Communion. For the time being the main extraterritorial ally of the former members of these four dioceses is the Church of the Southern Cone, which is, among the churches of the Anglican Communion, one of the smallest and most thinly spread. Again, this is not to play any sort of numbers game, as if numbers alone were significant of anything other than their numeric reality. But that reality will be important for future viability. If other provinces (and I'm thinking of those in the GAFCON continuum) sign on to this new Anglican Communion, it remains to be seen if they will also be able to maintain a presence in and connection with the other and older Anglican Communion — the one with Canterbury as first among equals; or unequals, as the case might be.
Some are beginning to liken this situation to the Great Schism that split the East from the West back in the eleventh century. It seems to me, however, since the focus appears to be more on leaders than on doctrine (all protests to the contrary notwithstanding) that the analogy to the other Schism sometimes called "Great" — the one that split the papacy in the fifteenth century — provides a better analogy.
Schisms by nature are not irrevocable. Time may heal all wounds — even, as someone once said, it wounds all heels. Fifty or a hundred years from now, it will be for those of that time to make a judgment on how sound were the reasons for those who felt a need to make this present split. In the meantime, the rest of the Anglican Communion should take this as an opportunity to refocus its attention on the mission to which it is called, which is not its own preservation as an institution, except to the extent that institution serves the cause of God, and cares for God's people, and God's world.
Otherwise this famous "bridge Church" risks becoming like the one in Avignon, which was little better than a dance-floor.
Tobias Haller BSG