Listen to it all, carefully from a conference organised in Toronto in 2013 and see also Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General.
An Unoffficial Transcript follows:
I will be speaking as Josiah, not as an archbishop or bishop. I will speak in my own capacity as a member and a child of the Anglican Communion. I am saying this because before the last Primates Meeting [Dublin], I wrote an article urging all primates to make the attempt to be there, and someone in England quickly alerted the Church Times editor to say: ”˜Oh, he’s not an archbishop, so don’t take him seriously. Please take me seriously because: I am a child of this Communion; my parents served this Communion until the Lord called them home; and I have been a bishop now for 23 years. So I speak as Josiah.
My topic is ”˜Why the Instruments still matter.’ Bottom line – yes, I believe they still matter, and the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East essentially gone into my farm, he has done some work, but honestly my sisters and brothers we are all very passionate about this Communion, and my own recommendations are going to be even more radical than that of the Archbishop, because he is a Primate, I am not.
Now I want to begin with a personal experience I had as a member of the Lambeth Commission that produced the Windsor 2003 document. Our first series of meetings, one of us was not present, and the second time we reconvened, she was there. And Lord Eames who was our chairman asked her: ”˜being a judge, look go through the job we did while you were away and come back to share with us’. So she spent the whole morning looking at what we had done and she came back and said: ”˜oh you guys are brilliant you have done a good job.’ And we were sort of, you know, preening ourselves, felt we had done a good job, and suddenly you know like a whiplash, she asked: ”˜who are you writing for?’
And there was this frightened silence. We never thought along that line at all. We thought we were speaking for the entire Communion. And so we went on discussing, and eventually we concluded that we were actually writing for 70% of Anglicans. The question you will ask is what about the remaining 30%? We discovered that, on the left we have 15 % who will not care about what we were discussing and on the right another 15%. And we discovered that the 15% on the left are what I, Josiah, would call Extreme Conservatives, and on the right we have Extreme Liberals.
Brothers and sisters let us not deceive ourselves, within this Communion we have conservatives and liberals. We have Extreme, and I use that word Extreme as a student of Islam, because we no longer use Fundamentalism for Muslims who are terribly radical, we call them Extreme Muslims. And that is the way I want us to understand this concept because we have to agree, otherwise there will be no communication.
So when you hear me say Extreme Liberals and Extreme Conservatives, I am talking about those who are really radical and they are not interested in being together. I have a petition for you towards the end of this from Lord Ramsey, what he has to say – sorry, Professor Seitz, what he has to say – about these two extreme groups. Brothers and Sisters, I believe as Anglicans and Episcopalians, that in spite of the serious problems we face today, 70% of us want us to be together. We want to stay in and checkmate each other.
I am unashamedly an evangelical, charismatic Pentecostal evangelical, and I don’t hide that. However, I believe there are liberals who are genuinely Anglicans and I have come to realise that if we want to stay as a family, we have got to checkmate each other. So 70% and I believe a majority of us here this afternoon are either evangelicals or liberals, and we want to stay in. So I am assuming I am addressing people, Anglicans, who actually are committed to our Communion and they want to be together. Unfortunately what I perceive as happening today, is that the 15% Extreme Evangelicals want to impose their ecclesiology and theology on the 70% and the 15% Extreme Liberals want to do the same. That is my understanding as a sociologist of what is happening today in this Communion.
Lord Carey reminds us and I quote: ”˜that the Anglican Instruments of Unity have a reason primarily out of conflict and a desire to be true to our ecumenical goals’. Lord Ramsey reminds us that our main goal is to unite the church of Christ, as Anglicans. To unite the church of Christ, certainly we have not achieved this goal and therefore I believe the Instruments, useful as they may be, need to be re-evaluated in the light of the problems we face today.
I owe what I share with you to Professor Radner in a paper he gave in 2010, Lord Carey himself and Canon [Colin] Cranston who wrote a beautiful article on the ACC, so most of what I will be sharing with us comes from these sources and other books I refer to.
Our problem has to do with Authority. The Anglicans are scared of the word authority. And Lord Ramsey on page 3 of his book ”˜The Anglican Spirit,’ he said: ”˜The difference between Christianity that can make do without the papacy, is already a Christianity in which changes of belief and sentiment are taking place.’
This statement is the reason, as I understand it, for the Instruments of the Anglican Communion, so the assignment for us is to justify why these Instruments still matter today. I am hoping that in spite of the damage already done to this communion, together at this conference and after, we shall make every effort in the words of Lord Carey ”˜to find positive ways of healing our wounded Communion’ today.
There are four of these Instruments and the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East has referred to them; quickly ”“ the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting.
Let me take on the Archbishop of Canterbury ”“ not in person, don’t tell me that, the office as an instrument. In the words of Lord Ramsey, and I quote:
”˜The Anglican Communion has always looked and enjoyed the closest of links with Rome and varieties of Protestant Churches. Anglicans have insisted on certain things – not a particular ideology, but simply what we believe to be basic Catholic facts and principles, which are: the Scriptures, the sacraments of salvation [baptism and eucharist], the creeds, and the apostolic ministry embodied in the historic episcopate. Given those basic facts and principles, Anglicans seem ready to be in communion with other Christians and create united churches with them.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury represents the Communion in these ecumenical contexts and roles. The Archbishop of Canterbury is described as our symbol of unity. This office should and I believe will remain, but why should it remain? Listen again to Lord Ramsey, he said ”˜[the very term]..Anglicanism is one produced by the situation of sad disunity, and the disappearance of Christian disunity might well mean the disappearance of the word “Anglicanism. Until that happens we believe that God has given us real work to do [as Anglicans], and “Anglicanism” describes that work”
The Archbishop of Canterbury represents this movement. This Instrument therefore is an essential, at least until the entire church becomes one.
In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s matter, in the ongoing mission of Anglicanism, how do we make it relevant? How do we make it an essential Instrument of Unity?
1. According to Professor Radner, he gives us some of the things the Archbishop of Canterbury does and Lord Carey himself. One – we are told, the ABC has direct power to invite or withhold invitation to the Lambeth Conference. However, to the last conference, the same African Primates who would desire Rulership disobeyed the Archbishop of Canterbury.
2. The Archbishop of Canterbury in a real sense has a personal ministry of recognising whom he is in communion with, even though the ACC deals with the legislative processes.
3. The ABC by his office has the goal and the vision for the Communion in the words of Lord Carey, and I quote: ”˜The Communion may be to quote the familiar mantra of the Communion, episcopally led and synodically governed but this leadership can only be conducted with the agreement of the Communion and its Instruments’
4. In certain final cases only an Archbishop of Canterbury can intervene internationally, and Lord Carey here is speaking about the situation in Rwanda when we had the genocide.
And finally, as the office is presently, the Archbishop of Canterbury, yes he is only primus-inter-pares, he is President of the Anglican Communion; that means he presides over each of the Instruments of Unity.
What are my proposals? If we are going to retain this Instrument of Unity:
1. In addition to the ratification of a new constitution, and chairing the ACC in the light of the threat by some groups to create their own church within the Communion, I would propose that in tenor with the Gospel principle of persuasion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, needs to consult a bit more regularly with the Primates and some senior bishops and archbishops within the Communion on an annual basis. That is not happening now.
2. It would be helpful for the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint, in consultation with Primates and senior bishops and archbishops from some provinces liaison officers who will keep the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury well informed of situations from their parts of the Communion. It is not happening now.
So, all our former Archbishops of Canterbury including the present one have always resisted a patriarchal or papal role within the Communion’s affairs. The truth is they have a very real influence, which no other Primate or archbishop has. They can steer, they can push, and lead, but they cannot rule.
I speak now as an African Anglican Christian, but educated in the West. This last quotation, i.e. the Archbishop of Canterbury can steer, he can lead, but he cannot rule I find it problematic as an African. To put it mildly, African bishops and Archbishops find this concept of “can’t rule” difficult. This from my limited experience is at the root of a significant number within the Conservative 15% from Africa who think the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is ineffective, and so they will want to take over the entire Communion. They believe he is too weak, and I am happy the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East has alluded to that. African Primates, bishops, archbishops, they believe that the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is too weak.
The ecclesiology and theology of most African Anglicans are built around autocracy. To a number though, few but loud, African archbishops, bishops and Primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury should rule, not only steer, push or lead. Thus in this Instrument, lies what I am afraid could be described as a clash of cultures, and I think this group, because we are committed to keeping this Communion together, we need to take that very seriously. There is a clash of cultures. I will develop that as we go on.
Now I move very quickly to the Lambeth Conference.
Let us be reminded that this Instrument came into being as a result of the Colenso crisis of 1867. Since 1998, this Instrument has come under severe criticism, because it does not represent clergy and laity. May I remind us what the Correspondence Secretary in the person of Bishop Selwyn of the Anglican Communion said to the General Convention of the PECUSA at Baltimore in 1871. Please listen, I quote you. He was preaching at the Convention and he said: ”˜There should be “no servile uniformity” in the church, but if there be but a recognised authority, which all are willing to obey, the whole of our church is interested in obtaining this happy combination of elastic freedom with efficient control”
I believe that here we have a sketched out essence of the Anglican ideal of authority.
The invitation to the Lambeth Conference of 1897 was sent out by Archbishop Benson before his death in 1896 – Archbishop Temple who succeeded him kept faith with the invitation Archbishop Benson wanted Lambeth Conference wanted to take. So Archbishop Benson wanted Lambeth Conference to take decisions on the organisation of the Anglican Communion. What I want to share with us now, will help us to make suggestions to our Primates, to the archbishops on why this Instrument of Unity still matters.
I say again, he made proposals for committees to work on the following, and I want us to listen:
1. a central consultative body;
2. a tribunal of reference; and
the positions and functions of the Lambeth Conference.
American bishops became suspicious and were vehemently opposed to any attempt to establish any authoritative relation to the See of Canterbury in America. I want you to think as far back as that time. So what is happening now is not new.
The committee on the organisation of the Anglican Communion recommended the establishment of a tribunal of reference to which might be referred questions submitted by the bishops of the Church of England and colonial and missionary churches. Again the Americans were opposed to this. As far as they were concerned the purpose of Lambeth Conference should continue to be for talk and consultation, and not for decisions or to exercise authority on behalf of the Communion. This is as far back as 1867.
My observation ”“ looking back, that was the initial intention of what this Instrument was set up to achieve, though it was the Colenso Affair that forced the first Lambeth Conference to hold. By the 2008 Lambeth Conference, we had weathered the storm for over 100 years and as said by Professor Radner, the last Lambeth Conference, which the Primates also mentioned that, did not give an impression to the world of a united family called the Anglican Communion. There is no doubt that this Instrument of Unity has played some important roles in our life together as a family.
However, in the light of the discordant voices within it today and for the Instrument to continue to matter in our communal life together, there is a need to give it some new lease of life.
What are my proposals?
I believe we have to ask ourselves: should the Lambeth Conference continue to be for talk and consultation and not for decision, or exercise authority on behalf of the whole Communion? We need to go back and ask questions and challenge our American brothers and sisters.
At the Lambeth Conference of 2008, decisions were not even allowed. It is my humble submission that that decision was very unfortunate. I believe it was an opportunity to look at the proposed Covenant and actually make recommendations from the Covenant, if even as the Primate has just shown to us the fourth section is terribly problematic.
My submission is that this Instrument, that is the Lambeth Conference still matters, and therefore it is my proposal that we urgently set up a commission to have a second look at the intentions of Archbishop Benson who sent the invitation to the 1897 Lambeth and see how we can adapt some of his ideas to the 21st Century.
I now move to the Anglican Consultative Council.
I take the fact that we all know why it was set up, you can read the Lambeth Conference of 1968. That was when it was set up – everything is there. And the question is: does this Instrument still matter in the Communion today? Again speaking as an African Anglican bishop and having sounded the opinions of Africans, Asians and Arab colleagues, it is my opinion that for this Instrument to carry the church furthest along in its ecumenical responsibilities in promoting the unity, renewal and mission of Christ’s church, two changes need to be given an urgent consideration:
1. I believe and I submit that the Council needs to be headed by an experienced clergy in Episcopal status. Going back to 1867 when Bishop Selwyn was appointed Correspondence Secretary of the Anglican Communion, the fact that he was a bishop made relationship much easier. He related to other bishops as colleagues and they were able to discuss as church fathers. For a General Secretary to write letters of instruction and send to a diocesan bishop tastes sour.
2. The ACC needs to come directly under the oversight of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He already chairs the meetings. The General Secretary should be responsible to the ABC, and not to present himself or herself as the executive running the entire Communion, that’s how we see it now. This will create a better rapprochement between the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting and the planning of the subsequent Lambeth Conferences. This Instrument is a very important one and I am hoping that some of the suggestions I have made and the ones that will come from the group here will be passed on to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates for implementation.
Finally the Primates Meeting
”“ this the youngest of the Instruments, first met in 1979 and in recent years it did take the lead in trying to stop the crisis that has almost succeeded now in tearing the Communion apart. Professor Radner has given us a list of the achievements of this group. However, in the words of Lord Carey, and I quote: ”˜the one Instrument of Unity that seems to have been emerging into a position of strength in recent decades is vigorously resisted by the ACC which feels threatened by it, while certain provinces, notably in North America, desiring total autonomy theologically from Communion while at the same time imposing total autocracy within their boundaries.’ ”“ that’s Lord Carey, not Josiah.
Because we are Anglicans, or Episcopalians, we need not be hesitant or embarrassed about empowering our Primates in the church to have real and special authority at the communal levels. It is for this reason that I would strongly support this Instrument of Unity with the following recommendations:
1. That each Primate, coming to the Primates Meeting attend in the company of two other senior bishops who specialise in some specific area relevant to whatever is to be discussed. I propose this – I propose two representatives so as to have both the liberal and conservative opinions expressed during the discussions. I think it is about time Anglicans, we stopped running away from the fact that we are two groups within this Communion, the liberals and the conservatives, and if a Primate attends the Primates Meeting with a bishop representing each of these political parties ”“ you know they will struggle there, they will argue, and the agreement ”“ I mean, they don’t have to agree, but there will be opportunity for understanding. That is why I am proposing that.
2. That recommendations from Primates Meetings should be taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the ACC for input from the other two segments that make up the Communion. This reconstituted ACC, as recommended above, will therefore act as a clearing house.
In my recommendations for the ACC, what I have proposed again is that being headed by a bishop, we have the house of laity, we have the house of clergy. It means it is like a synod, and decisions taken there, could be taken to the Primates at their meeting, they will look at it with all the theological advisors and they will be able to, sort of, streamline it, and if the Primates agree, having had it from the ACC it means implementation at the provincial level would be a bit easier.
It is therefore my submission for your consideration, that this enlarged Primates Meeting should be able to recommend decisions to the entire Communion for implementation at each provincial level.
In conclusion, we have two political parties, and we must begin to encourage debates. We don’t have debates, and I am now speaking as an African. In Africa we don’t have enough debates.
The sort of unity we have in Africa is what Bishop Selwyn calls servile unity ”“ you don’t ask ”“ you don’t ask questions ”“ you don’t query. Actually among the Yoruba people, when they address the bishop, they address him as someone you don’t question. It is totally unChrist-like. It’s unbiblical and dare I say here, it is actually un-Islamic, because it is not according to the tenor of the Koran and the Hadith. So we must encourage debate. I do share the position of bishop Seitz, that within us, we operate as if we are two enemies; the conservatives the evangelicals and we are not willing to accommodate each other. If this Communion is a gift to us ”“ I will believe it is a gift ”“ if this Communion has a mission, which is to unite the church, we must learn to accommodate one another. The Conservatives have been very arrogant, the Liberals have been very despotic, and I believe we both need to ask the Lord for forgiveness. I do not share the opinion of some people who say the Instruments have no use ”“ no I don’t believe that.
I end by sharing with you my experience as a boy in the military school in the 60’s. Each time we were going out for map-reading, the captain who was in charge would always say to us: ”˜boys, if you don’t know where you’re going, where you’re heading, at least you remember where you are coming from. My sisters and brothers, we do not want the Extreme Liberals and Extreme Conservatives to lead us to where we do not want to go, but we know where we are coming from. Let’s get to work and make Archbishop Benson’s dream come true. Thank you.
For more current related background and events see:
– Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General
– Anglican Unscripted 171: The End of the ACC?
– The GAFCON Chairman’s Easter Pastoral Letter
– Andrew Symes: Sexuality is irrelevant to Christian witness, says Archbishop
– Bishop Mouneer Anis’s talk at the same conference