Anglican Primates’ Meeting I

I’ll take two posts to share some reflections on the recently completed meeting of Anglican Primates in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, a “pre meeting” of which I attended and described briefly in an earlier post. The first document Bishops MacPherson, Duncan and I received was the report of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates. Its topic was an analysis of just how the Episcopal Church’s General Convention had done in responding to the requests in the Windsor Report. Much to Bishop Duncan’s chagrin, it was largely positive!

They said we had made an adequate response to the request for a ‘moratorium’ on the consecration of openly gay bishops. Since our canonical polity does not permit such a moratorium, the General Convention’s request for bishops and Standing Committees to withhold consent to the election of any bishop whose manner of life would cause additional strains within the Anglican Communion seemed to the Joint Standing Committee to be appropriate and adequate.

Since General Convention has never authorized liturgical rites for the blessing of same sex unions, there was no need for Convention to speak on that request from Windsor. However, there is confusion in the Communion because we have acknowedged that such blessings occur in some places “within the bounds of our common life” and therefore they request greater clarification here.

The Episcopal Church’s expression of “regret” for the pain, consternation, and general disruption of the Anglican Communion’s life in the wake of General Convention 2003’s decisions was also deemed satisfactory by the Joint Standing Committee. Obviously, all this is predicated on the Episcopal Church honoring what it has said it will do — withhold consents and not authorize same sex blessings (acknowledging that in the US, as in a number of other parts of the Communion, “pastoral provisions” are made for such unions — something recognized in the Windsor Report itself).  

We were also given a look at a Draft Covenant for the Anglican Communion and proposals from both the Global South Bishops and the “Camp Allen Bishops” (Archbishop Rowan Williams is clearly not happy with the designation “Windsor Bishops” for this group!) concerning alternative episcopal oversight. In my opinion, the draft covenant is a vast improvement over the one contained in the Windsor Report itself. It will undoubtedly go through a number of iterations before reaching a final form — a votable document — but it is a fair attempt and a reasonable place to start.

The Camp Allen Bishops seem to propose that they function as a kind of “panel” of bishops to operate with the Presiding Bishop and with the approval of the appropriate diocesan bishop to provide Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight to congregations out of sympathy with their bishops on these matters. The Global South Bishops obviously intend to continue their extra-canonical interventions until they are assured that such congregations and dioceses receive the kind of “protection” they feel they need within the Episcopal Church.

Again, in my opinion, the Camp Allen Bishops’ proposal — seen in the light of the already-used Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight and Bishop Jefferts Schori’s offer of a “Primatial Vicar” in some cases — may well be something we can work with. Continual intervention by overseas bishops is completely unhelpful and complicates our ability as the Episcopal Church to resolve these issues domestically.

So, I left Dar Es Salaam somewhat encouraged. That was before the Primates’ actual meeting…and certainly before “the Communique.” More on that anon! 

2 Responses to “Anglican Primates’ Meeting I”

  1. Alex Milner Says:

    Dear Bishop Epting,

    Look forward to reading these.

    Kind regards

  2. CaNN :: We started it. Says:

    […] ECUBISHOP ON Anglican Primates’ Meeting … […]

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