Monday, September 25, 2006

The end of the Communion?

The End of the Communion?
InclusiveChurch Response to Kigali
reprinted here with permission from InclusiveChurch

1.0 As a result of the statements issued by the meeting of the Primates of the “Global South” in Kigali, the Anglican Communion has been moved into completely new territory. ( . We are presented with a situation where the possibility of dialogue between believing Christians is being closed down. Both the tone and the content of the Communique of the Primates of the Global South reflect an understanding of the Church which is profoundly un-Anglican, and represents a radical departure from both our ecclesiology and our traditions. We are sleepwalking towards a new church, and unless the silent majority of Anglicans do not take action we will wake up find we have lost the Church and the Christianity we hold dear.

2.0 “One church, one bishop, one territory” is fundamental to our Anglican polity and identity; to say that it is now “outdated” is to deny the whole history of Anglicanism . To say that many of the Primates can either not be in communion or to be in “impaired communion” with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (TEC) represents a theological and ecclesiological nonsense, The sacrament of Holy Communion is a sacrament given to us by God which is not capable of impairment. We trust in God and give thanks to Him for the gift of communion; it is as the Body of Christ that we exist.

3.0 The proposal to create two parallel jurisdictions within the Anglican Communion, separate but both nominally Anglican through their relationship with Canterbury, rides roughshod over the Instruments of Unity and over the Windsor process. It also represents a misunderstanding of the nature of Anglican identity. If we are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury we cannot be out of communion with one another.

But we remember that many of the primates of the “Global South” absented themselves from a Eucharist to which they were invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Dromantine Conference in 2005. We draw the conclusion from that that their allegiance to Canterbury is at best skin deep, and subject to his confirmation of their particular position on matters of human sexuality.

We also note that the Communique did not involve or receive the assent of the Archbishop of Cape Town and the Province of Southern Africa, and we wonder how many other Provinces’ assent has been assumed instead of confirmed.

4.0 Those who believe in a church which is both inclusive and welcoming have until now sought to respond to the actions of the Primates of the “Global South” with reason and restraint. As a result, factions within our Church have pushed harder and harder at the bounds of communion. Their proposals now bear only a tangential resemblance to the Anglicanism which has until now defined and developed the Communion.

5.0 We note too that significant amounts of funding for many of the organisations which have led on these – notably the American Anglican Council, Anglican Communion Network and Anglican Mainstream – have come from the Ahmansen family and other non-Anglican, politically conservative foundations based in the United States. ( This funding has enabled the due processes of the Anglican Communion to be subverted and hijacked, raising issues of family life and human sexuality to a prominence within the life of our church which is unjustified and contrary to the Gospel values of love and justice.

6.0 We have noted with concern that although the Archbishop of Canterbury has implicitly on a number of occasions publicly been critical of the actions of TEC - for example in his recent Pastoral Letter ( he has as yet not been critical of the very serious breaches of the Instruments of Unity by the Church of Nigeria; for example, the creation of a Bishop in the United States in complete contravention of Windsor guidelines on provincial boundaries. Neither has he challenged the actions of the Church of Nigeria in its vociferous support of the criminalisation of homosexuality in Nigeria ( despite his condemnation of homophobia on several occasions.

5.0 We note that the Communique from the Primates of the “Global South” identifies the Church of England as being compromised by its attitude towards the civil partnership legislation in this country. We believe it is important in this context for the Church of England to be clear on its current practice. Namely, that hundreds if not thousands of same-gender partnerships have been celebrated over the past thirty years, in churches, by priests and deacons. Further, that there have been, and in the future no doubt will be homosexual bishops in relationships within our church. Any Covenant, therefore, which excludes members of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada will have also to exclude the Church of England.

5.0 In the light of what is being produced by the “Global South” we have the following questions for which we request urgent clarification from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office

5.1 Will they confirm that all Bishops duly elected or appointed and with current responsibilities in the Communion will be invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference? There can be no other way to ensure that those loyal to the principles of Anglicanism are duly and properly involved in the life of our Communion.

5.2 If “Alternative Primatial Oversight” is granted for the Dioceses seeking it in the United States, what equivalent oversight will be offered to LGBT Christians experiencing danger and discrimination in Nigeria and other parts of Africa?

5.3 What structures exist to permit the selection of an “alternative” to the Presiding Bishop of TEC to attend Primates’ meetings?

5.4 Is the development of parallel jurisdictions acceptable to the ACO? If it is, then what is to stop the development of more jurisdictions on other matters?

5.5 The “Global South” Primates appear to be seeking to pre-empt the Covenant process by preparing a draft with the clear intention of requiring assent to confessional propositions related to homosexuality. What implications does this have for the process of agreeing a Covenant which recognises the depth and breadth of Anglicanism, both Catholic and Reformed?

5.6 What brief was given to the Bishops of Durham and Winchester in their recent attendance at a meeting of Bishops of TEC?

6.0 We are also concerned by the silence from the Bishops of the Church of England. The implications of the “Global South” developments may well, in the near future, have an impact on the Church of England. Indeed there have already been actions which indicate the shape of things to come, such as the unauthorised ordinations in the Diocese of Southwark. There are significant numbers of English Bishops who are deeply perturbed by the actions of their colleagues across the world, and deeply concerned to counter homophobia and prejudice. Why are they not speaking?

7.0 Today we celebrate the life of Lancelot Andrewes, one of the fathers of our church. We deeply regret the way in which the Communion is being undermined and sidetracked by a false Anglicanism which neither reflects nor pays tribute to our history. We trust and pray that the dialogue to which we are all as Christians called will continue so that the Gospel of Christ may flourish in this country and across the Communion.

Giles Goddard
Chair, InclusiveChurch

Lancelot Andrewes; 25th September 2006


Blogger Glynn Harper said...

I think we are much too concerned about the threats being made by the "Global South" and their spokesperson the Archbishop of Nigeria. The actual fact is that although they are making a lot of noise, they don't have that much influence outside their own provinces, and what support they have in the "Global North" certainly does not represent anywhere near a majority opinion. The Camp Allen meeting was only 21 TEC bishops and they were pretty well screened (and the list was secret until after meeting.) Twenty-one bishops, many of whom are not in sympathy with the "eight" real dissenting TEC diocesan bishops, aren't anywhere near enough to make much difference, even in the noise level. They're not about to leave TEC, the Medical Trust and the Pension Plan (both of the latter being instruments of General Convention) and that certainly includes the Bishop of Texas, the guy that called the meeting.

And, we haven't really heard from the bishops in the Anglican Churches in Canada, in New Zealand, Brasil, Mexico, etc., not to meantion the C. of E. itself. They're wisely keeping their heads down, but you can be sure they'll speak up before the "Global South" can cause any more than bluster.

And, maybe most importantly, we're already hearing noises from the "Global South" about how they will deal with the possible (and probable) loss of financial support if they do saw their limb off from the rest of the Communion; which is exactly what they're doing. The idea that much of the Communion will join them in cutting TEC out is pure fantasy. They're throwing a party that few will want to go to.

9/28/2006 2:39 PM  

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