The Louisville Institute

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Proposal Summary

More Than Just Companions: Alliances between Conservative Episcopalians and African Anglicans in Contemporary Episcopal Church Conflicts

Miranda Hassett

University of North Carolina

Summary

My dissertation is an analysis of ‘globalization’ in relation to the growing involvement of Anglican leaders from Africa, Asia, and Latin America in conflicts within the Episcopal Church in the United States, the American province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. In recent years, conservative American Episcopalians, alienated by liberal trends in the Episcopal Church, have reached out and built alliances with Anglican leaders from the global South, especially Africa. Since 1997, several African leaders have answered American conservatives’ appeals to support them in Episcopal struggles over orthodoxy. I examine the development and dynamics of these transnational alliances, on the basis of a year’s ethnographic research with Anglicans in Uganda and conservative American Episcopalians. These alliances represent the intersection of two widely significant trends: growing liberal/conservative polarization within American Protestantism, and the shift in world Christianity towards the global South (Africa, Asia, and Latin America). Conservative Episcopalians, pointing to their African allies, argue that Christians in the global South have a natural affinity with American conservatives, and that the widely heralded rise of Southern Christendom justifies Northern conservatives’ stands. Liberal and moderate Episcopalians increasingly accept that view of ascendant Southern Christianity as naturally allied with Northern conservatives, and see proof of that affinity in collaborative protest actions against the Episcopal Church taken by American conservatives and Southern Anglican leaders. Accordingly, liberal and moderate Episcopalians tend to see the rise of Southern Christianity as a threat. In my dissertation, I present an account of the development of these alliances, and also illustrate some of the ways these images--of Northern Christianity as weak and apostate and Southern Christianity as orthodox and growing–fail to engage with the grounded concerns and perceptions of Southern and Northern Anglicans. On the basis of my research and analysis, I argue that these alliances, and indeed the impact of Southern Christianity on American churches in general, cannot be adequately understood through simple liberal/conservative and North/South affinities and oppositions. Rather, these alliances are the outcome of concentrated discursive and practical collaborative work, by particular groups of Northern and Southern Anglicans seeking new ways to be Anglican together - an understanding which re-opens the possibilities for other innovative relationships in the emergent Christian global order.


Report

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Related Publications

PublishersTitleYearTypeContributorContributionOther Info
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill"Episcopal Dissidents, African Allies: The Anglican Communion and the Globalization of Dissent"2004DissertationMiranda HassettAuthor