LAMBETH: Windsor Continuation Group - Preliminary Observations Part Two
A Presentation at the Lambeth Conference
July 25th, 2008
2. Where we would like to be: Towards a Way Forward
If we are to survive as an international family of Churches, then the Windsor Report's suggestion of a shift of emphasis to 'autonomy-in-communion' might yet require a further step to ' communion with autonomy and accountability' cf. recommendations in the Virginia Report of the International Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission and the Windsor Report. The covenant process is intended to bring the Communion to a point where its understanding of Communion is renewed and deepened. There are a number of fundamental questions which need to be answered.
i. Can we recognise the Church in another?
* Anglicans are currently failing to recognise Church in one another;
* We value independence at the expense of interdependence in the Body of Christ * We denigrate the discipleship of others * This has led to internal fragmentation as well as to confusion among our ecumenical partners
ii What is a Communion of Churches? *Recovering a common understanding of what it means to be a global communion. *A common understanding of the place and role of the Episcopal office within the sensus fidelium of the whole Church.
Iii What is our shared understanding of the role of a bishop in the communion of the Church?
Towards the Shaping of the Future.
(a) The Anglican Covenant
* The Covenant proposals are an important response to these issues. It is, therefore, crucially important that all Provinces engage seriously with the proposed Covenant. If the questions we have identified above are to be addressed they can be resolved most obviously by the implementation of the Covenant.
* In the past the Lambeth Quadrilateral provided Anglicans with a framework for understanding the identity and unity of the Church. The instruments of communion, rethought and strengthened alongside the Lambeth Quadrilateral, will help us to regain a sense of Anglican identity and unity and thus recognise Church in one another.
* The approval of the covenant needs a definite timeline to ensure confidence that the process has credibility.
(b) Work on the Instruments to enable them to sustain communion.
*There is currently a lack of clarity about the role of each of the instruments and their relation to one another.
* The Archbishop of Canterbury - is described as having an 'extraordinary ministry of episcope, support and reconciliation (Lambeth 1988); 'the central focus of unity and mission within the Communion [with authority] to speak directly to any provincial situation on behalf of the Communion where this is deemed to be advisable'. (Windsor Report 2004).
* The Lambeth Conference - There are questions concerning the authority of a Lambeth Conference and the nature and authority of its Resolutions.
* While acknowledging that resolutions of one Conference have been reviewed, and directions changed at a later Conference, nonetheless, like the resolutions taken by councils of bishops in primitive Christianity, they are of sufficient weight that the consciences of many bishops require them to follow or at least try to follow such resolutions. They are taken after due debate and after prayer by the ministers who represent the apostles to their churches ( cf Owen Chadwick, in "Resolutions of the Twelve Lambeth Conferences", ed. Coleman, 1992, p xvii).
* The Anglican Consultative Council - ACC is not to be understood as a synodical body at the Communion wide level. It is 'consultative'. Its Constitution provides for the bringing together of bishops, clergy and laity in order to advise, encourage and inform the Provinces. It is particularly valued by those who emphasise the contribution of the whole people of God in the life, mission and governance of the Church.
* There are questions about whether a body meeting every three years, with a rapidly changing membership not necessarily located within the central structures of their own Provinces, can fulfil adequately the tasks presently given to it. * Not all believe that a representative body is the best way to express the contribution of the whole people of God at a worldwide level. There are many ways in which the voice of the whole body can be heard: diocesan and Provincial synods, networks, dialogues and commissions.
* The Primates' Meeting - recognising the need and importance for collegial consultation and support for the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is a body that could be called together as occasion requires in between Lambeth Conferences.
* Recognising that different models of primacy exist, a great virtue of the Primates' Meeting is that the Primates are in conversation with their own Hoses of Bishops and located within their own synodical structures. They are therefore able to reflect the breadth and depth of the conversations and opinions in their Provinces.
In considering the future development of the Instruments of Communion, it is vital to take account of their ecclesiological significance as well as whether they are fit to respond effectively to the demands of global leadership. There needs to be a process of communion wide reflection which leads towards a common understanding.
( c) Processes and Commissions:
(i) The Listening Process (ii) The Hermeneutics Project - the Bible in the Church (iii) The Principles of Canon Law Project (iv) A Faith and Order Commission
These four initiatives are already in hand, but we see them as vital for strengthening the life of our Communion. The Listening Process and conversation on issues of sexuality needs to continue. We also recommend the continuation of plans for The Bible in the Church. Such projects are urgent and vital if we are to regain a sense of common values and mutual understanding.
The Common Principles of Canon law Project ( Anglican Communion Legal Advisers Network) gives a sense of the integrity of Anglicanism and we commend the suggestion for the setting up of an Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission that could give guidance on ecclesiological issues raised by our current 'crisis'.
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