The role of the primates

Abp. Michael Peers, retired primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has responded to the Rev. Canon Robert Brooks' memo from last week in which he elucidates on whether the primates can make ultimatums about who stays in or leaves the Anglican Communion. Peers goes another step further, by explaining the relationship between the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting, having a long relationship with both institutions.

But the stated purpose of the Primates Meeting was the provision of occasions of mutual support and building of a community of persons of similar ministries within the Communion. The very name and the style of the meetings express it well. Even though a resolution of the 1978 Lambeth Conference refers to a “Primates Committee,” that name was never used. The ACC consults. The Lambeth bishops confer. The primates meet.

Archbishop Donald Coggan, in presiding over the first meeting, made it clear that the meeting was not going to become a resolution-producing body. The Meetings have traditionally produced statements, and the preparation of those statements certainly produces debate; but no resolution is ever taken, or even proposed, about the statement or any other subject. Even Archbishop George Carey, who arguably contributed to the higher visibility of the Primates Meeting by acceding to the request from some members for annual meetings (an innovation advised against by those primates who chaired the Inter-Anglican Finance Committee!), resisted any attempt to introduce the proposing of motions. Such a change would overstep the mandate agreed upon from the first meeting.

Confusion of roles between the ACC and the Primates Meeting is not new. Soon after the 1988 Lambeth Conference, there arose an issue where the Primates Standing Committee (originally simply an Agenda Committee) wanted to act in order to resolve a difficult question concerning the future of the Anglican Centre in Rome. They were unaware that the ACC Standing Committee was also working on the same issue, and the two bodies were soon at cross-purposes. In order to prevent such problems in the future, it was proposed that the two Standing Committees meet jointly. This has been the practice at the annual meetings ever since. The nine members of the ACC Standing Committee and the five members of the Primates’ Standing Committee vote as a body. But, crucially, the Primates Standing Committee members may not vote on the approval of the audited financial statement because the ACC is a legally constituted body, registered with the Charities Commissioners of the United Kingdom, and only the constitutionally elected members are allowed by law to vote.

The ACC has its place and, because it is the only Communion-wide “Instrument” with representation from orders other than episcopal, it was designed to have the greatest authority. I pray that it may have the freedom and grace to use that authority wisely. The Primates Meeting has its place in a church which is “episcopally led and synodically governed” in the words Archbishop Coggan used. I pray that it may have the grace to use its leadership humbly.

The whole thing is here. Both essays were published at the Episcopal Majority blog.

Day 2

Updated, revised, corrected

A very partial account of the second day of the House of Bishops meeting based on conversations with three persons present in the meetings:

Today the House of Bishops heard from members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.

The speakers included Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis, Jerusalem and the Middle East, whose presentation was leaked to conservative bloggers and is available here, Chancellor Philippa Amable of West Africa, Bishop James Tengatenga of Central Africa, Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales and Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia.

Anis was the most confrontational. The bishops we spoke with were depressed by his presentation because it contrasted so sharply with the flexibility expressed in private conversation by other members of the delegation.

Ms. Amable, who attended the recent conference of African and Episcopal bishops convened by Trinity Church Wall Street in Spain, spoke, among others things, about the profound differences between American and west African cultures. She told the bishops that heterosexual monogamy was the “norm” and that they had to realize that the majority of the Primates did not “resonate” to the views of the Episcopal Church.

After Bishop Tengatenga’s presentation, Archbishop Aspinall reviewed the contents of the Dar es Salaam communique. Archbishop Morgan spoke about the breadth of beliefs and practices regarding human sexuality in Wales, and said the Episcopal Church was not alone in struggling with this issue.

One bishop we spoke with said a member of the Joint Standing Committee had offered a private apology for Archbishop Anis’ remarks.

All three of the people we spoke with said the mood of the bishops after the morning session was glum because most of the speakers seemed to be pushing them toward an either or choice between conscience and unity.

But Archbishop Rowan Williams, at an early afternoon press conference, suggested there was room for compromise:

“Despite what has been claimed, there is no ‘ultimatum’ involved. The primates asked for a response by September 30 simply because we were aware that this was the meeting of the house likely to be formulating such a response. The ACC and Primates Joint Standing Committee will be reading and digesting what the bishops have to say, and will let me know their thoughts on it early next week. After this I shall be sharing what they say, along with my own assessments, with the primates and others, inviting their advice in the next couple of weeks.

Williams also said that it was only natural that there would be a variety interpretations of the communiqué among the 38 Primates of the Communion, but that he did not read it as a set of demands, and that he did not see September 30 as a “deadline.”

(I suggested that the deadline had "lost some of its luster" in an article published on Monday.)

I am not certain about this, but I believe the deadline for submitting resolutions to be considered on Monday was at 4 or 5 p. m. Central time. There are numerous resolutions to be considered, and the Presiding Bishop and the leaders of the House may find it challenging to do them all justice. As one bishop said: This is a big sandbox and everybody has brought their favorite toys.

Joint Standing Committee departs

The members of the Joint Standing Commitee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative (a group desperately in need of a shorter nickname) have decamped for the airport. It would have been nice if the House of Bishops had managed to get them something to respond to while they were still in town. I have a vague sense from just a couple of conversations that the tension at the moment is not so much between liberals and conservatives as it is between those who think the bishops need to say something definitive about the election of gay bishops and the blessing of same sex relationships and those who don't.

Please submit nicknames for the Joint Standing Committee by commenting on this item. News bloggers for the Episcopal Cafe and their families are not eligible.

Bishop Epting predicts a long day

Bishop Christopher Epting believes it may take all day for the House of Bishops to finish work on a response to the Dar es Salaam communique and a letter to the Church. Read his blog, "That We All May Be One."

Note here, that he only expresses "hope" that the house will finish the job:

We have most of today (Tuesday) to get this done and I have hope that we will indeed complete our work. It’s a very difficult task, given the diversity of this House, but that very diversity is part of the richness of the Episcopal Church and, at least historically, Anglicanism.

During General Convention when conservatives suggested that the Episcopal Church was thumbing its nose at the Anglican Communion, I disagreed, pointing out that thumbing your nose requires enough coordination to get your hand to your face.

I am praying for an improvement in the House of Bishops' gross motor skills.

The Joint Standing Committee Report: some flashpoints

Our nominations for the passages of The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion Report on The Episcopal Church House of Bishops of Meeting in New Orleans include:

On same-sex blessings
(page 6 of the pdf):

The Episcopal Church has acknowledged in the past, however, that “local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions”. In answer to the way in which this resolution was understood in the Windsor Report, it has been said that this statement was to be understood descriptively of a reality current in 2003 and not as permissive, and the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion prior to the 75th General Convention (2006) specifically denied that it was intended to authorise such rites.

It needs to be made clear however that we believe that the celebration of a public liturgy which includes a blessing on a same-sex union is not within the breadth of private pastoral response envisaged by the Primates in their Pastoral Letter of 2003, and that the undertaking made by the bishops in New Orleans is understood to mean that the use of any such rites or liturgies will not in future have the bishop’s authority “until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action, a qualification which is in line with the limits that the Constitution of The Episcopal Church places upon the bishops.

On this basis, we understand the statement of the House of Bishops in New Orleans to have met the request of the Windsor Report in that the Bishops have declared “a moratorium on all such public Rites”19, and the request of the Primates at Dar es Salaam that the bishops should “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses” since we have their pledge explicitly in those terms.

The interpretation of the phrase: "the use of any such rites or liturgies will not in future have the bishop’s authority" will be hotly disputed. Does that constitute a prohibition? Is it opaque on purpose? Note also the phrase "On this basis" at the beginning of the last paragraph in the quotation.

Conclusion to Part One
(page 9)

By their answers to these two questions, we believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them in the Windsor Report, and on which clarifications were sought by 30th September 2007, and given the necessary assurances sought of them.

Obviously the breakaway right and the Primates aligned with Akinola will dispute this. Will others join them?

Regarding incursions by Primates of other provinces
(Page 11--the second sentence):

At Dar es Salaam, the primates sought to address these matters by proposing that The Episcopal Church turn to a particular group of bishops living and ministering within its life, who had publicly declared that they accepted both the standard of teaching expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 and were unreservedly committed to the recommendations of the Windsor Report. In other words, the primates were indicating to those who felt alienated from the leadership of The Episcopal Church that there were identifiable bishops within The Episcopal Church able to meet the needs identified by the groups seeking alternative pastoral provision without the need for “foreign intervention”.

A pretty straightforward repudiation of the Peter Akinola/Henry Orombi/Benjamin Nzimbi/Emmanuel Kolini incursions that won't sit well on the separatist right.

Support for Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's "episcopal visitors"
(Pages 11 and 12)

In her opening remarks to the House of Bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori indicated to the assembled bishops that she had appointed eight Episcopal Visitors. ... We believe that these initiatives offer a viable basis on which to proceed. Bishop Jefferts Schori indicated that she deliberately left open and flexible the operation of the ministry of the Episcopal Visitors, believing that it was best for the visitor and the diocesan bishop concerned to work out an acceptable scheme. The Presiding Bishop laid down only two conditions: first, that such Episcopal visitors did not encourage dioceses or parishes to leave the Episcopal Church, and second, that the Episcopal Visitors would report occasionally to the Presiding Bishop. By leaving this ministry flexible for negotiation and development, we believe that the Presiding Bishop has opened a way forward. There is within this proposal the potential for the development of a scheme which, with good will on the part of all parties, could meet their needs.

Another blow to separatists.

Law suits
(page 12):

We are dismayed as a Joint Standing Committee by the continuing use of the law courts in this situation, and request that the Archbishop of Canterbury use his influence to persuade parties to discontinue actions in law on the basis set out in the primates’ Communiqué.

A plea unlikely to be heard by either side, except when there is a tactical advantage in appearing to be the more peaceable party.

The Pastoral Council Scheme from Dar es Salaam is dead, but the Panel of Reference may be resurrected.
(page 13):

We believe that the House of Bishops is correct in identifying that the co-operation and participation of the wider Communion, in a way which respects the integrity of the American Province, is an important element in addressing questions of pastoral oversight for those seeking alternative provision. We also believe that a body which could facilitate such consultation and partnership would meet the intent of the Pastoral Council envisaged by the Primates in their Communiqué. We encourage all the Instruments of Communion to participate in a discussion with the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of The Episcopal Church to discern a way in which to meet both the intentions behind the proposals in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué and this statement by the House of Bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury may wish to revisit the work and mandate of “The Panel of Reference” and to explore whether this body, or a reconstituted version of it, may have a part to play in this respect.

It is difficult to believe that the Committee sees potential in the PofR, which is disliked and mistrusted by left and right. The acknowledgment that the Pastoral Council Scheme, foisted on the world by the Anglican Communion Institute violated the integrity of a member province of the Communion is most welcome, however.

The flashpoint among flashpoints as far as the separatists are concerned
Page 14

As a Joint Standing Committee, we do not see how certain primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying regard to them.

"In good conscience" is very, very strong language. And not to put too fine a point on it, on Page 15, the Committee quotes the previous Archbishop of Canterbury George's Carey who wrote that the bishops consecrated for the Anglican Mission in America during his tenure were no bishops of the Anglican Communion, and in the following paragraph adds:

The current instances of consecrations which have been taking place in African Provinces with respect to “missionary initiatives” in North America would seem to fall into the same category. We understand that, in addition to contravening the authorities quoted above, the consecrations took place either without consultation with or even against the counsel of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

That's enough for now. There is ample language in this document to trouble proponents of the full inclusion of all of the baptized in the sacramental life of the Church as well. More on that tomorrow.

Update: one member of the Joint Standing Committee who disagrees with this report has made his voice heard. Is it maybe just a little curious that Bishop Mouneer Anis could not get his comments to the writers of the Standing Committee report in time for inclusion, but was able to get them into the hands of the Times of London two hours after the report was published?

Anglican panel praises Episcopalians

Anglican panel praises Episcopalians according to the headline of the article by AP's religion writer Rachel Zoll, on the report of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. She writes:

A world Anglican panel acknowledged Wednesday that Episcopal bishops are making some concessions to ease the turmoil they created in 2003 by consecrating their church's first openly gay bishop.

But the committee said that all sides in the long-running conflict over the Bible and homosexuality need to do much more to keep the beleaguered worldwide Anglican fellowship from splitting.

and adds,
But the committee had equally frank criticism of overseas Anglican conservatives who have been consecrating bishops to lead networks of breakaway parishes in the United States that rival the Episcopal Church. "We believe that the time is right for a determined effort to bring interventions to an end," the panel wrote.

Read it all here.

The New York Times is reporting Panel Says Episcopalians Have Met Anglican Directive. Neela Banerjee writes:

In a victory for the Episcopal Church in its effort to remain in the Anglican Communion, a high-ranking Anglican advisory committee said Wednesday that Episcopal bishops had complied with a directive by Anglican leaders on same-sex unions and gay bishops.

And there's this from Rebecca Trounson of the Los Angeles Times:
the panel also appeared to rebuke several Anglican primates who had established networks of breakaway Episcopal parishes in the United States, calling for an end to such practices.

Southern Cone "suspension": Sabre rattling? Trial balloon?

Ruth Gledhill at The Times has a noteworthy story that captures the mood of exasperation among many leaders in the Anglican Communion toward Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Province of the Southern Cone, but perhaps overstates the consequences that are likely to ensue. She writes:

A conservative province in the Anglican church faces “punishment” this week for offering a safe haven to conservatives.

Senior bishops and laity meeting in London are to consider suspending the Anglican church in South America for taking rebel US dioceses under its wing.

Now leaving aside the use of the phrase "safe haven" which equates having to live in a Church in which one is out of sympathy with the views of the majority with being persecuted, this lead probably promises more than the story can deliver. There are very few ways a province can be "punished," even if one attempt to soften the word by putting it in quotes.

Later in the story, Ruth writes:

The penalty being considered against the Southern Cone, which has 22,000 members in Argentina and surrounding nations, includes the removal of voting rights at the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, the central governing body of the Anglican Communion, in Jamaica next May.

When the council last met in Nottingham in 2005, the lay and ordained members from Canada and the US were allowed to attend as observers but were barred from voting. This was because a diocese in Canada had authorised a rite for same-sex blessings and The Episcopal Church had gone ahead with the consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

This isn't quite right. The Episcopal Church voluntarily refrained from voting at the Nottingham meeting at the request of the Primates. Had the Episcopal Church not voluntarily refrained, there is nothing anyone could have done to prohibit it from exercising its franchise. The same is true in this situation. The Southern Cone would have to voluntarily "suspend" itself. This seems unlikely.

But perhaps we are missing something. Whatever the case, it is enjoyable to speculate on whether this information was leaked by someone trying to put the squeeze on Venables or trying to rally support for him. It is also instructive to look at the one important number in this story: 22,000. The Province of the Southern Cone, which consists of much of the South American continent, has 22,000 members.

Read it all here.

KJS: "The subject has not come up"

ENS reports on the November 24-26 meeting of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). Read the second paragraph:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was among those attending the JSC meeting, which was held behind closed doors at the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace in London. She noted that a November 26 report in The Times of London newspaper, that suggested the JSC had discussed plans to discipline the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone for its recent incursions into other provinces, was untrue. "The subject has not come up," she told Episcopal News Service.
The diversion produced The Times story distracts from what the JSC did do:
The Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion, addressed the committee on what he expects in the next version of the [Anglican] covenant. "The first two sections will be relatively unchanged," said Jefferts Schori, "but he's expecting some significant changes in the third section and an almost completely new [appendix]."

JSC members spent some time reflecting on the Lambeth Conference and reviewing its indaba process -- a Zulu work meaning "purposeful discussion" -- that formed the basis for groups of around 40 bishops that met each day during last summer's gathering.

Jefferts Schori said committee members discussed ways the ACC could use the indaba process and "the discoveries of how Lambeth worked in terms of ensuring that all voices are heard."

It's all here.

Anglican Consultative Council to consider Covenant

Two related items today from ENS on the Anglican Covenant drafting committee and the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

On the coming meeting of the ACC

The Anglican Communion's most representative legislative body -- the Anglican Consultative Council -- will consider two documents at its upcoming meeting that "are key to discerning a way forward for the Anglican Communion in light of recent stresses caused by differences over matters of human sexuality," according to an April 3 news release from the Anglican Communion Office.

Read more »

Capturing the castle through the back door

The most recent draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, which we wrote about yesterday, speaks at some length about the powers that will be exercised by the various Instruments of Unity or Instruments of Communion. Indeed, almost every recent document dealing with Anglican governance speaks of the instruments as though they are at least as old and as well-established, as say, the three branches of the United States government. Yet the attempt to invest these instruments with ecclesiastical authority is barely a decade old, has never been examined in any formal way by the member Churches of the Communion and has never even been approved by the so-called instruments themselves.

However, by speaking as though the system that they wish to create already exists, proponents of a more top-down form of governance may succeed in wearing down resistance to a system of ecclesiastic arrangements in which individual churches are gradually forced to cede power to the global Communion.

Read more »

Videos from ACC-14 opening

Episcopal Life has three videos surrounding the opening of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica: (1) opening remarks by the Archbishop of Canterbury, (2) the May 2nd press conference with The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, and Auckland Bishop John Paterson, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, and (3) remarks by members of the ACC on their hopes for the meeting. All three can be accessed here.

Canon Kearon answers a question about whether "Church" for the purposes of the covenant means province or diocese. His answer is it is an open question that needs to be answered, but that one possibility is the way the communion does it which is the list of provinces and extra provincial areas listed in the official Provincial Directory.

6,000 celebrate with the ACC

ENS reports more than 6,000 attended the Anglican Consultative Council opening eucharist:

The opening Eucharist May 3 was hosted at the National Arena in Kingston by the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and the Province of the West Indies and featured Jamaican drummers and dancers, and combined reggae music with incense-laced Anglican high-church liturgy. Deacon Garfield Campbell chanted the gospel and the congregation sang Jamaica reggae legend Bob Marley's "One Love" during the passing of the peace.

A hymn, "Lord of our diversity," was commissioned for the gathering. Poet Mervyn Morris and composer Noel Dexter of Jamaica used music that recalled Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" to ask that God would "sanctify our listening and help us get the sense of perplexing arguments before we take offense." Another verse prays that God would "teach us that opinions which at first may seem quite strange may reflect the glory of your great creative range."

All of the Anglican churches in Jamaica were closed May 3 so that their members could attend the service. Between 6,000 and 7,000 people worshipped with the ACC, including ecumenical and interfaith leaders as well as representatives of the Jamaican government and the diplomatic corps. The Eucharist was broadcast live on Jamaican television, complete with color commentary from the back of the hall.

The Anglican Journal's report is here.

ENS has also provided video of the sermon delivered by Rowan Williams. From the ENS report:

Williams' message reiterated remarks he made to ACC the day before when he called for a "proper focus on theology and our mission" and called mission "one of the elements that most securely and profoundly binds us together as a communion, not just an assembly of local enterprises."
The ACC has both a chair (Bishop John Paterson) and a president (The Archbishop of Canterbury) and their brief opening remarks for the ACC's first plenary on May 2nd are presented in this podcast provided by ACO.

Colin Coward has more photos, text of the hymn and commentary here. In a post he wrote yesterday he comments:

If the Listening Process were being implemented in Jamaica with people like those I encountered this afternoon, it might genuinely be possible to open people’s hearts and minds and come to a deeper understanding of the mystery of human sexuality in its infinite, holy variety. I suspect there are many bishops who would be willing to take the risk but don’t because their Primate has issued an edict against it.

Orombi tries to seat Am. Ang. Council leader as Ugandan rep

UPDATED: 9 p.m.

The Church of Uganda has attempted to seat the Rev. J. Philip Ashey, chief operating officer of the schismatic American Anglican Council, as its clerical representative to the Anglican Consultative Council Meeting in Jamaica. The Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the ACC has refused the request.

As Doug LeBlanc has reported, Ashey recently compared the role of the American Anglican Council to Special Forces of the U.S. military:

“Like Special Forces, we go behind the scenes and we blow up things,” he said, adding quickly that what the AAC blows up is principalities and powers.

Correspondence between the Church of Uganda and Canon Kenneth Kearon follow in parts one through five. Part six is a letter from Archbishop Henry Orombi, who, despite being a member of the Joint Standing Committee has never attended one of its meetings, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams.

A few things to note: In part one, the Church of Uganda notifies Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council that Ashey is to be their clerical representative, but list his mailing address in Kampala, thus disguising the fact that he lives in Atlanta. This letter is dated just eight days before the ACC meeting is to begin.

In part five, Canon Kearon writes:

The Joint Standing Committee has discussed this at length. We understand that the Revd Philip Ashey’s relationship with the Church of the Province of Uganda is as a result of a cross provincial intervention, and note that such interventions are contrary to the Windsor Report and other reports accepted by successive meetings of the Instruments of Communion, including Primates’ Meetings which you have attended.

In Part six, Archbishop Orombi writes:

The appointment of Rev. Philip Ashey to fill a vacancy at the last minute provides the Church of Uganda with a strong voice of a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Ruwenzori. It is also a voice for the almost 100,000 orthodox Anglicans in North America who have been persecuted by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, who will not be represented by their delegations to ACC-14, and who will not otherwise have voice or seat at the table of the ACC. It is important for the Communion to be reminded that there is a serious tear in the fabric of our communion; all is not well and there continues to be an urgent need to address the ongoing crisis before us.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

Part six

Ruth Gledhill is developing this story in the context of a more comprehensive look at what is happening in Jamaica at her blog.

Click Read more to see the Church of Uganda's press release.

UPDATE: 9 P.M - Statement by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has been issued and an audio link to his press conference remarkshere.

Read more »

ACC begins to consider next action on Covenant

In today's sessions, the Anglican Consultative Council began its work considering the latest draft of the proposed Covenant, and what action the Council might decide to take.

According to ENS, a resolution is being considered that, if adopted, would send the Covenant out for adoption with responses by the Provinces required either way by December 2014.

"The resolution came to the ACC representatives from the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates, or leaders, of the communion's churches. That committee met in Kingston last week before the ACC meeting.

In presenting the resolution, Diocese of Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, said, 'Archbishop Drexel has left us with no doubt that there is no matter that will come before us this week that is more important than the question of the covenant,' adding that a 'solemn responsibility' had fallen on the ACC.

Gomez told the representatives that 'the communion is close to the point of breaking up … The chance that the covenant offers to give something to the communion as a description of what Anglicans care about … won't last much longer.'

Gomez linked the urgency of that timeframe to the July 8-17 meeting of the Episcopal Church's General Convention and the recognition by conservative Anglican leaders and former Episcopalians of a proposed new Anglican entity in North America. He also said that 'a number of primates' had told him that their governing bodies 'are beginning to become impatient with the communion's life if the communion can't say something clear at this stage of its life.'

If the ACC does not agree to send the covenant out to the provinces for their approval, Gomez predicted, 'there will be clear breaks in the communion after this meeting.'"

Read the full article here.

ENS has posted the text of Archbishop Gomez's presentation here.

In the discussion that followed the introduction of the resolution, some voices called for the immediate adoption of the Covenant and Gregory Cameron, Deputy Secretary General of the ACC, and now a bishop in Wales, giving his opinion that 15 to 20 provinces were ready to quickly adopt the document.

The Canadian report on the day's discussions can be found here. Marites Sison's report points out that Bishop Cameron's remarks today somewhat contradict remarks by the Secretary General Kenneth Kearon earlier that participation in the Covenant would not affect a Province's status in the Communion.

Covenant adoption limited to only ACC members?

Suzanne Lawson, a lay member of the Anglican Church of Canada delegation to the ACC meeting in Jamaica writes today that the ACC is beginning work on a resolution that slightly tweaks the proposed Anglican Covenant.

She writes on her blog "Caribbean Considerations":

"The resolution we’ve been asked to consider, prepared by the Joint Standing Committee, addresses my major concern with the draft Covenant, and that is that there is the provision that other ‘churches’ (read, potentially, the break-away splinter group in Canada, or individual dioceses or parishes) can adopt the Covenant. The resolution asks that only the current member churches of the ACC be asked to consider and adopt the Covenant at this time. A wise insertion in the draft resolution…I hope it remains there to keep us together and not encouraging further splintering. "

Read the full article here.

She goes on to describe the good work being done around the Communion by the various networks of the Communion and the stances that they have taken over the years.

We haven't seen the text of the resolution and haven't seen this reported elsewhere yet, but it is a significant development if it has, in fact, occurred.

The teeth of the thing: a magisterium in the Communion's future?

Updated @ 9:17PM Eastern with coverage by Anglican Journal - scroll to end

Ruth Gledhill has obtained a copy of the draft resolution before the Anglican Consultative Council that pertains to the Windsor Continuation Group. The text of the resolution:


a) thanks the Archbishop of Canterbury for his report on the work and recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group.

b) affirms the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group.

c) encourages the Archbishop of Canterbury to work with the Joint Standing Committee and Secretary General to carry forward the implementation of these recommendations as appropriate.

d) affirms the request of the Windsor Report (2004), adopted at the Primates' Meetings (2005, 2007 and 2009) and supported at the Lambeth Conference (2008) for the implementation of the agreed moratoria on the Consecration of Bishops living in a same gender union, authorisation of public Rites of blessing for Same Sex unions and continued interventions in other Provinces, and urges gracious restraint in all these areas.

e) requests IASCUFO to undertake a study of the role and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting in the Communion, their ecclesiological rationale and the relationships between them in line with the recommendation of paragraph 76 of the WCG Report, and to report back to ACC-15.

Gledhill's post includes jpegs of the report -- apologies, that's what's available for now (click on them to enlarge to improve legibility).

Gledhill's interpretation of e) above:

Basically, it is Anglican-speak for empowering the 'instruments' - the Primates, Lambeth and the ACC - to enforce discipline. So that paragraph, for all its acronyms and jargon, is the teeth of the thing. The question remains, will the provinces bite?
IASCUFO? That would be Inter-Anglican Standing Committee for Unity, Faith and Order. It already exists, but the post of director recently became vacant because of the Consecration of Canon Gregory Cameron as Bishop of St Asaph in the Church in Wales. You can apply for the position here.

Added: The Anglican Journal reports,

Archbishop Williams, who walked ACC delegates through the history of the WCG and its recommendations, meanwhile, urged them to explore whether Anglicanism should mean “more or less communion, integrity and cohesiveness.”

He said that he believes that the WCG had made several references to an “ecclesial deficit” because the Anglican Communion, “at the moment suffers from a lack of clarity about what kind of fellowship it’s meant to be. As long as we have that lack of clarity we will be unclear about what we really mean by church.”

The Lead has analyzed the WCG report and “ecclesial deficit” before including in this post.

Covenant adoption process still evolving

The confusion of the last couple of days of how the proposed Anglican Covenant might be adopted is a direct consequence of the evolving situation in the ACC and the shared understanding of the Covenant in Jamaica right now.

According to the Episcopal News Service, reporting on a press conference given by Archbishop Drexel Gomez and Bishop Gregory Cameron the process being used is still changing. And that state of change is what is giving rise the contradictory statements that have been made about the process and the implications over the past week.

"Anglican Communion Deputy Secretary General Gregory Cameron told reporters 'we're feeling our way' in terms of the implications for those provinces that decide not to sign onto the covenant, whether entities other than the provinces which are now members of the Anglican Consultative Council (as listed in the council's constitution) would be allowed to adopt the covenant and whether there would be a time limit for provinces to decide."

Further down the article reports:

Cameron said it would be up to a province to decide if its dioceses could adopt the covenant. A group of active and retired Episcopal Church bishops recently challenged the polity of the U.S.-based province by saying that they believed that its dioceses could take that action. There has been no official response to that claim.

The JSC draft resolution, which Cameron said was meant for purposes of discussion only and would no doubt change before the ACC voted, called for provinces to act by December 2014. Cameron said that some participants have said "they would like to see a tighter timeframe for the reception of the covenant."

"Obviously, it's too early to say where the mind of the council will settle," he said. "I don't hear any voices saying they'd like it to be longer."

Provinces allowing dioceses to sign on their own behalf even if the Province demurred is yet another new idea that has surfaced today. That's not something that has been explicitly stated before.

Read the full article here.

Video outlet "journalist" does not bring video camera

Colin Coward reports:

This morning, thanks to my Facebook membership of the Anglican TV group, I learnt that Kevin Kallesen is trying to raise money to fly here urgently because the Lambeth press office had refused to accredit his nominated volunteer because of ‘political turmoil’. The person in question is none other than the Revd Canon Julian Dobbs, Canon Missioner of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America who was in discrete attendance at the Primates meeting in Alexandria.

Canon Dobbs was declined accreditation because Anglican TV is a video outlet and he doesn’t have a video camera. Canon Dobbs is nevertheless here in Kingston, even more discretely than he was in Alexandria, resourcing the Ugandan representatives.

Is this the Communion Office showing some backbone?

Question 11 answered

In yesterday's ACC media briefing on the Anglican covenant adoption process Anglican Communion Deputy Secretary General Gregory Cameron answered a question about the meaning of the word "Church." In his answer Cameron referred an October 2008 document entitled,

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Cameron: how do we make things stick?

Today Bishop Gregory Cameron conducted a 20 minute press briefing on the Windsor Continuation Report and answered questions.

ENS's Mary Frances Schjonberg writes:

Cameron continues to make covenant, Windsor case

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Bigotry or death?

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica is the deliberate fear mongering engaged in by men like Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Gregory Cameron, the deputy general secretary of the Anglican Communion. At one news conference after another they suggest that the Communion will rupture if the anti-gay measures embedded in the proposed Anglican Covenant and the report of the Windsor Continuation Group are not embraced and enforced. While they might dispute the characterization, the choice these religious leaders are putting before the Communion is a simple one: bigotry or death. Either the Communion embraces open-ended moratoria on the blessing of same-sex relationships and the consecration of gay bishops and a set of disciplinary procedures to punish wayward provinces and individual bishops or the sky falls.

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ACC - May 7

According to the Daily Program the afternoon offered an island tour or free time, and the evening is unscheduled. Perhaps for that reason reporting on the day has come in earlier than usual. Look for significant developments tomorrow morning in the decision making plenary on the Covenant and Windsor Continuation Group matters.

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Bullies with press credentials

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude has had a run-in with two bullies with press credentials at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica, and he reflects on the encounters here and here.

ACC embraces Windsor Continuation report

Updated with final text and Anglican Communion Office press briefing:

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Despite TEC setback, controversial Section 4 is still in play

This item has been superseded by the item Confusion reigns over Covenant at ACC meeting.

Confusion reigns as ACC delays Covenant release

Updated with the story from the Episcopal News Service, and other links at the bottom of the story.

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ACC: Two state solution for Israel-Palestine

The Anglican Consultative Council has approved a resolution for a two state solution in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

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ACI calls for a do-over

The Anglican Communion Institute, sharing the same frustration as many who have been supportive of the Ridley Draft of the Covenant, is calling the ACC to return today to the matter it discussed on Friday.

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Chicago Consultation responds to ACC actions

The Chicago Consultation released a statement today from its co-convener the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers in response to the Anglican Consultative Council’s affirmation of the recommendations made by the Windsor Continuation Group and its decision to postpone the release of the Anglican Covenant for consideration by provinces. To read the statement, click Read more at the end of this item.

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Reaction to having picture taken raises questions

Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes relates an incident that took place this morning as the ACC was resuming its work. He saw a Nigerian bishop delegate meeting with some credentialed press members outside the meeting and took a picture. But the bishop's reaction was one of fury according to Coward.

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News from the next to last day of ACC meeting

The reports of the next to final day of the Anglican Consultative Council's meeting are starting to appear online. The surprise news of the day was the election of Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Church to the Joint Standing Committee.

Episcopal News has the details of Douglas' election and lists the others also elected:

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Anglican Consultative Council adjourns today

Archbishop Rowan Williams reflects on the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in his presidential address. Episcopal Life Online reports:

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ACC seeks seat at Primates' Meetings

UPDATED: Home of new chair of ACC robbed.

The Anglican Journal, Canada, reports that the Anglican Consultative Council is seeking seat and voice for priests and laity at the Primates' meetings.

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ACC-14 ends upbeat

New services report that the close of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica was festive and upbeat. See,

Festive Service Closes ACC-14 (ACNS)

ACC ends meeting on positive note (AJ)

Anglican Consultative Council meeting closes on hopeful note

ENS has video of Rowan Williams' closing briefing with the press (20 minutes). Worth watching for unfiltered insight into his views.

Global South delegates on ACC issue statement

Several members of the Anglican Consultative Council describing themselves as Global South delegates have issued a "Response to ACC-14 in Jamaica."

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Where in the world is Henry Luke Orombi?

The Archbishop of Uganda -- Africa's representative on the Joint Standing Committee -- missed the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica last week. (Actually, he's missed every JSC meeting since being elected.) He says it was due to a long-standing speaking engagement. Which is curious because ACC meetings are scheduled years in advance. And thus doubly curious he left it to the last minute to RSVP. A more timely RSVP might well have meant Africa would have been represented on the Joint Standing Committee. Which makes it curious that he and others have criticized results from the JSC and the ACC. All the more so because Uganda did not send a full delegation to the ACC.

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Breaking: "Section 4" working group announced

From Anglican Communion News Service:

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South African bishops chart course

The Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of South Africa has released a statement to the Anglican Communion regarding their intentions toward the proposed Anglican Covenant and their need to respond in an appropriate pastoral manner to those seeking the Church's blessing for same-sex unions.

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Iran's Bishop Marshall walks away from Standing Committee

Following the example set by his primate The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Iran has walked away from the Anglican Communion's Standing Committee, the Church of England Newspaper reports.

In joining Anis in his walkout, Marshall also stands now on the sidelines with Uganda's Henry Orombi, who's all but resigned at this point.

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ACC Articles of Incorporation are now online

A tip of the hat to George Conger for alerting the world that the Anglican Consultative Council's articles of incorporation are now online. Anyone willing to plow through the document and pull out the highlights would be doing the world a great favor. We think.

In a welcome move, ACO Standing Committee reports on its activities

Sensing perhaps that it has a significant public relations problem, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion has begun to offer reports on its activities. This constitutes a welcome step in the direction of transparency, even if the need for the existence of this body remains opaque.

The headlines:

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Separation of TEC from Anglican Communion rejected

The Anglican Communion News Service reports on Day 2 of the meeting of the Standing Committee. One member proposed the Episcopal Church be separated from the Communion but this proposal was overwhelmingly rejected:

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Anglican Communion Standing Committee celebrates

Episcopal Life Online reports on the Anglican Communion Standing Committee which concluded its meeting today with a celebration of greater transparency and focus on common mission:

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ACC Standing Committee further discusses breach of moratoria

In the fourth and final day of its meeting the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council revisited the subject of breach of moratoria, among other subjects.

From the ACNS report for Day 4:

Further discussion on moratoria breach

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ACC Constitution: interview with legal adviser

Legal adviser John Rees answers questions about the new Anglican Consultative Council Constitution and addresses some of the suspicions about authority creep. Also allays fears that UK or EU equality legislation might force the church to adhere to those laws.

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Southern Cone stonewalls Kearon over interventions

"I wrote to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces. I have not received a response. 'Consequently, I have written to the person from the Province of the Southern Cone who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), Bishop Tito Zavala, withdrawing his membership and inviting him to serve as a Consultant to that body." - The Revd Canon Dr. Kenneth Kearon.

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Anglican Communion: The shape of things to come

Paul Bagshaw has written an essay on the state of the Anglican Communion after the most recent Primates Meeting, and his thoughts are similar to mine. The threat of the primates dictating terms beyond the borders of their own provinces ebbs as the threat of a Communion run by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a London-based bureaucracy flows.

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ACC Standing Committee: Day 1

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council is meeting, but what's relevant conversation at this point is anyone's guess.

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How do Anglicans read the Bible?

One of the take-aways from controversies within the Anglican Communion is the recognition that there is no agreed upon Anglican method of "reading" Holy Scripture. That lack has frequently stymied attempts to get disagreeing bodies within the Communion to speak with each other about what the Bible is saying to the Church today.

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Anglican Consultative Council gets challenging welcome

Mary Frances Schjonberg reports from Aotearoa New Zealand for Episcopal News Service (ENS) writes of the welcome to the Anglican Consultative Council members:

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Anglican Consultative Council gets down to business

The Anglican Consultative Council meeting in (Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand) has begun the business of their meetings. Mary Frances Schjonberg of ENS reports:

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Anglican Communion Office puts "happy face" on Covenant adoption

The roundup of news from the Anglican Consultative Council 15, meeting in Auckland, Aoteara New Zealand includes an update on the Anglican Covenant. Putting the best possible face on essentially a rejection of the Covenant by most Provinces, the ACC placed the voting into 3 categories. Episcopal News Service reports:

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Safe Church Charter urged by ACC 15

UPDATED: video about Safe Church - see below
Anglican Consultative Council 15 urges member churches to adopt the Safe Church Charter:

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Climate change topic at Anglican Consultative Council #15

The Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, heard from many about climate change according to Anglican Communion News Service:

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Williams' final address to ACC focuses on future of "authority"

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams has given his final presidential address as Archbishop of Canterbury to the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council drawing to a close in Auckland, New Zealand. Mary Frances Schjonberg and the Anglican Communion New Service have filed reports. The ACNS report includes an audio file of the address.

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#ACC15 considers Instruments of Communion

The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC15) reports on their discussions of the so-called Instruments of Communion. There seems to be some significant shifts from earlier ideas about these 4 places were the Anglican Communion comes together.

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Continuing Indaba: new instrument of communion?

The Anglican Communion News Service reports that there was enthusiastic support for the Continuing Indaba process. A resolution securing the future of the process passed after some discussion of even stronger language:

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Rosalie Ballentine elected lay representative to Anglican Consultative Council

From the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs: The Executive Council, currently meeting in Baltimore, MD, elected Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, to serve as the Episcopal Church lay representative on the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

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ACC chair Tengatenga to become dean of US foundation

Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council is stepping down from his episcopacy to become dean of a foundation at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The chair of the ACC is also chair of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, and according to a news release from the Communion office, Tengatenga will be able to finish his term, which ends in 2016.

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ACC chair Tengatenga supports marriage equality

As was reported recently, Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, is stepping down from his episcopacy to become dean of a foundation at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He has issued a statement to the Dartmouth community in which he addresses his views on marriage and human rights. An excerpt:

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Breaking: Dartmouth won't "move forward" with appointment of Bishop Tengatenga

Dartmouth College has decided "not to move forward" with the appointment of Bishop James Tengatenga of Malawi, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, as dean of its William Jewett Tucker Foundation following a controversy regarding his views on homosexuality.

Here is an excerpt from the statement from the college's president Phillip J. Hanlon:

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Standing Committee receives continuing indaba report

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion is meeting in London. The most encouraging part of the initial report from the meeting deals with the "continuing indaba" initiative:

Canon Dr Phil Groves, Director for Continuing Indaba, presented an update on the project.

He said that Archbishop Welby’s focus on reconciliation had added fresh impetus to the initiative adding, “I think we have an interesting future ahead”. He said the vision of the Communion as a “place of reconciled reconcilers” remained and told the committee that a guide to implementing the principles of Indaba, as well as a new website had been produced in 2013/4. A further publication, Living Reconciliation, will be published in September this year, gathering together theological resources from the project’s pilot programme and reflecting on reconciliation.

Canon Groves said that principles of Indaba were being taking up in a many parts of the Communion including Kenya, the USA, and England. He said, “The Indaba journey is growing and developing, we’re providing process resources, and theological resources, and we’re getting them out into the hands of Anglicans who are changing their world.”

Archbishop Daniel Deng (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan) noted the need for internal reconciliation and highlighted a need for a conversation with the GAFCON* group. Canon Groves thanked the Primate for his comments and noted that several theological advisors to the GAFCON group had contributed material to the Living Reconciliation book.

I'm glad to see this work flourishing.

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