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UPDATED: Archbishop of Canterbury setting a Primates Meeting for later in the year

UPDATED: Archbishop of Canterbury setting a Primates Meeting for later in the year

UPDATE: See statement below from TEC representatives to ACC


Justin Welby is trying to gather the Primates once again for Fall 2017.  No agenda is yet set, the Archbishop has solicited input from his fellow Primates on what they should be talking about instead of setting out a reason to meet in advance.

In the invitation he writes;

“I certainly feel the need to be with you, to share our experience and in prayer and fellowship, to support one another and seek how best we can serve the call to preach the gospel, serve the poor and proclaim the Kingdom of God,” he says.

In the invitation he offered his take on the recent declaration on human sexuality offered by the bishops of the Church of England in the lead-up to the upcoming General Synod where he affirmed as a “key outcome” the recommendation that the Church of England continue to insist that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Though he also noted the church’s need to repent of its homophobia and made clear the need for a better pastoral care of same-sex couples


The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, also gave his full-throated support to the bishop’s declaration*;

“I support the Bishops’ declaration that doctrine on marriage should not change – that marriage should be a lifelong commitment between a man and woman. The Anglican Communion position is set out in Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. That is our lodestar.

“But it is right that we acknowledge that some of our brothers and sisters do have same-sex attraction and I support the move for a ‘fresh tone’ in the way the issues are debated. Anglicans are called to love all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation. We are committed to welcoming and loving people with same-sex attraction. More than that, we need to fight against homophobia and anything that criminalises LGBTQ people.”

The plain meaning of that declaration is that there is unlikely to be marriage equality in the Church of England anytime soon.  Welby, also again, refers to the Primates Lambeth Resolution of 1998 as being some sort of binding agreement on the Communion.  This is a stance which many marriage traditionalist often state, but which has no real meaning or standing in the polity of the Communion.

The previous gathering was not intended as a regular “Primates Meeting,” but as some sort of informal gathering though he has since regularly referred to it as an actual Primates Meeting; a view also put forth in this post form ACNS, which also contains an outright “alternative fact” concerning the role and participation of TEC’s representatives at the most recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka.  In fact, TEC’s representatives were full and active participants in that meeting.

“The 2016 Primates’ gathering drew worldwide attention. It concluded with a communiqué which set out consequences for the US-based Episcopal Church (TEC) following its decision to change its canon on same-sex marriage. As a result, members of TEC have stepped down from IASCUFO – the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order – and also from the IRAD ecumenical dialogue. Members of TEC participated in ACC-16 in Lusaka, but none voted on issues of doctrine and polity – another stipulation of the Primates’ communiqué.”

UPDATE: Statement from TEC representatives to the Anglican Consultative council regarding their participation in response to the false statement from ACNS referenced above:

Statement from the Episcopal Church’s members of the
Anglican Consultative Council

As the Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council, we were dismayed to read in today’s Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) an article that claims we did not vote on matters of doctrine or polity at the most recent meeting of the ACC, known as ACC-16, held in Lusaka, Zambia in April 2016. This report is wrong.

Each of us attended the entire ACC-16 meeting and voted on every resolution that came before the body, including a number that concerned the doctrine and polity of the Anglican Communion. As the duly elected ACC members of a province of the Anglican Communion, this was our responsibility and we fulfilled it.

It could be inferred from today’s ACNS story that we did not fulfill our voting responsibilities at ACC-16 to comply with a communique issued by the primates of the Anglican Communion in January 2016.  The communique sought to impose consequences on the Episcopal Church for its adoption of marriage equality at our 2015 General Convention. Such an inference would be incorrect.

At the beginning of ACC-16, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion issued a statement saying that it had “considered the Communiqué from the Primates and affirmed the relational links between the Instruments of Communion in which each Instrument, including the Anglican Consultative Council, forms its own views and has its own responsibilities.” After ACC-16 had concluded, six outgoing members of the Standing Committee released a letter reasserting that “ACC16 neither endorsed nor affirmed the consequences contained in the Primates’ Communiqué.”

As members of the Anglican Consultative Council, we thank God for the time we have spent with sisters and brothers in Christ from across the globe, and for the breadth and diversity of our global Anglican family. We are firmly committed to the Episcopal Church’s full participation in the Anglican Communion, and we hope that, in the future, our participation will be reported accurately by the Anglican Communion News Service.

Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine
Ian T. Douglas
Gay Clark Jennings
Episcopal Church members of the 16th Anglican Consultative Council, Lusaka, Zambia


*Correction.  Our original post mis-attributed the general secretary’s quote as being from the Archbishop.  We regret the error and apologize for any confusion this may have caused.


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Cynthia Katsarelis

Sadly, the ABC does a lot of spinning. The ACNS bit about Lusaka was spin. Further, the recent report from the CoE bishops does not come to a “key finding,” and liberals in CoE are frustrated and exasperated by that spin.

The ABC has been presenting an alternate reality long before our current POTUS.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Dear TJ McM.

At issue here may be the perception of just what the ACC genuinely does. I grant that the some in the ACC may believe it deals with Doctrine, but in what real sense ecumenically? Do RCs and Lutherans and Orthodox check what the ACC has stated, even if they believe their deliberations are important — and do they?

I certainly don’t sit around waiting for the ACC to take formal votes on doctrine and polity that then compel the AC.

This may get at the neuralgia the AC now endures in not really clarifying what the relationship amongst soi-disant Instruments is. Who is entitled to make doctrinal decisions, across the wider Communion? The ACC? I doubt they have this remit or think they do.

Bishops? Primates?

I wrote an essay on just this problem when R Williams took office. I opted for the Primates meeting. That was many years ago. I stand by that, but most people in TEC want a kind of strange retention of the word ‘catholic’ that really means, national churches doing as they wish. If you believe in this, then the ACC doesn’t vote on doctrine or polity because neither really exist in a context in which the sense of the term ‘catholic’ means anything. At most the word ‘doctrine’ would mean, raise your hands and let’s get on to the next thing.

Is the ACNS faking people out or struggling to know what ‘formal votes’ or ‘doctrine’ or ‘polity’ really mean in the AC at present?

Tobias Haller

I think your diagnosis of the neuralgia’s source is correct. There is tension between those who wish the Anglican Communion to remain as a fellowship of churches connected by bonds of affection and those who would like to see the development of formal political structures; those content to gather for conferences and consultations, and those who would like to see such meetings take on synodical character.

It seems to me that easiest cure for this neuralgia is to stop trying to transform the Anglican Communion into something that not all its constituent members (including, apparently, the “Mother Church”) want it to be.

David Allen

Cynthia, I didn’t know that about you. I knew you taught music in Haiti, I think.

But, I was making my comment to Dr Seitz for no particular reason. The Anglican Church of Mexico, from which I rise, was once a part of TEC.

Christopher & Tobias are/were having “conversations” in at least two blogs that I am aware of right now. 🙂

Cynthia Katsarelis

Seeing as I’m an orchestra conductor, I’m the maestro, thank you very much.

Of course, it merely means “teacher.”

Prof Christopher Seitz

“Mother church” was language used by Maestro Haller, or perhaps that is the title you use with him otherwise.

David Allen

Maestro, there are some in the New World who look to TEC as Mother and SEC as Grandmother. And CoE as jealous auntie.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Fr Haller. My comment was directed to your posting.

Prof Christopher Seitz

I don’t think the direction of the communion over the past decades indicates that the loose structure was problem free; ‘catholic’ does not mean for many, and did not mean, national churches having different theological positions.

I also don’t think the “Mother Church” is in any way comparable to TEC, and given the role of the ABC, its direction is very hard to discern. The incumbent in the See of Canterbury clearly wants to stay in association with the GS.. Less clear is how injurious it would be if TEC continued to distance itself.

Otherwise I think the situation is one we can agree isn’t going to stand still. Those content to gather for talking and fellowship tend to be in the minority part of the Communion. The office of bishop miltates against this kind of polity in the nature of the office/ordinal.

Sunday blessings.

David Allen

(T)hose who would like to see such meetings take on synodical character.

Because Lord knows, there isn’t anything more fun and important than sitting around thinking that you are the most righteous and pointing out who’s the most sinful, so that you can dream up the proper punishments.

Rod Gillis

“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” -attrib. to Will Rogers

TJ (Thomas) McMahon

Dr. Seitz, et al,
Resolution 16.17: Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
Hardly the only one dealing with doctrine, but happened to use the word in the title, so clearly deals with doctrine.
Questions of doctrine notwithstanding, the focus of the ACC is the polity of the communion. It authorizes the various committees, networks and programs, and either directly or through the standing committee or the ACO, approves resource and budget allocations. Of the 45 resolutions ( ) many deal with polity, quite a few with ecumenical relations, and several with doctrine.

TJ (Thomas) McMahon

Please consider this a request for clarification. The portion of the ACNS report that is in question currently reads: “…Members of TEC participated in ACC-16 in Lusaka, but none took part in formal votes on issues of doctrine and polity – another stipulation of the Primates’ communiqué. In fact, all matters of doctrine and polity were agreed by consensus so no formal vote was necessary.”

I do not recall the last sentence, beginning “In fact…” as part of the original report yesterday. Has that been added in response to the statement of the TEC delegates? Is that last statement factual, or are they using the term “consensus” in place of “vote was unanimous”? (not really the same thing, especially in this context)

Prof Christopher Seitz

I agree this is a counter-narrative. The real question is how carefully thought-out it is in the light of the context in which it emerges: call for a meeting of the Primates predicated in some measure on the HOB decision about SS marriage. If people in TEC think this is bogus, people will have raised the same question already in the GS context.

But what exactly did the formal votes on doctrine look like at Lusaka? ACNS says this wasn’t the domain of actions at that meeting.

Jeremy Bates

I don’t know whether the last sentence was added, but the second-to-last sentence appears to have been revised.

As originally posted, that sentence stated that “none voted on issues of doctrine and polity.” But as you now quote it, the sentence says, “none took part in formal votes on issues of doctrine and polity.”

Perhaps at the next ACC meeting our representatives should insist on some “formal votes,” even if the votes are unanimous, and of course should cast their votes in those “formal votes.” That way, no one will be under any illusion as to the Episcopal Church members’ full participation.

Which still leaves the question of why the ACNS keeps trying to portray the Primates’ Non-Meeting as something it wasn’t, and to accord to the Primates power that they utterly lack.

Jeremy Bates

I thank the Episcopal Church members of the 16th Anglican Consultative Council for their forthright statement.

And in turn here’s a forthright question.

Why is the ACNS continuing to lie about the effect of the Primates’ Non-Meeting?

“Stipulation” forsooth!

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