The Anglican Consultative Council’s Standing Committee: Who Is Janet Trisk?

While it’s clear that she is a progressive/revisionist activist of the most extreme, the Sea of Faith Network is certainly a few steps beyond revisionist Anglican activism — beyond support for non-celibate gay relationships and their affirmation, beyond feminist Marxist liberation theology, beyond manipulation of political processes at ACC meetings, beyond heretical Christology. Other than the Sea of Faith’s interest in the use of religion, it would be hard to find a more antithetically religious organization than one that denies the objective existence of God. And just because Janet Trisk has had some book reviews posted on the Sea of Faith Network doesn’t mean she’s a member of such an interesting, albeit godless, organization. But the shocking fact is that Janet Trisk is a member of the Sea of Faith Network.

As most know, Janet Trisk — a Caucasian lawyer turned Anglican priest from South Africa — was recently appointed to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, one of the four Instruments of Communion.

Already well known as a TEC-gospel-supporting activist, who proposed the amendment to remove Section Four at the Jamaica meeting of the Standing Committee and engaged in the political activism all of us are familiar with in order to attempt to strip the Covenant of enforcement ability, the curious might wonder if there is more to learn about Trisk. And there is.

First, here are the basics of her bio, as found over on the Anglican Communion website:

Janet is a South African and a lecturer in Systematic Theology and Spirituality at the College of the Transfiguration, Grahamstown, South Africa. She is ordained and served for five years in parish ministry. She represented the ACSA at the ACC meeting in 2005. Before training for the ministry, Janet was a lawyer. Her academic interests include women’s theologies, the construction of identity and Christian anthropology. She holds a Masters degree from the University of Cape Town. Her doctoral studies keep getting postponed by activities such as this study process!

Since this bio was written, Trisk has left the College of the Transfiguration as lecturer. It now appears that she is the “Rector of the Parish of St David, Prestbury in Pietermaritzburg, in the Diocese of Natal.”

One can note in her bio and other writings the usual liberal interests — “women’s theologies” [as opposed to truthful theologies, I suppose, and with the typical implication that the theologies found in Holy Scripture are by nature “men’s” theologies] — as well as her need to mention that, though she does not yet have a doctorate, she certainly will acquire one soon if she can be left alone long enough to pursue it. It’s always interesting to view what someone wants put into their biography — and the fact that she is engaged in “doctoral studies” was obviously important to Trisk to communicate.

Trisk is the author or co-author of a number of revisionist statements, journal articles, and reviews of various books, much of those surrounding the issue of homosexuality, and others surrounding the topic of… well, I’ll get to that in a moment.

For starters, she helped create and promote this statement for South African Anglicans that asserted in part: “the time has come to give space for such diversity [of conviction regarding the blessing of same sex unions]” and

“There are members within our church who believe in good faith and conscience that God accepts them as gay, and further that God blesses their commitment to faithful relationship. We believe that our church should be open to such convictions… “

She engaged in interviewing various Anglican gays and documenting those interviews with a purpose of countering the St. Andrew’s Day Statement, in particular countering this paragraph in the St. Andrew’s Day Statement:

There can be no description of human reality, in general or in particular, outside the reality in Christ. We must be on guard, therefore, against constructing any other ground for our identities than the redeemed humanity given us in him. Those who understand themselves as homosexuals, no more and no less than those who do not, are liable to false understandings based on personal or family histories, emotional dispositions, social settings, and solidarities formed by common experiences or ambitions. Our sexual affections can no more define who we are than can our class, race or nationality. At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is no such thing as ‘a’ homosexual or ‘a’ heterosexual; there are human beings, male and female, called to redeemed humanity in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation.

She chaired a discussion on Spirituality and Sexuality at a South African festival at which she commented:

“It is too simplistic to say African culture doesn’t accept homosexuality.

It cannot be denied that for some younger black people, it is becoming easier to come out”. But, aside from some black communities seeing it as taboo, Trisk says that the Church, through a “denial of the body, and denial of sexuality” has been reluctant to come to terms with gayness.

“Ultimately we are a long way from where our Constitution would like us to be,” says Trisk.

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