My first real engagement with the Anglican Communion began 20 years ago this month when Wycliffe Hall, where I was a relatively new tutor in ethics, held a conference on the Future of Anglicanism. Following a call there from the then Primate of the West Indies, Drexel Gomez, I subsequently co-authored with Peter Walker, and the assistance of many readers, a contribution which we entitled True Union in the Body?. It sought to explore questions about sexuality (defending Lambeth I.10) and how to handle our differences over this (proposing as Windsor later did a moratorium and warning, sadly accurately, of the dangers if this was not implemented).
That title was purposefully a play on the language of “the body”. To an extent I had not then fully realised, it was the start of a conviction that these two question of the nature of true union in our created physical bodies (sexuality) and the nature of true union in the body of Christ (ecclesiology) are, in the travails of the Anglican Communion, themselves united to each other. When they gathered in 2008, the bishops of the Communion had a framework to help them seek to find a way forward but the details of that failed to be accepted. In 2016, the Primates of the Communion charted an alternative way forward, consistent with that framework. Now, in 2022, the bishops gathering at Lambeth have not been asked to work with that framework and the current calls appear to direct the Communion in totally the opposite direction.
There is the real risk that the tear in the fabric of the Communion which the Primates in 2003 rightly warned would happen, may now become even greater and finally rip the Communion into two separate, distinct ecclesial communions. We can only hope and pray that, as the bishops gather and pray and study Scripture and discuss, mindful that over 200 of their fellow bishops of the Communion (whose convictions on these matters are well known and so can be factored into the Lambeth deliberations) are already significantly separated, they will address honestly and theologically their differences over both sexuality and ecclesiology and be willing to be led by the Spirit rather than to continue to grieve the Spirit.
Read it all.