Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Welcome for Anglican family’s new bishops

Posted on: February 10th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

New bishops from around the Anglican Communion with staff from the Anglican Communion Office in London
Photo Credit: ACNS

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Some of the newest bishops in the Anglican family from around the world are spending the day in London as part of the Anglican Communion’s New Bishops’ course. Some 28 bishops from 17 countries across all five continents are spending the morning at the Anglican Communion Office before heading to Lambeth Palace for a meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The New Bishops course is an annual even held early in each year in Canterbury Cathedral and brings together a number of the Communion’s bishops for an opportunity to learn from each other, to learn from Anglican Communion staff and to build networks and friendships across cultural and geographical divides. The new bishops taking part in the course this year are from the Provinces of Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Central Africa, England, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Melanesia, North India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania, and West Africa.

One of the Communion’s most remote dioceses is Banks and Torres in Vanuatu, part of the Province of Melanesia. Its bishop, the Rt Revd Patteson Alfred Worek, is one of those taking part in this year’s course, and said that despite the remoteness of his diocese, he felt connected to the worldwide family of Anglican churches.

“We are part of a major body and family; and we feel blessed to be part of that,” he said. “We recognise the differences we have in the Communion but in spite of that we feel very much a part of it.

“I’m here to share my story and to hear from other stories from around the Anglican Communion,” he added. “As new bishops we will be the leaders in the next decades so it is important that we hear from each other.”

The Rt Revd Julius Gicheru is bishop of one of the Communion’s youngest dioceses. Muranga South was carved out of Mount Kenya Central, part of the Anglican Church of Kenya, on 1 January 2014.

He described the New Bishops’ course as “great”, saying that it was an opportunity to hear “what other bishops do [in their dioceses] and what they can do for and to each other.”

Welcoming them to Saint Andrew’s House, the Anglican Communion Office in London, Canon Phil Groves, director for Continuing Indaba, told them that the building was “your home in London.”

The staff at the Anglican Communion Office were “not just concerned about administration,” he said, but were “passionate for mission, for evangelism, for tackling poverty and the struggle for clean water.”

“This is your office. We work for you and we want to know what you are doing because you are on the ground.”

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Anglican Communion News Service, Your daily update from ACNS, February 02, 2016

Judeo-Christian values replaced with golden calf of the self

Posted on: February 10th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addresses the National Press Club in Washington as part of its Newsmakers series of events.
Photo Credit: Lynette Wilson / ENS

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has said that the replacement of Judeo-Christian values with the “idol of the self” is a “formula for human self-destruction” and said that the love of God was about the “sacrifice of self-centred interest for the good of the other.”

Bishop Curry made his remarks to journalists and other invited guests at a Newsmakers event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Bishop Curry read a quotation from Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence, a book by Britain’s former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks. “The old marriage of religion and culture has ended in divorce. Today the secular West has largely lost the values that used to be called Judeo-Christian. Instead it has chosen to worship the idols of the self: the market, consumerism, individualism, autonomy, my rights, and whatever works for you. The golden calf of the self has been raised by the Children of Israel in the wilderness again.”

Bishop Curry added: “I think he’s right. And that golden calf, that idol of the self, may well be the most destructive reality in human society. Self-centeredness, selfishness, call it what you will, frankly is a cancer that can destroy us all and that left unchecked will destroy the planet.”

Invoking the theological tradition of Saint Augustine of Hippo, Bishop Curry spoke of original sin as “that ubiquitous reality of self-centredness, that hubris, that false pride that sees me as the centre of the world and you as the periphery. . . And that is a formula for human self-destruction.

“We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish together as fools,” he said.

Those words were originally said by the Revd Martin Luther King Jr in a speech at Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1964, but “serve as a defining quote for the 21st century,” Curry said.

Bishop Curry quoted further from Jonathan Sack’s book, saying that “the Rabbi is right on target and I think we must engage that.” In the book, Rabbi Sacks argues that extremism can be found in Judaism and Christianity as well as Islam; and that the silence of the mainstream religious voices “allows the louder voices to become the face of religion,” Bishop Curry said.

He then moved onto the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ response to the question about the greatest commandment when he said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Bishop Curry described this response as “most extraordinary”, adding: “Jesus just said everything that is in that Bible is straining and pointing to love of God and love of neighbour. Everything in the mosaic edifice pointing to love of God, love of neighbour.

“Religion is completely and totally about the love of God and love of neighbour. And if it is not about love, it is not about God. Period. Exclamation point. . . That is what Jesus was saying.”

And he warned – particularly with Valentine’s Day coming up – that it was easy to “schmooze love into sentimentality” but pointed out that Jesus’ teaching about love in Matthew 22 was made in Holy Week.

“Jesus had that conversation about the time that he had made the decision that he might have to sacrifice his own life for the cause of love in this world. That’s when he is talking about love.

“And in John’s gospel, almost all of Jesus’ teachings about love are at the Last Supper. That’s not an accident.

“Love, the love of God, is about the sacrifice of self-centred interest for the good of the other, for the good and the well-being of others, for the common good. That’s the love of God.”

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Anglican Communion News Service, Your daily update from ACNS, February 10, 2016

Why methodology matters

Posted on: January 29th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

I’ve had the great pleasure of recently serving on a General Synod task force exploring the ethics of money. It was an exciting mix of interesting and talented people coming from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. However, this created a challenge at the outset of our work: how do we begin a conversation on a topic as deeply tied to our identities and as divisive as our relationship with money?

What became too clear to most of us on the task force was that methodology matters. Where we begin in our theological reflection determines a great deal about where we end up. For example, a theology of money that takes as its premise that money is a neutral tool (one that we need), and therefore that we need to have a theology that helps provide a rationale for how we go about acquiring it, will look very different from one that takes as its premise that money is evil, and therefore that we need to have a theology of money that helps provide a rationale for overthrowing the current economic system.

Beginning with either premise will, to some extent, determine both the character and the conclusion that their respective theology of money might come to. What both starting points share is their relationship to theological reflection: each turns to theology as a tool to provide a Christian rationale to a perspective already arrived at by other means.

I found participating in this group inspiring because the members of the task force wanted to do things differently. And so the first step of our work together was discussing how we ought to start. It took a whole year of honest conversations with each other—a year of laughter, and a year of frustrations. But the wait was worth it. We ended up with a theological reflection we felt acknowledged the difficulty and the hope of living as faithful disciples of Jesus—who taught us, “You cannot serve God and wealth” (Mt. 18:24b)—in a world determined by money.

In my next reflection, I will turn to look at the task force’s reflection in more detail. For now, suffice to say, I hope to take the spirit of that task force with me into this column. I’ve named it “In the Meantime” as a way of wearing my own methodology on my sleeve. My premise is that Christian ethics names a theological reflection upon a communal task: living as a community of disciples whose life together witnesses to the God who was revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“In the Meantime” describes the time between the resurrection of Jesus and the full establishment of God’s kingdom on earth, the time we have been given to live this communal task faithfully in honest conversations, laughter and frustrations. This time may be our lifetimes, but we live in the sure and certain hope that the wait is worth it.

 

Jeffrey Metcalfe is a priest from the diocese of Quebec and a doctoral student in theological studies at the University of Toronto. 
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Anglican Journal News, January 29, 2016

Hiltz: Despite controversy, Primates’ Meeting a success

Posted on: January 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Hiltz: Despite controversy, Primates’ Meeting a success


There was “a lot of deep personal resolve to make [the Primates’ Meeting] work,” says Archbishop Fred Hiltz, in an interview with the Anglican Journal. Photo: André Forget


Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said that despite the confusion, frustration and pain arising from a communiqué “requiring” The Episcopal Church (TEC) to face consequences for its decision to allow same-sex marriage, last week’s Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, England, was a success.

“I think the very fact that we all came was important,” Hiltz said in an interview with the Anglican Journal  January 19.  “It took its course in such a way that the Communion was not broken…All the posturing and rhetoric and rumours that were so much a part of the lead-up to the meeting didn’t come to pass—from that point of view, it was good.” There was, he said, “a lot of deep personal resolve to make it work.”

The weeks leading up to the meeting were marked by tension over the American church’s decision to allow same-sex marriage and the continued acceptance of same-sex blessings by some Canadian dioceses, with some leaders of theologically conservative provinces reportedly threatening to walk out if the North American provinces were not disciplined.

Hiltz said things came to a head mid-way through the meeting when Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby asked the primates to decide if they would stay together or go their separate ways.

“There was a critical moment…when the Archbishop of Canterbury was very direct, and said, ‘We have to make a decision about whether we’re going to walk together.’ And I think it was a moment of grace, in that a vote was taken and it was unanimous that we stay together,” said Hiltz.

It could have gone the other way, he said.  “We did have people who, if they had their way, would have asked [TEC and Canada] to leave. And there was an attempt to do that, and it failed. There was a vote…and that was not supported.”

Some of the credit for the happy outcome of the vote, which asked the North American provinces to leave (15 in favour, 20 against), must go to primates from the Global South, who “worked really hard to keep their colleagues in the room,” said Hiltz.

An official communiqué released January 15, however, made it clear that TEC’s decision would not be without consequences: an addendum was attached to the communiqué “requiring” that for three years TEC “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

Hiltz said that while the communiqué was not adopted through a formal vote, “about two-thirds [of the primates] favoured the consequences.”

However, he acknowledged that “it remains to be seen how these consequences [on TEC] are actually lived out.” He noted, “the only authority we have in matters of this kind is the mutual accountability, which is one of the principles of how Anglicans live together around the world.”

The Primates’ Meeting is one of four instruments of Communion, and the communiqué “raises the question of [whether] one instrument of the Communion [can] tell the rest what’s what,” says Hiltz.

According to Hiltz, the Archbishop of Canterbury had said he would “tend” to the matter and take responsibility for putting together a task group to look into it.

The primate also disputed reports that the U.S. church is being asked to “repent” during the three-year period as a precondition for lifting the temporary ban on its full participation in the Communion.  “I think the majority of the primates would view the three-year period from the point of view of…we need to really tend to the rebuilding of trust among the primates and the churches of the Communion…we need to restore some relationships,” he said.

Hiltz refrained from commenting on how much weight the Anglican Church of Canada should give to the Primates’ Meeting’s decision, saying that to do so would be a betrayal of his role as chair of General Synod, the church’s governing body.

He added that it would be premature to consider whether “consequences” would also be imposed on the Canadian church if its upcoming General Synod approves a resolution to change its marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage.

“We’re in a very unique place on that matter because of our polity,” Hiltz said, explaining that since changing the marriage canon is a matter of doctrine, it has to be adopted by a tow-thirds majority in each order of the church and at two successive sessions of General Synod.

“You may have approval based on first reading [in 2016], but it cannot be effective until second reading [in 2019],” he said. “…So I don’t think anyone can deliver some consequences to us, or impose a consequence, because that is to pre-empt the outcome of what happens in 2019.” The second vote allows the church the opportunity for “a sober second thought,” he added.

Hiltz also noted that discussions around same-sex marriage aren’t  happening only in the U.S. or Canada.

“In three years, I am convinced that the situation in the Communion will look very different than it did even in this meeting,” Hiltz said. “You’ve got this very focused conversation [about same-sex marriage] now in Canada [and] Scotland. It will become an issue in Ireland because federal legislation says it can now happen. It is an issue in the Church of England whether they recognize it or not, and Brazil.”

Even Africa—often painted with a broad conservative brush on issues around human sexuality —“speaks with a diversity of voices,” said Hiltz.  “Three of the primates from Africa stood up and talked about the need for them to address this matter in their provinces, and asked for help: ‘How do you have this conversation?’ ”

With a number of provinces seeking ways to minister to gay and lesbian Christians and their families, Hiltz said, “One of the images that was tossed around [at the meeting] was ‘pastoral accommodation.’ ” It was, he noted, the language Welby used at the Primates’ Meeting when giving his “three I’s: ‘I loathe homophobia. I have a conservative view on same-sex marriage. I believe in pastoral accommodation.’ ” ​Hiltz acknowledged, however, that even “pastoral accommodation” is “a big stretch for some people in the Communion.”

But while he considers the meeting to have been, on the whole, a success, Hiltz said Anglican Communion Office personnel could have brought much-needed clarity to the proceedings.  “I just think we would have benefited from some of their wisdom, their knowledge, their insights, perhaps their counsel.”

In particular, he spoke of the benefit that staff with a strong understanding of how the Anglican Communion functions as an institution could have brought to the table.

“Not everyone in [the Primates’ Meeting] is an expert on Anglican ecclesiology,” he noted. “And sometimes assumptions are made in terms of what kind of authority people have or don’t have, and so you end up with all these kind of questions after a meeting.”

Despite reports of a planned walkout by some conservative primates, the only one who left was Archbishop Stanely Ntagali of the Church of Uganda, who explained in a statement posted on the website of the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) that the laws of his own province limit his ability to participate in meetings that involve TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. GAFCON is composed of primates and other church leaders opposed to more liberal theological views on human sexuality.

When asked why he thought other GAFCON primates stayed on, Hiltz said it had a lot to do with Welby’s “perseverance in helping us to have the difficult conversations.” It also had to do with “the overall will of the meeting…not to break up the Anglican Communion, but to stay together.”

He added, in jest, “I think that people were looking at people like Michael Curry and myself and saying, ‘They’re not really monsters, are they? They’re not overly aggressive, they’re telling us what is going on in their church.’ ”

But there was another reason the GAFCON primates were willing to be at the table, Hiltz said, and that was the controversial presence of Archbishop Foley Beach, who participated for the first four days of the meeting.

Beach, head of the breakaway Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)—which is recognized by GAFCON but is not a member of the Anglican Communion—was extended an invitation by Welby to participate as a guest. And as a guest, he was not granted the right to vote, although he was given an opportunity to participate in discussions and had an opportunity to share his church’s story.

“His presence appeased a number of the GAFCON primates, I know, and to use a word that some of the primates used, it confused others,” said Hiltz. “In what real capacity is he [Beach] in the meeting? Well, he’s a guest.”

But while ACNA’s relationship to the Communion was the third item on the agenda, Hiltz said that it was quickly established that the proper body for dealing with church membership is the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

“There were a range of primates—and when I’m talking about a range, I mean a range of primates who hold very diverse theological views on marriage, so we had more liberal-minded ones and very conservative ones—saying there is a process, it is the ACC that recognizes a province: it’s not us.”

Hiltz also reported that although the possibility of a meeting between Welby, Beach and TEC Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and himself was floated, it did not materialize.

“I was sorry about that, actually, because I said to Archbishop Justin that if in Canterbury there was an opportunity to seed a conversation that might imagine some kind of reconciliation, however hard it would be or however long it would take, I would go to that table,” Hiltz said. “[Welby] really appreciated that, and Michael Curry said the same thing. I don’t know what Foley Beach would have said about that.”

Hiltz also spoke of more personal moments of pain springing from Anglican disunity, explaining that he was told at one point by some primatess that they could not take the Eucharist with him.

“I look at that situation, and I think to myself, really? How can people hold such a spirit, knowing that the Eucharist is all about Jesus’ own yearning to gather us and feed us, and to say, ‘Well, because he’s there I can’t go,’  ” he said. “That grieves my heart, but I look at it and think it must grieve the heart of our Lord even more.”

The 2016 Primates’ Meeting was the first since 2011, when 23 of the 38 primates met in Dublin, but Hiltz said that Welby plans on returning to a more regular schedule. The next meeting has been scheduled for late 2017, and there are plans to hold another one in early 2019, in advance of the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

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Anglican Journal News, January 20, 2016

Archbishop Justin Welby reflects on the Primates’ Meeting Canterbury

Posted on: January 22nd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Computers, General, Reviews

Archbishop Justin Welby reflects on the Primates’ Meeting Canterbury

By Justin Welby


The 2016 Primates’ Meeting was the first held during Justin Welby’s tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury. Photo: ArchbishopofCanterbury.org


Last week the Primates of the Anglican Communion gathered in Canterbury for a week of prayer and discussion. You might well have been following the events in the media. I want to share some thoughts of my own here about what took place last week – which was without doubt one of the most extraordinary weeks I have ever experienced.

The first thing to say is that the week was completely rooted in prayer. The Community of St Anselm – the international young Christian community based at Lambeth Palace – took up residence in Canterbury Cathedral and prayed all day every day for the Primates as we talked together. As Primates we joined with all who gathered for Morning Prayer, Eucharist and Evensong in the Cathedral each day. And meanwhile thousands – perhaps millions – of Anglicans and others in the Christian family around the world prayed in churches and posted prayers on social media. I want to thank everyone who prayed last week. We felt it and we appreciated it deeply.

***

So onto what actually happened last week.

As leaders of the family of Anglican churches in a world so racked by violence and fear, we gathered in Canterbury with much to share and discuss – from climate change to religiously motivated violence.  A significant part of the week was spent discussing how – or even if – we could remain together as the Anglican Communion in the light of changes made by our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church (the historic Anglican Communion church in the USA and some other countries) to their understanding of marriage.

It is really worth stressing here that this was not a meeting where we discussed formally our differing views on human sexuality. Personally the fact that people are persecuted for their sexuality is a constant source of deep sadness. As I said in the press conference on the final day of the meeting, I am deeply sorry for the pain that the church has caused LGBTI people in the past – and the present – and for the love that too often we have completely failed to show in many parts of the world, including England. The worst thing about that is that it causes people to doubt that they are loved by God.

We have to see that changed. In our communiqué the Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence. We resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. And we reaffirmed our rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted adults. We need to act on those words.

But back to the response that we made about how to move forward together in the light of decisions taken by The Episcopal Church (TEC). This was a meeting where we discussed whether or not we could stay together as one family after one member has taken unilateral action – in this case, making a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching on marriage held by the large majority of Anglican Provinces globally. But the question could and undoubtedly will apply in the future to other issues. I should say that Provinces are described as autonomous (they make their own minds up) but interdependent (we are linked as family to one another).

It’s no secret to say that before the meeting, the signs were not good. It really was possible that we would reach a decision to walk apart – in effect, to split the Anglican Communion. In the debates that have raged around these issues for several decades now, some have said unity is worthless if achieved at the expense of justice. Others have argued unity is a false prize if it undermines truth.

Both of these views misunderstand the nature of the church, which is not an organisation but a body of people committed to each other because they are followers of Jesus Christ. We are put together as family by God, because we are all God’s children.

The meeting reached a point on Wednesday where we chose quite simply to decide on this point – do we walk together at a distance, or walk apart? And what happened next went beyond everyone’s expectations. It was Spirit-led. It was a ‘God moment’. As leaders of our Anglican Communion, and more importantly as Christians, we looked at each other across our deep and complex differences – and we recognised those we saw as those with whom we are called to journey in hope towards the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It was our unanimous decision to walk together and to take responsibility for making that work.

We remain committed to being together, albeit we asked that TEC, while attending and playing a full part in our meetings and all discussions, will not represent the Anglican Communion to other churches and should not be involved in standing committees for a period of three years. During this time we also asked that they not vote on matters of doctrine or how we organise ourselves.

It’s clear in Christian teaching that it’s not for us to divide the body of Christ, which is the church, but also that we must seek to make decisions bearing each other in mind, taking each other seriously, loving one another despite deep differences of view.

Because of that, the unity that was so remarkably shown by the Anglican Primates in Canterbury last week is always costly. It is always painful. It feels very fragile. We are a global family of churches in 165 countries, speaking over a thousand languages and living in hundreds of different cultures – how could we not wound each other as we seek to hold together amidst great diversity?

There will be wounds for each other, but we must repent of wounding others who are especially vulnerable, whether they are LGBTI people or those menaced by religiously-motivated violence, terrorism and exile. Some, of course, will fall in many categories.

But that unity is also joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing – because it is unity in love for Jesus Christ, whose single family we are, often argumentative, sometimes cruel (which is deeply wrong) but created by God and belonging to each other irrevocably.
***

We spent time talking about the desperate situation of so many Christians around the world living with the threat and reality of religiously-motivated violence. The primary fear for many, probably near a majority of Anglicans in the world today – just as it is for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the Christian Church and for other communities entirely – is the violence that confronts them and their families daily.

It’s the risk of a Congolese woman getting raped by a militia when she goes out to fetch water. It’s the risk of church congregations in Pakistan being killed by a suicide bomber as they worship on Sunday morning. And it’s a thousand other risks besides. We heard many moving stories from around the world, shared by fellow Primates, and discussed what we can do to challenge that violence.

All of us were deeply moved when the devastating effects of climate change were presented in terms of the very existence of peoples, communities and even nations. From rising sea levels, to drought and famine from the increase of unforgiving arid landscapes, the result is life-threatening for many of our brothers and sisters.

So there was much darkness to lament and to recommit ourselves to challenging. But there were rays of pure, joyful hope as well. The Primates committed ourselves – all of us, in every part of the Communion – to evangelism. To proclaiming the person and work of Jesus Christ – inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel and to proclaim that to everyone.

There will be plenty more to say on this in the coming weeks and months – certainly not just by me, but also by everyone who cares passionately about the Anglican Communion. For now I wanted to share these initial reflections with you, and ask for you to keep praying for our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ. If Christ’s flock can more or less stay together, it’s hope for a world that tears itself apart – a sign of what can happen with the love and mercy of God through Jesus Christ.

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Anglican Journal News, January 22, 2016

A Reflection on the Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury, England

Posted on: January 20th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

A Reflection on the Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury, England, January 11-15, 2016

 

By Archbishop Fred Hiltz, 

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it”
(1 Corinthians 12:27)

Throughout the meeting of the Primates last week, I thought much about St. Paul’s teaching about the Church being the Body of Christ in the world.  It is the image at the very heart of Anglican ecclesiology.  It informs the manner of our relationships in the Church local, national and global.  In 165 countries we are 85 million people proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in more than 1000 languages.  We are a family of autonomous Churches that understand ourselves to be “Formed by Scripture, Shaped by Worship, Ordered for Communion, and Directed by God’s Mission”.  We are bound together by the long held principle of “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ” articulated at the great Anglican Congress of 1963 in Toronto.

While for the most part this principle inspires our common work and witness, there are times when our capacity to abide by it is deeply challenging given the very diverse political, cultural, social and missional contexts in which we live. While being ordered for communion, we recognize that in the face of deep difference of theological conviction over certain matters of faith and doctrine the bonds of affection between us can be strained, sometimes sadly so, to the point of people speaking of a state of impaired communion.

This meeting of the Primates was particularly challenging with respect to the tending of our relationships in light of the developments in The Episcopal Church regarding the change in its Canon on Marriage making provision for the blessing of same sex marriages.  I, of course, was deeply mindful of a call from General Synod 2013 for the enacting of a similar change in our own Canon, the first reading of which is scheduled for our General Synod this summer.

Since returning home, I am especially mindful of the pain the LGBTQ community within our Church is feeling.  I am very sorry.  I acknowledge their frustration and that of their supporters in being made to feel like the sacrificial offering on the altar of the Church’s unity.  I recognize that many are angry and deeply disillusioned with the very Church in which they endeavour to live out their lives as disciples of Jesus.  I know that for some it is in fact very difficult to remain within its fellowship, and that it will take a great resolve of will and courage to do so.

I apologize for the manner in which the Church has often regarded the LGBTQ community and condemned their lives with very harsh language. I call on our Church to re-affirm its commitment to rejecting anywhere in the world criminal sanctions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer or questioning people. I call on our Church to renew its resolve in listening to the voices and the stories of its LGBTQ members as we wrestle through conversations regarding the pastoral care we are called to provide for all people. I ask the prayers of the whole Church for the LGBTQ people in the midst of the hurt they are bearing and the hope to which they cling for the recognition and sacramental blessing of their relationships.

I am aware of sharp criticism over what some regard to have been a failure on my part to stand in solidarity with The Episcopal Church in openly rejecting the relational consequences it bears as a result of The Primates’ Meeting, or in accepting similar consequences for our own Church.  Allow me to comment on each of these matters.

First, in relation to The Episcopal Church, I empathize with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as he faces a firestorm of reaction in the United States. I recognize a need for a space of time in which that Church will respond through its National Executive Council. Notwithstanding the call of a majority of the Primates for the “consequences” named in the  Communiqué, I recognize that there could well be a response from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council.  I know The Episcopal Church to be very committed to the work and witness of the Communion as a whole, and I recognize the frustration they will feel in not serving in a representative way on our Ecumenical Dialogues for example. I recognize that if The Episcopal Church is not allowed to vote on a matter of doctrine or polity that the life of the Communion is diminished. I am grateful however, that they will still have a voice in the discussions of such matters.

I have covenanted with Bishop Curry to uphold him and The Episcopal Church in my prayers, and I would ask the same of our whole Church. I was deeply impressed by the grace with which he spoke at The Primates’ Meeting. While declaring in no uncertain terms the pain he was feeling for the Church he leads, he was absolutely convinced that in good faith the General Convention acted.  He recognized the strain that places on relationships throughout the Communion, and he declared his unwavering commitment – in spite of the said consequences – to walk together in the hope of “healing a legacy of hurt, rebuilding mutual trust, and restoring relationships”. He was a stellar example of leadership under pressure, of courage with grace.

Secondly in relation to our own Church. For me to have entertained any thought of accepting consequences for our own Church would have been an overstepping of my authority. To do so would have been a betrayal of my office as President of The General Synod. I was not and am not prepared to take any action that would pre-empt the outcome of our deliberations at General Synod in July. As the report “This Holy Estate” declares, “It is for the General Synod to decide the matter” in accord with the jurisdiction given it regarding “the definition of doctrine in harmony with the Solemn Declaration”. (The Declaration of Principles, 6. Jurisdiction of The General Synod [j]). I believe in the synodical process and by the ministry entrusted to me, I am obliged to uphold it.

In this entire matter our Church has faithfully honoured the call within the Resolution (C003) of General Synod 2013 for broad consultation across our Church, throughout the Communion and with our ecumenical partners.  Alongside all the counsel received and noted in “This Holy Estate”, including that of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) one could indeed regard the outcome of The Primates’ Meeting as another piece of information.

I ask your prayers for the members of the Council of General Synod in the task mandated to them to bring forward a resolution to the General Synod to affect a change in the Marriage Canon. I ask your prayers for the General Synod Planning Committee in the care they will take in designing a process for our consideration of this matter. I ask your prayers for all the members of General Synod that they will enter into their work well prepared and with a commitment to speak and listen respectfully and in openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

While the meeting of the Primates was particularly challenging with respect to relationships throughout the Communion, there was about midway through a declared unanimous commitment to continue to walk together and not apart. This meeting could have been marked by calls for exclusion of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and me. It was not. It could have been marked by walk-outs as some had anticipated. It was not. It could have been marked by ranting and raving.  It was not. Instead it was marked by perseverance to remain in dialogue that was frank but respectful. It was marked by a generosity of grace and patience, with one another. It was marked too, by renewed commitments in the consideration of matters of doctrine that could be of a controversial nature, to consult broadly in the seeking of advice and counsel.

We were reminded once again of the principle named by the Windsor Continuation Group that “when the Primates speak collectively, or in a united or unanimous manner, their advice – while it is no more than advice – nevertheless needs to be received with a readiness to undertake reflection and accommodation”. While there have been calls through the years for “an enhanced authority” on the part of The Primates’ Meeting, there has been – and rightly so – a resistance to the meeting becoming a Curia for the Communion. We recognize that we are but one of The Instruments of Communion,– the others being the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, and the Anglican Consultative Council, which is the only body with a Constitution outlining its objects and powers, all of which are focussed in one way or another on our relationships in the service of God’s mission in the world.

Now dear friends, may I remind you that the Primates tended not only to matters of concern within “the household of faith”, but also to matters of concern to our common humanity and the creation itself. In his opening address for this meeting, Archbishop Justin reminded us that half of our Churches in the Communion live with extreme poverty, in the turmoil of war, and with devastating effects of environmental degradation. The Anglican Alliance gave a presentation on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Primates have issued a Communion wide call to get behind these goals through our work in advocacy.

In a session on Climate Change, it was fascinating to hear the range of voices speaking out of their own contexts. The Archbishop of Polynesia spoke of Pacific Islands drowning as sea levels continue to rise. The Archbishop of Kenya spoke about the impact of unbridled foresting.  “As the forests disappear” he said, “the desert is expanding.” The Archbishop of the Democratic Republic of the Congo spoke of the hunger of many nations for the underground resources in the Congo and of the ruthless and reckless measures taken in extracting them. I spoke about the impact of the melting Ice Cap in the Arctic and the impact on peoples who live in Canada’s North. The Acting Archbishop of Melanesia spoke of eroded lands, sinking islands and polluted waterways.  He made a passionate plea saying “What’s next?…Who causes it?…Who stops it?” He called for a robust theology of creation. The Archbishop of Southern Africa spoke of the Climate Talks in Paris, the agreement struck with respect to lowering the pace of global warming, and the huge amount of unwavering political will required to make this agreement functional. A number of other Primates from very diverse situations reminded us through story after story, of how the poor are the most vulnerable with respect to climate change. With no choice but to abandon home and livelihood they have to keep on the move with little more than what they can carry. As we have been often reminded, climate change is really about climate justice. It’s about our commitment to the fifth Mark of Mission – to safeguard the integrity of creation.

The Primates heard a number of their colleagues speak of the horrors of religiously motivated violence. The Archbishop of Nigeria spoke of churches, mosques, markets, schools and conference centres under threat of burning or bombing. Indeed, in some instances, there is a need for security checks as people come into church to worship. There was a passionate plea from a number of the Primates, not only for ongoing interfaith dialogue, but also for a new dialogue between religious and political leaders. As one of our colleagues said, “governments are fighting terrorists, but not terrorism and the ideologues that drive it”. On this matter and others, including our response to corruption in governments and our response to the global refugee crisis, the point was made that faith communities, governments and civil society must find ways to speak and act together.

The Primates heard a presentation on the Protection of Children. Sadly a number of Churches have a tragic record of abuse, particularly through schools run by the Church. We know that story in Canada through the Indian Residential Schools and the harm inflicted on so many innocent children. We know of the impact on them and we now understand the intergenerational impact of their pain. Had there been more time given to this topic, I would have spoken of the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and our Church’s commitment to its 94 Calls to Action, the very first one being “Child Welfare”.

You will see from the Communiqué that the Primates renewed their commitment to evangelism,  “to proclaiming the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the gospel”. A particularly exciting venture in this regard is the Archbishop of York’s Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing from Advent 2015 to Trinity 2016. He is walking the diocese with a message of hope in the Gospel of Christ. Many of us were drawn to consider this kind of public witness born of his simple prayer.

“…Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of the Father,
Renew my Friendship in You;
And help me to Serve You
With a Quiet Mind and a Burning Spirit…”

The Primates heard a report from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Fearon, regarding the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia in April. The theme is Intentional Discipleship in a World of Differences. The delegates from our Church are Bishop Jane Alexander, The Ven. Harry Huskins, and Ms. Suzanne Lawson.  Archdeacon Paul Feheley has been invited to lead the Communications Team for this meeting.

May I take the opportunity here to commend to the Church the reports that are published concerning meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council. Typically they contain major addresses by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General; reports from all the networks and formal consultations of the Communion; the Standing Commission for Unity, Faith, and Order, and the Anglican Alliance, and all the resolutions the Council adopts. These reports become a wonderful resource for our work in the name of the Gospel and our witness as a Church striving to be steadfast in its calling to be “in and for the world” God loves. In this work the Church is incredibly well served by the labours of the staff of the Anglican Communion Office working with a host of others from around the world.

Throughout the entire week we were blessed to have our daily schedule shaped by Morning Prayer, a celebration of the eucharist in the crypt of the Cathedral, and Evening Prayer. We were also blessed by the Community of St. Anselm from Lambeth Palace and its ministry of upholding the meeting in prayer. Each member of the Community had been given the names of particular primates and provinces for whom the Archbishop had asked them to pray. Peter Angelica (from New York) was praying for me and for our Church. I had an opportunity to meet him and to thank him for his ministry in this regard. Then of course there were your thoughts and prayers in response to my call in advance of the meeting. A number of you sent along expressions of assurance of prayer for which I was very grateful.

The Primates were deeply blessed by the presence of Jean Vanier. He arrived on Thursday and addressed us after Evening Prayer. “I am so touched to be with you” he said, “you are the face of Jesus, each of you. You are leading millions of people in following the way of Jesus”.  To be described that way is both humbling and daunting. But that’s this image he used as he led us in a time of reflection on the nature of servant leadership and our calling to gather people and to help them walk and work together in the Gospel.

At the closing Eucharist on Friday, Vanier preached on John’s account of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper. He has an amazing way of drawing us into the story, into the heart of each character, into the mood in the room. The story he reminded us is all about an attitude of humility, one toward another. It is about being as Jesus said, “part of him”.  The act is followed by Jesus teaching that in the same manner in which he washed their feet, they must now wash one another’s feet. Vanier has often said that there is a sacramental character to this humble act. He spoke of some of his experiences in L’Arche. Even when, sadly, we cannot break bread together, we can still wash one another’s feet. And then he knelt down and washed Archbishop Justin’s feet. Justin prayed for him and then knelt to wash the feet of the Primate sitting next to him. So around the circle this quiet act of humble service was replicated. All one could hear was the gentle splash of water being poured over feet and the voice of prayer. In the end each of us had washed and been washed, prayed and been prayed for in the deep love of Jesus. It was a wonderful way to bring this meeting of the Primates to a close. We left the crypt singing:

“Thumamina, thumamina,
Thumamina, so mandla…
Send me Jesus, send me Jesus
Send me Jesus, send me Lord…
Lead me Jesus, lead me Jesus
Lead me Jesus, lead me Lord…”

Thank you for your interest in the life and work of our Anglican Communion and thank you once again for your prayers for the meeting of the Primates in Canterbury last week. As we continue to uphold Archbishop Justin Welby in our prayers and all our brothers and sisters in the Anglican family worldwide, let us ask for grace, “to lead lives worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as we were called to the one hope that belongs to our call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-5).

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, January 19, 2016

Primates’ decision puzzles Communion watchers

Posted on: January 19th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Primates’ decision puzzles Communion watchers

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby takes a reporter’s questions at a news conference in Canterbury at the conclusion of the Primates’ Meeting January 15. Photo: Anglican Archives


The lack of legislative authority vested in the Primates’ Meeting has some observers of the Anglican Communion scratching their heads as to how primates (senior archbishops) can impose “consequences” on The Episcopal Church (TEC) for its stance on same-sex marriage.“The Primates’ Meeting is a meeting—not a body that makes resolutions. It was originally designed to be a gathering for mutual support,” said Suzanne Lawson, the Anglican Church of Canada’s lay representative to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). “That they are taking authority that is not ascribed to them by the description of what the Primates’ Meeting is, seems curious to me.”

Last Friday, January15, primates from across the Anglican Communion released a communiqué  calling for TEC to be temporarily banned from ecumenical and interfaith bodies, internal standing committees and generally from “decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

The primates said they were “requiring” that these measures be taken because of the distance they said TEC had put between itself and them by changing its marriage canon to allow same-sex marriages.

TEC’s General Convention voted to approve of same-sex marriages in June 2015.

U.S. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said the call from the primates is a question for the ACC to consider “because that’s the one constitutional body we have in the Communion, so the ACC will have to adjudicate what the primates say about themselves, whether or not they concur with that.”

When asked to comment on the process that will be involved in enforcing the “consequences” on TEC, the chair of the ACC, Bishop James Tengatenga, told the Anglican Journal, “I wish I knew the answer…I was not privy to the discussions as I am not a primate. All I know is what is in the public domain.” But, he added, “I am sure that the ACC will, at some point, be asked to respond to this in some way, but until that happens and until the council meets I cannot preempt what it would say or do and how it will do it or effect it.”

At a news conference  after the communiqué was released, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the primates had also discussed the Anglican Church of Canada’s vote, scheduled to take place at General Synod this July, on allowing same-sex marriages.  Welby would not say what consequence, if any, there would be for the Anglican Church of Canada should its General Synod vote this July to allow same-sex marriage. “We discussed [the Canadian church vote], and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said, adding that there are “another two or three” provinces that are looking at taking action on same-sex marriage.

While the primates’ communiqué does not mention Canada explicitly, it states that “possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation,” referring to what it called TEC’s “fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage.”

Although there were reports that primates took a vote that would have asked The Episcopal Church to withdraw voluntarily from the Anglican Communion for three years, Lawson noted that it’s the ACC—not the Primates’ Meeting—that would have the authority under church law to decide on Communion membership.

The ACC, composed of representatives from all the world’s Anglican provinces, is slated to meet in April. In a statement responding to the primates’ communiqué, the president of TEC’s House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, one of TEC’s representatives at the ACC, affirmed her intention to attend the ACC’s April meeting. She also said TEC had no intention of changing its policy on same-sex marriages.

“I want to assure you that nothing about what the primates have said will change the actions of General Convention that have, over the past four decades, moved us toward full inclusion and equal marriage,” she said.

Archdeacon Alan Perry, executive archdeacon of the diocese of Edmonton and a specialist in Anglican canon law, said that although the Primates’ Meeting has no legislative authority, it appeared the primates were counting on their moral suasion to influence the Communion’s other decision-makers.

“The authority of what they have said remains to be determined, and will be seen to the extent to which their statement is respected by those who do have authority to make decisions or appointments, or to elect,” he said.

Algoma Bishop Stephen Andrews said the primates’ decision might, for example, influence the Archbishop of Canterbury to not appoint representatives from TEC to any of the bodies for which he has the power of appointment, or that “the communication would be made to the internal bodies of the Communion that they…make clear to their TEC representatives that they are there as guests with voice but no vote, because I think that was also part of the idea here.” Andrews was part of the group that presented the Canadian church’s position on human sexuality in a consultation with the ACC in 2005.

In 2005, representatives from both the Canadian and American Anglican churches were instructed by their church councils to “attend but not participate fully,” withdrawing from voting sessions, at the meeting of the ACC in Nottingham, England. The councils made this decision in response to a request by the Primates’ Meeting earlier in the year that the Canadian and American churches “voluntarily withdraw” from the proceedings, because of the approval of blessings of same-sex marriages by the Canadian diocese of New Westminster and the consecration of a non-celibate gay bishop in the U.S.

But the result of the Canadians’ and Americans’ semi-participation at the ACC meeting was not pleasant for anyone, Lawson said, and seems unlikely to be repeated.

“The experience of voluntarily withdrawing which the two churches had in Nottingham was extraordinarily painful to many people in the Anglican Consultative Council,” she said. “I don’t think it made people on the opposing side of where we were at that point feel very good either. Because we were there—we were a constant, annoying presence in the back row. Not speaking, not participating. And our presence there made it very awkward for many people.”

The conclusion following the meeting, said Lawson, was that “we’ll never do that again. Now that wasn’t a resolution or anything, but that was the feeling—‘We just can’t do that again.’”

On the other hand, allowing the primates to gather at Canterbury last week and issue a rebuke against TEC as they did may have been the only way for Welby to stave off walkouts from the ACC on the part of provinces highly opposed to same-sex marriage, Lawson said.

“I wonder whether some of the primates would have said to their own groups—their own elected or appointed individuals—‘Our province is not going,’ ” she said. “So I think that’s where I have to say, in fairness to the Archbishop of Canterbury, I don’t know that he had any choice but to get the primates together to have this discussion.”

Nonetheless, Lawson said she was “saddened” and “grieved” by the primates’ communiqué.

Chris Ambidge, spokesman for the Anglican gay advocacy group Integrity Canada, said he was “disappointed but not at all surprised.”

“This is exactly congruent with the way that the Communion as a whole has been behaving towards LGBT people, and towards churches that support them, since at least Lambeth 1998,” he said, referring to the bishops’ meeting during which a statement was issued that homosexual acts were incompatible with Scripture. “It’s cut from exactly the same cloth…It’s difficult and certainly very hurtful.”

Ambidge, himself a member of General Synod, said he had a “horrible feeling” the measures announced against TEC would make the passage of changes to the Anglican Church of Canada’s marriage canon this summer less likely.

“There may well be, I can hear it now: ‘Well, we shouldn’t do anything, because it might jeopardize our position in the Anglican Communion—look what happened to The Episcopal Church.’ That will get said, I am sure,” he said.

“TEC is being extremely gracious about this,” Ambidge added. “They could do other things. They could pick up their marbles and go home. They could say, ‘OK, if we’re suspended for three years the financial support we give to the Anglican Communion is suspended for three years.’ And that’s a lot of money.”

For his part,  Andrews said it’s very hard to predict what effect, if any, the primates’ decision might have on the Anglican Church of Canada’s vote.

“On the one hand, I think what it probably does for folks is it underlines the seriousness of these matters, in terms of our relationship with the Communion,” he said. “On the other hand, people were predicting that we would see the primates divide, that the global south primates would leave en masse, and we have not seen that, so there is some kind of commitment to stay together that I think is encouraging for folks…Part of it would depend, I think, on how important our Communion relationships are to the delegates at General Synod.

“For those who understand the Anglican Communion in political terms, it would seem that neither side has won,” Andrews added. “But this is the real victory, for there still is hope for general and genuine repentance, confession and reconciliation.”

Welby also announced he would lead a task force charged with reconciling different views of sexuality in the Communion, with a view to repairing relationships within it.

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Anglican Journal News, January 19, 2016

Hiltz addresses ‘sharp criticism’ over stance on TEC

Posted on: January 19th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Hiltz addresses ‘sharp criticism’ over stance on TEC


Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and U.S. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry share a light moment during a break at the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, England. Photo: Paul Feheley


It would have been premature and beyond his authority to stand together with The Episcopal Church (TEC) over same-sex marriage at the Primates’ Meeting  in Canterbury last week, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said in a reflection released Tuesday, January 19.

Hiltz suggested some people have said he should have come out more strongly in defence of TEC.

“I am aware of sharp criticism over what some regard to have been a failure on my part to stand in solidarity with The Episcopal Church in openly rejecting the relational consequences it bears as a result of The Primates’ Meeting, or in accepting similar consequences for our own Church,” Hiltz said.

To have voluntarily accepted the same measures for the Anglican Church of Canada, Hiltz said, would have meant overstepping his authority as primate, since General Synod has not yet voted on the matter. “I was not and am not prepared to take any action that would pre-empt the outcome of our deliberations at General Synod in July,” he said.

TEC was censured by a majority of senior archbishops because of its General Convention’s decision in 2015 to allow same-sex marriages. In a communiqué released at the end of the January 11-15 meeting, the primates said they were “requiring” the temporary banning of TEC from ecumenical and interfaith bodies, internal standing committees and from “decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

In response to this criticism, Hiltz said first that he empathized with U.S. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who, he said, now faces “a firestorm of reaction in the United States.” TEC, Hiltz said, will now need some time to respond to the primates’ statement through its National Executive Council. A response to the statement may also be forthcoming from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), Hiltz added.

The ACC, which meets this April, is the main representative body of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“I know The Episcopal Church to be very committed to the work and witness of the Communion as a whole, and I recognize the frustration they will feel in not serving in a representative way on our Ecumenical Dialogues, for example,” Hiltz said. “I recognize that if The Episcopal Church is not allowed to vote on a matter of doctrine or polity that the life of the Communion is diminished. I am grateful, however, that they will still have a voice in the discussions of such matters.”

Hiltz said he had also “covenanted” with Curry to keep him and TEC in his prayers, and asked for Anglicans across Canada to do the same.

Hiltz added that he was “deeply impressed” by the way Curry had conducted himself at the meeting. “He was a stellar example of leadership under pressure, of courage with grace.”

Hiltz also apologized for the suffering he said the primates’ statement has caused the church’s non-heterosexual members, who had been made to feel “like the sacrificial offering on the altar of the Church’s unity.”

“Since returning home, I am especially mindful of the pain the LGBTQ community within our Church is feeling,” he said. “I am very sorry…I recognize that many are angry and deeply disillusioned with the very Church in which they endeavour to live out their lives as disciples of Jesus. I know that for some it is in fact very difficult to remain within its fellowship, and that it will take a great resolve of will and courage to do so.”

He called on the Canadian church to reaffirm its commitment to reject laws anywhere in the world against “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer or questioning people,” and asked for prayers “for the LGBTQ people in the midst of the hurt they are bearing and the hope to which they cling for the recognition and sacramental blessing of their relationships.”

Hiltz also acknowledged that divisiveness had surfaced at the Primates’ Meeting.

“While being ordered for communion, we recognize that in the face of deep difference of theological conviction over certain matters of faith and doctrine the bonds of affection between us can be strained, sometimes sadly so, to the point of people speaking of a state of impaired communion,” he said. “This meeting of the Primates was particularly challenging with respect to the tending of our relationships in light of the developments in The Episcopal Church.”

However, the meeting was less plagued by strife than many had predicted, he said.

“This meeting could have been marked by calls for exclusion of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and me,” he said. “It was not. It could have been marked by walk-outs as some had anticipated. It was not. It could have been marked by ranting and raving. It was not. Instead it was marked by perseverance to remain in dialogue that was frank but respectful. It was marked by a generosity of grace and patience, with one another.”

Primates also renewed their commitment “to consult broadly in the seeking of advice and counsel,” when addressing matters of doctrine “that could be controversial in nature,” Hiltz said. At the same time, he said, primates were reminded of the principle stated in the Windsor Continuation Group  that “when the Primates speak collectively, or in a united or unanimous manner, their advice—while it is no more than advice—nevertheless needs to be received with a readiness to undertake reflection and accommodation.”

Hiltz also underscored the other matters the primates had discussed, such as poverty, war and the environment. Primates from across the Communion described the effects that climate change is causing, he said, and he himself spoke about the effects of a warming climate on the people of Canada’s North.

“As we have been often reminded, climate change is really about climate justice,” Hiltz said. “It’s about our commitment to the fifth Mark of Mission—to safeguard the integrity of creation.”

Other primates voiced their concerns about mounting religious violence in countries such as Nigeria. “On this matter and others, including our response to corruption in governments and our response to the global refugee crisis, the point was made that faith communities, governments and civil society must find ways to speak and act together,” he said.

The primates, Hiltz said, were “deeply blessed” by the presence at the meeting of Canadian Catholic theologian and humanitarian Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, a worldwide network helping developmentally disabled people. Vanier preached to the primates on the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet—then knelt down and washed the feet of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Hiltz said. The others followed suit.

“Justin prayed for him and then knelt to wash the feet of the Primate sitting next to him. So around the circle this quiet act of humble service was replicated,” Hiltz said. “All one could hear was the gentle splash of water being poured over feet and the voice of prayer…It was a wonderful way to bring this meeting of the Primates to a close.”

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Anglican Journal News, January 19, 2016

An Initial Statement from the Primate concerning the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury

Posted on: January 16th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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2016fh

An Initial Statement from the Primate concerning the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury

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Having met this week in Canterbury, England, the Primates of the Anglican Communion committed–even in the face of deep differences of theological conviction concerning same sex marriage–to walk together and not apart. Our conversations reflected the truth that, while the Anglican Communion is a family of autonomous Churches in communion with the see of Canterbury, we live by the long-held principle of ‘mutual responsibility and inter dependence in the Body of Christ’. While our relationships are most often characterized by mutual support and encouragement, there are times when we experience stress and strain and we know our need for the grace of God to be patient with each other. Such was the experience of the primates this week.

We struggled with the fragility of our relations in response to the actions taken by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church in changing its canon on marriage, making provision for the blessing of same sex marriages. We talked, prayed and wrestled with the consequences considered by the meeting. Some of us wept.

Through this whole conversation I was deeply mindful that our Church will deal with the first reading of a proposed change of a similar kind in our canon on marriage at General Synod in July 2016. There is no doubt in my mind that the action of the Primates’ meeting will weigh into our deliberations. On this matter I shall not comment further just now, as I intend to write some reflections for release on Monday January 18, 2016. They will speak not only to the issue of same sex marriage, but also the host of other critical global issues discussed in our meeting.

For now I ask for your prayers for all of the primates as they make their way home. I know some are returning to very challenging situations beset with extreme poverty, civil war, religiously motivated violence and the devastating effects of climate change.

This week reminded me once again of the servant style of leadership required of the primates of the Churches of The Anglican Communion. As Jean Vanier reminded us in his reflections at our closing Eucharist, we are called to be the face of Jesus in this world. Pray with me that all of us be faithful in this calling.

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, January 15, 2016

Relationships in Christ are the ‘real instruments of unity’

Posted on: January 16th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Matthew Davies

As the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion conclude their Jan. 11-15 meeting calling for temporary sanctions on the Episcopal Church but with a commitment to walking together, church leaders say the real instruments of communion and unity are the global partnerships, relationships and networks that exist across differences and through common participation in God’s mission.

“This is not the outcome we expected, and while we are disappointed, it’s important to remember that the Anglican Communion is really not a matter of structure and organization,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said Jan. 15 in a video statement recorded outside Canterbury Cathedral.

“The Anglican Communion is a network of relationships that have been built on mission partnerships; relationships that are grounded in a common faith; relationships in companion diocese relationships; relationships with parish to parish across the world; relationships that are profoundly committed to serving and following the way of Jesus of Nazareth by helping the poorest of the poor, and helping this world to be a place where no child goes to bed hungry ever. That’s what the Anglican Communion is, and that Communion continues and moves forward.”

President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, told ENS that the primates of the Anglican Communion sometimes have difficult relationships with one another, and described the news emerging from the meeting as sobering. “But while the primates work on restoring their relationships, Anglicans across the world will continue working together to feed the hungry, care for the sick, educate children, and heal the world,” she said. “Nothing that happens at a Primates Meeting will change our love for one another and our commitment to serving God together.”

Jennings, who represents the Episcopal Church as the clergy member of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Anglican Communion’s main policy-making body, said that the people who are most likely to suffer from the news emerging from the meeting “are faithful LGBTI Anglicans and their allies, especially in Africa. I count many of them as my friends and colleagues, and today I am especially praying that this new expression of religious homophobia does not make them even more vulnerable to violence and discrimination than they already are.”

In their statement, the primates asked that the Episcopal Church, for a period of three years, “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

Expressing their unanimous desire to walk together, the primates said that their call comes in response to the decision by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention last June to change canonical language that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

This is not the first time that the ban from serving on ecumenical and interfaith bodies has been imposed on the Episcopal Church. In 2010, the Rev. Kenneth Kearon, then the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, told Episcopalians serving on the communion’s ecumenical dialogues that their memberships were discontinued.

Kearnon’s move came after then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams proposed that people serving on ecumenical dialogues should resign their membership if they are from a province that has not complied with the communion’s moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate. He specifically referred to the earlier consecration of Mary Douglas Glasspool as a bishop suffragan in Los Angeles and the unauthorized incursions by Anglican leaders into other provinces. Glasspool is the Episcopal Church’s second openly gay, partnered bishop.

The decision affected five Episcopal Church members then serving on Anglican dialogues with the Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as one member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO), who had been invited to serve as a consultant. No mention was made at the time of representatives from other provinces — such as Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – that had been involved in cross-border interventions in the United States.

The ban was lifted in 2012 by then-IASCUFO chairman Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of the Anglican Church of Burundi.

Since her reinstatement, the Rev. Katherine Grieb has continued to be a member of ISACUFO. It is not clear what the new sanctions mean for her membership. In addition, it appears that the Episcopal Church’s only other member currently serving on a Communion ecumenical body is the Rev. Amy E. Richter, who is listed as serving on the recently reconstituted Anglican-Reformed Dialogue.

The Communion’s ecumenical dialogues are described here and its interfaith dialogues are explained here.

In an interview with ENS, Curry said that while the primates’ decision may be disappointing for many Episcopalians, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, “it means that we have more work of love to do, and that work of love is helping our story and the story of many faithful Christians … to be told and heard, and it really may be part of our vocation in the world to bear witness to that, and it’s a loving witness.”

Bishop Ian Douglas of the Diocese of Connecticut told ENS that the “real unity of the Anglican Communion is embodied in our connection and common action as together we serve God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Douglas represents the Episcopal Church as the bishop member of the Anglican Consultative Council. He also serves as a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

“Relationships in Christ fostered by building schools and medical clinics together, visits through companion dioceses, missionaries sharing their lives in service, bind us together in deep and profound ways,” he said.

“I appreciate and honor how the structures of the Anglican Communion such as the ACC, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates Meeting provide important venues for conversation, prayer and discernment among the provinces of the Anglican Communion. But the real ‘instruments of unity’ are the countless ways that parishes, dioceses and individual Christians in the Anglican Communion connect across our differences.”

Curry, in the ENS interview, said that the call from the primates is now a question for the ACC to consider “because that’s the one constitutional body we have in the Communion, so the ACC will have to adjudicate what the primates say about themselves, whether or not they concur with that.”

The ACC will gather April 8-20 in Lusaka, Zambia in a previously scheduled meeting.

Curry told ENS that the primates did not discuss what would happen at the end of the three-year time period they set for the sanctions.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria that has educated countless leaders for service throughout the Anglican Communion, told ENS that he believes the Episcopal Church “is learning how to live with disagreement and my prayer is that the Communion does so as well. The Episcopal Church has consistently sought to serve the other provinces in the Communion. Our partnerships with sister seminaries in the Sudan, Tanzania, and elsewhere have never been conditional on agreement. Where there is a need, we seek to serve.”

Markham said that such work would continue regardless of the outcome of the Primates Meeting. “At the level of congregations, dioceses, and seminaries, the continuing work of celebrating the gift of a worldwide communion that loves the Lord Jesus will continue,” he said. “The Episcopal Church needs the rich vibrancy of the global south Anglicans. It enhances our understanding of Anglicanism and Christianity.

“It is true that those of us who support the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters do take comfort from history. From the deep clash over the critical study of Scripture with Colenso, the Communion has always been a forum for discernment and struggle. It is continuing to play that role. And most issues do look different twenty or thirty years from now. Meanwhile the obligation of the Episcopal church is to maintain good relationships, stress that which we share, focus on Jesus, and seek to advance The conversation. Throughout this controversy, we have never closed the door (or even threatened to do), we always want to do our part to support the Communion in whatever ways this can be possible.”

A series of articles posted on a Primates 2016 blog have focused on stories of mission, the fruits of countless relationships, partnerships and networks that exist throughout the Anglican Communion’s 38 autonomous provinces in 165 countries. For many, that is what exemplifies the true Anglican Communion, one with a missiological focus on serving those in need rather than wrapped up in the divisive issues that have dominated much of the agenda so far in Canterbury this week.

“In the Episcopal Church in Connecticut we are blessed with dozens of parish-based partnerships in God’s mission around the world from Kenya to Nigeria, from Haiti to Ecuador,” said Douglas. “For example, Trinity Church in Tarriffville has had a profound and lasting relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna in northern Nigeria through the ministry of Kateri Medical Clinic. Each year a team of medical professionals and non-medical volunteers travels from Connecticut to Nigeria to work alongside Nigerian volunteers providing free medical care to rural people at the Kateri Clinic. Since 2002, over 120,000 people, Christian and Muslim alike, have been served by this partnership in Christ.  The Kateri Medical Clinic is a living testimony that Anglicans working together in God’s mission is the heart of our communion in Christ.”

In his video statement, Curry acknowledged the “heartache and pain” that many will feel by the primates’ statement, but said it’s important to remember that the Episcopal Church is still very much a vital part of the Anglican Communion.

“We are the Episcopal Church, and we are part of the Jesus Movement, and that Movement goes on, and our work goes on,” he said. “And the truth is, it may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people. And maybe it’s a part of our vocation to help that to happen. And so we must claim that high calling; claim the high calling of love and faith; love even for those with whom we disagree, and then continue, and that we will do, and we will do it together.

“We are part of the Jesus Movement, and the cause of God’s love in this world can never stop and will never be defeated. God love you. God bless you. And you keep the faith. And we move forward.”

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter of the Episcopal News Service

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Anglican Journal News, January 15, 2016