Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, recently published his vision of how the Anglican Communion can go forward into the future. In doing so, he addressed the serious challenges to scriptural authority and communion interdependence that we are currently facing. The article, titled “The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion” was released to the public on Tuesday morning.
In the document, Archbishop Williams laid out a plan for a two-tiered Communion. One tier would be fully included in the life of the Anglican Communion as “constituent” members and one that would have an “associate” membership and no legislative position within any of the Instruments of Unity.
This two-tiered Communion is very much a reflection of the reality we face here in the Anglican Church of Canada. Some of us clearly desire to remain in full fellowship in the Anglican Communion and are willing to practice mutual submission with our brother and sister Anglicans around the world. Others value the trajectory away from the Christian and Anglican mainstream; a trajectory that our church’s leadership has increasingly embraced. We are presently two minds existing together in one church. We are optimistic that this model will help stabilize the Communion in accordance with the historic Christian faith and Anglican order.
We are thankful that the Archbishop of Canterbury has also recognized that the distinction between the historic Christian faith and progressive Christianity runs through the middle of Provinces and not simply between them. “An ordered and respectful” delineation could possibly be a way forward for Canadian Anglicans who wish to remain true to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
In the statement, Archbishop Williams also said there was no need to reconsider the Lambeth 1998 resolution (I.10). He noted that he, “[did] not hear much enthusiasm for revisiting in 2008 the last Lambeth Conference’s resolution on this matter. In my judgment, we cannot properly or usefully re-open the discussion as if Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998 did not continue to represent the general mind of the Communion.”
This is an encouraging reflection of the mind of the Anglican Communion, insofar as it is entirely consistent with the historic Christian faith while at the same time honouring the lives of gay and lesbian people as loved by God and his Church. Lambeth 1.10 further rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture [but] calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”
We thank Archbishop Williams for this articulate and encouraging written reflection and assure him of our prayers as he seeks to lead our fractured Communion.