Can the Anglican Communion start afresh?

Can the Anglican Communion start afresh after Rowan Williams steps down as the Archbishop of Canterbury? The great church historian
Diarmaid MacCulloch thinks so
. On the Guardian's website he writes:

Something very significant in the history of the Church of England happened on Saturday. An absolute majority of dioceses in the Church of England, debating diocese by diocese, voted down a pernicious scheme called the Anglican Covenant. This was an effort to increase the power of centralising bureaucracy throughout the worldwide Anglican communion. However much the promoters denied it, the principal aim was to discipline Anglican churches in the United States and Canada, which had the gall to think for themselves and, after much prayer and discussion, to treat gay people just like anybody else.

Anglicanism, McCulloch writes, "has the chance to rediscover painful lessons from its chequered past. After the 16th century Reformation, Scotland, Ireland and England all had churches with bishops. All three churches wanted to monopolise every form of religious expression throughout the realm. All failed."

He adds:

In the end, episcopal churches were disestablished in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but even the established Church of England learned that it could not boss around an entire nation, and had to accept that it ministered within a country of many faiths and none. That is a precious lesson to teach its many sister churches worldwide. Try and lay down the law in that delicate, nuanced thing that is religious belief, and you end up damaging or hurting a great many people.

Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don't expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don't agree with them. Now Anglicans can start listening afresh. The present archbishop of Canterbury has their warm good wishes, as he prepares to use his many talents and graces in a different setting. They should ask the next man or woman in the job to reconnect with the church and the nation.

Comments (11)

"Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don't expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don't agree with them."

Well said Mr. McCulloch.


I find the family comparison mostly helpful. It's worth noting, however, that it is an understanding of family rooted in a particular culture, namely, that of the Euro-Atlantic world. Other cultures around the world and within the Anglican Communion have different understandings of what it means to be family and what behavioural expectations are most appropriate to those families.


Why limit a new communion to members of the Anglican family? I would love to see TEC, ELCA and their progressive analogs in other countries join into a new communion. If GAFCON, the Southern Cone, ACNA, Missouri Synod and those guy wants to start their own communion, more power to 'em.

Morris Post

Actually, the Missouri Synod does not believe in ecumenical activity. Some people from that church were spectators at the creation of the ACNA, but they do not wish to commune with non-Lutherans.

I have not problem with working with other denominations as long as we keep out Anglican heritage in tact. If we start blending we lose what is unique to Anglicanism.


Obviously I meant keep OUR Anglican heritage....


We already have a model for being in communion with other denominations, Lutherans and Moravians among them. We did not ask "the communion" for permission. We have the Quadrilateral which lays out paths towards communion which are neither assimilation or diffusion.

Yes Michael we do. In fact, if people ask me "what do you believe" I usually refer to the Chicago Lambeth Quad.


Perhaps we can begin with an earlier covenant that was proposed by IASCOME - another Anglican body that is focused on mission. Read it here.
This one offers a way forward with diverse points of view centered in mission with one another. Has its day come?


Thanks for bringing that up. I am only starting to hear about these other proposed covenants that simply disappeared from sight. The one you linked to is a much more relationship oriented one that makes more sense than the AC that has been sent around to each province in the communion.

Interesting that the covenants that desire more communication and working together were tossed aside for a more punitive suggestion (could this be due to the strong orthodox beliefs of the Global South?)

Point 4 is something we need to work on if the communion is to continue:

"Meet to share common purpose and explore differences and disagreements

Point four provides for face-to-face meetings at which insights and learnings can be shared and difficulties worked through."


Of course, the next AoC will NOT be a woman, but maybe someday once the CoE gets over its fit of the vapors over female clergy that still remains in place....

Certainly, Anglicanism, can start afresh. As long as the Leader is a Believer. Keep praying that such a person, will step up & Lead the Flock. Someone, who cares about Lost Sheep. Someone who cares about Feeding Jesus' Sheep-- We're starving out here!

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