The ACC has created a serious challenge for the Anglican Church
The result of the vote at the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham on Weds 22nd June represents a serious challenge to the future of the Anglican Church. It is vital that those who celebrate the breadth and depth of the Anglican tradition begin to take seriously the threat to the future of our church.
St Paul says in the first letter to the Corinthians ‘Now the body is not made up of one part, but of many…..The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” ’ It is clear that the continued exclusion of the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in spite of their open, honest and generous responses to the Windsor Report and the Primates’ request is a contradiction of the words of St Paul.
The preface to the Book of Common Prayer, published in 1662, opens with the words “It hath ever been the wisdom of the Church of England to keep the mean between two extremes.” The Church has lived with diversity and difference since its foundation. Anglicans from a vast breadth of theological and liturgical understandings have respected one another’s right to be members. The path has not always been easy but the Church has held together over nearly five centuries.
The Anglican Church has made a unique contribution to Christian witness. We have always been Catholic and Reformed, standing between the extreme certainties which caused such terror and suffering in the Reformation era. We are commtted to maintaining the value of that inheritance. We are not surprised when something that has so much within it that works for good and redemption is under attack.
But this Church that we love is now under threat. The Gospel of broad and generous inclusion is being undermined by a dangerously monochrome interpretation of scripture.
The loss of our voice; the change in our ecclesiology; the equating of our Anglican tradition with other hard-line, protestant, or neo-conservative churches would be a serious and permanent diminishing of Christian witness to the world.
InclusiveChurch and its thirteen partner organisations in the Church of England have welcomed the process of reception of the Windsor Report and the institution of the “Listening process” agreed by the Anglican Consultative Council. We are working closely with other groups within the Anglican Commuion, both in the UK and abroad. We are committed to this so that we can try to ensure that the ecclesiology of the Anglican Communion is not subverted.
The decision taken at the ACC meeting in Nottingham to include all the Primates as full members of the Anglican Consultative Council sets an alarming precedent. There is a real possibility of imposed doctrinal and theological positions from a conservative grouping.
We cannot risk becoming a church where the Primates can equate homosexuality with bestiality; or where there is permanent subjugation of women and institutionalised inequality; or where genuine debate and searching are replaced by an imposed orthodoxy.
We are aware that the Church faces very different challenges around the world, and we have no wish to exclude from the church those who have a different interpretation of the Gospel. But for the sake of the Church we repeat clearly that we are committed to finding ways to ensure that the diversity of the Anglican Communion continues to be celebrated and encouraged.
InclusiveChurch deeply regrets the continued exclusion of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada from full participation in the life of the Anglican Communion. We express our full support for their respect for the Anglican Communion and their membership of it.
We believe that the Gospel witness we offer must continue to grow and to that end we call on all members of our Communion to become aware of the risks we are facing. ‘The eye cannot say to the hand – “I do not need you.”’