Thinking Anglicans

Njongonkulu Ndungane on the Communiqué

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
Statement on the Global South Communiqué
24 September 2006

I thank God for the fellowship I enjoyed with my brother Primates of CAPA and the Global South, in Kigali last week, as we shared concerns about the Anglican Communion and other matters of common interest.

I wish to offer this clarification of the position of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, in light of the potentially misleading impression that our Province has endorsed the Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting. Whereas Canon Livingstone Ngewu and I were present in Kigali, neither of us were made aware even of the possibility of a communiqué in the name of the Primates of the Global South, prior to its release.

While I may well concur with some sections of the text, there are others which are certainly not consonant with the position of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as articulated only earlier this month by our Synod of Bishops and our Provincial Synod. This is particularly the case in relation to Section 10.

As a general point, I want to comment that whereas I fully endorse the rationale for a body such as the Global South, which can help us address some of the power imbalances between North and South that exist within the Church and more generally, I am surprised that we allow our agenda to be so dominated and driven by an inordinate influence from the United States. This flies in the face of the experience of those of us who are steeped in black and post-colonial theology, the theology of liberation, and black consciousness. It is hard to understand why we continue to act in response to the North to such a great extent, rather than making use of our freedom to concentrate our energies on the priorities of our own people and Provinces.

That said, there is no doubt that the tensions within the Anglican Communion, arising from actions within North America, raise serious and problematic concerns for our future. Yet I am deeply disturbed by the tenor of our approach, as reflected in this communiqué. To me, at least, it appears in places that there is a hidden agenda, to which some of us are not privy. For example, I am unable to understand why there seems to be a deliberate intention to undermine the due processes of the Anglican Communion and the integrity of the Instruments of Unity, while at the same time we commit ourselves to upholding Anglican identity, of which these, as they have continued to evolve over the years in response to changing needs, are an intrinsic part. Thus, for example, recent meetings of the Primates, in which the Global South played a very full part, requested various actions from the Archbishop of Canterbury, which he has been assiduous in pursuing; such as setting up the Lambeth Commission, the Panel of Reference, and now the Covenant Design Group. Yet there seems to be an urgency to obtain particular outcomes in advance, pre-empting the proper outworking of the bodies for which we called.

Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As Peter writes in his second letter, ‘Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.’ We do not want the best of Anglicanism to be cast aside, and so to perish! And to allow the due processes of these bodies, and the Instruments of Unity, to be followed through will take such a short time in relation to the life of God’s Church over two millennia.

I must also say that I am disturbed by the apparent zeal for action to be taken against those deemed not in compliance with Lambeth Resolution 1:10, with a readiness to disregard ancient norms of observing diocesan autonomy. Though this was upheld within the Windsor Report’s recommendations, it is of course a practice that was adopted in earliest times by the universal church. It was thus ironic that that the feast of Theodore of Tarsus fell during our meeting: as Archbishop of Canterbury, in 673 he summoned one of the most important Synods of our early tradition. In addressing both the rights and duties of clergy and religious, its decisions included the requirement, already acknowledged elsewhere, of bishops to work within their own dioceses and not to intrude on the ministry of others. We are in danger of giving the impression of being loyal Anglicans, and loyal members of God’s One, Holy and Apostolic Church, only where, and insofar, it suits us!

We must also be careful to avoid creating, in effect, episcopi vagantes. This is a difficult and complex area, which Resolution 35 of the Lambeth Conference of 1920 addressed when it said ‘The territorial Episcopate has been the normal development in the Catholic Church, but we recognise that differences of race and language sometimes require that provision should be made in a Province for freedom of development of races side by side; the solution in each case must be left with the Province, but we are clear that the ideal of the one Church should never be obscured.’ In our time too, we must do all that we can not to obscure that ideal of the one Church.

I am also more than a little wary of calling into question the election processes of another Province in the way the Communiqué suggests, in relation to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. This introduces a completely new dimension into our relationships within the Communion, the reciprocal implications of which we have not considered. I would feel more confident if we addressed this question as a part of the more comprehensive reassessment of the nature of the Communion for our times, which is underway not least through the work of the Covenant Design Group.

An added concern for me is the apparent marginalisation of laity, clergy and bishops in the debate within the Global South. I was particularly glad that circumstances allowed me fully to consult both my fellow bishops, and our Provincial Synod, immediately in advance of the Kigali meeting. For a fundamental and indispensable element of our Anglican identity is that we are both episcopally led and synodically governed. I long for a consultative process that fully engages the whole Body of Christ, recognising that ‘to each one, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good’ (1 Cor 12:7). Primates do not have sole monopoly on wisdom and knowledge at this crucial time, nor indeed at any other!

In light of this, I also want to clarify what may be to some the ambiguous wording of section 14. CAPA Primates ‘received’ the draft ‘The Road to Lambeth’ in the sense of agreeing to give it full consideration. However, we recognised our inability to commit our Provinces to this, or indeed any other text, without consulting them. It is precisely for that consultation that we are referring it to our Provinces for study, with the expectation that comments will be made, and a final text agreed in the new year. Our ‘commending’ should not be interpreted as ‘endorsing’ the text as it currently stands – it remains a draft.

To my brother Primates of the Global South and CAPA, I therefore offer a plea from the heart. Let us hold fast, in word and deed, to the true marks with which we believe the Lord has graced and gifted us as Anglicans – yes, our rootedness in Scripture as our primary touchstone, but also in our Tradition and our use of Reason. The Windsor Report has done us an invaluable service in beginning to address how we understand and recognise these and what they mean for us today, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has offered further vital insights in his reflections ‘The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today.’ I have offered my own thoughts in ‘Heartlands of Anglicanism’ and I am sure there is more to be said. But I am also sure that if we fail to carry forward the ‘three-fold strands’ not just of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, but also of what Archbishop Rowan has so eloquently described as ‘reformed commitment to the absolute priority of the Bible for deciding doctrine, a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, and a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly’ – that if we fail to carry forward these, then we certainly relinquish our ability to claim that we stand authentically within Anglicanism.

In the book of the Prophet Isaiah, we read that ‘those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.’ We want the Anglican Communion to rise up, renewed and strengthened, on eagles’ wings. It is for us to wait upon the Lord. We do not have a God who is slow to act. We can have confidence to let him lead our Church forward, through the ways he has so often done in the past. In our concerns for the Anglican Communion which we love, we do not have to be precipitate and risk losing much of what it is we wish to preserve and enhance.

And so I also offer a call to my brother Primates, that we step back from the brink at which the Kigali Communiqué appears to place us. It is certainly the case that we need changes within the life, and structures, and processes of the Anglican Communion. Yet part of the strength of our heritage is that intrinsic to our life, structures and processes is a considerable flexibility and openness to change that has allowed us to evolve – creating and amending Instruments of Unity, for example (and I am thinking here particularly of the ACC) in response to God’s calling to be faithful in our mission and ministry to his people and his world. We are now in need of such evolution, to preserve the very best of the heart of Anglicanism – and working in conformity with this essence of Anglicanism will most effectively preserve that ‘best’ which has been God’s continuing gift to us over the centuries.

Two weeks before our meeting in Kigali, the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa issued a statement which spoke of the gift of tolerance and grace in the face of the pains of divisions among ourselves with which we have had to deal in our past. The breadth of current divisions also find expression within our Province. Yet we remain convinced that what unites us far outweighs what divides us, and that we must therefore both choose and strive, with deep sacrificial love, for the Anglican Communion to remain united.

Our God surely is a God of surprises. As one of my predecessors as Archbishop of Cape Town said, ‘God still works his purposes out, in spite of the confusions of our minds.’

May that be so! Amen!

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Ruth GledhillFord ElmsJim PrattCheryl CloughTodd Granger Recent comment authors
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Lois Keen
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Lois Keen

Amen. May God bless Archbishop Ndungane. He is a worthy successor to Archbishop Tutu. Thank you, reverend sir.
Lois Keen

Andrew S
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Andrew S

Yes, Amen, & Amen again. This is a wonderful, thoughtful, and charitable contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of Anglicanism. I especially appreciate the Archbishop’s remembrance of the other orders of ministry in our church; lay persons, and clergy together with bishops, in synod, making decisions that affect the life and doctrine of our Church, and not just the pointy hats in splendid isolation. I was also struct by the word from the KJV of Ephesians 4:30-32, from T. Tertius Noble’s anthem “Grieve not, the Holy Spirit of God” …grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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“… neither of us were made aware even of the possibility of a communiqué in the name of the Primates of the Global South, prior to its release.” “In light of this, I also want to clarify what may be to some the ambiguous wording of section 14. CAPA Primates ‘received’ the draft ‘The Road to Lambeth’ in the sense of agreeing to give it full consideration. However, we recognised our inability to commit our Provinces to this, or indeed any other text, without consulting them. It is precisely for that consultation that we are referring it to our Provinces… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

What a sensible, considered response.

laurence roberts
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laurence roberts

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Roy Flinchbaugh
Guest
Roy Flinchbaugh

It seems odd to me that some years back when various bishops of the Anglican Communion (Spong, et al.)issued statements denying basic tenets of the Faith, no vast protest was elicited from any Province. Now a homosexual is consecrated bishop, a woman is chosen as Primate of the Episcopal Church USA, and much of the Anglican Church is up in arms at the horror of it. Is not, in the scheme of things, the Virgin Birth, the Holy Trinity, etc. of far more crucial import to the Church than a gay bishop or a woman primate. Where are the bishops’… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

What Lois Keen & Andrew S said!

I would be far more hopeful about the future of the Anglican Communion if this had been the General Communiqué from Kigali rather than the bullying bluster which was presented instead.

IIRC, this is not the first time ++Abuja has been asked to “step back from the brink” & IMHO he hasn’t taken a step back yet (& is very proud of that fact).

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Doesn’t anybody here appreciate the difference between 20 Primates having approved and signed this Communiqué and 20 Primates n o t having approved and signed this Communiqué?

Charlotte Pressler
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Charlotte Pressler

This was the most interesting part of the Southern African response, to me: — quote — I am surprised that we allow our agenda to be so dominated and driven by an inordinate influence from the United States. This flies in the face of the experience of those of us who are steeped in black and post-colonial theology, the theology of liberation, and black consciousness. It is hard to understand why we continue to act in response to the North to such a great extent, rather than making use of our freedom to concentrate our energies on the priorities of… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

I love the South Africans, have since the 1980s when I heard Desmond Tutu speak in Perth. They simply understand the idea of consistency – and that to withhold grace from one group is hypocritical if you seek grace for your own group. I was delighted to see the Archbishop’s concerns about sabotaging another diocese’s representative, pleased at the continuing independent growth in theological development that South Africa is showing. (Not grovelling to imperialists but not reacting against them either, forging a new path that brings forward the best and “adds value” from their own experiences). I agree with his… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

thank God for this man’s wisdom and faith in a God who transcends the petty concerns (for they are) of the GS. Any parish priest who has to deal with parishioners fomenting disloyalty and disharmony knows that in the end, if they perist with their threats, they must be allowed to go. The death of course is painful, but resurrection always follows. It is a shame ++Rowan was never a parish priest as this experience might have given him a greater faith in allowing God to bring his healing and resurrection in these matters.

John Henry
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John Henry

Wrote Charlotte Pressler: “I recall that ++Robin Eames got in trouble for making the same charges a while ago. No doubt it is better for the vote-buying and simony within the Global South to be exposed by Poon+ and ++Ndungane, who are themselves influential voices in the Global South, just as it is better for ++Ndungane to answer the communique than for ++Rowan to do so.” Right on the mark! Too, the Primate and Metropolitan of Abuja is always his own worst enemy. He never fails but shoots himself in the foot. It is only inept fools in North America… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Deciding just what exactly to do with non-new conserve conformed provinces of the real, geographical Global South will increasingly become a problem of our communion the futher these mean camapaigns for new conserve realignment go. Not only South Africa, but others (Brazil?) will have to be raided, split, and defined as walking apart from the new conserve conformities. New Zealand? People and parishes inside larger, more conservative dioceses and provinces? Thanks so much to ABSA Ndugane for raising up these explicit CAPA hermeneutics which try to rest the Anglican heuristic stool on one leg, Sola Scripture, while sawing the others… Read more »

Alison
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Alison

This is a moving and wonderful statement. It’s something to make one believe in the power of the Spirit.

Aaron
Guest

This, combined with the non-response from Camp Allen, spells a major setback – if not defeat – for the schismatics. They wanted to present a united front, to make their wishes seem inevitable…turns out they’re not united and their wishes are pipe dreams.

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

Yes, Aaron, their wishes have been “pipe dreams” for a long time. In the U.S.A. the reasserters’ hatred of ECUSA/TEC goes back to the early 1960s–the Civil Rights Movement, anti-Vietnam/anti-War activism by more ‘liberal’ bishops and clergy, ECUSA/TEC’s majority, while being pro-life, also seeking pro-choice accommodations for women(rather than have women depend on back-alley abortionists, Harley Street or Sweden), liturgical revision and recovery of the worship forms of the early undivided Church to be ‘in step’ with Vatican II, equal rights for women and women’s ordination to challenge ancient models of patriarchy, and now inclusion of gays and lesbians in… Read more »

Davis
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Davis

Let your Light Shine dear Lord.

*Christopher
Guest

Perhaps its time to consider organizing communion around Capetown? Every time the good Archbishop Ndungane speaks I hear whispers of what I thought Anglicanism was all about–broad, provincial, working with Scripture/reason/tradition, open to diversity of thought and human life. Even as that Province still is wrestling with the place of lgbt people in its life, I know in this man, there is a truly a pastor’s heart for lgbt Christians, something I’m not clear about with regard to Archbishop Williams since the John incident. Archbishop Ndungane continues to speak human dignity and Gospel values and grace in a much bleaker… Read more »

EricM
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EricM

‘In the U.S.A. the reasserters’ hatred of ECUSA/TEC goes back to the early 1960s–the Civil Rights Movement, anti-Vietnam/anti-War activism by more ‘liberal’ bishops and clergy’ In those days, Northern as well as Southern churches were segregated. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail was addressed to the Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Birmingham, AL. Some of us still recall the resistance to Civil Rights in the Church that lasted so much longer than it should. Thank you John Henry for recalling those times. May our Almighty God bless Archbishop Ndungane. His words are measured, with great wisdom, we… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

Now as a bear of small brain and less insight, I start to wonder whether this was ++Rowan’s game plan all along: it’s called giving the schismatics enough rope with which to hang themselves. Being charitable (and I know and lament the Jeffrey John business etc.), could Big Brain have spotted the extreme flakiness of the grand schismatic coalition and decided that a punch-up with them would only increase their sense of solidarity? Fans of Asimov will remember that the success of Seldon’s Plan was often dependent on the ability of the right people at the right time to do… Read more »

Todd Granger
Guest

Charlotte, you are quite right that Dr Poon has certainly been critical not only of “Western” (or “Global Northern”) liberals but also of conservatives in his recent essays. I am aware of his criticisms of the various bureaucratic structures of the Anglican Communion vis-á-vis their being beholden to the wealthy liberal ecclesiastical establishments of the Global North(including The Episcopal Church) who pay the bills. I am not familiar with any direct accusations of conservative vote-buying, however, and would truly – this is not a rhetorical challenge – welcome a published reference. John Henry, you paint with a far too broad… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

David Rowett — At my charitable moments I am inclined to think that way (& doing nothing IS doing something & very don-like, I think) *Christopher — I recommend those who want some but not all rights for LBGTQs to read “Letter from Birmingham Jail” — interesting the number who don’t get it (are “moderates” people who “don’t get it”?) John Henry — Yes, it all goes back to Presiding Bishop Hines & unfolds from there — the first schism was the Orthodox Anglican Church & it opposition to integration, then the Anclican Church in North America with its oppostion… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

I am starting to wonder if we aren’t dealing with the frog in the saucepan where the water is being slowly heated up? I wonder if the bulk of bishops are quiet because the conservatives inculcate that to attack them is unloving and against the Body of Christ? In which case they are meek sheep that allow wolves to move through their fields in order to isolate and disembowel members of the flock. The good thing about TA and other internet forums is they can no longer claim that they did not know what was being done to the sheep… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Todd Granger,
Here’s a reference, not perhaps to direct vote buying, but to some of the behind the scenes politics. It has a heavy anti-RC slant, in my opinion, and I don’t buy into some sort of RC cabal playing the bad old games of Protestant-Catholic fighting. For me this is behind the scenes conservatives who happen to be RC rather than any kind of Church-based conspiracy, which is the slant this article seems to take.

Ford Elms

http://www.mediatransparency.org/storyprinterfriendly.php?storyID=142

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Right on, Prior Aelred!

Todd Granger
Guest

Thanks, Ford Elms, but “not perhaps to direct vote buying” is quite the understatement. Perhaps I didn’t read closely enough, but I failed to find any reference whatever to conservative Episcopalians – or their alleged neo-con cronies – wielding financial influence over Global South Anglicans. This article has nothing whatever to do with the allegation that Charlotte made, that Dr Poon has criticized conservative Episcopalian vote-buying in the Global South. (Dr Poon’s other criticisms of liberal and some conservative Global Northerners are, I think, well made and should be heeded.) The article also seems to work from an assumption that… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“I am surprised that we allow our agenda to be so dominated and driven by an inordinate influence from the United States.”

Did anyone else see this as a dig at the not so well hidden, though to me very understandable, anti-white bias of ++Akinola et al? The irony of angry post-colonial Africans making common cause with angry post-Reconstruction Americans is funny. Politics, strange bedfellows, etc.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Todd I agree with your concern about substantiation, but that is going to be very hard when there is a conscious policy of avoiding putting anything in writing, especially on the internet because it has a tendency to fall into the “wrong” hands. I saw only the other day a liberal being accussed of having a persecution complex, and when I described this to my counsellor (my mother substitute and the backup that means I can get by without a parish :-)) she exclaimed “they’re sociopaths”. I described some of the other things they have been doing too and she… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

“I am surprised that we allow our agenda to be so dominated and driven by an inordinate influence from the United States. This flies in the face of the experience of those of us who are steeped in black and post-colonial theology, the theology of liberation, and black consciousness. It is hard to understand why we continue to act in response to the North to such a great extent, rather than making use of our freedom to concentrate our energies on the priorities of our own people and Provinces.” Ford, reading this from the perspective of American racial politics and… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Jim,
I suspect that was the point. It is not difficult to see a deep seated resentment of white people in what is going on. I can well imagine that, had I grown up African during or just after the end of colonial rule I would feel the same way. Western, white owned oil interests are behaving the same way now in Nigeria, and the same thing is going on all over. Colonialism is not over. I suspect ++Ndugane’s comment was meant to spur ++Akinola into musing over who’s actually driving the bus here.

Ruth Gledhill
Guest

Simon, the Ndungane story you emailed me about is now online at this link, Ruth:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2376121.html