Thursday, September 24, 2015

24 September 2015 A.D. Justin Welby Changes Communion to Federation—Just in Time

24 September 2015 A.D. Justin Welby Changes Communion to Federation—Just in Time                           

Carrell, Peter. “Just In Time: ABC Changes Communion to Federation.” Anglican Down Under. 18 Sept 2015. Accessed 24 Sept 2015.

 Just In Time: ABC Changes Communion to Federation

The Anglican Covenant is completely dead now. It also looks very much like the Anglican Communion is too.

The Covenant is dead because that is a proposal to keep the Communion alive but what is in the news today is the end of the Anglican Communion and the beginning of the Anglican Federation (for want, at this stage, of a better name).

++Justin is to be given full marks for facing the facts of the lack of life in the Communion. The name means that Anglicans share communion together, especially the Instruments of Communion, including the Primates and the Bishops. But that communion has been impaired for sometime, with bishops not turning up for the 2008 Lambeth Conference and Primates refusing to commune with each other. So it has been about time that some responsible Anglican leader moved to pronounce the last rites as well as chart out a possible new style relationship.

I very much hope that the ABC will have the courage to come up with a new name for whatever emerges so that we Anglicans can be honest about federating when we won't be communioning.

The story today is that ++Justin is inviting the Primates to meet together in January 2016. It will be for 'prayer' (no mention of the eucharist). It will include reference to 1998 Lambeth and the statement is couched in conservative language.

Clearly ++Justin has been on the phone or personally visited each Primate and asked, 'What will it take to get you in the same room as everyone else?'

Equally clearly, some Primates have said to the ABC, 'Invite ++Foley Beach and we will come.' So the invitation to ++Foley Beach, Archbishop of the alternative Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to be in attendance is the surest sign that ++Justin has worked overtime to get the best possible attendance. You can bet he consulted with ++Curry, incoming TEC PB, about this and the PB must have said, 'OK. If that is what it takes!'

Read the comments to the link above - Thinking Anglicans - and you will find some commenters commenting as though this is just a bit of thinking by ++Justin which he hopes will work and the commenters know better than him. Read my lips, this is a tightly scripted scenario with careful negotiations leading to a meeting that will work. Not a meeting that will not work.

Before you comment here I invite you to consider whether your comment understands that on this occasion the ABC is entitled to do what it takes to get as many Primates in the one room as possible, even if it doesn't fit with your theory of how pure Anglicanism should work!

What is emerging in considered comments by pundits is that on the table is a move away from pretence to being a Communion defined* by Instruments of Communion (who, keep remembering, are not currently united) towards a something which sounds very much like a Federation which will be minimally defined. The minimum definition might simply be 'So you will relate to the ABC even if you won't relate to the Anglican Church of X - fine, you're in.'

Welcome ACNA. You're in the Federation. By the way, so is TEC and ACofC!

PS: On the possibility that this is indeed a Justinian stroke of genius, read here.

*Acknowledging a comment below, 'defined' raises questions as to who is defining in this way? Our church (ACANZP) does not formally define the Anglican Communion according to the Instruments of Communion. So here I am thinking of 'defined' in the sense of asking the question so when does the Anglican Communion meet as a fellowship? The answer has become - until recently - when its bishops meet, when its primates meet, when the ACC meets. Those meetings have become broken (with the possible exception of the ACC) and the fellowship (i.e. communion) impaired. Functionally, because of the lack of full eucharistic meeting of the bishops and primates, the Communion has ceased to be a communion.

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