Thinking Anglicans

primates’ meeting: the communiqué

The communiqué has finally been published by ACNS.

Read it here.

A PDF version is available here.

On the Covenant it says: we ‘urge the Provinces to submit an initial response to the draft through the Anglican Communion Office by the end of 2007’. The minutes of the primates’ meeting are to be published soon in order to ‘assist and stimulate reflection throughout the Communion’. A revised draft will be discussed at the Lambeth Conference, and ‘a final text will be presented to ACC-14, and then, if adopted as definitive, offered to the Provinces for ratification’.

The ‘Episcopal Church has taken seriously the recommendations of the Windsor Report, and we express our gratitude for the consideration by the 75th General Convention’, but ‘The response of The Episcopal Church … has not persuaded this meeting that we are yet in a position to recognise that The Episcopal Church has mended its broken relationships’. ‘We believe that it would be a tragedy if The Episcopal Church was to fracture, and we are committed to doing what we can to preserve and uphold its life’.

We ‘have been emboldened to offer a number of recommendations. We have set these out in a Schedule’.

These include:

  • a ‘Pastoral Council’ established by the Primates to consult with TEC, 2 members nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, one by the Archbishop of Canterbury as chair.
  • The Council to work with TEC to establish structures of pastoral care to meet the requests of the Windsor Report, including protocols for the participation of bishops, dioceses and congregations
  • A ‘Pastoral Scheme’ for those unable to accept the direct ministry of the PB. ‘We acknowledge and welcome the initiative of the Presiding Bishop to consent to appoint a Primatial Vicar.’ The Primatial Vicar to be nominated by those bishops participating in the Scheme with the consent of the PB, and the PB to delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.
  • AMiA and CANA to be encouraged to participate in this Scheme.

TEC is asked to clarify its position on the Windsor Report:

  • to ‘make an unequivocal common covenant’ not to authorize blessings of same-sex unions in their diocese or through the General Convention;
  • ‘confirm that … a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent’

Answers to be received by 30 September 2007.

TEC and congregations involved in property disputes are urged to suspend legal action and agree not to alienate property from TEC without its consent, nor to deny the use of the property to congregations.

No doubt there will be plenty of comment by the morning!


  • Andrew says:

    Not too bad. A Primatial Vicar to keep the conservatives happy. The foreign primates stop intruding into the USA. The Episcopal Church keeps all of its real property, as it always has by right and law. At least for now, the Episcopal Church remains part of the Communion. Time will pass, primates will change, tolerance in the world will increase, and a generation from now this kerfluffle will all be an historical curiosity. It could have been much worse.
    From the point of view of many Episcopalians, I think, the good news and the good works will proceed.

  • pete says:

    So, TEC has to comply with the WR, but Akinola and his thieves and anarchists do not? As they say in Texas, “That dog don’t hunt.”

    I think PB KJS should say the Primatial Vicar alternative is as far as she’s willing to go. If the anarchists don’t like that, then we’ll see you in court and at the presentment trials of the clergy who have abandoned their ordination vows in TEC.

  • Merseymike says:

    If TEC accepts this, then they have as little integrity as the rest of the communion.

    I am certainly glad to have been confirmed as right in my decision to leave the church

  • Jonathan Clark says:

    At a guess, neither ‘side’ is going to feel happy with this, insofar as each was hoping for a resolution which would lead to the other leaving / being pushed out.

    Instant feeling – the Primatial Council stuff is going to be less difficult to swallow for TEC than the pressure for specific and detailed response to the remaining Windsor recommendations. Any Episcopalians out there want to come back on that?

  • JCF says:

    “TEC is asked to clarify its position on the Windsor Report:

    * to ‘make an unequivocal common covenant’ not to authorize blessings of same-sex unions in their diocese or through the General Convention;

    * ‘confirm that … a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent’

    Answers to be received by 30 September 2007.”

    The question isn’t *whether* to say “Back to Hell with This!”, but HOW???

    Lord have mercy!

  • badman says:

    This is a disgraceful document.

    The Episcopal Church is uniquely humiliated and degraded. No mention is made at all of the Nigerian Church’s contempt for the listening process required by Lambeth 1.10. Border crossing, which is condemned, not only by the Windsor Report but by numerous Lambeth Conference resolutions which the Primates have no power to revoke, is allowed to continue until such time as the burglars are satisfied with the voluntary handover of loot.

    And the prize if The Episcopal Church is so foolish as to agree to this? They get to sign up to a covenant which cedes power to the same dysfunctional and dishonest bunch (remember Akinola’s lie about back pain keeping him out of eucharist, when he was seen walking around with plotters back at the hotel) who poured this bucket of ordure over them in the first place.

  • Craig Nelson says:

    “The episcopal ministry of a person living in a same-sex relationship is not acceptable to the majority of the Communion.”

    I really find this part to be the most shocking which is now exposing all the stuff and nonsense of Issues in Human Sexuality about sexual acts being the problem but non-sexual relationships being OK.

    Here the Primates are now insinuating that non-sexual relationships among gay people are sinful. So the only answer if you’re gay is a) don’t have sex b) don’t have a non-sexual relationship c) you’re probably better off not talking to anyone at all in case you start liking them!

    Is this the recipe for health and wholeness that the Primates bring to us?

    Is this a gospel?

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Why was the Episcopal Church not asked to remove the Bishop of new Hampshire..surely that must go hand in hand with the September deadline?

    It leaves Gene Robinson in no-mans land.

    Why no mention of Canada…what about New Westminster?

  • David Bayne says:

    Oh dear, Oh Lord! So much for feeling a bit cheerier when the Covenant was published earlier.

    Unless I seriously misread the communique:
    1. TEC’s response to Windsor is deemed inadequate and, unless it complies with the Primates’ requirements by September (a deadline it can’t possibly meet) it’s still threatened with expulsion.
    2. The incipient schismatics in the USA are effectively rewarded with a parallel jurisdiction. Did the Presiding Bishop really sign up to this?
    3.Those who have already left TEC get to keep the spoils, at least pro tem
    4.Those Primates who have been busybodying in other Provinces are unrepentantly and aggressively determined to continue.
    5.The Primates have asserted their right to interfere in the internal affairs of a Province, even when those affairs are being conducted entirely within its own Canons.

    Not too bad?!! Could it be worse? The fundigelicals have got everything they wanted.

  • The Communiqué certainly reveals the genuine split among the Primates.

    For example:
    –paragraph 23 states that “….some of us believe….”; –paragraph 26 “those Primates who have undertaken interventions…”
    –paragraph 31 “….those of us who have lost trust…”
    –paragraph 32 “….those of us who have intervened….”
    –paragraph 34: “…Those who have intervened….”

    Each of these examples is clearly intended to represent the positions of some of the Global South primates _over_against_ other primates.

    I find it difficult to understand how the Primates can expect the Anglican Communion to respect what they say when the cannot manage consensus among themselves, and it certainly devalues the recommendations that follow.

    The recommendations themselves, in “Pastoral Scheme (c)”, contain bad news for those parishes and missions that claim they have left the Episcopal church, since, (c) says, “the Primates recommend that structures for pastoral care be established in conjunction with the Pastoral Council, to enable such individuals, congregations and clergy to exercise their ministries and congregational life within The Episcopal Church”.

    The important phrase here is: “_within_ The Episcopal Church”. Attempts to alienate property will not, in other words, have the support of the Primates (for what that is worth!).

    With regard to requests to our House of Bishops that it:
    “1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144);” and “2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134) “

    Therein, of course, is the obvious response to B033 and the lack of a resolution on the blessing of same sex unions, namely to request a very un-Anglican clarification. Many bishops will, no doubt, feel caught between these requests and the views of their own dioceses.

    Sadly, these requests are also an insulting admission that the Primates, as a whole, still do not understand that it is the baptized who, together, (“lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons”, and in that order, according to the Catechism) make decisions in our church.

    Nigel J. Taber-Hamilton
    Rector, St. Augustine’s-in-the-woods Episcopal Church
    Freeland WA, Diocese of Olympia

  • Chris says:


    If the answer is “Back to Hell with This” the action is do nothing. Don’t call the HoB into session. Don’t respond. Let the deadline pass.

    Of course, BP Schori has put her name to the Communique and Schedule and is implicitly required to respond lest her personal integrity be weakened. She has signed onto this and must now work positively to implement these actions.

  • Prior Aelred says:

    I would like to hear what our Presiding Bishop has to say before rushing to any conclusions, but on the face of it, it doesn’t look good.

  • Nancy Olmsted says:

    Lest it slip by: (1) The Primates appoint the Pastoral Council and (2) the Primatial Vicar (who is chosen by the dissenting Bishops with the consent of the BP, “shall be responsible to the Council.” And, since there may be a few qualms about this, “The Presiding Bishop in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.”

    This is indeed a parallel jurisdiction. I think maybe General Convention has some say in that.

  • drdanfee says:

    Well at mimimum I guess we need to hear fro PB KJS just what she thinks TEC can actually do with this whole business.

    If she and other non-realignment bishops, priests, and lay people can discern ways through – then maybe we can stand to take them. Otherwise I think it is pretty much a divergence of pathways in the global woods: (1) The traditional path is simply a return to the closet in every legacy sense – not a wise option for those of us parenting children and committed otherwise to legal protections for our partner so far as these are available in North America; and (2) Moving onwards as a national church of Anglican heritage that can no longer allow prejudice, legacy animus towards women and gays and critical-empirical inquiry and the like hobble us by backwards-thinking definition.

    One way round might be to really try to actively develop – in TEC life on the ground – the unfettered vocations and ministries of lay people who for a while at least will simply fly under and outside and beyond all the high radar screens of the Primates. If slaves could find allies who helped run the underground railroads, then surely we are not called to be less able or less effective than they were. We have lots of terribly bright folks among us, and we should give them a very large chance to see what they can imagine that allows us to comply with the recommendations, intelligently not comply with the recommendations, and move forward in church life in ways that would simply be umimagineable to most of the realignment Primates.

    Other than that, what’s to do?

  • Robin says:

    It almost looks like the Communique and the Schedule were written separately, and there were tradeoffs for votes and signatures. The bulk of the communique, as Nigel notes, is a succession of mutually opposing statements, while the schedule/list of recommendations is a tight set of demands (whatever wiggle room there is in the wording) that TEC “behave” or else.

    I, also, will wait for word from the PB.

  • John D says:

    At the risk of sounding like my twenty-something
    son(who calls BS when he sees it): this sucks.
    God help us if any progressive Episcopalian is forced to accept this crock. You think only the Canon and the Moderator can raise a ruckus?

  • Tim says:

    “‘confirm that … a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent’”

    Why? Where is God in this? The God who speaks through mute beasts in order that the right work be done in the right place by someone, so how much more so through a human?
    OK, so maybe it should be rare that someone with a lifestyle likely to cause issues to a large proportion of the province be appointed to a role of leadership – ie their other qualities should outweigh that potential for division – but you *CANNOT* rule out that it should never happen, otherwise you’re just putting God in a box.

  • matthew hunt says:

    The communiqué says:
    “at the heart of our tensions is the belief that the Episcopal Church has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality accepted by the Communion in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 by consenting to the episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed relationship, and by permitting Rites of blessing same-sex unions.”
    “If the reassurances … cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at the best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion,”
    “[an Anglican covenant] may lead to the trust required to re-establish our interdependent life.”

    a) The entire AC will not give it’s blessing to any same-sex union, and any change on this will not happen until all of Africa and Asia get over deeply ingrained cultural hostility to LGBT people (decades? centuries?)

    b) It can give it’s blessing to a grapefruit or a broken chair and neither Africa nor Asia need be consulted.

    c) If you do not agree to withholding support and blessings for LGBT who are attempting to nurture stability, love, commitment, mutuality, faithfulness, health in their lives, then you DAMAGE your relationship with the rest of the communion AT BEST (‘normally’ would probably mean that you are no longer in communion, ‘worst’ would probably mean negatively affecting the rest of the communion and not just your relationship with it).

    d) The AC tacitly supports (and in some provinces actively supports) the oppression, jailing and consequential murder of LGBT people (specifically Nigeria and the notorious legislation about to be enacted). Lip-service elsewhere to the contrary is negated by this tacit and active support. Also, the association of ‘damage’ with LGBT people, continues the Anglican tradition of supporting secular/religious homophobic thuggery by its various levels of defamation and demonising of them.

    e) There is no ‘INTERDEPENDENCE’ between me and the Anglican Communion because I’m one of the LGBT people. For me to remain in Communion with this body is ‘DAMAGING’ to myself. Damaging to my spirit, my mental and physical health. For me to remain would make me feel like a traitor to all those LGBT people I have known, and known of, who are ‘kept apart’ from the love of God in Christ Jesus, who suffer lives under condemnation in their hearts while straight people sing gladly and rejoice in their Anglican churches assured of SSG (Straight-Specific Grace). I would feel like a traitor to LGBT Nigerians. There is no Anglican Gospel for LGBT. Period.

    f) I am no longer Anglican, and so too I am no longer Church of England. Thank you primates for the clarity. Thinking back to those wonderful Christians who first welcomed me, fully accepted me when I walked up to the Church door over twelve years ago, I feel devastated that I have to step back out of the door. Utterly bereft and lost. But I can’t wait for Global South’s blessing in centuries time, I need to get on with my life. Enjoy the ‘interdependence’ your covenant will encourage.

  • Fr. Doug says:

    Reminder to “pete”: We could use some actual presentment trials in TEC. In fact, bishops are afraid of them because the matter of one’s ordination vows being made to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ might come up and a real discussion of the empty basis of the recent innovations might ensue. Instead, bishops are resorting to a canon written for those clergy who simply drop out of Church life and/or join another denomination without bothering to renounce their ordination vows. It’s called “Abandonment of Communion” and does not require a trial, presumably because it’s pro forma. It’s turning out to be a boon, though, for bishops afraid or unable to actually defend their paltry new doctrines in court.

    Note to the Rev. Taber-Hamilton: The catechism does not make everyone the same in decision-making. The Primates know that we write canons in General Convention in which a highly selective group of laity and clergy join with bishops in legislating. No bishop with jurisdiction, however, is stopped from simply establishing policies and teachings in his or her diocese that conform to Scripture, canon law and accepted Anglican tradition. What on earth is a bishop for if every decision has to be ratified by a posse of politically active laity and clergy? I hope no liberal bishop will try to weasel out of this by arguing that s/he hasn’t got the authority to lead in his/her own diocese.

  • Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    “Sadly, these requests are also an insulting admission that the Primates, as a whole, still do not understand that it is the baptized who, together, (“lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons”, and in that order, according to the Catechism) make decisions in our church.”

    We have been explaining our polity to the wider church for six years. Our catachism lists the ministers of the church as noted above in the Catechism on page 815 of the BCP. It appears that many have not understood this. Perhaps words of one syllable would work, but I don’t think so. This is something the Romans do have a phrase for: invincible ignorance. They, of course, practiced this for quite some time themselves regarding Galileo. Why should the Anglican Communion do so in regard to gay people?

    And this comes from a group of Christian primates, some of whom cannot be in the same room with each other, some of whom cannot come to Christ’s table together, some of whom, if I read some reports correctly, can’t be in the same PHOTOGRAPH together, but who wish, as a group, to chastize us for ‘walking apart?’

    Gimme a break.

  • Bill Carrol says:

    The goal should be non-compliance with these anti-Gospel, anti-Kingdom ultimatums. May God give us grace to follow the Gospel and our Baptismal Covenant, as well as the non-discrimination canons of the Episcopal Church, rather than the decrees of bigoted primates.

    Integrity recommends contacting one’s bishop. The other step for those in the Episcopal Church is beginning to organize for GC2009. I’d recommend that everyone throughout the Anglican Communion contact their bishop and begin working through local synods/conventions.

    No matter what others do, no matter what any gathering of bishops does, we can be faithful to the Gospel. LGBT folk will continue to serve faithfully in all orders of ministry and some of them will seek to have their unions blessed. God will bless these unions, to the extent that they model the love of Christ. The Church will continue to witness, bless, and celebrate these unions, even when the hierarchy chooses not to.

  • mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) says:

    One brief comment on this rather odd document is to note that it sweeps away the ground from under the feet of those who opposed Jeffrey John’s consecration. I can see no comfort for those who oppose the ordination/consecration of homosexual men and women per se, and this will greatly annoy the Nigerian axis.

    I could, of course, be wrong….

  • NP says:

    Mynster – not really – the objections were to do with someone being made bishop when their public position was contradicting Lambeth 1.10 (and therefore the bible)

    Not sure David Jenkins et al could get through these days – this is progress.

  • Steve Watson. says:

    “I could, of course, be wrong….”

    Yes, David, you are. A homosexual “orientation” – a strong attraction to one’s own sex – has never been a bar to ordination; the issue has always been the physical expression of that desire, as I’m sure you’re aware. Dr John never thought his own sexual life was wrong and he taught, in writing (e.g., in ‘The Way Ahead’) and in lectures, that St Paul was wrong on this matter.

    Lambeth 1.10 affirmed The St Andrew’s Day Statement as one of the key ways of thinking about homophile affections.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Since when can only priests with an conservative approved theology can become Bishops? Jeffrey John was celebate when he was to be appointed as Bishop, so which criteria did he not fulfill? Or would you now have all heterosexual bishops thrown out too if their views are too liberal for your liking?

  • Steve Watson. says:

    Erika, Dr John did say he wasn’t sexually active at the time, while he was arranging to buy a house with his priest lover whom he subsequently formed a ‘civil partnership’ with. Well, so be it – but I think Christian leaders should avoid the appearance of sin as well as temptations – what catholic theology calls ‘the occasions of sin.’ Should recovering alcoholics hang around in bars? If I decided to share a house with an old girlfriend that I used to sleep with and was still in love with her (I am speaking hypothetically!), I imagine people would draw their own conclusions. Rightly or wrongly. 1 Timothy 3:7 remains a standing condition for bishops.
    As for the current crop of bishops in the Anglican world – ah, if I only had such power! But it is less their theology that bothers me as their inability to inspire the church and win this culture for Christ.

  • Erika Baker says:

    my father is a recovered alcoholic and yes, he comes to pubs with us. Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense. What next – cameras in people’s bedrooms? Are you sure you still have this in proportion?

  • mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) says:

    Am I right in thinking that not very long ago there were noises from the GS that those who had ordained homosexuals (NOT as I recall ‘practising homosexuals’) would be excoriated.

    The communique will not satisfy those who want no room in the Church for ordained gays of even the most chaste behaviour – it’s not much in the way of progress, but it’s a little.

    I seem to remember another gentleman writing in an affirming way about gays…. Didn’t stop his rising up the ecclesiastical tree.

    And if NP publishes another baseless attack on +David Jenkins (I didn’t know the ‘Daily Mail’ had a theology correspondent, or perhaps he’s still peeved that +David Dunelm as he was then attacked the wealthy City of London culture and those ‘lads and lasses who really earn their bonuses’? Put up NP with proper chapter and verse from books like ‘the Glory of Man’ and I’ll afford your views on him a little more respect.

  • NP says:

    Mynster – you sound angry with me!

    The reason I have no respect for the “bishops” who had such fun rubishing scripture and tradition is that their work has produced lots of sad decline – ask all the area deans having to dig around for cash to support those “bishops” disciples…

    ….the experiment failed, fewer not more people came to hear the “inclusive” musings while the ignorant fundamentalists in the City of London and all over England have seen their minsitries multiply massively in England in the last 50 years.

    Yes, the ABC wrote some stuff he has called “provocative” when he was an academic but as ABC, he has not pushed that agenda – has he? (despite the glee of some last Friday)

    As I said months ago, Neil Kinnock came from the left but it was he who had to deal with the Militant tendency in the Labour Party – in order to save the Labour Party from destruction. I see Rowan Williams acting to save the AC in a similar way.

  • Steve Watson. says:

    David, such straw men you keep propping up. If a person has homosexual desires but never acts on them – including surfing on websites – in what sense “is” he a homosexual? As Bill Clinton would say, it depends on the meaning of “is”. By the standard of Matthew 5.28 I am an adulterer, and a lot of other bad things; by God’s grace I must strive to see it doesn’t go beyond my thoughts, and to keep my thought world pure as well.
    The issue at stake is very clear and fundamental, and you obscure it in your last post. Quite simply, reappraisers and liberals do NOT think homosexual desire (and thus acts flowing from it) is actually sinful; quite the reverse.
    So say so openly and plainly, without all the obfuscation about ‘the most chaste behaviour’.
    David Jenkins and you disagree with St Paul and the other biblical writers on this question. And that’s your right and privilege as modern men.
    It puts in the company also of people like Richard Holloway and Andrew Furlong, who follow a rigorous and consistent logic that you are hesitant to embrace, though you partly follow their method. “Sapere aude!”

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