Thinking Anglicans

Primates gathering – another roundup

The Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, offers his Perspectives on the Primates’ Meeting.

Colbert I King The Washington Post The Anglican Communion’s un-Christian stance on marriage

The Most Reverend Dr Mouneer Anis A Personal Reflection on the 2016 Primates’ Meeting

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Apology to LGBT community must be followed by action, senior Anglicans warn Archbishop of Canterbury — referring to this press release

Jacob Luther Hymn to the Anglican Communion

Christopher Wells The Living Church Catholicity, apostolicity: Come on down

Jesse Zink Church Times If it doesn’t work, do something new

Ben Irwin The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and the real reason we’re having this debate

Charles Hefling Christian Century Has the Episcopal Church been plutoed?


Opinion – 30 January 2016

Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, What is religious education for?

The Churchwarden Church Buildings Review: A Churchwarden’s Rant

Andrew Lightbown Why the church needs its revisionists

Linda Woodhead Why ‘no religion’ is the new religion – a lecture at the British Academy [45 minute video]


General Synod agenda – press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times Reform, sex talks, and Kirk on Synod’s agenda

John Bingham The Telegraph Dress-down Sundays: Church considers making clerical dress optional
[with reference to GS Misc 1133 – House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments]

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod to focus on need for evangelism
Anglican talks on sexuality sometimes “painful”

BBC News Churches of England and Scotland publish report on proposed pact


Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican clergy could drop traditional dress in favour of casual clothing


More and more Church of England members support same-sex marriage

Updated again Sunday morning

Harriet Sherwood has published in the Guardian a report headlined Church of England members back same-sex marriage.

Attitudes to same-sex marriage within the pews of the Church of England are sharply at odds with the stance of its leadership, as for the first time more Anglicans are in favour of gay and lesbian couples marrying than oppose it, according to a poll.

Support for same-sex marriage among church members has significantly increased over the past three years despite the leadership’s insistence that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and its refusal to conduct church weddings for gay couples or allow gay priests to marry…

…A poll conducted in the aftermath of the Canterbury meeting found 45% of people who define themselves as Church of England approve of same-sex marriage, compared with 37% who believe it is wrong. A similar survey three years ago found almost the reverse: 38% of Anglicans in favour and 47% opposed.

The lowest levels of support for same-sex marriage – 24% – were found among Anglican men over the age of 55, a group that dominates the church leadership. Jayne Ozanne, a leading gay activist within the C of E, who commissioned the poll from YouGov, said this finding was “deeply worrying”. “Unfortunately, this is exactly the profile of those in the senior positions of power and influence within the church,” she said.

The poll’s findings, released to the Guardian, are likely to amplify calls within the church for a change in its stance. Gay and lesbian activists say the church’s insistence on a traditional interpretation of scriptures alienates and excludes LGBT Christians, and further marginalises the church in wider society.

The survey found a clear generational difference among Church of England members, with almost three-quarters (72%) of under-35s in favour. There was a majority supporting same-sex marriage in all age groups under 55, but the figure dropped to fewer than one in three older Anglicans. More women than men believe same-sex marriage is right.

Support was largely consistent across different regions of England, contradicting assumptions that people living in London and other major cities are more liberal than others. There was also minimal variation across social class.

Church members in England are still lagging behind the general public, among whom a clear majority – 56% – support same-sex marriage, while 27% say they oppose it…

For more detail about this survey see press release here.

In particular, scroll down to pages 4 and 5 of the PDF for some graphics showing very clearly the shift in opinion over the past three years.

For more numbers:

For full results of 2016 poll amongst all Anglicans living in England go here.

For full results of 2016 poll amongst all respondents living within Great Britain go here.

The 2013 detailed results are on pages 13 and 14 of this rather large file.


There is extensive criticism of this poll at Psephizo The YouGov poll on same-sex marriage

But then again there is discussion of who is a member of the Church of England by Archdruid Eileen Are You Really Church of England?



The Columba Declaration and the Scottish Episcopal Church

The Scottish Episcopal Church issued this Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report today.

Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report
January 29, 2016

There was some publicity around Christmastime regarding the publication of the joint Columba Declaration by the Church of Scotland and Church of England. The provincial Faith and Order Board met recently and agreed that a short background note should be issued.

After the publication in 2010 of Our Fellowship in the Gospel by the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, a product of five year’s work, an invitation to join the Joint Study Group was issued to the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church was then involved in those new talks up until 2013. At that point, the other two churches expressed a desire to enter into a deeper ecumenical arrangement. The Faith and Order Board considered the matter carefully but did not believe it was appropriate to enter a tripartite “ecumenical” agreement where one of the parties was the Church of England because the Scottish Episcopal Church is already in full communion with the Church of England. The Board suggested instead that the three-way talks might continue, aimed not at forming an ecumenical agreement but rather at enriching common life and mission across the three churches. Therefore, it suggested alternative ways of proceeding on a tripartite basis.

However, the other two churches were keen to move towards some form of ecumenical agreement. It was at this point that the Scottish Episcopal Church ceased to be a full participant in the talks, albeit we were invited to appoint an observer, and duly did so. The then Convener of Inter-Church Relations Committee took on that role with his last involvement being at the final bilateral meeting in late 2014 where a draft of the report was under discussion.

A joint statement by the Church of Scotland and Church of England setting out the Columba Declaration (which forms only the final part of the report) was unexpectedly issued just before Christmas 2015, in response to a press query, and we became aware of this on Christmas Eve. The final form of the full report, however, was embargoed until the 29th January 2016.

Since the issue of that statement, we have been in direct contact with both the Church of Scotland and Church of England and have obtained a copy of the final report Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission. We have been able to ask a number of initial questions which have been helpfully answered jointly by the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

In the report it is stated that a response from the Scottish Episcopal Church would be welcomed. The Faith and Order Board at its meeting on 21st January agreed to remit the Scottish Episcopal Church’s detailed examination of the report to the Inter-Church Relations Committee and to ask that Committee to formulate a response for consideration by the Faith and Order Board in September 2016 (which will be the first meeting of the Board after this year’s Church of England Synod and the Church of Scotland General Assembly). This will include consideration of the concerns which the publication of the Columba Declaration, without the benefit of the full report, had prompted before Christmas. The Board believes that publication of Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission now provides an opportunity to build on the warm relations which the Scottish Episcopal Church already enjoys with the Church of Scotland and very much looks forward to continuing discussions. The Board similarly looks forward to strengthening our relationship and mutual regard with the Church of England.

The report of the Church of Scotland and Church of England Joint Study Group can be read here.

A press release issued today by the Church of Scotland can be read here.

Our earlier coverage of the Columba Declaration is here, here and here.

The Church of England released the Report on the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016) today; the Columba Declaration comprises Chapter IV of the report.



Agenda for February 2016 General Synod

The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.

The remainder of the papers have also been published online, and I have updated my list here.

Agenda for February 2016 General Synod
29 January 2016

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.30 pm on Monday 15 February until 5.00 pm on Wednesday 17 February. This will be the first full-length meeting of the newly-elected General Synod since its inauguration in November 2015.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here. The majority of the papers have been released today. A major theme of this group of sessions will be taking forward the next stages of the Archbishops’ Renewal and Reform initiative. On Wednesday 17 February the various Task Group leads will be giving an overview to Synod on their plans for the coming year. Specific items related to Renewal and Reform feature on the February agenda.

One key aspect of Renewal and Reform is the introduction of legislative changes to make it easier for parishes and dioceses to organise themselves to facilitate mission and growth. This is known as the Simplification work stream. On Monday 15 February legislation will come before Synod to simplify the Church’s rulebook to reduce regulatory burdens in the form of the Draft Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure (GS2014). On Tuesday 16 February, Synod will be asked to endorse plans to introduce an ‘Enabling Measure’ to make it easier to update Church legislation in the future as required on an on-going basis (GS 2018).

On Wednesday 17 February there will be a debate on a motion on the Resourcing Ministerial Education work stream, another element of Renewal and reform. The motion and the accompanying paper sets out plans for new funding arrangements to boost the number of candidates for ministry and a strategy for the continuing enhancement of their quality and deployability (GS 2020). Immediately after this item, there will be a Take Note debate on a report from the Task Group on Resourcing the Future which sets out plans to reorganise the way that the Church distributes money centrally to focus it on driving growth and helping mission in the poorest communities (GS 2021). Linked to these initiatives, there will be a report from the Evangelism Task Group with examples of best practice with regards to Church growth and evangelism (GS 2015).

On Monday 15 February the Archbishop of Canterbury will be giving a Presidential Address which will include a Statement on the outcome of the recent Primates meeting in Canterbury. There will also be an update by the Archbishop’s Director for Reconciliation on the progress in the dioceses of the Shared Conversations on Spirituality, Scripture and Mission. Synod members will have an opportunity to ask questions on the presentation.

On Tuesday 16 February, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will give a presentation on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016). This will be followed by a debate on the Report introduced by the Bishop of Chester.

Synod will be debating three Diocesan Synod Motions, two of which are closely related. The first two DSMs from Worcester Diocesan Synod relate to Parochial fees and related costs for weddings and funerals (GS 2017A and 2017B). This will be taken together on Tuesday 16 February. On Wednesday 17 February there will be a Diocesan Synod Motion arising from Leeds Diocesan Synod on the ‘Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants’ (GS 2019A and GS2019B). A further Diocesan Synod Motion from Leeds Diocesan Synod on ‘Blood and Organ Donation’ (GS 2022A and GS2022B) is listed as contingency business.


The full agenda can be viewed online here.


A Statement on Archbishop Beach’s Participation at Primates 2016

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) released this statement today: A Statement on Archbishop Beach’s Participation at Primates 2016. Here it is, with my emphasis added in paragraph 4.

The Anglican Church in North America has received numerous questions regarding whether or not Archbishop Beach was “a full voting member of the Primates Meeting.” Archbishop Beach did not consider himself a full voting member of the Primates Meeting, but with the exception of voting on the consequences for the Episcopal Church, Archbishop Beach participated fully in those parts of the meeting that he chose to attend.

Prior to Primates 2016 he was informed that there may be certain times when the Primates would move into a formal meeting, and, as the Anglican Church in North America is not an official member of the Communion’s instruments, he would be asked to step out of the room. However, he was never asked to leave the meeting.

While at the meeting, he addressed the gathering and participated in various balloting measures that set the agenda, ordered the agenda, and sought to discern the way those in the room wanted to proceed. He did not vote on the consequences for The Episcopal Church.

Some have asked whether Archbishop Beach voted to approve the final Communique or the new members of the Standing Committee. Neither he nor a majority of the GAFCON Primates were​ present for these discussions on Friday. Although early in the week he joined the other Primates in affirming his desire to walk together, this desire was necessarily contingent upon The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada giving evidence of returning to Biblical and historical Anglican theology and morality (Amos 3:3). On Thursday ​evening, ​with the absence of repentance, restored order, and true unity, Archbishop Beach felt it necessary to withdraw from the meeting.

Archbishop Beach appreciated the gracious invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the meeting, and was thankful to be warmly received as the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America by most of the other primates who were present. While the Anglican Church in North America is recognized and in full communion with provinces who represent the majority of Anglicans in the world, the future place of the Anglican Church in North America in relation to the formal instruments remains an open question. Archbishop Beach was encouraged to see the growing recognition of the Anglican Church in North America as a part of the Communion by many of the Primates and Provinces around the table.


Opinion – 23 January 2016

Ian Paul The Primates and Public Relations

Bosco Peters 11 Ways To Stop Church Growth

Simon Hunter Law & Religion UK What is a “church” in English law?

Jonathan Chaplin Law & Religion UK ‘Living with Difference’: Time for a constructive Christian engagement

Martin Saunders Christian Today ‘When a knight won his spurs’: the lost genius of the 1980s school hymn

Andrew Brown The Guardian No religion is the new religion

Mark Woods Christian Today Church decline: Is evangelicalism to blame?

Stephen Altrogge The Blazing Center Early Warning Signs of Adult Onset Calvinism

Richard Chartres Church Times And Esau was an hairy man

Gabrielle Higgins, Chichester Diocesan Secretary, Bishop George Bell – points on a complex case


Church Times reports on the Primates meeting

Today’s issue of Church Times carries these three news items by Madeleine Davies.
Reactions pour in to the Primates’ pronouncements
Curry looks to the ACC to respond to the Primates’ ruling
Welby: Fixed Easter ‘in five-ten years’

There is also this piece by unnamed staff reporters: The Canterbury tale.


February General Synod – online papers

The second circulation papers have now been added below.

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 15-17 February are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

More papers are scheduled for release on 29 January. There appear to be rather more of these than usual. I have included below all those mentioned in the agenda, and I will add links to them in due course.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

GS 1953D – Amending Canon No.34 [Monday]

GS 2011 – Agenda

GS 2012 – Appointment of the Chair of the Dioceses Commission [Monday]

GS 2013 – Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 2014 – Draft Mission and Pastoral (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 2014x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2015 – Report from the Evangelism Task Group [Tuesday]

GS 2016 – Report of the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group [Tuesday]

GS 2017A and graph and GS 2017B – Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees [Tuesday]

GS 2018 – Proposed Enabling Measure [Tuesday]

GS 2019A and GS 2019B – Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants [Wednesday]

GS 2020 – Renewal and Reform: Resourcing Ministerial Education [Wednesday]

GS 2021 – Renewal and Reform: Resourcing the Future [Wednesday]

GS 2022A and GS 2022B – Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ [contingency business]

Notice papers

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2
Notice Paper 3

Other papers

GS Misc 1129 – Instructions regarding counted votes conducted by electronic means
GS Misc 1130 – The Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2015
GS Misc 1131 – House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1132 – Report on the Churches Together in England 2015 Forum
GS Misc 1133 – House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments
GS Misc 1134 – Update on Archbishop’s Council activities
GS Misc 1135 – Council for Christian Unity Annual Report
GS Misc 1136 – Central Stipends Authority Annual Report
Group work membership
Group work questions [Tuesday morning]


Archbishop Justin reflects on the Primates' meeting Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a reflection on the meeting of Anglican Primates in Canterbury last week. Read it here.

Some other recent comments and reflections on the Primates meeting

Bishop Pierre Whalon writes for Huffington Post: Ain’t it awful ‘bout dem Anglicans?

Inclusive Church has published a Reflection from the Chair of Inclusive Church and a Joint statement from Inclusive Church, Modern Church and Progressive Christianity Network: Responses to the Anglican Primates’ Meeting.

Andrew Lightbown has written An Open Letter to the Primates.

Kelvin Holdworth has written that Outrage is not a mission strategy.

Integrity USA has published An Open Letter by its President, Bruce Garner.

Angus Ritchie ABC Religion and Ethics Scripture, Sin and Same-Sex Relationships after the Gathering of Anglican Primates

Bill Countryman The Archbishops in Secret


Primates gathering – Tuesday roundup

Madeleine Davies writes for Church Times that Primates’ ruling is not binding, says canon lawyer.

THE communiqué issued by the Primates in Canterbury last week does not bind anyone, because the Primates’ meeting has no jurisdiction, a canon lawyer said this week. It represented “completely unacceptable interference” with the autonomy of the bodies to whom it had issued requirements.

“I find it utterly extraordinary,” the director of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University, Professor Norman Doe, said on Tuesday. “No instrument exists conferring upon the Primates’ meeting the jurisdiction to ‘require’ these things… Whatever they require is unenforceable.”…

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has written A Reflection on the Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury, England, January 11-15, 2016
The Anglican Journal [of Canada] reports on this reflection: Hiltz addresses ‘sharp criticism’ over stance on TEC .

Archbishop Philip Freier, the Primate of Australia, has reported that he was elected to the Primates’ Standing Committee at last week’s meeting: Dr Freier in key role. He gives the full list of the five primates elected to the standing committee as:
Archbishop Philip Freier from Australia for the Asia Pacific
Archbishop John Holder from the Caribbean for the Americas
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba from South Africa for Africa
Archbishop Richard Clarke from Ireland for Europe
Archbishop Mouneer Anis from Egypt and the Middle East for Asia.

Andrew Goddard of Fulcrum has drawn up this list of Responses to Primates 2016 from The Episcopal Church (USA).

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued this statement by its Moderator, the Ven Malcolm French, “regarding the primates meeting 2016 and the purported sanctions against The Episcopal Church”.

Marie Alford-Harkey Huffington Post The Real Consequences of the Anglican Primates’ Censure of the Episcopal Church

Jonathan Merritt The Atlantic The Selective Outrage of the Anglican Church

Mark Strange, the Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, writes that All are one in Christ.


Primates gathering: Monday news and comment

Archbishop Philip Richardson ‘Walk or stay? We chose to stay’

BBC News Dr Richard Clarke: Church of Ireland primate defends decision on US Episcopal Church

Scottish Episcopal Church Primates Meeting 2016 – radio interviews with Primus

Hudson Kuteesa AllAfrica Rwanda: Canterbury Has Taken Best Decision On Gay – Bishop Rucyahana

Some blog posts from a range of perspectives

Andrew Lightbown A tale of two Primates

Richard Haggis Winsome, Lose some

Giles Goddard The Primates’ Meeting – good or bad?

Bosco Peters Primates Do Not Suspend TEC

Ephraim Radner First Things Reaffirming Communion: an Act of Hope


Primates gathering: Sunday news and comment

The following statement was published on the Primates 2016 website this morning.

Statement on votes given to Primates at the meeting in Canterbury

17 Jan 2016

On those occasions when the discussion required Primates to privately record a preference or a decision, slips were informally distributed around the tables and then collected. Apart from when the meeting agreed the agenda at the start, it was made clear to Archbishop Foley Beach that it would not be appropriate for him to take part and he was not invited to do so. Given the spirit of the meeting at all times, it is unfortunate that this is misrepresented in recent reports.

Mark Harris We stand corrected: Its CONSEQUENCES not SANCTIONS. Got it? Its part Four of the Anglican Covenant.

Sam Wells To All who Read the Primates’ Statement with Grief and Dismay

Alan Wilson Washington Post [transcript of an interview with Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of Washington DC]

Bishop Budde published this letter on Friday: Walk in Love: A Letter from Bishop Mariann on the Primates Meeting.

BBC News Dr Richard Clarke: Church of Ireland primate defends decision on US Episcopal Church


Easter date to be fixed?

At yesterday’s press conference following the meeting of Anglican primates the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the primates had voted to join discussions with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches to set a common, fixed date for Easter.

John Bingham The Telegraph Easter date to be fixed ‘within next five to 10 years’

Ben Quinn The Guardian Christian leaders attempt to fix global date for Easter

BBC News Archbishop Justin Welby hopes for fixed Easter date

Andrew Griffin Independent Easter to be fixed to one date all the time, Archbishop Justin Welby says

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Anglican Primates agree to set fixed, common date for Easter

Wikipedia has a number of articles on the date of Easter.

Reform of the date of Easter
Easter controversy


Primates gathering: Saturday news and comment

Updated at 5.00 pm

A video of yesterday’s Primates Meeting press conference is available on YouTube.

Anglican Mainstream offers these Notes from Primates Press Conference.

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today The sacrificial grace of Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Anglican church ban ‘will bring great pain’

Kimberly Winston Huffington Post Episcopal Church Won’t Back Down On Gay Rights Despite Censure

Laurie Goodstein and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura New York Times For Now, Anglicans Avert Schism Over Gay Marriage

Responses from two primates

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

[I will be posting a separate article on a fixed Easter later today.]


Anglican Journal (Canada) Censure of US church will weigh on Canada, says Hiltz

Archdruid Eileen Primates 2016 – Your Questions Answered

The President of the US House of Deputies has written to members of the House: On the Primates Meeting: A Letter from President Jennings
Ruth Gledhill writes about the letter for Christian Today: Leading member of US Church pledges to continue Anglican Communion work.

David Allen Episcopal Café Who are TEC’s representatives to Anglican Communion bodies?


Opinion – 16 January 2016

Andy Walton Christian Today A warm welcome to church can change people’s lives, and even the whole country

Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Church Testing religious beliefs

Peter Ormerod The Guardian Twenty things the Church of England has done for us

Giles Fraser The Guardian Equal marriage is the next stage in the church’s continual reformation

1 Comment

Primates gathering: Friday – more news and comment

Updated several times during the day

Paul Handley Church Times ACNA Primate was given ballot paper to vote on Episcopal Church

Tim Wyatt Church Times Primates issue full communiqué which includes condemnation of homophobia

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry A statement on the Primates Meeting [3 minute video]
[also here with text of the video]

Dean E Wolfe Episcopal News Service Bishop of Kansas responds to primates’ action

Andrew McGowan No, the Episcopal Church has not been suspended from the Anglican Communion

Press Association [in The Guardian] Justin Welby says sorry to LGBTI community for hurt caused by church


BBC News Welby sorry for Anglican ‘hurt’ to LGBT community

Madeleine Davies Church Times Reactions to the Primates: Americans express their sadness, conservatives their doubts
Ugandan Archbishop: why I walked out of the Primates gathering in Canterbury

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Archbishop of Canterbury apologises for ‘hurt and pain’ caused to gay community

Photographs from this afternoon’s press conference

Madeleine Davies Church Times US Episcopalians facing ‘not a sanction, but a consequence’ says Welby

Bruce Garner (President, Integrity USA) Integrity Response to the 2016 Anglican Primate Meeting

Editorial in The Guardian The Guardian view on the Anglican communion: Archbishop Welby’s holy smoke and mirrors

Giles Fraser The Guardian Anglican leaders further marginalise gay people – and Church of England

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Justin Welby says sorry to LGBTI community for hurt and pain caused by Anglican church

Patrick Struckwick BuzzFeed News LGBT Christians React With Fury Over The Anglican Communion Suspending Pro-Gay Church


Communiqué from the Primates

The Communiqué from the Primates meeting has been released and is copied below.

Walking Together in the Service of God in the World

The meeting of Anglican Primates, the senior bishops of the 38 Anglican Provinces, joined by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, took place in Canterbury between Monday 11 January and Friday 15 January at the invitation of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first morning was spent in prayer and fasting.

We came knowing that the 2016 Primates’ meeting would be concerned with the differences among us in regard to our teaching on matters of human sexuality. We were also eager to address wider areas of concern.

The meeting started by agreeing the agenda. The first agreed item was to discuss an important point of contention among Anglicans worldwide: the recent change to the doctrine of marriage by The Episcopal Church in the USA.

Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ. We looked at what that meant in practical terms.

We received the recommendation of a working group of our members which took up the task of how our Anglican Communion of Churches might walk together and our unity be strengthened. Their work, consistent with previous statements of the Primates’ meetings, addressed what consequences follow for The Episcopal Church in relation to the Anglican Communion following its recent change of marriage doctrine. The recommendations in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Addendum A below are:

“It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.

“We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”

These recommendations were adopted by the majority of the Primates present.

We will develop this process so that it can also be applied when any unilateral decisions on matters of doctrine and polity are taken that threaten our unity.

The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.

We affirmed the consultation that had taken place in preparation for the meeting by Archbishop Welby and commended his approach for future events within the Communion.

The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction.

In the wake of the climate change conference in Paris last month, the meeting heard about a petition of almost two million signatures co-coordinated by the Anglican Environment Network. Reports were made about moves to divest from fossil fuels, the expansion of the African Deserts and the struggle for survival of the peoples of the Pacific as island life is threatened in many places by the rise of sea levels.

The meeting discussed the reality of religiously motivated violence and its impact on people and communities throughout the world. Primates living in places where such violence is a daily reality spoke movingly and passionately about their circumstances and the effect on their members. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has taken important initiatives in bringing people together from a range of faith communities globally for discussion and mutual accountability. The Anglican Primates repudiated any religiously motivated violence and expressed solidarity with all who suffer from this evil in the world today.

The Primates look forward to the proposal being brought to the Anglican Consultative Council for comprehensive child protection measures to be available throughout all the churches of the Communion.

In a presentation on evangelism, the Primates rejoiced that the Church of Jesus Christ lives to bear witness to the transforming power of the love of God in Jesus Christ. The Primates were energised by the opportunity to share experiences of evangelism and motivated to evangelise with their people.

“The Primates joyfully commit themselves and the Anglican Church, to proclaim throughout the world the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.”

(See Addendum B.)

The Primates supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his proposal to call a Lambeth Conference in 2020.

Primates discussed tribalism, ethnicity, nationalism and patronage networks, and the deep evil of corruption. They reflected that these issues become inextricably connected to war and violence, and derive from poverty. They agreed to ask the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion to commission a study for the next Primates’ meeting. The Primates agreed to meet again in 2017 and 2019.

The Primates owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of the Anglican Communion Office, and especially the Secretary General, to the staff at Lambeth Palace and at Church House Westminster. The Primates were especially grateful for the warm welcome, generous hospitality and kindness offered by the Dean of Canterbury and all at the Cathedral. Their contribution was very important in setting the mood of the meeting in prayer and mutual listening. Thanks to the Community of St Anselm for their prayer, help and support, Jean Vanier for his inspiring addresses, and the Community of St Gregory for the loan of the crosier head to sit alongside the St Augustine gospels.

The Primates received their time together as a gift from God and experienced many signs of God’s presence amongst us. They appreciated the personal care and humility shown by the Archbishop of Canterbury especially in his chairing of the meeting. We leave our week together enriched by the communion we share and strengthened by the faithful witness of Anglicans across the world. The Primates deeply appreciate the prayers of many throughout the world over our time together.

[The two Addenda are below the fold.]



Primates gathering: Friday news reports and comment

Updated at 2.00 pm

Paul Handley Church Times Primates distance themselves from the US Episcopal Church in official statement

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican church avoids split over gay rights – but liberals pay price

John Bingham The Telegraph Anglicans step back from brink of schism over homosexuality

Sarah Pulliam Bailey Washington Post Anglican Communion suspends the Episcopal Church after years of gay rights debates

Kimberly Winston Religion News Episcopal Church suspended from full participation in Anglican Communion

Ian Johnston Independent Church of England leaders defy liberals and condemn same-sex marriage

John Martin The Living Church Primates suspend TEC over same sex decisions


Susan Russell Huffington Post On Becoming Second Class Anglicans for Treating LGBT People as First Class Christians

Anglican Church in North America Primates Meeting 2016 Update from Archbishop Beach

Jake Cunliffe Ekklesia Marriage should be inclusive – a response to the Primates’ rebuke of the Episcopal Church

Ian Paul What does the Primates’ Statement mean?


Jon White Episcopal Café Editorial: Response to the #Primates2016 Statement

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Episcopal Church Primate pledges to stay in the Anglican Communion

BBC News Anglican communion to restrict US Church over gay marriage

Harriet Sherwood and Rowena Mason The Guardian Chris Bryant quits Church of England over its views on homosexuality

Kathryn Snowdon The Huffington Post UK US Episcopal Church Suspended From Anglican Communion Over Gay Marriage