A ‘series of consultations’ to head off ‘schism’ in the Anglican Communion are taking place at Lambeth Palace, as the Archbishop of Canterbury considers potential fall-out from the American General Convention in June. On Monday the Archbishop met with senior bishops and representatives of mission agencies, Anglican Mainstream and the Anglican Consultative Council to discuss a range of scenarios for dealing with the crisis.
It is believed that the Archbishop is taking advice on whether he has powers to ‘disinvite’ bishops to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 or whether a series of resolutions expected to be agreed by the General Convention in June may be enough to halt the fragmentation of the Communion. At Monday’s meeting, a gathering of bishops and Archbishops including Canterbury and York, Winchester, Bristol, Durham, Exeter, Manchester, and Norwich, heard presentations from Tim Dakin of CMS, Michael Doe of USPG, Gregory Cameron and Kenneth Kearon of the Anglican Consultative Council and Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream.
Dr Sugden said this week, prior to his own presentation, that traditionalists and evangelicals across the world were expecting Dr Williams to follow the Windsor Report. “We’re very concerned that a fudge isn’t good enough. What we’re looking for is repentance and the rescinding of decisions of [the US] General Convention 2003.” He added: “The fabric of the Communion is torn, not that it will be torn, it is torn.” Dr Sugden’s analysis compares with an increasingly pessimistic tone from the Archbishop of Canterbury in interviews during recent months. At Spring Harvest recently he told evangelicals that he was not optimistic about the future of the Communion, but added that he was not without ‘hope’. According to The Times in March, the letter of invitation to this week’s Lambeth meeting said that the roundtable discussion concerns the ‘next critical months’ in the life of the Anglican Communion. “This is too important a set of issues to allow events to overtake us,” Lambeth’s chief of staff, Chris Smith, said in the letter.
Dr Williams has also held a meeting with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA, who last week invited the Guardian’s religion correspondent, Stephen Bates to interview him. In the resulting article at the weekend, Bishop Griswold issued a thinly veiled warning to the Diocese of California not to elect one of the three practising homosexual candidates for its bishopric next weekend. “The diocese needs to respect the sensibilities of the larger communion. It will note what is going on in the life of the church and make a careful and wise decision,” he said. The American House of Bishops, he suggested, could withhold their consent if California elects one of the homosexual candidates. Bishop Griswold said of his meeting with Dr Williams: “We both live under stresses and strains, and it is important not to have second-hand communication, to meet face-to-face. It enables me to hear his concerns and he can hear some from me.” He said he was unrepentant about his role in Bishop Gene Robinson’s election. “To have abstained would have been meaningless and, assent to his election having been given, it would have been very odd for me not to attend his consecration.”
A Lambeth Palace spokesman said that Monday’s meeting was “one of a series of consultations in relationship to the current situation in the Anglican Church.”
–Church of England Newspaper