..As you know, it was described as a Primates’ Gathering and Meeting, as the Meeting proper could only include those provinces which are recognised as institutionally part of the Anglican Communion (as distinct from churches which have an Anglican tradition and identity). To be part of the institution of the Anglican Communion, a Province must be in communion with the See of Canterbury. That was upheld as it had been understood previously at the Lambeth Conference of 1930, and was often repeated, most recently in the Eames Report 3.32. And also a Province has to be on the schedule of Provinces held by the ACC and supported by two thirds of the Primates in one way or another. There is no clear process or precedent for a new Province to join, except as an agreed spin-off from a previous Province.
…The underlying issue is about reception. Both before, but especially since, Lambeth 1920, reception has meant the informal process by which, over time, developments are accepted or rejected in a way that leads to consensus. Thus, issues in 1920 around contraception, in Lambeth 1930 and 1948 around divorce, were at the time seen as threatening the unity of the Communion as seriously as issues of human sexuality now. Reception goes both ways. There has been a consensus against lay presidency, despite significant pressure in the past, but the reception process rejected it. It is not a legal process, but a discernment of the Spirit based in relationship.
The importance of this is very great indeed. The Anglican Communion finds its decisions through spiritual discernment in relationship, not through canons and procedures. Those operate at Provincial level. All developments must show signs of the presence of the Spirit, not only locally but across the Communion. Primates’ Meetings, Lambeth Conferences and ACCs are not a question of winning and losing, but of discerning.
Read it all and see also quite a bit of comment this has led to:
+ [Canon Phil Ashey] Anglicanism in spite of Canterbury? (February 16, 2016 at 7:56 pm)
+ Andrea Williams: ”˜No unity at the expense of truth’: a response to Justin Welby’s Presidential Address (February 17, 2016 at 1:41 pm)
+ [Ian Paul] Order, freedom and human flourishing (February 17, 2016 at 1:47 pm)