Thinking Anglicans

Federation, Communion or Church

Simple Massing Priest has an article with this title, reporting what Michael Peers a former Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada said, back in 2000, well before the proposed Anglican Covenant was invented:

[W]orldwide Anglicanism is a communion, not a church. The Anglican Church of Canada is a church. The Church in the Province of the West Indies is a church. The Episcopal Church of Sudan is a church. The Anglican Communion is a ‘koinonia’ of churches.

We have become that for many reasons, among which are the struggles of the sixteenth century and an intuition about the value of inculturation, rooted in the Incarnation, which has led us to locate final authority within local churches.

We are not a papal church and we are not a confessional church. We are autonomous churches held together in a fellowship of common faith dating from the creeds and councils, recognizing the presidency of a primus inter pares (the Archbishop of Canterbury), often struggling with inter-church and intra-church tension, but accepting that as the price of the liberty and autonomy that we cherish.

As I said to the members of the Council of General Synod last month, the price of this includes a certain measure of messiness.’ [Power in the Church: Prelates, Confessions, Anglicans The Arnold Lecture, December 6, 2000, Halifax, Nova Scotia]

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Una Kroll
10 years ago

Yea, to this article. It is how I understand Anglicanism and I deeply regret any move away from this principle. Thanks for the memory of SANITY, so succinctly expressed Una

Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

‘Massing Priest’ is to be congratulated for this timely revelation of the opinion of the one-time Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. At this time in the history of the Anglican Communion, it is of vital importance that we re-group to consider the status of the Covenant movement – towards incorporation of member Churches into a quasi-Roman Catholic entity; rather than a group of national Churches bound by a common Faith and Order tradition, founded on the reformed and catholic principles of our Anglican provenance.

Fr John
Fr John
10 years ago

This sums up clearly who and what we are in the Anglican Communion.

A voice of sanity in a confusion of noises.

Happy New Year to everyone

Fr John Scotland

D Perry
D Perry
10 years ago

This simple statement is so profound in its truth. Would that it were posted on every church door and read at every synod to clear away the clouds of bitter divisiveness.

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
10 years ago

I don’t think that it is quite so simple as that! What this Canadian said ten years ago is not a statement of fact that has since been perverted by the Windsor Process. Ten years ago (and for decades before) there was considerable debate as to what “Communion” meant in our context and a wide disparity of views as to how we were or were not “Church”, this led to pan-Anglican meetings – deliberations of ACC and Lambeth and a couple of reports like Belonging Together and the Virginia Report, each trying to answer how we remain at one purpose… Read more »

Marshall Scott
10 years ago

Martin, I for one am aware that Archbishop Williams speaks of “the Anglican Church.” However, from what he has said over the past few years, it seems to me he uses the Roman categories that distinguish between “a church,” which has certain narrow characteristics modeled and accepted by Rome (and so limited to Rome and the Eastern Orthodox) as opposed to an “ecclesial entity,” any of which has some “ecclesial defect.” At this point, Rome sees Canterbury and the various Anglican Churches as having “defects;” and so Williams’ reference to “the Anglican Church” seems more aspirational than actually descriptive. He… Read more »

Ian
Ian
10 years ago

The problem is that when you have one province saying that clergy may/may not do a certain thing, and it is expected that such clergy are recognised in another province that doesn’t accept the same discipline, then it is not “autonomous churches held together in a fellowship of common faith dating from the creeds and councils”. It is impossible to be in communion without accepting the apostolic tradition of other provinces, and therefore the whole house of cards comes down.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
10 years ago

Ian,
we’ve long had a Communion where some provinces had women priests and bishops, others only women priests and some neither.
Why did that not bring the whole house of cards down,why did it take Gene Robinson’s consecration to do so, when he is a male priest in the apostolic tradition?

Ian
Ian
10 years ago

Erika. I think this is an important example. Provinces that did ordain women accepted that those who did not would not be required to recognise their ordination. In the same way, if a priest is prevented from practising in one province it is good form to accept that elsewhere. So, if acts which would prevent someone from operating in one province allow them to act in another, then the one who allows the act should respect the decision of the other province. That would accurately and fully reflect autonomy of provinces. However, if that cannot be done, then the covenant… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
10 years ago

Ian
“then the one who allows the act should respect the decision of the other province.”

Are you saying this isn’t happening? Are you saying that FiF have been forced to take Communion from American female bishops?
Or that TEC has forced Nigeria to consecrate gay priests?

What actual lack of respect has there been shown, other than the lack of respect for TEC’s choices that have no actual effect outside the province?

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
10 years ago

Ian
“then the one who allows the act should respect the decision of the other province.”

Are you saying this isn’t happening? Are you saying that FiF have been forced to take Communion from American female bishops?
Or that TEC has forced Nigeria to consecrate gay priests?

What actual lack of respect has there been shown, other than the lack of respect for TEC’s choices that have no actual effect outside the province?

Malcolm French+
10 years ago

It will be such fun when Prime Minister Cameron recommends HM nominate a woman as Rowan’s successor.

Tobias Haller
10 years ago

Ian, at the time the Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated the first bishops for the emerging Episcopal Church in the US, it was stipulated in the Act of Parliament which gave permission for the consecrations that neither the new bishops nor anyone ever ordained or consecrated by them would ever be allowed to minister anywhere within the dominions under English rule. No bishop or priest has any inherent authority to minister outside of his (or her) own proper see or parish without the approval of the incumbent authority of the place in which they might wish to minister. And that is… Read more »

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