Thinking Anglicans

Church in Wales meets

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales has been meeting in Aberystwyth. This is the Welsh equivalent of a General Synod.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here.

The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, delivered a presidential address which can be read in full here and there is a press release giving highlights here:

In his Presidential Address to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, presently meeting in Aberystwyth (University of Wales Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Penglais Campus, 6 th and 7 th April) , Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan , Archbishop of Wales has warned his fellow Anglicans about the dangers inherent in the present harsh tone of the debate being conducted within the Anglican Communion.

In his address, delivered today (Wednesday, 6th April), Archbishop Barry makes reference to many of the key events which make 2005 an important year in the life of the UK – the UK holding the Presidency of the both the G8 and the EU, the 20 th anniversary of Live Aid and 10 th Anniversary of Comic Relief, the publication of the Commission for Africa’s report later this month, World Environment day in June, and of course the UK General Election called yesterday for May 5 th .

However, the key point he makes is that while Anglican Christians, should have much to say on many of these key issues, it is difficult for us to be taken seriously when the present debate within the Anglican Communion has been couched in harsh, confrontational tones. In his address the Archbishop says:

If the church of God can’t conduct a debate in a civilised way when it claims to be a reconciled and reconciling community – what message does that give to the world? We cannot as a church call for compassion, peace and justice in our nation and in our world, if we as Christians do not exemplify those virtues in our own lives and in our dealings with one another.

… Referring to the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, due to meet in Nottingham in June, Archbishop Barry says

What is needed at the ACC is not a theological rant or a throwing of verbal grenades at people who happen to disagree with our own particular positions, but a reasoned, balanced, discourse of some of the issues involved and the giving of space and time to every kind of viewpoint. It would be better not to have a hearing at all in June if it is going to degenerate into some kind of verbal slanging match… What we need is not confrontation but a willingness to engage in discussion.

Earlier, the Church in Wales issued its Response to the Windsor Report. You can read this press release or you can read the full response here.

From the press release, in answering one of the four questions posed to the provinces:

What in the description of the life of the Communion in Sections A (The purpose and benefits of communion) & B (Fundamental Principles) can you recognise as consistent, or not, with your understanding of the Anglican Communion?

the Welsh response says:

a) The Anglican Communion is one that witnesses to the Kingdom of God … The Windsor report is a document which is in our opinion is a milestone in Anglican ecclesiology. It seeks to develop an understanding of the Church as an embodiment of God’s purpose. It is not simply a human construction. Instead it is how God seeks to heal and restore the world for his kingdom.

b) the dynamic nature of the Anglican Communion – Windsor report paragraph 9 expresses the care of Anglicans for each other, and we would want to add for the world … There have been many challenges to injustice, in ways which combine an ecclesiological reality of our common life with a challenge to oppressive political or social practices. It is not at all as though we are confronted with a static institution which has suddenly been destabilised by the actions of a few of its member churches. One of the ways in which that dynamism is expressed is the existence of inter cultural dialogue. One member of our working party who has worked in Uganda said – ‘It is important to recognise that these cultural factors of themselves neither validate nor invalidate traditions of Scriptural interpretation. None of us can or should offer a reading of Scripture free from cultural values. What is important is that the willingness to acknowledge these values.’

c) the authority of scripture in the Anglican Communion – we are glad to recognise in the report and affirmation of the importance of authority of scripture for Anglicans. However we felt that WR 61 in its description of shortcomings in Scriptural interpretation becomes a caricature of itself. We do not believe that those who have pressed for change have sought “to sweep away sections of the New Testament as irrelevant”. There is also the important issue of inculturation (discussed briefly at WR 85) when considering the interpretation of Scripture. Traditionally the Western church has set the theological agenda. That this is being challenged is a welcome sign of Anglican vitality. It is clearly important within the Anglican Communion that both African and Asian readings are heard respectfully and accorded the dignity of being received as valid contributions to theological discussion.

d) The Anglican Communion is one bound together by bonds of affection – we felt especially that that autonomy-in-communion was a fruitful concept for future discussion. Nevertheless there are times when we feel that the report feel that the Report tends to equate diversity with opinions, rather than a diversity of people, forgetting how the Report addresses this issue when discussing inculturation.

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