Thinking Anglicans

Inclusive Church responses to the Archbishop

Inclusive Church has issued two documents, which were compiled in response to the letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury last August, entitled Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future.

These responses express grave concern about the content and implications of “Our Anglican Future”. They were written after consultation and are intended to reflect a variety of responses to the Archbishop’s paper.

There is a short paper here.

And a much longer paper here.

(Both in PDF format.)

Earlier IC responses are here.


  • Charlotte says:

    The short paper (I haven’t had time yet to read the longer one) raises all of the issues that have been troubling me recently. I’m glad to see this; I hope it will do some good.

    I understand from everyone who knows the situation that a ban on gay and lesbians in all orders would result in the removal of a good many of the clergy of the Church of England. Is ++Rowan serious about putting such a ban into effect in his own church? If not, why has he raised the issue? Is it simply another stick with which to beat the Episcopal Church?

  • badman says:

    The short paper, particularly, is something of a masterpiece.

  • Revd L Roberts says:

    Good hear sane voices- because Rowan has lost the plot big time.

    I am glad someone is taking this up- I doubt Rowan will take the point, or even respond ina mildly satisfactory manner. I can no longer be bothered with him , the bishops or the offical workings of the C of E. I shall just continue my ministry (such as it is) in defiance of offical C of E policy (I won’t dignity it with the word ‘teaching’).

    Fortunately, the spirit of Keble’s words still remains true, beyond Rowan’s Reach and the interference of bishops and Synods–

    “You will always find the Church of England in my parish” said Keble.

    I notice Rowan still visits regularly the gayest anglo-catholic churches — what’s that about ?

    And he openly practices Benediction in public — he is just oriented towards it !

    So anything goes

  • john says:

    I am glad John Seymour uses the adjective ‘offensive’ of one of RW’s claims. Conservatives – among whom in this instance RW must be classified – constantly use terminology about ‘liberal’ views that is deeply offensive and rarely acknowledge this: everything is sacrificed to the great god Orthodoxy. They need to be made to face up to their own ‘offensiveness’. JS’s general lack of deference is very refreshing.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “Consider for example the cases of married clergy, vernacular liturgy, contraception, divorce and remarriage, and the ordination of women, many of which are still opoposed strongly by the Roman Catholic Church and eastern Orthodox churches”
    – re the ABC’s response to TEC General Convention

    This is probably the most forceful argument (shown in Simon’s precis of the LGBT opposition to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement), in the long list of reasons, which challenge Abp. Rowan’s contention – that the ordination of gays and the blessing of same-sex unions is somehow dangerously prejudicial to our current climate of relationship with other mainline churches.

    For the Anglican Communion to hold back on any prophetic actions within its own jurisdiction and competency, would be to deny our Catholic and Reformed tradtion – as the world’s third largest Christian community.

    For the ABC to suggest that social justice issues cannot be addressed within our Churches – until, and unless, the RCC and the Orthodox Churches agree, would be to assume that nothing else has happened to divide us since the Great Schism of East and West. This is surely a very defeatist and illusory outlook on any benefits derived from the initial separation between our Church Bodies.

    While Church Unity is, indeed, a laudable aim for the future; it would seem that neither Rome nor Constantinople is even remotely ready to make any compromise that would alter their conservative position. Advent, with it’s message of God’s redemptive intervention in the physical realm of our common humanity, would seem a good time for the Anglican Communion to address the need for holistic change in the attitude of the Church to gender and sexuality.

  • jnwall says:

    Inclusive Church speaks with wisdom, and not as the scribes.

  • Edward of Baltimore says:

    Is there any likelihood the Archbishop of Canterbury will read either of these papers? Will many of his staff read them?

  • Neil says:

    I am not usually impressed by the tone of Inclusive Church – but this short paper is very well done indeed. Brief, serious, and cogent.

  • Fr John E. Harris-White says:

    Having now read both Rowans statement, and the inclusive church response, I feel that the Anglican Comminunion should seek to be headed by an honest person, who is not biased to one element of the communion. It is sad to say, and sad to see that during the last few years, Rowan has aligned himself with the conservatives both in America, and their todies in Africa, namely Uganda. Rowan does not now hold togeher the communion, but seeks to make those with an inclusive understanding of Our Lords gospel second class members.

    Some of us have spent our lives, Im 76, living within this context. But knowing through our Baptism we are children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom. Also that our spiritual lives are alive and real as any other persons. Also that God has called us to the Priesthood, and lead us through our ministry and christian life. Blessing us, and giving to many of us a partner to share not only our life, but our spiritual life in all its fullness. How dare these ‘Holy ‘ ones deny what is a reality. As an LGBT person I know God loves me and has called me to ministry.

    The time may come when the Anglican communion is lead by our American episcopal leaders, together with our Porvoo bretheren , and the others can go their own way , but certainly not members of a communion which has rejoiced in the Via Media through its history.

    Personally I am saddened by what I read from Canterbury, and long for a communion that is inclusive to all our members, whatever their theological understand. Love one another is still the Divine commandment.

    Fr John

  • Terence Dear says:

    If one were to turn the current assumption on its head and contemplate a covenant that was signed up to by TEC, Canada, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – then Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and the Southern Cone wouldn’t sign and England couldn’t – what percentage of other provinces would join the liberal, traditionally Anglican core of the Communion and what percentage would join the second-tier, conservative group?

  • Paul D Dean says:

    No, I am sorry to say this paper will never make it to Canterbury of it’s own accord, not unless it makes it to the front cover of the Times first. The preferred mode of operation is ignoring the opposition and hope we go away. Very sad indeed, but let’s take heart this is an excellent response to the ABC and one day things will change. Maybe with the advent of women bishops in England we me see a little common sense coming from the house of bishops.

  • BillyD says:

    “Consider for example the cases of married clergy, vernacular liturgy, contraception, divorce and remarriage, and the ordination of women, many of which are still opoposed strongly by the Roman Catholic Church and eastern Orthodox churches”

    What an odd statement. Eastern Orthodox do NOT oppose vernacular liturgy, a married clergy, or divorce and remarriage.

  • drdanfee says:

    After reading this excellent comment, short form and long, I must say big thanks to Dr. S. and IC. Can any of this response thinking be more clearly, more pointedly put? What a great service to us Anglican believers, then.

    Looking again at RW, I think now that he is the one held captive, imprisoned. Alas. Prayers all round, protests all round. RWs eyes are blind, his ears rendered deaf, his musical Anglican sense gone nearly all tone deaf sour, and saddest, his heart all gone stony and coldest of colds.

    The conservative climate changes sweeping through CoE and Canterbury must be dedicated to all those Haughty Queens of Deep Winter which seem to hold sway in the renewed folks imaginations of C.S. Lewis of Narnian and Philip Pullman of Dark Materials repute. Cold indeed … and apparently hot button queer folks issues are just the sensitive and empirically accurate Global Anglican Test Thermometer on which to register the creeping deep, impervious center of Dante First Circle Of Hell cold that is gripping RW.

    Threatening to grip all of us these days of extreme conservative religion.

    The call to lock down critical scholarship, open inquiry, Anglican common prayer and gospel mission across global differences via new covenant is revealed as a call into the Hurt Locker. Our suffering in this awfully self-certain new Anglican regime will hardly be redemptive in itself. Hard to say exactly how many bloodied queer folks bodies need to arrive on how many global Anglican doorsteps, including Canterbury of course; before the conservative Anglicans will be sated, let alone vulnerable to restored empathy vision and insight?

    Certainly the latest round of real, live queer folks attacked (implicitly or explicitly in the connoted names of good, right, straights only rationality, and yes, some underlying notion of deity and wrath?) seems NOT to registered much at all with RW and his freezing cold conservative companies. Not queer folks attacked in USA, not in Jamaica, not in Puerto Rico, not even in Merseyside. RW clings to his self-perception as freezing cold perfect and pure.

    Lord have mercy.

  • Himself? there is still a chance. His staff? (left overs of Lord Carey’s) no.

  • Thank you Simon, and all who contributed to these papers. May Rowan not only read, but mark, learn and inwardly digest!

  • JCF says:

    “If one were to turn the current assumption on its head and contemplate a covenant that was signed up to by TEC, Canada, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia…”

    But Terence, those churches already HAVE such a covenant: the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (up and running since 1888!). I’d like to see a renewed commitment to (i.e., further ACTION on) THAT covenant—not some supposed contemporary alternative.

  • Paul D Dean says:

    When I stop and think of the sorry state of the communion as it now stands. Having lived within the C of E in the less then honest days of don’t ask, don’t tell. There is a sense of irony when one considers the standing of homosexual people in the life of the church. Strikes me we were better off under Lord Carey then under the current leadership and who would ever have thought that was possible?

  • Chris Smith says:

    Perhaps “left overs of Lord Carey’s” as posted by Goran in this thread, is where the REAL problem begins and ends. RW may not see most of the written reactions to his inaction and SILENCE about the proposed anti-Homosexual laws because of the creepy people that the ever narrow minded Lord Carey left behind at Lambeth Palace. Carey is vicious and spiteful and aligns himself with the far right so therefore those he appointed when he was ABC may be the real problem that is preventing RW from showing some Christian backbone and speaking out on this issue as well as his wrong and misguided words about the “Covenant” or two tier membership in the Anglican Communion. None of this is acceptable. Either way, I believe it is time to show some public anger when Rowan speaks in an Anglican church or Cathedral. He needs to see first hand that his lack of words and his misguided efforts have wounded a large segment of the People of God. Act up! Fight back!

  • Pluralist says:

    Some years ago I think Rowan Williams indicated in the General Synod a certain contempt for bloggers, when he turned a request for prayers around from them towards praying for the Anglican Communion. People who blog are nuisances, like flies on the windscreen. He responds to people he meets well and happily, but when it comes to opinion it looks more and more (from a distance, admittedly) that there are bishops far and wide, him, and that’s it. Human rights are ‘mere’ and everything comes through the religious bureaucracy.

    I used to give him some slack and did respond to when he came up with a broad based argument, say about Hinduism or Islam, but now there is such a clear case ethical issue screaming at the world, and he and Sentamu can be so silent, that you end up with nothing but condemnation. It was good for Anglicanism that he should go, but he really should go. One wonders what a Bonhoeffer would have thought.

  • I am afraid the facts do not support the claim that Lambeth Palace staff are dominated by those who came to work there before the last change of archbishop. The list of these staff is available at

  • Sara MacVane says:

    Just two points: Simons’s list demonstrates that RW has chosen a lot of his ‘advisors’, but the second point is even more important, is he not an adult, can he not choose which sites to log onto, which newspapers to read, which people to ask which questions? I’m afraid I don’t think his advisors have anything to do with it – the choices are his own.

  • I haven’t read the long paper, but the short paper is excellent. I hope that the Covenant is dead, dead, dead.

    Regarding the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter, the so-called reasoning therein is pathetic, and the IC paper makes that quite clear. He becomes more irrelevant by the day. What’s sad is that as he makes his way down the path of illogic and irrelevancy, he continues in his shameful silence about matters that cause great harm to the least of these his own Communion.

  • Hugh of Lincoln says:

    “he really should go” – Pluralist

    No, not yet. He should wait awhile, then when the time is right, bid farewell, and retreat into academia to write about the iniquities of episcopal government. He is restricted from stating his true beliefs due to the nature of his current role.

    But once retired he can spill the beans.

    Once a congregationalist, always a congregationalist…

  • MarkBrunson says:


    He said “many of which” not “all of which.”

    In any case, marriage of clergy is very different in Orthodoxy, divorce and remarriage are handled differently, women are not ordained, the gospel is chanted.

    His statement holds.

  • rick allen says:

    “One wonders what a Bonhoeffer would have thought.”

    Bonhoeffer didn’t make ringing public statements. He worked silently, and secretly.

  • BillyD says:

    “He said “many of which” not “all of which.”

    Out of that list, Orthodoxy has problems with exactly two – contraception and women’s ordination, and there’s no consensus even about contraception. “Many of which” is simply not the same as “one, maybe two.”

    “…the gospel is chanted.”

    What on earth does that have to do with anything? We chant the Gospel in my parish, too.

  • Pluralist says:

    You would work silently and secretly if inside Uganda. But there was a resistant Church of sorts that Bonhoeffer is identified with. The Archbishop is not inside Uganda and he has the potential to say at least what documents state and what the Church of England has stated. Not a lot, is it?

  • Cheryl Va. says:

    Father Ron alluded those that suggest that social justice issues cannot be addressed within our Churches – until, and unless, the RCC and the Orthodox Churches agree.

    Gee, that’s up there with saying that Jesus wasn’t allowed to heal this world until, and unless, Satan and other thugs agreed.

    That’s where the God factor kicks in. God is arrogant enough to judge and do what is right, irregardless of whatever powers and authorities might agree. Jesus, Satan and all their followers might agree that this world is slated for extinction and its occupants are to be insulted and tormented into submission. That is not God’s agenda.

    This covenant is merely a tool to justify the continuation of thousands of years of insults and tyranny. Such strategies are violations of the missives of God to heal and redeem this world.

    There are Jesus’ promises to be gentle to the Daughter of Zion (and by implication females) and to rebuke those who would deny or harm others seeking shelter and succour. There are the Jewish messianic requirements upon which Jesus based his open declaration of what he intended to be, which include binding up the broken-hearted, healing the sick, and setting free the captives. There are the biblical visions of what God is: a God of God who is highly protective of orphans, a God who loves justice and shows no partiality in its dispensation, a God who offers hope for the outcaste.

    A God who strips away the veneer of “love” to expose cruel and selfish hearts that rely on repression by those with “power” and “authority”.

  • A Friend. says:

    An earlier comment concludes “the choices are his own (Rowan Williams). If indeed they are his own they appear to me to be “schizoid”. Perhaps he is attempting to walk a fine line between serving God and serving Mammon. Or at least that entity that signs his paycheck.

  • rick allen says:

    “The Archbishop is not inside Uganda and he has the potential to say at least what documents state and what the Church of England has stated. Not a lot, is it?”

    No, but I suppose the point is that, when confronted with an evil, one’s duty is to oppose it in the most effective manner, which may not always be the same as making a loud public statement.

    My guess is that Canterbury is doing his best to get the best result. As you note, there is no particular bravery in taking a stand that can cost you nothing. But surely it would be wrong to make a big, grandstanding statement if one believed that another route to the same end might be more effective.

  • MarkBrunson says:

    Whatever, Billy.

    You know, you are simply not worth my time being drawn into another idiotic argument. The release from Inclusive Church was correct, you were pointlessly playing at semantics.

    Rowan is arguing an invalid point, as usual.

    Fortunately, he’s nothing to do with TEC.

    End of story.

  • Hugh of Lincoln says:

    “But surely it would be wrong to make a big, grandstanding statement if one believed that another route to the same end might be more effective” – Rick

    The same could be said about the highly ostentatious demonstration against poverty in London during the last Lambeth conference, an issue which divides rich and poor much more violently than even this one.

    No, the real reason for the House of Bishop’s tacit collusion with this Bill, is that their collective morality is diametrically opposed to the will of the nation. They are forcing the Church of England to adopt this idolatrous Covenant to compensate for the Bible’s ambiguity, even when God’s will is being revealed through the power of the Holy Spirit by our God-given inspiration and reasoning skills. The other great idol of our time – the pension pot – clouds their judgement.

    Whilst the Presiding Bishop’s statement may ensure the Episcopal Church remains episcopal, the Church of England can have no such guarantee. There is a Puritanical/ Presbyterian instinct amongst the British which has been suppressed since the Restoration in the 1660s when the bishops were given their seats in the House of Lords.

    Paradoxically, this instinct needs to come to the fore in order to retain the Church’s catholicity, regardless of whether we keep our bishops or not.

  • As Fr Roy Bourgeois says, “Silence is the voice of complicity.”

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