Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury ”” the figurehead of 85 million-member communion of churches with roots in the Church of England and its blend of Protestant theology and Catholic liturgical traditions ”” called the meeting and made a major concession to the so-called Global South primates.
Not only did he invite Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, he also invited Archbishop Foley Beach, head of the Anglican Church in North America, whose break with the Episcopal Church was especially significant in the Pittsburgh area. Normally a meeting of primates would only include the top official in each of the communion’s 38 national churches.
In the confusingly overlapping names involved, the Anglican Communion recognizes the Episcopal Church as its U.S. church, rather than the Anglican Church in North America. But the latter has received recognition from Global South Anglicans, made up of primarily non-Western nations.
The primates can’t tell a national church such as the Episcopal Church what to do. But the meeting could see the communion split or redefined as a looser federation.