The two understandings of discipline and the roles of Canterbury and the Primates collided at the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in February 2007. The early rounds of the conflict went to Rowan Williams, who had invited Presiding Bishop Katherine Schori despite a recommendation in the Dromantine CommuniquÃ© that Episcopal Church officials refrain from attending Communion events until Lambeth 2008. He then set the agenda of the meeting with only four hours devoted to the Episcopal Church’s reaction, and he endorsed a Joint Standing Committee report which claimed that the Episcopal Church had satisfied the conditions of the Windsor Report and the Dromantine CommuniquÃ©.
At this point, the Global South Primates interrupted the set agenda and pushed back. The final CommuniquÃ© was surprisingly strong, in which the Primates “unanimously” [made their recommendations]….
For a few brief weeks, it appeared that a final separation was imminent. Then Canterbury struck back:
1. by issuing invitations to Lambeth 2008 to all Episcopal bishops except Gene Robinson (May 2007);
2. by accepting an invitation to the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans (September 2007) and commissioning a report from the Joint Standing Committee that was not part of the Dar “process”;
3. by denying by word and deed that September 30 was a real deadline; and
4. by giving the Episcopal Church a weak pass in his Advent 2007 letter, which was all that was necessary to get it over the hurdles posed by the Dar CommuniquÃ©.
Most significantly, in the year intervening between Dar and Lambeth 2008, Archbishop Williams refused to call a follow-up Primates’ Meeting, despite the clear expectation in the CommuniquÃ© that he would reconvene the Primates to judge the Episcopal Church’s response and despite an urgent appeal from the Global South Steering Committee that he do so. Apparently the Archbishop had concluded from the Dar es Salaam Meeting that the Primates’ authority had been enhanced too much and that they needed to be relegated to the B-league as an honorary council of advice. The hope of Communion-wide discipline of those who had broken fundamental Christian doctrine had evaporated in a cloud of verbiage and dithering.