Archbishop of Canterbury lays out his thinking on the current situation in the Anglican Communion

General Convention / Religion

The Abp of Canterbury has written a lengthy piece more fully fleshing out his thinking about what the Anglican Covenant might become. It doesn’t really speak to the situation here in TEC except obliquely. I think that lack of reference might be instructive.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has set out his thinking on the future of the Anglican Communion in the wake of the deliberations in the United States on the Windsor Report and the Anglican Communion at the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church (USA). ‘The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today, A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion’, has been sent to Primates with a covering letter, published more widely and made available as audio on the internet”

One of the things the Abp of York insisted on pointing out to us in Columbus was that the Windsor Report/Process is not really about the reception of gay and lesbian people into the full life of the Church. It is about finding a way to manage conflict within the Communion. We, here in America, tend to think the whole thing is about us, but we’re really a rather small part of the whole.

There are other questions that are confronting the Communion – questions like woman’s ordination, lay presidency, respect for ecclesiastical provincial borders, and respect for the civil rights of glbt people. All of these are affirmed by the large majority of people in the Anglican Communion, but they are being strongly rejected in the various (and differing parts.)

Can we put the question of same-sex blessings and “gay” bishops aside for a moment and look at the whole gamut of issues. Read the letter from Canterbury with that pair of lenses and then see what you think…

Read the rest here: Archbishop of Canterbury – ‘Challenge and hope’ for the Anglican Communion – Lambeth

(Via ACNS Digest.)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. On most if not all of the issues you mentioned TEC stands in opposition to the Global South. It seems to me that in any restructuring it is unrealistic to think we would prevail. Although it is emotionally tempting to pull a Yugoslavia, I think we should try for the velvet divorce. I believe that within 5 years there will be an Episcopal church and an Anglican church in America. May God find both paths pleasing in his sight.

  2. Mister H: With respect to the Global South yes. But not with respect to the other provinces.
    +Cantaur speaks in his piece today about the need for the Church to be advocates for the civil rights of GLBT folks. Certainly Nigeria has not done this. Nor is there universal acceptance of woman’s ordination yet – though this is a given in many of the provinces of the North.
    Perhaps there will be two provinces here in the States. But I don’t think 10 years is enough time to expect to see a full resolution.

  3. There is no question that TEC and the global south are opposite ends of a continuum. I understand it is analog not digital (the physics teacher talking). However I believe the ABC has signaled a willingness to lose TEC to full communion, he will not risk doing the same to the Global South. The bulk of the souls in the WWAC are in the Global South and the ABC will not abandon them. Nor do I think he should. I personally did not support Bishop Robinson’s ordination because I believed something like this would result. Now that it has, I find I must chose the Church governed less by law and more by love.
    I suspect that there will be considerable movement back and forth between the WWAC and the future WWEC for years to come. I hope and pray our separate paths will remain within clear sight of each other.

  4. I’ll grant you the continuum. I just don’t think that there is only one continuum. There are multiple ones – which may or may not be orthogonal to each other (to continue the physics talk…) It’s only due to a selection effect that this particular one looms so large at the moment.
    My sense of this today is that we (as TEC) should enter into the drafting process as fully and authentically as we can. Once we have the finished Covenant before us, then let us decide if we can sign on to it or not. If not, then as you correctly say, we shall have to chose.
    I do worry though that we’re only using one set of filters to view situation. I hope that human sexuality doesn’t become THE sorting criteria. I the large majority of Anglicans in the Communion wouldn’t want that either – but it’s the danger we’re falling into if we (TEC) don’t work to help frame the questions.

  5. Continuing the conversation, yesterday you said, regarding whether you thought the liberals in the church would ever offer any real protection of the orthodiox, “I believe so, but it’s not the existing DEPO that is presently on the table. It’s going to have to be stronger for it to work. I’d be happy to see it made stronger if it means we can start to talk with each other again.”
    How does that fit with William’s idea of separation into full members and associate members in the US? And his pointed reference to not coercing “from above”?

  6. “which may or may not be orthogonal to each other” – I said physics teacher not physicist . I have no problem with entering the process fully. I know the virtue of fighting hard in a battle you can not win. I ran for Congress twice as a Libertarian. I also agree that sex is not and should not become the fault line.
    I am sure you are aware of the site Years ago I came across an article that put forth the idea that within all protestant churches there are two churches: the church of law and the church of love. I’ve included a link to the article.
    It seems to me that the Global South and TEC is that we are the poles on this continuum. Most of our differences fall into place when this paradigm is used.

  7. pendennis88 – I’m wondering if there is going to have to be a clear distinction between the long process of designing a covenant and the more immediate concern of lowering the temperature of our rhetorical debate.
    In truth, I can’t see how without lowering the temperature somehow and stopping the exchange nuclear words, we’ll have any hope of coming to godly covenant.
    Maybe DEPO should be seen as temporary cooling off device that will only last until the Covenant has been designed and ratified?

  8. Mister H: thanks for the link. I am familiar with the site, and the classification scheme. I think we can use it in this instance to help tease out some of the nuance along the spectrum.
    But I’d add that I think we can use “Word/Sacrament” and “Justice/Holiness” as other orindals too. (Even though as I said – they might not be orthoganal to each other, and instead somewhat inter-related.)

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