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Anglican Consultative Council Adopts New Procedures for Ecumenical Dialogues

Anglican Consultative Council Adopts New Procedures for Ecumenical Dialogues

ACC-17, meeting this week in Hong Kong, has decided to change the process of receiving documents from ecumenical dialogues. Instead of the Lambeth Conference being the primary body responsible for doing so, that task will shift to the ACC itself: 

The new system was recommended by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on UInity, Faith, and Order (IASCUFO). Dr [John] Gibaut [the Anglican Communion’s Director of Unity] explained that previously, texts would first go out to the provinces of the Anglican Communion who were responsible for making a judgement on the text before feeding back to the staff at the Anglican Communion Office. The Lambeth Conference would study those responses and the texts themselves, and then would discern whether each text was “consonant with the faith of the Church as Anglicans have received it”. The texts would then be recommended to member churches of the Anglican Communion.

Dr Gibaut explained that since 1998, the Lambeth Conference had evolved into a different kind of Instrument of Communion, requiring a new mechanism for receiving ecumenical texts.

… An ACC reference group will meet with IASCUFO immediately prior to each meeting of their Consultative Council. This will provide an opportunity “for further reflection on the ecumenical statements in the light of the provincial responses and any other considerations,” Dr Gibaut said.

It will be interesting to gauge the reaction from the other Instruments of Communion, especially given the desires expressed in the last decade to shift greater authority to the Primates and the Lambeth Conference.


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Thomas Rightmyer

Anglican – Methodist and Episcopal Methodist dialogue has a long history, including Lambeth and even a North Carolina dialogue in the 1990’s and following. When we started the NC dialogue Lambeth had received a report from an international Anglican-Methodist dialogue. Dr. Geoffrey Wainwright, an eminent British Methodist ecumenist who had led the WCC Lima Agreement _Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry_, was disappointed at the lack of action following the Lambeth.

We seem to have some desire to heal our late 18th century divisions, but we also get hung up on internal controversies and intra-church issues. The current proposal a good progress step, and I hope it will pass the UMC bishops and 2020 general conference and the 2021 Episcopal General Convention. A good local follow-up might be to get UMC and TEC groups together on a UMC district or conference / TEC deanery or diocese level to discuss the proposal, its history and the opportunities it provides for common prayer and work.

Thomas Rightmyer

Dr. Wainwright noted the agreement in the international Anglican Methodist dialogue not to expect greater consistency between communions that is found within a communion. Some Anglican churches appear to have added a fifth point to the Quadrilateral about agreement on ethical / political issues including the gender and marital status of bishops. I think these questions fall under the “locally adapted” provision. And I also think that allowing the ACC a veto on local ecumenical projects is inconsistent with the Anglican tradition of local autonomy. But I am an American Episcopalian, others may disagree.

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