Archbishop of Canterbury calls for primates’ gathering

Posted Sep 16, 2015

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today wrote to all 37 primates inviting them to attend a special primates’ gathering in Canterbury to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Anglican Communion.

The meeting, to be held in January 2016, would be an opportunity for primates to discuss key issues face to face, including a review of the structures of the Anglican Communion and to decide together their approach to the next Lambeth Conference.

The agenda will be set by common agreement with all primates encouraged to send in contributions. It is likely to include the issues of religiously motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality.

Welby said: “I have suggested to all primates that we need to consider recent developments but also look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion and especially as primates, paying proper attention to developments in the past.

“Our way forward must respect the decisions of Lambeth 1998, and of the various Anglican Consultative Council and primates’ meetings since then. It must also be a way forward, guided by the absolute imperative for the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to make disciples and to worship and live in holiness, and recognizing that the way in which proclamation happens and the pressures on us vary greatly between provinces. We each live in a different context.

“The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians: when the command of Scripture, the prayer of Jesus, the tradition of the church and our theological understanding urges unity. A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism, so long as we are faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ, together.

“We have no Anglican Pope. Our authority as a church is dispersed, and is ultimately found in Scripture, properly interpreted. In that light I long for us to meet together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to seek to find a way of enabling ourselves to set a course which permits us to focus on serving and loving each other, and above all on the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The proposed dates for the meeting are Jan. 11-16, 2016.

Welby will also extend an invitation to Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America or his representative to be present for part of the time.


Comments (13)

  1. The Rev. Dr. Peter E. Van Horne says:

    It is disturbing to me that the Archbishop of Canterbury has invited Foley Beach, “Archbishop” of the Anglican Church in North America, to attend the January, 2016 meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion. The invitation rewards a denomination that is schismatic, has broken away from the Episcopal Church (USA), and which is in no way part of the global Anglican Communion as I understand it. This would seem to be a way to open the door to their recognition as being in Communion with Canterbury, and rewards them for their ultraconservative and anti-GLBT policies. Sad.

    1. Joel Morris says:

      Yes, the ACNA is schismatic; They have broken away from the Episcopakian Church over matters of doctrine. However, I have no problem with Archbishop Welby’s invitation to the proposed meeting of Anglican primates. In the spirit of Christ we should never close the door on anyone Who desires to have dialogue with us. I would not have any problem with inviting Catholic or others in this spirit.

    2. Jonathan Bailey says:

      No way part of the Anglican Communion? So the CANA and PEARUSA are in no way a part of the Communion?

  2. Rob Stoltz says:

    I find it unfortunate that the archbishop only sites Scripture as a source of unity whereas the lLambeth quadrilateral and the classic scripture, tradition and reason would have been a much more complete statement.

  3. Christina Cleveland says:

    This is good and hopeful news.
    Pretending that the ACNA has nothing to do with the Anglican Communion is delusional.
    These dear ones are at the very least our separated brethren.
    Praying for unity, common cause partnerships and the highest degree of Communion possible.
    They are us and we are them.

  4. Michael Grear says:

    Rev. Van Horne is correct. History again has an Archbishop of Canterbury who will not show moral leadership for ALL Episcopalians / Anglicans who wish to use our minds and hearts to further the directives placed on us by Christ. Where is the leadership which states conservative Anglicans in other parts of the world have no right to dictate their views on theology to those Anglicans / Episcopalians far from their shores? When churches breakaway, they are saying, “We do not want to abide by your rules.” Fine, this is their right, but why ask them to keep coming into your home telling you why you are wrong to hold your beliefs?

  5. I agree entirely. I am embarrassed to learn that the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken to the ‘Archbishop’ of ACNA, and, apparently made a personal invitation to him. ACNA is most certainly NOT Anglican- Anglicans in this country are known as Episcopalians, just as we are known in like manner in Scotland. When will good folk recall and remember our history and Samuel Seabury’s consecration as Bishop at the hands of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church…. and that was also due to a catastrophic ‘failure of vision’ on the part of English Archbishops, Bishops and the Crown.
    However, let’s not get into too much of a kerfuffle, let’s take a longer historical perspective and recognize that we simply need to get on with the job, love, hope, trust, pray, show compassion, cross the road to help, assist and heal our wounded brothers and sisters– and seek healing as well.
    Pray, be the Presence of the Incarnate Christ in a fractured world. Stop fretting and worrying about adiaphora (which only turn us into nattering Nabobs of negativity) and trust God, yourself, Our Lady and all the Saints!

  6. Randy Marks says:

    It would be nice of OUR leaders would show moral clarity and call out the ABC/communion for not respecting the authority of The Episcopal Church as to USA dioceses and congregations.

  7. Josh Thomas says:

    This is Welby creating a needless crisis, in response to the failure of the proposed “Anglican Covenant” in the United States, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Scotland and his own Church of England. He wants to create its two-tier membership structure anyway, and endorse the anti-Gay schismatics who left The Episcopal Church. I hope we are not surprised by this, because he’s spoken favorably of ACNA before and appointed schismatics to official boards, while publicly “wondering” whether TEC will “survive.” This latest ploy – as if primates get to decide our future – is an act of aggression never before seen in Anglican history.

    We should announce beforehand that if the meeting goes on and the two-tier structure is approved, Episcopalians will most likely opt for second-class membership. (It will be up to General Convention to decide.) Then we should sic Michael Curry on Justin Welby and all of Gafcon, because Michael can preach the full wrath of God about their attempts to marginalize unpopular minorities. I suggest Michael use this as his text: Leviticus 16:8, on Israel’s scapegoat on the Day of Atonement. For what is clear is that the Primates of Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, in league with their corrupt governments and military establishments, are using LGBTs as a distraction; “Kill the Gays” generates the headlines, but “Steal the Oil Money” is the politicians’ real agenda. And no one knows that better than former oilman Mr. Welby.

    This meeting will be no time for Episcopalians’ usual milquetoast diplomacy, sweet talk and indaba listening. It will be about power: who’s got it, who wants it and who will be its victims. The day that Justin Welby endorses ACNA, not only may we lose every pending ACNA lawsuit, LGBTs will be burned alive in an Anglo-African frenzy of homophobic bloodlust.

    Episcopalians won’t want any part of that. Even second-class membership in such a “Communion” would shame us for generations and cause more of our churches to close.

    Second-class membership should be our opening gambit. If it fails we must declare our independence from England once and for all. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that; the Primates don’t get to decide, Welby doesn’t get to decide, and this meeting is entirely unnecessary. Just because Welby’s intent on starting a conflagration doesn’t mean we have to hand him a gas can.

    1. Selena Smith says:

      I think the crisis predates Archbishop Welby, crises unsolved by a covenant or a proposed two-tired membership. I feel for ECUSA as more of our churches close and more of ACNA are planted and grow – did we in ECUSA think that the LGBT community would run to our open arms after we had beaten them off and their spirits down for years, centuries in an effort to walk and hold the line? LGBT community has heart and mind, and reality is that forgiveness and healing aren’t cheap or instant by and for anyone.

      Bishop Curry knows how to act among colleagues – could “we should sic Michael Curry” be seen as another attempt at minority manipulation? I know religion is political and that politics can become a particular religion. Each (politics & religion) is about power and their relationship with each other is about power. So what would Jesus do (WWJD) about power and with power to bring life for those who have been marginalized is one big question I would want the primates to discuss.

      BTW when our Anglican ancestors in the US decided to stop praying for the king and started praying for President and Congress, isn’t that when we left England? And then through Scotland we went back – our flag tells us that. Back and forth, back and forth. We US citizens love our independence as long as we can rule and control the world in our comfortable isolationism politically and religiously.

      I imagine it might take a verbal gas can by the Archbishop – fire can purify and not simply destroy all – in order for oil and water to co-exist in the same container. Of all the provinces our uniqueness in not having our own Archbishop can be a gift to the Anglican Communion. We value “say” and service by clergy and laity in our structures. What a mark it would be if Archbishop Welby invited lay leaders (how that is for each Province) to this meeting or to a future meeting.

  8. Christina Cleveland says:

    “In this church there shall be no outcasts.”
    Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning.

    When the conservatives ruled the day in TEC they were unwelcoming and stigmatized the lgbt community. Now that progressives have come into power they have worked with fierce determination to be just as uncharitable and non-inclusive to conservatives.
    Perhaps there are valuable lessons to be learned when one is in the minority?

  9. The Rev. Brian Cannaday says:

    The charity shown on this thread (or lack there of) is one of the reasons this is a TBTG announcement.

    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!

  10. Frank Schwimmer says:

    The Anglican Communion is on its way to dissolution, it’s part of a natural process, religious institutions reflect the cultural context in which they develop so it’s normal for an organization like the Anglican Communion to experience that kind of tension. Let Africa and Asia go their own way (including some dioceses in the IX province) and let’s move with our own work here in North America in our own cultural context…let them get their own funding too.

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