The challenge facing the task group, the body ”” not yet appointed ”” whose job it will be to mend the Anglican Communion after last week’s gathering of Primates, was manifest this week as people reacted to the final communiquÃ© from Canterbury.
Category : – Anglican: Primary Source
It is surprising, then, that the whimper [from the 2016 Primates Gathering] has occasioned such a hue and cry. On Thursday the Labour shadow cabinet minister and former Anglican priest, Chris Bryant, declared he had left the Church of England for good. The Church’s decision will one day ”˜seem [as] wrong as supporting slavery’ he tweeted. On Saturday the Times published a full-blown invective. The Church has no right, the editorial claimed, to maintain its traditional doctrine of marriage.
The outcry is indicative of a profound shift. Institutions founded on certain precepts to which its members are expected to subscribe shouldn’t be allowed to act on them if those precepts don’t square with a prevailing agenda. Back in 2013 advocates for same-sex marriage argued that the church’s beliefs about sexuality shouldn’t be imposed on the rest of society. That makes sense. But now the church is being told it shouldn’t hold those beliefs at all.
It is easy to overlook how ominous this shift really is. The conviction that organisations and communities cannot determine their own distinct ethos, their own rules for membership and their own criteria for leadership imperils the very survival of a pluralistic society. What is the point of institutions if they don’t have the freedom to organise themselves in the way they see fit?
The positive part of the Primate’s declaration is that they unanimously expressed a desire to continue to walk in partnership, joined in Christ in mission and ministry. In my perspective, however, the Primate’s decision to censure The Episcopal Church compounds the pain of discrimination that LGBTQ people have suffered over the centuries and continue to suffer as a result of Church policy. For that pain I am deeply sorry, and as a Bishop of the Church I apologize to all LGBTQ people, especially those of this Diocese.
Discipleship can be costly and sometimes, although we do not want it to be so, relationships are strained as part of that cost. People who love God can honestly disagree on weighty matters, and it is my desire to respect and remain in relationship with those who disagree with me. It is my belief, however, that as I read Scripture, understand the teaching of Jesus, examine the history of the Church, and apply God’s gift of human reason seeking the Spirit’s direction, that the actions of The Episcopal Church moving toward full inclusion of LGBTQ people are of God. The Spirit is calling us to stand by our carefully and prayerfully made decisions.
Bishop Curry was asked directly whether he would contest these “consequences” at the next meeting of the ACC in April. On Wednesday, he would say only: “The ACC is the only formal constitutional body of the Anglican Communion and it will decide what it will do. Our representatives from the Episcopal Church look forward to being there.”
Earlier this week, a prominent canon lawyer, Professor Norman Doe, state that the Primates’ ruling was not binding…. He described it as “completely unacceptable interference with the autonomy of each of these bodies as they transact their own business”.
The ACC is due to meet in Zambia in April. Two US members, the Bishop of Connecticut, the Rt Revd Ian Douglas, and the Revd Gay Clark Jennings, have confirmed that they will attend. Bishop Douglas is also a member of the ACC’s standing committee, and would therefore have to stand down if the ACC chooses to comply with the Primates’ wishes.
In the past, members of the ACC have criticised the Primates for overstepping their remit. In 2006, after the Primates asked the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw their representatives from the ACC, the organisation’s then chairman, the Rt Revd John Paterson, criticised the move as “at least slightly premature, if not coercive and somewhat punitive”….
Last week the Primates of the Anglican Communion gathered in Canterbury for a week of prayer and discussion. You might well have been following the events in the media. I want to share some thoughts of my own here about what took place last week ”“ which was without doubt one of the most extraordinary weeks I have ever experienced.
The first thing to say is that the week was completely rooted in prayer. The Community of St Anselm ”“ the international young Christian community based at Lambeth Palace ”“ took up residence in Canterbury Cathedral and prayed all day every day for the Primates as we talked together. As Primates we joined with all who gathered for Morning Prayer, Eucharist and Evensong in the Cathedral each day. And meanwhile thousands ”“ perhaps millions ”“ of Anglicans and others in the Christian family around the world prayed in churches and posted prayers on social media. I want to thank everyone who prayed last week. We felt it and we appreciated it deeply.
The most significant outcome of that first GAFCON meeting was the invitation extended to conservative Anglicans in North America to form an alternative province: the Anglican Church in North America. The rending of the Communion through the disobedience of Communion liberals had occurred, and the final steps envisioned in To Mend the Net–the suspension of communion and the establishment of a new, alternative province–had become a reality.
In retrospect, the tragedy of this history can more clearly be seen: the painful departure of thousands of North American Anglicans from their church homes, countless millions of dollars spent in litigation. All of this might have been avoided if the three Archbishops of Canterbury under whose watches all this has occurred had provided faithful, godly, unequivocal leadership.
But there is an even greater tragedy: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8). Of the three great streams of apostolic Christianity–Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism–two stand unequivocally for historic Christian faith and morals. Only Anglicanism has equivocated at the highest level.
The churches of formerly mainline Protestantism have embraced the zeitgeist. Too many Anglican leaders have chosen the path of mainline Protestantism rather than biblical, apostolic, and catholic faithfulness. And damage has been done to countless souls through the ambiguous or downright immoral witness of these Anglican leaders and church bodies.
Many count it a sign of God’s grace that, in this week’s meeting of the primates in Canterbury, the GAFCON and Global South primates have finally taken an effective stand to restore godly order and discipline to the Anglican Communion. This is a first step–a baby step–that, though it goes in the right direction, does not go nearly far enough. Will this first step ultimately lead to the restoration of the Anglican Communion to historic Christian faith and morals? For that to happen a lot of hearts will have to be changed.
It is unfortunate that a majority of the Primates of the Anglican Communion have told The Episcopal Church to go “sit in the corner.” Regardless, we are still sisters and brothers in Christ with all people in the Anglican Communion, and more importantly sisters and brothers in Jesus. That will never change. Never.
We hope, pray, and trust that the leadership of the Anglican Communion, as well as the leadership of all of God’s people will now devote their resources, energy, and action to combat the true evils of injustice, poverty, suffering, degradation of creation, violence, and discrimination in our broken world.
I have read the communiquÃ© from their weeklong meeting, and I believe it is important to hear what they have to say in its entirety. First of all, the Primates have voted to exclude the Episcopal Church from the councils of international Anglicanism for a three-year period, during which time there will be continued conversation. This results from the fact that the Primates do not perceive the introduction of same-sex marriage in TEC as a legitimate development of the faith. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that the goal of the meeting was to maintain the unity of the communion to the extent possible in light of strong differences.
The Primates have also made a number of other important points: they all share a desire to ”˜walk together’, as the Windsor Report put it. They have all decried homophobia and laws that discriminate against gay people. They have joined hands on other matters of concern to our world, such as political corruption and ecological degradation. On these matters we strongly applaud their commitments. At the same time, I think it is fair to say that the status of the ACNA was left aside. They were not recognized at this meeting, and their Archbishop wisely did not vote to discipline our church.
Someone called me today and asked ”˜Are we still part of the Anglican Communion?’ Constitutionally, we define this in Dallas as communion with the see of Canterbury, and by this measure the answer is an unequivocal ”˜Yes.’ However the decision of this past week is, while not surprising, saddening and disquieting. The wound in our communion is real.
An overwhelming majority of the Primates present voted that TEC should be excluded from all meetings which represent the Anglican Communion and that it should be suspended from internal decision-making bodies, initially for three years.
The GAFCON Primates, of whom I am chairman, worked hard with other orthodox Primates to achieve this result despite predictions by many that the meeting would be carefully managed to prevent any firm conclusions emerging.
TEC is not the only province to reject the bible’s teaching and there is still much work to do to heal the wounds that compromise and false teaching have inflicted upon the Anglican Communion, but a start has been made.
Leaders of the Anglican Communion are winding up a meeting in Canterbury on Friday after agreeing to temporary restrictions on the Episcopal Church in the United States for its position on same-sex marriage.
Responding to the decision, the head of the Vatican’s Council for ecumenical relations says he is “grateful” the bishops have excluded any more permanent divisions which could hinder the search for reconciliation between the two Churches .
The old saw about the Communion used to go something like this: “The Africans pray, the Americans pay, and the British make the rules.” It now appears that the British alone no longer make the rules, and that the Americans are already not paying as much as they did before. (The Africans, it may safely be said, have never stopped praying.) The latest statement from the Anglican Communion Office shows (see the last page of the link) that ECUSA has paid through 2014 less than half of what was requested (Â£204,772 of Â£538,280). Thus the withdrawal of all funds by ECUSA may turn out not to be the decisive step that many Episcopalians conceive it to be.
What is certain is that in three years, the Anglican Communion will not be what it is now, nor anything like what it was in 2003: the Episcopal Church (USA) has already seen to that. If the recent sanctions provoke ECUSA to amend the Preamble to its Constitution, and to cease proclaiming itself as “a constituent member of the Anglican Communion”, both the Communion and ECUSA would be the better for it.
ECUSA as a former Anglican province has long since decided to walk apart from its fellow Anglican provinces, in its single-minded elevation of human justice over God’s justice as expressed in unequivocal Holy Scriptures. It is time to stop the pretense that it remains willing to be “in communion” with the See of Canterbury — at least, so long as Canterbury remains faithful to Lambeth 1.10, and especially if ECUSA withdraws its financial support (as, in all honesty, it should once it withdraws its membership). Let it find its new communion partners among those who likewise think the Holy Spirit is doing a “new thing” among them, and let the test of Gamaliel (Acts 5:34-39) decide who, ultimately, is in the right.
The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.
We affirmed the consultation that had taken place in preparation for the meeting by Archbishop Welby and commended his approach for future events within the Communion.
The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction.
The statement by Anglican leaders, thrashed out after four days of “painful” talks in the crypt of Canterbury cathedral, made no reference to LGBT Christians.
“To say I’m really disappointed would be an understatement,” Martyn Percy, the dean of Christ Church Oxford, told the Guardian. “The statement had nothing to say about LGBT Christians, and that’s a lost opportunity. By saying nothing, you are sending a signal.”
Jayne Ozanne, a prominent gay evangelical within the Church of England and a member of its general synod, said: “It claims that ”˜there is neither victor nor vanquished’. This is false. Those whose lives will be most impacted are our LGBT brothers and sisters around the world, of which the statement makes no mention. It is as if we do not even exist.”
The statement (in full, below) speaks simultaneously of walking together, and of a “significant distance” between some of the provinces. No mention is made of the walk-out by Uganda (see separate story).
The focus, instead, is on the Episcopal Church in the US for causing the current rift in the Anglican Communion, first, by consecrating the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, a partnered gay bishop, in 2003, and, second, by voting to permit same-sex marriage in church at its General Convention in July last year.
The US Church is censured because of its departure from the traditional teaching on marriage, the statement says, and because it acted unilaterally despite various commitments by the Primates to mutual accountability.
As a consequence, the Episcopal Church is required, for the next three years, to withdraw from ecumenical and interfaith talks where it represents the Communion; members cannot be elected to the Communion’s standing committee; and, although it can be represented on the “internal bodies of the Anglican Communion” ”” essentially the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and possibly at a future Primates’ Meeting ”” it “will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity”.
A permanent split in the global Anglican communion over gay rights has been averted after archbishops overwhelmingly agreed to impose sanctions against the liberal US church and issue a statement in support of the “traditional doctrine” that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
The punitive measures and conservative statement came after four days of “painful” talks in Canterbury aimed at moving the world’s 85 million-strong Anglican fellowship beyond deep divisions over homosexuality between liberals and conservatives.
An agreement, published on Thursday evening, said the US Episcopal church’s acceptance of same-sex marriage represented “a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our provinces on the doctrine of marriage”.
“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ”˜a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” [Presiding Bishop Michael] Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.
“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.
“For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he said. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.”
Anglican leaders have barred a liberal US branch from decision-making for allowing same-sex marriage.
Anglicans have been divided on the issue since the US Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003.
Leaders said the church’s stance was a “fundamental departure” from the faith of the majority in what is the world’s third largest Christian denomination.
But Episcopal leaders said the three-year sanction, which aims to prevent a formal schism, “will bring real pain”.
The worldwide Anglican church has taken a step back from the brink of break-up – but voted to partially exclude its liberal American branch because of its stance on homosexuality.
Archbishops and bishops from around the world, meeting behind closed doors in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, voted explicitly to condemn same-sex marriage as a “fundamental departure” from traditional Anglican teaching.
The primates from almost 40 countries also decided to bar the US branch of Anglicanism, The Episcopal Church (Tec) – which officially recognises gay marriage ”“ from key bodies for the next three years.
But, fundamentally, it remains part of the Global Anglican Communion.
After 13 years of rancor over conflicting views on homosexuality, the archbishops of the Anglican Communion have voted to impose sanctions for three years on the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Communion, for its decision last summer to allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages, church officials said Thursday.
News of the archbishops’ decision to discipline the American church leaked out near the end of a weeklong meeting in England called by the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury. He had summoned the archbishops to Canterbury in an effort to break the bitter impasse that has divided the Anglican Communion since the Episcopal Church consecrated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.
The sanctions ”” essentially limiting participation in Anglican Communion affairs ”” do not call for any change in policy by the American church. Conservative Anglican archbishops said that while they were pleased by the sanctions, the move did not go far enough. They also said they expect the sanctions to continue if the Americans do not change course in three years.
Friday Update: the Communique from the Gathering may be read here
Today the Primates agreed how they would walk together in the grace and love of Christ. This agreement acknowledges the significant distance that remains but confirms their unanimous commitment to walk together.
The Primates regret that it appears that this document has been leaked in advance of their communiquÃ© tomorrow. In order to avoid speculation the document is being released in full. This agreement demonstrates the commitment of all the Primates to continue the life of the Communion with neither victor nor vanquished.
Questions and further comments will be responded to at a press conference tomorrow at 1500.
The full text is as follows:
1. We gathered as Anglican Primates to pray and consider how we may preserve our unity in Christ given the ongoing deep differences that exist among us concerning our understanding of marriage.
2. Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.
3. All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.
4. The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.
5. In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.
6. Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.
7. It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.
8. We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.
In the context of the contemporary crises of displacement and uprooting of people, of refugees and of human trafficking, the Commission paid a deeply moving visit to the Cape Coast Castle (see photograph). This was a major centre of the transatlantic slave trade, with the terrible incongruity of an Anglican church directly over the dungeons that held those who, through the ”˜Door of No Return’, were to be shipped into chattel slavery.
For part of the meeting, the Commission was joined by Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, who offered a deep and wide-ranging reflection on the present challenges within and future hopes for the Communion. The Commission warmly welcomed the opportunity to engage with him on ways of strengthening its capacity to fulfil its mandate in the service of the Communion.
The Commission was also greatly heartened by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s timely decision to invite his fellow Primates of the Anglican Communion to meet together in January, and held this gathering in its daily prayers. Recalling that all of the Primates gathered at the Enthronement Eucharist of the Archbishop in March 2013, IASCUFO believes that the forthcoming meeting could be an opportunity for a new, redeemed conversation within the Communion to begin, and stands ready to assist in any way consistent with its remit.
The theme of this first meeting has been ”˜The Nature of Communion’ drawing on the New Testament word koinonia, being invoked today to describe the nature of the interrelationships between churches.
As part of its preliminary reflection on the nature of communion, there were presentations and discussion on the topic from the perspectives of the Old and New Testaments, and Church history. Seventeenth century English Reformed theology was put in dialogue with contemporary Orthodox theology. The African concept of Ubuntu was placed in dialogue with New Testament understandings of communion. The perspectives on communion from recent WCC document The Church: Towards A Common Vision played an important role in the conversation. Communion in relation to understandings of the nature of community and of Holy Communion proved a helpful part of the discussion.
The dialogue began with a celebration of Holy Communion using a liturgy of the United Reformed Church at which the Anglican Co-Chair preached, and closed with a celebration of Holy Communion according to the Scottish Episcopal liturgy, at which the Reformed Co-Chair preached. The members of the dialogue prayed together each morning and evening.
Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit formally welcomed the Commission to its meeting in his diocese. He offered praise and encouragement for the work of the dialogue. He stressed the urgent need for expressions of Christian unity in light of the deep challenges and crises before the global community, mindful of events unfolding even as the Commission undertook its deliberations.
The Commission brought to completion the first section of its work on the theological understanding of the human person, with the adoption of its agreed statement, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology. The report, shortly to be published, is the culmination of six years of study on what Anglicans and Orthodox can say together about the meaning of human personhood in the divine image.
This agreement lays the foundation for continuing dialogue on ethical decision-making in the light of this vision. At its future meetings the Commission will consider the practical consequences of this theological approach to personhood. The Commission anticipates ongoing study in areas such as bioethics and the sanctity of life, as well as human rights and ecological justice.
11. Considerable time was given to reviewing and strengthening the role of the Consultation as a network of the Anglican Communion. Revised guidelines for governance were adopted articulating the purpose of the Consultation:
to promote the deepening of communion between the Churches of the Anglican Communion by renewing its life of liturgy and prayer as integral to the mission of the Church;
to advise the Provinces and the Instruments of Communion on questions of liturgy and common prayer and to encourage and support conversation between the Provinces on questions touching on Anglican liturgical theology and practice;
to review developments in liturgical formation and practice in the Anglican Communion and among ecumenical partners, and to give advice upon them to the Provinces and the Instruments of Communion, with the intention to promote common understanding, consistency and coherence, both within the Anglican Communion and in ecumenical engagement;
to assist any Province with new proposals in the areas of liturgical formation, development and practice; and
to report the scope and results of its work to the Anglican Consultative Council.
This process was much assisted by the presence and contribution of the Director of Unity, Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion, the Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut.
Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA) is pleased to announce the election of the Rev. Canon Lawrence D. Bausch as its new President. Father Bausch succeeds the Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, who had been FiFNA President since 2005.
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Anglican Family, the Global South, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) movement, and all the faithful seeking a conciliar Church:
The International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, held July 13-17, 2015, at St. Andrew’s parish of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, of the Anglican Church in North America, gathered to reaffirm a catholic and conciliar doctrine of the Church. The Great Commission of our Lord directs the Church to make faithful disciples, calling them out of the nations of the world to be holy to the Lord. This statement seeks to sketch out the way forward in fulfilling our Lord’s call to make faithful disciples in the context of a properly conciliar church.