AAC: An Honest Look at the Primates Communique

The Primates’ Communiqué offers a compelling diagnosis of the divisions within the Anglican Communion, without any promise of meaningful Communion structures to address those divisions.

Now is the time for faithful Anglicans in North America, both within TEC and within ACNA, to follow the encouragement from Hebrews 12:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV)

We are all sinners, and we are all in need of a season of repentance, humility, and restoration. May we all fix our eyes on Jesus, and follow him on the course he has marked out before us, renewing our commitment to evangelism, discipleship and mission””and building a united, Biblical missionary Anglicanism in North America and world-wide that will give glory to God by reaching multitudes who do not yet know Jesus Christ.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009

23 comments on “AAC: An Honest Look at the Primates Communique

  1. Virginia Anglican says:

    Spot on evaluation. I think the phrases of “exporting” a false gospel and “imposing” it here are especially good…..summarized the whole mess quite succinctly.

  2. Br. Michael says:

    And it makes absolutely clear that the AC, as it has for the past 5-6 years, do absolutely nothing and continue to do nothing.

  3. RalphM says:

    We are grateful the Primates recognized the Common Cause Partners, and the Anglican Church in North America, as faithful Anglicans whom they described as “dear sisters and brothers for whom we understand membership in the Anglican Communion is profoundly important.”

    TEC continues to wage spiritual genocide against the orthodox in the US. Why is it “profoundly important” to be a member of an organization that continues to do nothing to stop it?

  4. Chris Taylor says:

    “The Biblical teaching on human sexuality in Lambeth 1979 Resolution 1.10” – I think he means here Lambeth 1998, not 1979.

    Personally, I think it would be better for ACNA to respond to the Primates with one voice rather than 8 voices.

  5. Graham Kings says:

    So we have an interesting situation where the Anglican American Council think Henry Orombi, Gregory Venables, Peter Akinola and Emmanuel Kolini should not have signed such a compromising document…

    Chris Taylor has posted a long and positive comment on the Primates’ Communique on the Stand Firm site [url=http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/20111/#333745]here[/url]. What do people make of that comment?

  6. robroy says:

    I would very much like to know what the good +Orombi and +Venables think of the “no proselytization” clause and the sufficiency of the woefully insufficient communion partners and Ms Schori’s visitor plan.

  7. Phil says:


    As one who has been harshly critical of both the communique and the mainstream primates who (in my estimation) offered only milquetoast support for the ACNA they encouraged in the first place, I think Chris makes a lot of good points. Unfortunately, I think he falls into full-on wishful thinking by his last paragraph.

    The fact remains that there is only one mechanism on the table for removing a province from the AC – and doing so only on an implied basis, at that – and that’s the proposed Covenant. In the first instance, I find it hard to come up with a reasonable scenario in which the Covenant directly addresses the immoral innovations that have led us this pass. In the second, it’s unlikely the Covenant will even be dealt with for 8-10 years, in one of the most inexplicable examples of paralyzing bureaucracy this side of the DMV. Tens of thousands more faithful Anglicans will have abandoned the AC by that point.

    Maybe somebody would like to make the point that the sacrifice of those people in favor of John Spong’s disciples is worth the vague hope of ECUSA deciding, of its own volition, to walk away from the very respectability without which the insitution is worthless to those jackhammering away at Christian faith and morals. Frankly, though, I think the notion is offensive, and absurd.

    ECUSA needed to be dealt with now – no, three years ago – not in 2015.

  8. Phil says:

    I should clarify that I am not attributing the notion in my second to last paragraph to Chris Taylor.

  9. robroy says:

    I read Chris Taylor’s comment over at SF. Could he supply one scripture verse to justify why the ACNA-ers shouldn’t be doing their utmost to lead those still in the TEC away from the false teachers of the TEClub. The only way for the ACNA to succeed is to be faithful to the gospel including the great commission. Call me cynical but it seems that Gary Lillibridge, a CP-er and on the WCG, perhaps used his influence to put this unbiblical request in the footnote section.

  10. Observing says:

    #5, Graham Kings
    I think after listening to the very important post meeting press conference by Orombi and Venebles, the conclusion is that any document coming out of this meeting is meaningless, indeed the meeting itself is meaningless until such time as the Anglican Communion decides if it is going to follow the path of Christianity, or a new religion, which they clearly state is not Christianity.

    Nothing can be addressed through any communion structures until the Anglican Communion decides what religion it wants to follow. Indeed, there were some hints that some primates would be withdrawing themselves from future primates meetings until such time as they make those hard decisions.

    The battle to get the Anglican communion back on track has been valiantly fought, and has been lost. No sense continuing a battle that cannot be won. So they will withdraw from that battle, and get back to the real battle. Winning converts, making disciples. And leave it to God to fix the Anglican Communion.

    So it is no longer a season for action, it is now a season for watching. Will the false church kick itself out of the communion or the true church make a stand ? If so, then you will see them start participating more. Or will the false church take over the existing structures, in which case you will see them set up alternative structures and eventually withdraw completely. And in the meantime, they will just continue to do what they should be doing. Converting the lost, growing their churches. And pretty much ignore anything that comes from the Anglican Communion that would seek to hinder that goal, because as presently constituted, the Anglican Communion doesn’t really represent anything.

    Well that was my take anyway.

  11. FrJim says:

    [blockquote] So it is no longer a season for action, it is now a season for watching. [/blockquote]

    When, pray tell, will it [b] ever [/b] be a time for action on this issue if not now?


    PS: Fr. Ashey’s analysis is [b] spot on [/b] BTW.

  12. Br. Michael says:

    11, never. The AC will never act.

  13. Observing says:

    #11 Fr Jim
    The action has happened. They tried to steer the ship away from the iceberg. The captain refused to change course, and hit the iceberg head on and the ship is now taking on water. The lifeboats (Alternative structures – GAFCON and ACNA) were then prepared and are now ready.

    Now it is just a time to wait and see if the ship can still be saved before stepping into the lifeboats. Some people are saying they can save the ship (covenant). So before taking to the lifeboats, they are going to watch and see if the ship can be saved. Everyone would prefer to stay on the ship if the breach can be repaired. But they are not convinced that the water can be held back. If those efforts fail, they will take to the lifeboats.

    If the covenant folk succeed, then true Christianity will be restored as the norm, and by default, TEC would no longer be part of the communion, and ACNA will be recognised in its place. Or TEC would be reformed, in which case there will be no need for ACNA. If they fail, then the ship will sink, and lots of people will be looking for lifeboats, covenant folk included. Those lifeboats are stocked and ready.

  14. Virginia Anglican says:

    #13….. Good analogy. But the lifeboats aren’t going to be able to stay too close to the ship for too long. When a vessel goes under, the force of it will pull down whatever is around it. The time (GC 2009?) may be drawing nigh, and I think that you will see those lifeboats filling up and striking for shore soon. Then I think you will see desperate people just jumping off the ship, not know where they will land. The Communion Partners seem to be willing to go down with the ship, but I hope they don’t take the passengers they have pulled up on to the deck with them.

    Is the TEC the Titanic, or is it just the ballroom on the Titanic that is the Anglican Communion? What is really sinking? Perhaps a sought after “status” with the AC is not really what the Lord wants for ACNA….. I don’t know…

  15. robroy says:

    One wonders what St. Athanasius would have done if he was told that he couldn’t proselytize amongst the Arianists.

  16. Chris Taylor says:

    Okay robroy, let’s start with your request for citation from Scripture. There are many, but let’s begin with 1 Cor. 12-14 and Ephesians 5:21-6:24. I take these passages as scriptural proof that as Christians we are called upon to listen to those in the Church who are our leaders, and in the Anglican Communion, the Primates are our leaders. Of course there can be, have been and currently are false leaders in the Church, but our Communion, fortunately, through the grace of God, has a way of dealing with that serious problem without total chaos breaking out and tearing apart the body of Christ. This is the gift of authority. Other branches of the Church catholic also have their own ways of exercising authority, and some of them are A LOT neater and cleaner than our own Anglican way, but, I still think ours is better, and I thank God for it (messy though it sometimes can be).

    I do not believe for a moment that our senior Archbishops, men like Peter Akinola, Greg Venables, Henry Luke Oromby, have suddenly “sold us out.” I trust them because I trust their faith and I trust their leadership. They have never given me ONE moment of doubt that they stand for the Gospel. Furthermore, I accept that I don’t know everything that is going on. I was in Egypt about a week before the Primates’ meeting, but I have no special knowledge of what went on there. Therefore, when all of the GAFCON primates come out of this meeting glowing and pleased, and the other side seems to be anything but pleased, I think it’s safe to be a little positive in my assessment of what happened.

    For those of you expecting the ABC or ANY of the instruments of the Anglican Communion to resolve this crisis by throwing TEC out of the Communion, let me give you a news flash — it ain’t going to happen that way! This is a LONG process. It took a long time to get to this point, and it’s going to take a long time to resolve it. No one is going to kick anyone else out of the club. The way it’s going to work is that we’re going to walk together for a ways and at certain points along the walk, some folks are going to decide to follow another path. The way they are going to signal this is that they are not going to be able to abide by certain requests made of them by the Communion. Let’s see what happens this coming summer, but I suspect TEC will continue to signal its desire to follow another path.

    What I think is hugely important about the most recent Primates’ meeting is that it clarifies that ACNA is in the Communion, although the exact nature of the relationship to the rest of the Communion is very much an open matter. However, being invited to walk with the Communion is a VERY BIG thing indeed, and now the leaders of ACNA have to decide how important being part of the Communion is to them — just the way TEC has to decide.

    We North Americans, all of us, don’t have a very good reputation in the rest of the Communion for listening to what the rest of the Anglican family is saying to us. We tend to want to have our cake and eat it too. This may have a lot to do with our cultural emphasis on individualism, but I can tell you that it’s not a quality that always endears us to other parts of the Communion! When you want to be part of a family, the deal is that you’ve got to listen to what the family wants — even if you don’t personally like what the family wants. You’ve ultimately got to make a choice about what’s more important to you: being in the family or following your own personal desires. As I’ve said before, I think I know what TEC is going to do, and if I’m right, their decision is going to carry them ever further away from the Anglican Communion. Now ACNA also has an important choice to make, and it’s not an easy one. The ban on “proselytizing” is clearly directed at one thing, and one thing only — crossing into TEC territory to either assist or to encourage those currently in TEC to leave. Why? Well, it has to do with order within the Communion. We all know why boundary crossing has been necessary, but let’s be frank, it has also contributed to the crisis. I personally feel that up until the moment that ACNA was born the boundary crossings were essential, but now that ACNA exists, further boundary crossings will only be detrimental to the future of ACNA and the Communion — and I live in a solidly revisionist diocese, so this is personally painful for me.

    I think we should be clear about what the real implications of this moratorium are. Will individuals be able to leave TEC and join ACNA, yes. Will congregations be able to? Well, yes, but only if they’re willing to give up their property. My assumption is that property disputes already in progress are another matter. I assume that TEC is free to assist parishes in the four dioceses that have left TEC, and parishes that have already begun the process of leaving TEC will continue. I don’t think the Southern Cone will be taking anymore dioceses under their protection for the time being, and I don’t think any Primates in Africa will be setting up new Anglican franchises in North America. Everything that has already happened is likely to remain in limbo and open for further discussion. What must stop going forward are further boundary crossings by ACNA into exclusively TEC parishes.

    Now, the good news is that there are a whole lot of North Americans who are NOT part of TEC, and I see no reason why ACNA cannot proselytize among that vast population. This is something that many ACNA bishops have said is a priority for them, and there’s certainly more than enough to keep them busy in this area while things sort themselves out in the Anglican Communion. There are also thousands of faithful Anglicans in the Continuum, by the way, and I see nothing in the Alexandria communique that prevents ACNA from working to bring those folks into the fold either.

    From my vantage, the birth of ACNA was a huge development. I frankly think it was an essential development and a positive development. However, I also recognize that there is a very large group of faithful Anglicans who are not in ACNA, and are not likely to be there anytime soon. They are still in TEC, and they will be there for the foreseeable future. Some of these faithful Anglicans in TEC are there by choice and conviction, and some of them are there simply because they see no better option. In both cases I respect their decisions, as I hope they respect my decision not to remain in TEC.

    As the Windsor Continuation Group Report makes plain, even if you think only about the orthodox Anglicans in North America, they’re not all in one place, and it’s probably going to take decades for them to sort this out even without the added complexity of further boundary crossing. The Continuation Group Reports asks an important question, I think, and foreshadows an important discussion that will be taking place in the years ahead. What will be the relationship between the Communion and those dioceses of TEC who choose to continue to walk with the Communion even if the rest of the TEC does not? What about Central Florida, West Texas, Albany or South Carolina, for example. Will they merge with ACNA at some point down the road? Will some yet unseen new structure emerge? Who knows besides the Lord?

    I do not accept for a moment that the Episcopal Visitor plan is enough to protect faithful Anglicans stuck in thoroughly revisionist dioceses, which is why I think ACNA was ultimately essential. I also think that ACNA makes life within TEC MUCH more possible for faithful Anglicans still within TEC, because it really keeps the pressure up on the TEC revisionist establishment. The creation of ACNA also makes it clear that the TEC and AC of C monopoly on the Anglican franchise in North America may not be as safe as they once thought it was.

    Although I praise God for ACNA, I also recognize that ACNA has a tremendous amount of work to do on its own. It needs to work together, it needs to develop its organizational structure, it needs to sort out its identity, it needs to figure out how the various bits fit together, it needs to build its mission to non-Anglicans, etc. What Alexandria gave ACNA is a gift, I think. The gift was an offer to walk with the Communion, to truly demonstrate that ACNA is committed to the life of the Communion. The offer is not without some cost, but few things in life beyond God’s grace come to us without cost.

    The very fact that we now have at least four different responses from ACNA partners to the Alexandria communique illustrates part of the problem ACNA has. AAC is claiming that their own response to the communique is an “honest” one. Does that mean that Bishop Duncan’s or Bishop Minns’ or the Anglican Network in Canada’s responses are not honest? This is why I argued above that ACNA would have been better served by taking a deep breath, consulting more fully with the GAFCON primates who were actually in Alexandria before firing off four or more responses to the communique. I would have preferred to see one unified ACNA response from Bishop Duncan’s office – period.

    In the final analysis ACNA is going to flourish or fail based not upon someone’s acceptance of them, or based on their own declarations. Their future will be determined by their actions. The reality is that well over half the population of the Anglican Communion recognizes them, is in Communion with them, and wishes them well. That’s a whole lot more than TEC can claim at this moment. Now the ball is in the ACNA court. They’ve been invited to walk with the Communion, I pray that the collective leadership of ACNA will accept this invitation and walk with humility, charity and generosity. This is a new day for orthodox Anglicans, and it is a very good day indeed. We need to realize, however, that we’re in a new moment and the new moment calls for new strategies and new approaches.

  17. montanan says:

    Well said, Chris Taylor. My parish is happily applying to join ACNA – and I believe ACNA is essential. However, it carries many risks – one of the greatest being failure of its components to live in submission to the need for order. Pray for us all, that we will witness to a hurting world living in darkness.

  18. George Conger says:

    Phil Ashey has writen a strong, thoughtful comment with much to commend, however he has made a mistake. The primates communique does not contain a no proselytising clause, nor does it endorse the Communion Partners Fellowship or the Episcopal Visitor’s scheme instituted by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

    Paragraph 14 of the communique states in part. … “we are unanimous in supporting the recommendation in paragraph 101 of the Windsor Continuation Group Report.” It then references this paragraph by a footnote. And then goes on to request mediated conversation. The request is for nothing else—-no halt to proselytism, no endorsement of the Communion Partners Fellowship or the Episcopal Visitors scheme.

    The footnote, number 11, is printed at the bottom of the page and it says the WCG “recommends that the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the primates, establish at the earliest opportunity a professionally mediated conversation at which all significant parties could be gathered.” The footnote then offers advise as to how this recommendation might be implemented and sets forth a number of principles.

    These principles include reference to the Communion Partners Fellowship, no proselytism, and the Episcopal Visitor program.

    However, these principles are not what was recommended. What was recommended was the “mediated conversation.”

    Based upon my debriefing of the primates after the meeting in Alexandria, as well as a plain reading of the language, the only recommendation was mediation. The WCG’s advise beyond that point is the WCG’s opinion as to how the mediation might go forward. It does not bind the primates and has no standing as the mind of the primates. Remember the WCG report is not an “official” document arising from the primates meeting. It was a briefing paper given to the primates to resource the meeting. It has no standing beyond that.

    The conclusions that these principles are part of the recommendation are fallacious. There is no call for a halt to proselytism in the communique nor for any of the other principals. All that was endorsed was mediation.

  19. robroy says:

    Thank you, George Conger. I would still like to hear from Bp Duncan about the “no proselytization clause” specifically to reaffirm what Rev Conger has said. The interview with ++Orombi and ++Venables and the lacunae (just like using that word and I don’t often get to) in Bp Minns and Duncan response certainly support Rev Conger’s assertion. This would then make the whole objection moot.

    The WCG report states,
    [blockquote]WCG believes that the advent of schemes such as the Communion Partners Fellowship and the Episcopal Visitors scheme instituted by the Presiding Bishop in the United States should be sufficient to provide for the care of those alienated within the Episcopal Church from recent developments.[/blockquote]
    I find this more than a little irritating. Gary Lillibridge was on the WCG and is a CP bishop. He knows full well that the CP “plan” offers basically diddly to those in revisionist diocese as Chris points out as well. I would also add that it offers very little to those in CP dioceses – an exchange of emails between diocesan bishops and foreign primates and a promise for primatial visits. Sorry if I am underwhelmed. And the mention of Ms Schori’s Episcopal Visitor plan is really galling. This half-bake scheme was simply a ruse to distract when the Episcopal HoB flipped off the AC in rejecting DeS. The “visitor” bishops didn’t even know about it. How many participants does it have presently, a year and a half after it was hastily tossed out? Zip. Nor will it ever. Yet, these two schemes were held up by the WCG report as being sufficient? C’mon Gary Lillibridge.

    The WCG report also talked a great deal about the [strike]Panel of Reference[/strike] Pastoral Forum. No mention in the report that Rowan was to have appointed members by last October. History repeats itself or at least Rowan Williams does having done the same stall in naming Panel of Reference members. Rowan plays us for fools by regurgitating the Panel of Reference and the WCG plays along with the game. But the Panel of Reference was a big success for Rowan. With his delay in appointing the ineffectual Peter Carnley and the usual delay for committee meetings and fact finding, there was a time period of about two years before the first reports came out, copies of which Michael Ingham’s parakeet is still pooping on. Bird cage lining is the destiny of the WCG report.

  20. Chris Taylor says:

    I hate to disagree with George Conger, but let’s look at the FULL wording of paragraph 14. AND the footnote, which references paragraph 101 of the Windsor Continuation Group Report. Read the whole thing carefully and I’ve highlighted the key passages in BOTH the Primates’ communique, paragraph 14, AND the footnote.
    “14. The Windsor Continuation Group Report examines in Section H the question of parallel jurisdictions, particularly as raised by the Common Cause Partnership, a coalition of seven different organisations[10] which have significantly differing relationships with the Anglican Communion. The Report identifies some of the difficulties in recognising the coalition among the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Significant concerns were raised in the conversation about the possibility of parallel jurisdictions. There is no consensus among us about how this new entity should be regarded, BUT WE ARE UNANIMOUS IN SUPPORTING THE RECOMMENDATION IN PARAGRAPH 101 OF THE WINDSOR CONTINUATION GROUP REPORT[11]. Therefore, we request the Archbishop of Canterbury to initiate a professionally mediated conversation which engages all parties at the earliest opportunity. We commit ourselves to support these processes and to participate as appropriate. We earnestly desire reconciliation with these dear sisters and brothers for whom we understand membership of the Anglican Communion is profoundly important. We recognise that these processes cannot be rushed, but neither should they be postponed.”

    FOOTNOTE # 11 reads
    “11 WCG Report, paragraph 101: The WCG therefore recommends that the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the Primates, establish at the earliest opportunity a professionally mediated conversation at which all the significant parties could be gathered. The aim would be to find a provisional holding arrangement which will enable dialogue to take place and which will be revisited on the conclusion of the Covenant Process, or the achievement of long term reconciliation in the Communion. SUCH A CONVERSATION WOULD HAVE TO PROCEED ON THE BASIS OF A NUMBER OF PRINCIPLES:
    There must be an ordered approach to the new proposal within, or part of a natural development of, current rules.
    It is not for individual groups to claim the terms on which they will relate to the Communion.
    The leadership of the Communion needs to stand together, and find an approach to which they are all committed.
    ANY SCHEME DEVELOPED WOULD RELY ON AN UNDERTAKING FROM THE PRESENT PARTNERS TO ACNA THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEEK TO RECRUIT AND EXPAND THEIR MEMBERSHIP BY MEANS OF PROSELYTISATION. WCG believes that the advent of schemes such as the Communion Partners Fellowship and the Episcopal Visitors scheme instituted by the Presiding Bishop in the United States should be sufficient to provide for the care of those alienated within the Episcopal Church from recent developments.”

    From my plain sense reading of paragraph 14 of the communique AND footnote 11, IF you accept the recommendation for mediation, you also accept the principles on which the recommendation says the mediation must be based. Help me out here if I’m wrong, but that’s my interpretation!

  21. Phil says:

    I agree with Chris. I’m at a loss, respectfully, to see how George Conger can read that any other way.

  22. robroy says:

    Here is what I think happened (all speculation):

    Who wrote the communique? Aspinall. I think they took a cue from the American HoB and presented the final draft of the communique in the waning moments of the meeting. The anti-proselytization footnote was placed in the document at the last minute, and the orthodox didn’t notice it. Hence, the big disconnect from the interviews and the document as well as the current loud silence about this footnote. They are probably now discussing how to respond. I am afraid that the orthodox primates weren’t as wise as the serpentine Rowan Williams and Aspinall.

    Rowan Williams has clearly shown that he would like to rid himself of the troublesome GAFCon-ners. The early invitations served no purpose but to un-invite them because he knew of their open statements that they wouldn’t attend with consecrators of Gene Robinson, and he knew full well that they are people of conviction and integrity. Unlike, the DeS meeting, he didn’t let the agenda in Alexandria be changed and he, himself, appointed the drafters of the communique at the outset.

    Chris Taylor is simply wrong about agreeing to the no proselytization nonsense. This is spiritual warfare and agreeing tie one hand behind your back when one is fighting the ultra-rich revisionists is foolish. Rowan will dangle some sort of recognition of the ACNA, but the only way to obtain it is for the TEClub to decrease and the ACNA to increase.

  23. George Conger says:

    The communique endorsed the general principal of mediation as recommended by the WGC. The WCG in addition has an idea how that recommendation should be implemented. The two, recommendation and implementation, are distinguishable. The primates endorsed only mediation. Some have inferred that the principles are to be included. The primates did not say this.

    No, Philip Aspinall did not write the communique. He was not on the drafting committee.

    In interpreting this document, I think it wise to defer to the intent of the authors, and to the language of the document.

    Now it may well be that this document will be tortured to mean something other than what was intended. We saw this done with the “listening” language of Lambeth 1.10. Having been at Lambeth 98 and an intimate observer of the creation of that resolution (I was the typist) I have seen how what was intended can be distorted to mean something different. Let’s not start that process too quickly with this new document.