On being Anglican in the 21st Century - Abp Drexel Gomez

31 March 2007 - Print Version

ADDRESS BY THE MOST REV’D. DREXEL GOMEZ
ARCHBISHOP OF THE WEST INDIES
THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. MARY THE VIRGIN
BLACKBURN
26TH MARCH, 2007

ON BEING ANGLICAN IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

To speak of Anglicanism today, either as a church tradition or as an ecclesial communion, is to speak of one of the most vibrant and unstable expressions of Christianity within the world.  Churches are growing in numbers in some areas of the world at a staggering pace. In other parts of the world, ideas are being articulated and debates are taking place with a dizzying energy.  We all know that relations – within national Anglican churches and among them – are charged, confusing, and re-ordering themselves every day with unexpected direction and sometimes ferocity.  How does this experienced picture of the Anglican Church match the image of the stodgy and tempered parochial life of rural England that we still carry in our imaginations?

The fact is Anglicanism is an inherently missionary Christian tradition.  At the roots of its faith it is active and expansive and engaged in the world.  This may seem an odd claim to make about the religion of a formal Prayer Book, usually associated with the status quo of bourgeois society.  But that is only because Anglicanism has not been the reflection of its human ministers as much as of the Gospel that they somehow set loose and allowed to lead them.  The Gospel of the Scriptures of Christ have within themselves the power to move the Church – that has been an Anglican fundamental. And the order of the church – so precious to us in many ways – exists for the purpose of letting that Gospel have its way.  There are not many heroes and heroines of the faith within Anglicanism – our founding exemplar, Thomas Cranmer having been a paradigm of mixed motives and diluted courage.  What heroes we have are mostly unsung.  Yet it is the nature of Anglican mission that its fruits emerge much later, the result, not of valiant witness before the world so much as the outcome of a human labor that provided the means for the Gospel to exert its force within the world.  Anglicans gave people a common prayer, an order to their life as a church community, and a Bible that they could read and understand in their own language, disseminated in their life together.  That has been our mission.  And the remarkable life of the Communion today, with all of its challenges, is the result and extension of this mission.

Let’s look at our first explicit missionary roots.  Thomas Bray and others do not set about organizing the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts until 1701, over 200 years after the Roman Catholic Church had begun a staggering outreach across Asia and Latin America.  What were the English up to all this time?  In part, learning to pray and read the Scripture together.  In any case, Bray was a man of intense devotion and missionary motive.  He offers us among the very first sermons from an Anglican on the evangelization of non-believers – Indians and others.  And the motive he offers is one of “charity” - the love of God in Christ, shared with His Church around the world. 

Bray’s efforts through the SPG eventually supported 300 clergymen in North America by the time of the American Revolution, and several more in the West Indies and elsewhere (including the first black Anglican priest, Philip Quaque, who returned to West Africa to labor in obscurity and faith, losing two beloved wives in the process).  But they were poorly paid, their passage across the ocean dangerous and often deadly. They were barely supported by the structures of the church, and the greatest asset they were given for their work were books.  For all Bray’s eloquence in calling the church to the preaching of the Gospel, the interest in indigenous evangelism faded quickly in the face of failures across the board, after efforts among Indians in N. New York and S. Carolina fell flat.  Englishmen proved seemingly weak in the face of the missionary challenge. As one historian wrote:

It was hard to find men in the English church at all comparable to the self-sacrificing and adventurous French Jesuits. Perhaps the practical temper of the English missionary was repelled by the slightness of the results in proportion to the energy expended. Caleb Heathcote, one of the most zealous of the Anglican laymen in New York, pointed out the necessity of sending men who could emulate the French in readiness to bear the hardships of life with the Indians ‘according to their way and manne’r. He thought Scotsmen better qualified for such service than Englishmen, but in general believed that the society could spend its money more usefully in caring for those who [already] called themselves Christians.”
(Evarts Green. “The Anglican Outlook on the American Colonies in the Early Eighteenth Century”, American History Review 20, 1914).

This was a common judgment on much Anglican mission around the world then, and in succeeding centuries.  The SPG’s work in the West Indies, begun only shortly after that in the northern colonies, was desultory at best.  The earliest seminary in the Anglican world, Codrington College in Barbados, although bequeathed for this purpose in the mid-18th century, did not really begin functioning according to its charter until over a century later. This after a long history of directing slave-supported plantations which, in a not unexpected wrinkle, the SPG managed to run at a net loss over many decades.  When two bishops were finally sent to the West Indies in 1824, priests were being paid by local legislatures and directed to the British population.  Actual mission work to the vast population of African descent was carried out by separate organizations like the Negro Conversion Society, groups that emerged around the time of political fermentation that brought forth discussions of the Rights of Man.  Only in the later 1830’s, with the full emancipation of slaves, did the local populations actually become part of the parochial structures of the Anglican churches in the islands. 

Yet the structures were there, and they had been filled through the joint working of political and religious pressures that spilled out from Anglicanism itself.  Many churches still in existence in the US owe their origins to SPG missionaries.  And they are not only existing, but feeding the fires of argument heard around the Communion.  The debates of the present day are not only derived from the missionary churches of Africa, but the missionary churches of America!

The work of the Church Missionary Society, with its more evangelical goals, is perhaps better known, working in West and then East Africa, and playing such a pivotal role in the spread of the church in India.  Still, by the 1960’s, as the Ghanaian historian Lamin Sanneh has recently written (Whose Religion is Christianity?), most students of world Christianity were giving Africa and parts of Asia up to Islam. They were predicting the rapid disappearance of the many churches founded by Anglicans (among others) that were, over the decades, seemingly stuck in the rut of unenthusiastic formalism. 

But here, as well, other things were happening, perhaps in a hidden way.  The East African Revival, little noticed in the 1920’s and 1930’s, had quietly planted the seeds of vital Christian faith within the Anglican church throughout the Great Lakes region of the Rift valley, through mainly lay evangelism.  And in the 1960’s, after independence and the rise of indigenous church leadership, and in the 1970’s and to this day, its fires spread rapidly. As with similar movements and attitudes in West Africa, these fires have so aroused the witness of the church as completely to overturn the dismal predictions of just 40 years ago.  Rather than waning in the face of a modern surge in either secularism or Islam, Christianity in its Anglican tradition has instead awakened to the power of the Gospel to change and be taken in by local Christians, within the order and structure of the church’s life, quietly erected and nurtured over decades.

It is only against this historic backdrop of mission and revival that we can make sense of the changing shape of the Anglican Communion and in particular the recent coming of age of what is known as ‘the Global South’ and the rise in global Christianity of, in the title of Philip Jenkins’ influential work, ‘The Next Christendom’. It is, for example, easy to forget that just under thirty years ago at the 1978 Lambeth Conference (the first I attended) there were only 80 bishops present from Africa. That almost doubled over the next decade so there were 175 present in 1988. By 1998, Nigeria alone (which had not even been a separate province in 1978) sent 59 bishops and Kenya 26. That means that in 1998 between them these two provinces sent more bishops than the continent as whole just twenty years before.

After the 1988 conference, where these changes in the Communion were first becoming evident, Bishop John Walker, the first black bishop of Washington DC reflected on his partnership with Latin American churches noting that they ‘have everything they need to be a province in the Anglican Communion. They are no longer dominated by the United States where we control the purse strings while they have to be good boys to get what they want’. He then spoke prophetically of what might happen in another continent – ‘The same thing could happen in Africa. African bishops and archbishops should not be forced to go cap in hand to anybody. Now they come to England or the United States, looking always for the wherewithal to keep their situations free and open, and they cannot be free and open because there are too many strings attached…’ (Quoted in Samuel & Sugden, Lambeth A View From the Two Thirds World, p p18-19).

This concern that parts of the Communion control and limit other parts reminds us that one of the dangers historically in the development of the Communion and the character of worldwide Anglicanism has been its connection with British imperialism. This carried the risk that Anglicanism could be simply ‘the ecclesiastical expansion of England’ (Bishop Barry, 1894) and an ‘imperial Church’ (Bishop Montgomery, later General Secretary of the SPG, in 1899). What has been witnessed in recent decades is the former colonial churches increasingly being established as autonomous provinces. One challenge to be faced now is that many of these see the Communion structures and Instruments of Communion as too much shaped and controlled by the era of colonialism and are eager to find news of expressing our life together in a context where mission is no longer one-way but truly ‘from everywhere to everywhere’.

A further pressing challenge is the need to understand Anglicanism and these changes in the worldwide Communion in the context of the phenomenon of globalisation. Globalisation has to do with inter-connectedness, interconnectedness on a host of levels across national and cultural boundaries.  The connections are given, imposed as it were.  But they are not necessarily always happily received, or even received with understanding or self-reflection.

Economic connections around the world have, of course, been present since the 16th-century (and long before in different configurations).  The Atlantic Slave Trade has often been described in terms of a “Triangle” of economic connections, or even a “quadrangle”, in which goods from Asia passed via Europeans to Africa, from which human slaves were taken to America, which produced specific goods for Europe, from which new resources could be generated for Asia.  Most of us know that the ripple effects of these connections were ones of devastating power even then, creating demographic disasters, altering ecosystems, and relocating people and wealth around the world to previously unheard of extents. 

The difference in the globalisation of the last two decades, however, lies in the wider access to power that these connections have afforded.  Resistances and alliances in response to the movement of people and resources are far more varied and complex, and individuals have much greater entrance into the midst of these relations.  The process of democratization, even and especially now bound to increased violence, has assumed its shape through a much wider embrace of individual participation.  There is, as we know, a suddenly novel and vast dissemination of information, easy organization of political and interest groups, lobbying efforts, access to arms and planning, deal-making and more.  Globalisation in the 21st century means that the choices each one of us makes as individuals and as smaller groups create effects upon others, not only nearby but often at a distance. And they do so with a rapidity and force unknown in the past. 

By the same token, the interconnectedness of the Church is not new by any means.  Catholicism, as confessed in the Creed, testifies to this reality from the origin of the Christian faith.  But what is new is the dissemination of power among different churches and their leadership. The first Lambeth Conference of 1867 was a sign of catholic interconnectedness.  But as we have seen what we today call globalisation in the church assumed its face at the last two Lambeth Conferences, when the change in numbers and representations and complexions among the bishops assembled was to many both inescapable and shocking. That there are now gatherings such as the Global South Encounter and a host of new affiliations and relationships formed across national boundaries among Anglican churches follows this dynamic.  What comes, perhaps, as most of a surprise to many who have only recently become conscious of these changes, is that this or that person in the church, this or that leader or bishop or theologian, can actually be heard within this proliferating set of relationships, can actually exert influence and organize.  We hear complaints and laments over supposed “conspiracies” that have led to “manipulation” of primates and councils.  But what these allegations are really reacting to is the diversification of connections within the church, and to their effective use.  And this reality has nothing to do with secrecy and malice, and everything to do with the opening up of interconnectedness, of catholicity, to the surging energies of Christian believers and the churches that have ordered and directed their receipt of and witness to the Gospel around the world.

Over the course of the decades that have seen the developments just described an understanding of this Christian interconnectedness in terms of communion ecclesiology has been developing within Anglicanism and wider ecumenical conversations. Its Anglican origins are often traced back to the 1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto. There the concept of MRI – Mutual Recognition and Interdependence in the body of Christ – emerged to shape the future direction of life in communion. Archbishop Ramsey, introducing the document with this title, spoke clearly of its costly implications –

You are going home not just to report on what a jolly time we all had (utterly true though that is) but to be ambassadors within your own church of a new way of looking at your church’s past and privileges. It means burdens. It means the bearing of one another’s burdens, so fulfilling the law of Christ. But it isn’t just burden, and it isn’t just law. ‘None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself’ is the very essence of spiritual health. It is a victorious way, it is Christ’s own way, and what is so terrible, there is no other way. (Quoted in Stephenson, Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences, p222).

Bishop Stephen Bayne – the first Anglican Executive Officer – spoke of it in terms of partnership and mutuality:

The Anglican Communion is not an organization by which older and stronger Churches can extend their influence over younger and weaker Churches. We are not interested in branch offices around the world. We care rather for a household within which many Churches, representing many cultures and peoples, take their self-reliant and buoyant place in full brotherhood, each giving and receiving, each receiving and learning. Therefore our organization must both reflect this and nourish it (Quoted in Ward, History of Global Anglicanism, p302).

The challenge of MRI has been taken up frequently by the Anglican Consultative Council particularly and appropriately in relation to mission where ten principles of partnership have been developed. In addition, faced with various challenges – most notably over the question of women’s ordained ministry – the Communion has, in the Virginia Report and Eames Commissions, sought to provide a theological account of communion and its practical implications for our life together within the Anglican Communion. As we will note in more detail shortly, the Windsor Report and covenant process are the most recent developments in this long process. We are, it is clear, still on the way. We have not reached our destination. What it means to be a communion of churches being reshaped by the gospel as we engage together in mission remains a matter of ongoing discernment requiring faithfulness to our inherited Anglican tradition but also a recognition of changing needs and new challenges.

Faced with all these changes and developments, there has certainly been much concern expressed of late that we are inventing new forms of being the church, that are somehow foreign to and even contrary to the old Anglicanism with which we were familiar only three or four decades ago. This concern, however, misunderstands Anglicanism as brewed over the centuries, the draught it has drunk, and the taste it has cherished and shared.

For the fundamental missionary thrust of Anglican life has not provided a continuing set of invented ways of being the church.  Rather, the Anglican way of being an ordered vessel for the Gospel’s energy has provided a revelation of sorts, an uncovering of the world, and of the nations, and of the power of the Gospel to work among them.  These revelations, that have moved the Anglican Church into that family of churches around the world, have matured the order of the church, not rebuilt it. Until the recent fragmentation of common prayer in several parts of the Communion, it was possible to find more or less the same vehicles of Scriptural adoration and praise present in this or that setting in any number of national churches.  And, in theory, that vehicle is still indwelt in common. But within this, the order has required a recognition of those who are present and gathered in this vast crowd.  The missionary thrust of Anglicanism has meant that we are still discovering, in places where we had not thought to look or forgotten to revisit, that the Gospel lives, that people hear, that there is power in Christ to make us new and make us one.

Did the 4th century sailor Frumentius, who returned to Ethiopia as a missionary find still the embers of the Christian faith brought to it by the eunuch baptized by Philip 300 years before?  Who knows.  But Europe certainly discovered a flourishing, yet forgotten and hidden, Christian church in Ethiopia many centuries later when once again a connection was made across previously insuperable boundaries.  And this is what Anglicans are discovering now as their own global church unveils the truth of the Christian faith around the world.  The Communion must take into account the power of Christ in his Gospel to raise up followers in our midst even in places once ignored or thought backward or unready.  That is the old and consistent witness of the Anglican Church as it began sowing the seeds of faith and nurturing them in the vernacular Scriptures of the Prayer Book’s order.

This is not a political issue, although it touches politics.  To take an example:  the Anglican Communion Office, in its political shape, arose in an attempt to take account of the “revelations” of the church’s missionary thrust, and to help bring this reality to the table.  This was a logical step, bound to the needs of new organization and coordination of councils and mission that simply had not existed before the 1970’s.  But the Office’s limitations, in the rapidly unveiling world of Anglican realities, were defined by its principal funders (mostly American). And these limitations, seen by many as a drag on actual mission, have been reflected in the ACC struggles of the past few years.  The Primates’ Meeting has – with the support of recent Lambeth Conferences - instead emerged in this evolving situation as a more adapted council than the ACC. This is in part because it has proved more immediately reflective of the churches of the Communion and their membership as they in fact are living out their engagement with the Gospel.

For a long time, indeed since the 18th century within Anglicanism, the Western world has pressed the interconnectedness of the Church from the direction of its own energies and strengths. It has provided the money, administrative competence, and the shape of theological attitude.  This movement was not necessarily inappropriate (although often it took forms that were).  But our interconnectedness now rises up with a developed dynamic, in which the Gospel’s transformative equipping within other parts of the world presents challenges to the West.  And the challenges do not present themselves simply as a change – a reversal - in the direction from which influence is exerted.  Rather, what we are seeing is that growing churches, brought into the midst of the ordered life of the Communion, are taking hold of the means by which the Gospel can be heard.  Within the Christian setting, this involves councils and their interlocking relationships as reflecting more and more the broader life of the Church. 

Indeed, for all the wrangling, one aspect in which the vibrancy of Anglicanism is being demonstrated today is precisely in its conciliar life.  It is now flourishing as it never has before - even with and because of all of its struggle - because this way of being the church represents the interconnected expression of life together wherein we are all parties one to another, face to face, and moved by the Spirit of our gathering in the Lord’s name. 

Let me say more about this now, in relation to the recent events of the Communion.

The focus in Anglicanism’s current difficulties is, of course, the question of the church’s response to homosexuality. But that is really only the presenting issue, the tip of the iceberg. The deeper issue is, in reality, a test of the nature of our communion and interdependence. This was already evident – for those with eyes to see – at the Lambeth Conference in 1988. There Bishop Paul Moore of New York proposed a resolution calling for ‘each Province to work toward the elimination of discrimination against homosexual persons in the Church and in the world and to support their human rights’. It was amended – due in part to African pressure – to a call for ‘each province to reassess, in the light of such study and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude towards persons of homosexual orientation’. A sign perhaps that Anglicanism was no longer simply willing to accept the perspective of the powerful Western churches and that these churches would increasingly need to listen to the younger growing churches of the South.

Before the next Lambeth Conference, a further sign of the changing shape of the Communion was the first Anglican Encounter in the South in Kenya in 1994 followed by the 2nd, in Kuala Lumpur, in 1997. This latter issued, amongst other things, a statement on sexuality which made clear the widespread opposition to moves in America and other provinces to accept homosexual relationships. At Lambeth 1998 the final outcome on this issue was resolution I.10 which, though more moderate than some proposed amendments, strengthened the initial proposed resolution. The original proposal had already made clear that the Conference could not ‘advise the legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’. To it were now added the important words, ‘while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture’. Passed overwhelmingly in its final form by 526 votes to 70 it has subsequently been frequently reaffirmed as the mind of the Communion.

Yet the resolution has also been frequently and flagrantly disregarded by certain dioceses and provinces, most notably within the American Episcopal Church. As a result, the Communion has been forced to address these deeper issues of what it means to be Anglican in the 21st century, how we live together as a worldwide communion of autonomous churches and how we can order our common life in such a manner as to remain united and in partnership in our local and global missionary service of the gospel. Based on the 2004 Windsor Report from the Lambeth Commission on Communion and increasingly focused on that Report’s proposed Anglican covenant, the shape of the answers to these challenges is gradually becoming clearer. They are answers which hold out the hope of developing a distinctively Anglican vision of national churches in an international communion that responds to the challenges of mission in the face of globalisation while resisting the dangers of either captivity to our varied national cultures or a new form of ecclesial imperialism.

It is vital to recognize that, in Christian perspective, globalisation and communion are not only about holding together an agglomeration of distinct ecclesial identities.  Communion is about conversion to God, and to the God who, in and through Christ Jesus, transforms us, moulds us, and allows our lives, sent out into the world, to be a leaven of a miraculous kind.  This, in fact, necessarily means a relativization of individual identities.

Within the Church we challenge one another, we admonish, we edify, we repent, we learn, we come to a common mind.  We are now doing so within a scope of churches and identities that would have boggled Thomas Bray, but also surely lifted him to a third heaven.  But this means – as Archbishop Ramsey reminded us back in 1963 - giving up as much as taking up.  The limited nature of our church’s leadership in the past, where bishops even in Africa and India, came from the same British schools and universities, meant that local diversities were held in check by common pastoral backgrounds and a common exercise of authority.  This meant, in turn, that cultural blindness was both limited in its examples, but also deeply entrenched over many generations and across many cultural lines.  The emergence of local self-determination within Anglican churches over the past 40 years has ramified plural identities within the church, often in contrast and conflict.  And just now, the nature of cultural captivities is being exposed, across the board.  The danger is that we will let it be, because it is too hard to confront – and we will have a collection of culturally limited churches and perspectives and theologies.  The idea of communion however, is a multiple series of learnings and giving ways.  Paul in Eph. 5:21 says strikingly: submit to one another.  Submit, he urges, not in identical ways – for the husband and wife are not the same, nor child and parent and so on.  But submit in a way that makes for deep mutual commitment, even to death. 

Earlier in his ministry, in his classic The Gospel and the Catholic Church, Michael Ramsey expressed the need for the church’s order to be shaped by the gospel of Christ crucified and risen in the following words:

The outward order of the Church therefore is no indifferent matter; it is on the contrary, of supreme importance since it is found to be related to the Church’s inner meaning and to the Gospel of God itself. For the good news that God has visited and redeemed His people includes the redeemed man’s knowledge of death and resurrection through his place in the one visible society and through the death to self in which every member and group has died. And in telling of this one visible society the Church’s outward order tells indeed of the Gospel. For every part of the Church’s true order will bear witness to the one universal family of God and will point to the historic events of the Word-made-flesh. Thus Baptism is into the death and resurrection of Christ, and into the one Body (Rom 6:3, 1 Cor 12:13); the Eucharist is likewise a sharing in Christ’s death and merging of the individual into the one Body (1 Cor 11:26, 1 Cor 10:17); and the Apostles are both a link with the historical Jesus and also the officers of the one ecclesia whereon every local community depends. Hence the whole structure of the Church tells of the Gospel; not only by its graces and virtues, but also by its mere organic shape it proclaims the truth. A baptism, a Eucharistic service, an Apostle, in themselves tell us of our death and resurrection and of the Body which is one (p50).

The flashpoint of teaching on sexuality has proved an occasion for this challenge of giving up, and of letting go of the cultural captivities – whether in San Francisco or London or Abuja - that accompany our connections across the Communion.  This is the response we are called to not because the topic is ready to be sewn up and discarded; surely there is more to hear, more to learn, more towards which we must be converted.  But just because this is the case, the connections that now bristle about the Communion are such that hearing and learning in the West must take a new posture, and adopt a new attitude, even as the energies of the church, now spread around the world, learn what it means to have one’s witness seen and heard. 

So how, faced with these challenges, can we find a way to open ourselves to conversion and awareness of our cultural captivities? How, given the changes that our globalised world and the Anglican Communion have experienced in recent decades, can we express our commitments to one another and to the gospel? How can we find a shape for our faithfulness, under Scripture, to the pattern of Anglican life and mission that has developed down through the centuries?

One of the problems that has been faced as the Communion has developed is its lack of an explicitly stated self-understanding of what it means to be Anglican and what it means to recognize others as Anglican and live in interdependent, mutually accountable communion with one another as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Reflecting the British constitution, the Anglican Communion has functioned on the basis of unwritten conventions and gentlemen’s agreements, a sense that one could always recognize a good Anglican and a good Anglican always behaved in certain ways. That mutual recognition may have been guided by a reference to the classic formularies for some or by the pattern of common worship as expressed in the Prayer Book and its various adaptations around the Communion. The great strength of encouraging national churches to adapt to their own context has led we now realize to a situation where although there exist many common principles of canon law for the internal ordering of provinces there is a lack of agreed and stated principles of what it means to be interdependent and to take part in and respect common counsel with one’s fellow Anglicans.

In addressing this challenge and enabling the articulation of who we are and what we wish to become as a worldwide communion of churches committed to interdependent mission, the work of the Covenant Design Group is already making significant progress. As the report of the first meeting notes

All the members of the group spoke of the value and importance of the continued life of the Anglican Communion as an instrument through which the Gospel could be proclaimed and God’s mission carried forward.  There was a real desire to see the interdependent life of the Communion strengthened by a covenant which would articulate our common foundations, and set out principles by which our life of Communion in Christ could be strengthened and nurtured. It was also recognised, however, that the proposal for a covenant was born out of a specific context in which the Communion’s life was under severe strain.  While the group felt that it was important that the strength of a covenant would be greater if it addressed broad principles, and did not focus on particular issues, the need for its introduction into the life of the Communion in order to restore trust was urgent.

The group is clear that although the development of a covenant is an innovation, in order ‘to hold together and strengthen the life of the Communion’ the covenant itself ‘need not introduce some new development into the life of the Communion’. It is rather a means of articulating and clarifying the patterns of common faith and life that we have received as Anglicans and in particular it is the fruit of such recent discernment processes as the Windsor Report. The draft covenant now commended to provinces by the recent Primates’ meeting is a Scripturally-shaped re-affirmation of the life we share with one another and with others. Alongside these affirmations the member churches are also invited to renew their commitments to our historic confession of faith, to sharing together in God’s healing and reconciling mission to the world and to the unity of the Communion through mutual listening and heeding common counsel.

The covenant is, in particular, faithful to and expressive of the missionary tradition of Anglicanism with which we began. It is this – not simply a resolution of internal tensions – which provides the covenant’s goal, its purpose, its telos. So the introduction concludes with the prayer that “God will redeem our struggles and weakness, and renew and enrich our common life so that the Anglican Communion may be used to witness effectively in all the world to the new life and hope found in Christ”. The global, missionary and ecclesial vision of Anglicanism which lies at the heart of our Anglican identity and which the covenant seeks to express, to enable and to encourage the Communion’s member churches to embrace, is perhaps best captured in its proposed preamble and its four-fold purpose with which I close:

We, the Churches of the Anglican Communion, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, solemnly covenant together in these articles, in order
• to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the Grace of God revealed in the Gospel,
• to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world,
• to maintain the unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace, and
• to grow up together as a worldwide Communion to the full stature of Christ.

 

1 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Sinner Says:

    Communion is about conversion to God, and to the God who, in and through Christ Jesus, transforms us, moulds

    And that is really the nub of the problem: that ECUSA no longer worships Christ, but Dagon the God who demans homosexual intercourse and offers only damnation.

    And this is why everyone must choose now: Christ or Dagon?

    Surely it’s not that hard?