Fulcrum Response to the 2007 Advent Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Fulcrum Response to the 2007 Advent Letter

of the Archbishop of Canterbury

We welcome this careful, decisive articulation of the mind of the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop’s key new initiative of forming a small coordinating body of Primates and others.

In particular we appreciate the:

  • Three-fold common acknowledgement on Scripture, Ministry and Mission:

we ‘stand under the word of Scripture’ is a clear and strongly worded phrase; the ministry of one local church not intervening in the life of another is crucial to Anglicanism; integral evangelism through proclamation and service is encouragingly a first priority.

  • Windsor Report and the Covenant process acceptance as crucial for Lambeth 2008:

this has been a consistent Fulcrum perspective on the essential way forward for Lambeth 2008: see Fulcrum Newsletter for Sept 2007.

  • Direct contact between the Archbishop of Canterbury and individual bishops who have expressed unease about the Windsor Report and Covenant process:

the implication is ‘if you are against this process, and have no intention of following it, please don’t accept the invitation – and if you insist, even after these clarifications, then I still reserve the right to disinvite you, as mentioned in the original letter of invitation.’

  • Face to face conversations, with expert help, to clarify options between The Episcopal Church and opponents:

the Archbishop will not give up trying to halt legal actions: plans for future relations are clearly going to be different.

  • Small co-ordinating group of Primates and others to take issues forward to Lambeth 2008 and beyond:

this new group is the most insightful initiative of the whole Advent Letter. It is a new imaginative way of conceiving of how the Communion may be better coordinated. The small size – provided that it is representative - will allow for clearer, faster decisions leading up to and beyond Lambeth 2008 than would be possible with a full primates’ meeting.

  • Against the consecrations of bishops for distant provinces or adopting of parishes in distant provinces:

the implication is that the bishops recently consecrated for America by the provinces of Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda will not receive invitations to Lambeth 2008, however one of the agenda items for the small coordinating group will be to consider the exact status of bishops ordained by one province for ministry in another.

  • ‘Camp Allen Bishops’ and conservative bishops and dioceses who have left, or are planning to leave, The Episcopal Church for other provinces are not deficient in Anglican character and are in fellowship with the Communion, if another province recognises them:

this is a hopeful sign to those bishops and dioceses.

  • Questioning of the full participation in Communion agencies and ecumenical bodies of provinces or individual bishops at odds with the expressed mind of the Communion:

the small co-ordinating group is the right forum for making these key decisions: it is worth remembering that the former Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church came off the ARCIC commission, of which he was co-chair.

  • Communion Conservative perspective of the letter as a whole which is conservative on issues of sexuality and keen to keep the Communion a Communion and not reduce it to a Federation:

The Archbishop has clearly opted for the Communion Conservative position (see Fulcrum Newsletter for June 2006) including reiterating Lambeth 1.10: ‘This is the point where our common reading of Scripture stands, along with the common reading of the majority within the Christian churches worldwide and through the centuries’.

In the writing of his Advent Letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury has opened up the possibility of a large Lambeth Conference in July 2008. We pray that all those bishops who are willing to work together with implementing the recommendations of the Windsor Report, including the development of a Covenant, respond positively to the invitation.

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