Michael Poon recently wrote an article for the Living Church titled Rebooting Anglican Communication.
In whatever ways we justify and reinterpret the Communion instruments of the Anglican Communion, it is clear the instruments no longer unite Anglican churches worldwide. Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings have become obstacles rather than means of healing the Communion’s wounds.
The reasons are clear. The Anglican Communion itself, understood as a Christian World Communion alongside the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other families of churches, is a novel idea in the post-Western missionary era. The instruments emerged in haphazard ways amid the devolution of metropolitan authorities from Canterbury and New York to churches in the southern continents. To be sure, they were useful to connect churches with one another in years surrounding the independence of the southern churches.
They have now become part of the problem, and have lost their legitimacy in the new conditions of the new century. For one, international conferences are expensive exercises, which are hardly sustainable in present-day economic conditions. More important, there is a worrying disconnect between what happens at Communion levels and what occurs at local levels. The faithful in their parishes are expected to remain loyal Anglicans week in and week out. To them, the Anglican disputes are irrelevant. Many of them perhaps have not heard about the Anglican Communion Covenant. Churches of weaker numerical strength and in more fragile conditions are sidelined as well in a high-stakes and wasting religious war….
Tobias Haller has published the text of a talk he recently gave, entitled Anglican Disunion: The Issues Behind “the Issue”.
…Let me first say a word or two about where I don’t think we find our identity. And that, ironically, is in the very “Instruments of Communion” which the Proposed Anglican Covenant appears to wish to install at the center of our ecclesiastical life.
The Windsor Report called them “instruments of unity,” which is not a little blasphemous since our unity is in Christ. But those instruments don’t in any case seem to have had the effect of improving unity. The four are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates’ Meeting. These are all relatively recent entities not only in Christianity but even among Anglicans.
Obviously the Archbishop of Canterbury has been around since the late sixth century, But the office only began to function as anything like a voice in a “communion” with the beginnings of that “communion” when the Episcopal Church became an independent entity in 1785-89…
…It was not until 1867 that the first Lambeth Conference was called, largely to deal with problems in the by then much more widely dispersed collection of provinces in the Anglican family. It was a full century after that, in 1968, that the Anglican Consultative Council, a representative body including for the first time laity and clergy as well as bishops, was created. Ten years later, in 1978, the Primates of the Communion gathered for the first time as a separate body.
Obviously these entities can hardly be held to be either “foundational” or “essential” or “definitional” of what it means to be the Anglican Communion, which appears to have gotten on well enough without them for much of its life. Yet since the Windsor Report they have loomed rather larger in the picture. And the pressure towards a single unified body has taken form in the Proposed Anglican Covenant.
Savi Hensman at Ekklesia has just published an article titled A clearer, less divisive Anglican Covenant?
Attempts to bring in an Anglican Covenant which can be used to define Anglicanismand discipline member churches have run into difficulties.
Many are uneasy with this development. In November 2011, it became apparent that the province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia would reject it.
In the words of a diocesan resolution, one of its clauses contains ‘provisions which are contrary to our understanding of Anglican ecclesiology, to our understanding of the way of Christ, and to justice’.
Perhaps it is time to abandon such efforts and build on the foundations laid six years ago by the Anglican Consultative Council, when it agreed a very different Covenant for Communion in Mission…
Meanwhile, Fulcrum published A Churchgoer’s Guide to the Anglican Communion Covenant.
The whole Anglican Communion is considering whether to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant. All Church of England dioceses and many deaneries are discussing it in coming months before it returns to General Synod in 2012. Fulcrum has consistently supported the covenant but is aware that there is little accessible material explaining it. As a result, many people are relatively uninformed or are being misinformed about it and its significance by some opponents. We have therefore produced this short briefing paper which answers some common questions and provides ten reasons to support the Covenant…
This prompted the No Anglican Covenant Coalition to publish: A Detailed Response to Fulcrum.
Recently, Fulcrum, an English Evangelical organization, issued a document offering ten points allegedly explaining why Evangelical Christians should support the adoption of the Covenant. The No Anglican Covenant Coalition (NACC) has published below a brief overview of why the ten points are inadequate reasons for Evangelicals to support the adoption. In this document we offer point-by-point refutation…