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Archbishop invites Communion Primates to Canterbury, also invites head of ACNA

Archbishop invites Communion Primates to Canterbury, also invites head of ACNA

From a story in the Church Times;

In what has been described as a “high-risk” attempt to hold the Anglican Communion together, the Archbishop of Canterbury has invited all 37 Primates to a summit in Canterbury next January.

In a letter sent to the Primates on Wednesday, Archbishop Welby proposes that they “consider recent developments, but also look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion”.

One of the most contentious aspects of the meeting is the decision to invite the Rt Revd Foley Beach, head of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), for part of the time


The invitation of Foley Beach, Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, which was formed from several dissident groups opposed to efforts of wider inclusion in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada, is likely to prove especially divisive and contentious.  It also represents a seeming change in Justin Welby’s approach to the ACNA, which he has previously described as an ecumenical partner, but one outside of the Communion.


But the Archbishop also seems to be approaching the divisions and strains within the Anglican Communion without a specific solution in sight other than maintaining some sort of formal relationship.

In an attempt to persuade Primates to attend the January meeting, which will run from 11 to 16 January, Archbishop Welby is inviting them to set the agenda. Sexuality is expected to appear, but also religiously motivated violence and the environment.

It is understood that all options for reshaping the Communion will be on the table. The Archbishop is said to have reached the conclusion that the present status quo is unsustainable. He is said to favour moving to a structure in which the Provinces could be in communion with Canterbury but not, necessarily, one another. This would give more “wriggle room” to Provinces, enabling them to be faithful to their own culture without launching salvos across the Communion at one another.

The plan was likened by one source to “moving into separate bedrooms” rather than divorcing. It is said to be part inspired by the structure of the Orthodox Church, and is understood to have been discussed with Lord Williams.

How should Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans respond to this?  What do want from being part of the Communion, and what role does it play in our understanding of our selves and of our Christian mission?


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Prof Christopher Seitz

When the Dennis Canon was passed, many present knew it would not do what some purported. That is also why opponents to it thought it was anodyne and ineffective, so why bother?

And that has proven true in judicial rulings in three states, in the most recent cases, as judges come up to speed.

Perhaps the new PB will strike out and get an express trust arrangement in print. But watch major liberal dioceses which have no accession clause (PA is a good example) saying Not over my dead body. Will Andy Doyle hand over his war chest in TX? No a ghost of a chance.

Bill Paul

Dennis Canon and other canons are not passed by the whole church but by the legislative body and WOULD that we had a polity that returned the GC actions to congregations for ratification.

Ann Fontaine

It is a representative body — Deputies elected by the Dioceses – whose delegates are chosen by the churches. Just as we have a a Senate and House of Representatives in the U.S. If the church wants something changed – you organize and present your ideas — sometimes your opinion prevails – sometimes not. The Episcopal Church is not a congregational church. It is also not a top down church.

Eric Bonetti

Inviting CANA to the meeting is like inviting a group of bank robbers to a bank security conference. A bad idea, and one that results in no good outcome.

CANA must renounce its efforts to seize assets that do not belong to it before any meaningful discussion can occur.

Bill Paul

Bill Paul typing here:
If you mean ACNA please remember that they did not “seize” assets as their names were, in all the contested cases of property, on the deeds. What they did to was contest the “asserted trust provision,” of the Dennis Canon, a trust to which they never explicitly signed off on. So, if truth matters, we (I am in TEC) have to say that the properties they owned and paid for BTW they attempted to retain as they disaffiliated while, essentially, contesting the Dennis Canon. Fault them for not contesting the Dennis Canon earlier. Fault them for other things. But they are hardly robbers.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Justice Blackmun himself said an ‘implied trust’ would not likely do the job. It would require an express trust (one in which both parties contacted formally to give an irrevocable trust…a steep climb). The TX Supreme Court ruled, consistent with Blackmun, that an implied trust was not sufficient in the light of trust law in TX.

Ann Fontaine

The Dennis Canon was written in response to the courts who while agreeing that the Episcopal Church was hierarchical wanted this spelled out. Canons are passed by the whole church at General Convention- dioceses and churches do not “sign on” to them individually. By continuing as an Episcopal Church they agreed to the provision. This is why except in South Carolina – the Episcopal Church has prevailed in court. If they are so concerned with the $$ being spend – just return the property to the rightful owners.

David Allen

Do you mean ACNA? CANA doesn’t really exist any more does it? Is it still an entity within the greater entity of ACNA?

Is the REC also still an entity within the greater entity of ACNA?

John Chilton

“The Reformed Episcopal Church … is a founding jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America.”

ACNA has overlapping jurisdictions. Since REC notionally spans all of the US. it spans all of the jurisdictions of ACNA in the US. Giving up the Anglican principal of one bishop for one geographic area is one of compromises ACNA made to boost its numbers. The number of purple shirts per capita is large.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I’ve been praying about this. Partly in light of my current issues about sitting at the table with particular people.

I’ve come to the conclusion that ++Justin’s actions here are a stunning and inspiring act of faith. He is making space for difference and I believe he is making space for the work of the Holy Spirit. He has invited all to the table.

++Justin is putting the “Anglican Communion” in the hands of God. And Praise Be to God. Because our hands are too flawed.

Having come to this place of Spirit, I am proud that TEC still funds ACC and has funded it, even when we were expelled from the table. It is important to remain in communion and to remain in dialogue. If GAFCON pulls out, we continue to nurture the relationships that we have with the ACC, in Africa, and elsewhere to work together in love on the imperatives of the Gospel.

Robert Martin


Brian CAnnaday

Bravo Archbishop! Thank you for taking the first of what will hopefully be many steps in bringing ACNA into full communion with Canterbury, thus solidifying the relationships it already has with the greater Anglican Communion, and providing a way forward for individuals, congregations, clergy, bishops, and dioceses that reject the unfortunate actions of a few. This is exciting indeed!

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