Global South Primates vow to continue violating Episcopal Church boundaries
At the end of a three-day meeting in London, the steering committee of a group of Anglican Communion primates from the Global South has issued a statement warning that they will continue to violate the boundaries of the Episcopal Church and exercise authority over dissident congregations.
In a statement dated July 18, the group claimed they had “no choice” but to exercise oversight for dissident Episcopalians in place of their American bishops, because the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops failed to embrace a “pastoral scheme” that would have provided dissident dioceses with an alternative to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The scheme was proposed at the February meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam.
The Global South Primates Steering Committee consists of archbishops Peter J. Akinola (Nigeria) as president, Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Drexel Gomez (West Indies), Bernard Malango (Central Africa), and Gregory Venables (Southern Cone), and bishops John Chew (Singapore) and Mouneer Anis (Egypt). Archbishop Henry Orombi (Uganda) also participated in the London meeting.
There are a total of 38 Primates in the Anglican Communion.
Both the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences, the 2004 Windsor Report, and the 2005 Primates Meeting Communiqué from Dromantine all stated that boundary crossings contradict ancient precedent in the Christian Church and are unacceptable behavior in the Anglican Communion, as did the Dar es Salaam statement.
However, the boundary violations have been underway for several years. Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and Moses Tay, the now-retired primate of the province of South East Asia, established what is now called the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) under their joint jurisdiction in 2000 and consecrated six former Episcopal priests as bishops for the group.
Nigerian Archbishop Peter J. Akinola came to Virginia in May to install former Episcopal priest Martyn Minns as bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), which describes itself as “an Anglican missionary effort in the US sponsored by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).” Minns was ordained and consecrated in Nigeria earlier this year, and serves as the associate secretary of the Global South Steering Committee.
Three more such consecrations are planned, including two in Kenya next week and one in Uganda in September. All of the candidates for the episcopate have been longtime critics of the Episcopal Church, working within various organizations, and none plan to exercise episcopal ministry within their new provinces.
The Global South group also warned that they were exploring what they called “additional pastoral provisions” for Canadian Anglicans who disagree with a recent decision that same-gender blessings are “consistent with the core doctrine” of their church. The Canadian General Synod narrowly defeated an effort to allow diocesan bishops to authorize such blessings.
The group also declared support for the Common Cause Partnership, which is working for an “Anglican union” to achieve a new “ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA.”
It is composed of the Rwandan-based AMiA; the Anglican Coalition in Canada; the Nigerian-based Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA); the Anglican Network in Canada; the Anglican Province of America (APA), a “continuing Anglican” denomination with roots in opposition to Episcopal Church involvement in the Civil Rights movement and Prayer Book revision in the 1960s and ’70s; Forward in Faith North America (FiF/NA), a group opposed to the ordination of women; and the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), an evangelical denomination that broke in 1873 from the Episcopal Church over its tolerance of Anglo-Catholic liturgical practices.
The steering committee also demanded an end to the pursuit of civil litigation by dioceses of the Episcopal Church to recover their property in the face of attempts by dissident groups to remove it and join other Anglican groups.
The group of seven primates criticized resolutions made in March by the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops and in June by the Executive Council, which they say “rejected the underlying principles and requests” of a communiqué issued after the February meeting in Dar es Salaam.
The House of Bishops said in March that the pastoral scheme “would be injurious to The Episcopal Church.” The Executive Council also declined June 14 to participate in the scheme, and passed a resolution (EC012) that “respectfully requests the Presiding Bishop to decline as well.”
The February communiqué had called for the Episcopal Church “to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.”
At the 75th General Convention in June 2006, in Columbus, Ohio, bishops and deputies agreed in Resolution B033 on the last day to “call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
The primates in February asked the bishops to “confirm” that the resolution essentially puts a moratorium in place. The communiqué also called for an end to “public rites” for blessing of same-gender relationships.
The General Convention has never authorized a liturgy for blessing same-gender relationships. In 2003, the Convention recognized in Resolution C051 that “local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.” Some diocesan bishops have allowed priests to bless such unions as a pastoral response to members of their congregations.
The primates asked for the bishops’ answer to the two requests by September 30. The House of Bishops did not specifically address these two requests during their March meeting. The bishops will gather again September 19-25 for a previously scheduled meeting.
The Executive Council said in June that the “requests of the Primates are of a nature that can only be responded to by our General Convention,” adding that only General Convention can interpret its own resolutions. The Convention next meets in the summer of 2009.
The Executive Council also “question[ed] the authority of the Primates to impose deadlines and demands upon any of the churches of the Anglican Communion.”
The Global South group rejected any implication of authority by a visit of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC to the September meeting of the House of Bishops. “We believe that the Primates Meeting, which initiated the request to the TEC House of Bishops, must make any determination as to the adequacy of their response,” the group’s statement said. “We strongly urge the scheduling of a Primates’ Meeting for this purpose at the earliest possible moment.”
The statement criticized the structure and list of invitees to the 2008 Lambeth Conference gathering of Anglican Communion bishops, saying that “without discipline in the Communion and without the reconciliation that we urge,” it would be impossible for them to participate.
The group also announced its intention to call a Fourth Global South-to-South Encounter. The previous Encounter meeting was held in Egypt in September 2005.
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