The ACC has “affirmed” rather than simply “noted” the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), which has been addressing the call for moratoriums on same-sex blessings, cross-border interventions, and the ordination of gay and lesbian people as bishops, writes Pat Ashworth.
A move to introduce a fourth moratorium, the “cessation of litigation”, was lost by a margin of just one vote. Litigation has been initiated by both sides, and dissenting conservatives in North America believe that the future of many of their clergy and congregations is threatened by it.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said that bishops had a moral and fiduciary responsibility to protect church assets. She was supported in that view by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan.
In an eight-part resolution affirming the WCG recommendations, the ACC said that it “acknowledges the efforts that have been made to hold to the moratoria, gives thanks for the gracious restraint that has been observed in these areas, and recognises the deep cost of such restraint”.
The Listening Process on human sexuality is to continue in an enhanced form, funded by the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, initially until the end of 2011. There will be an emphasis on non-Western cultures in the theological resources provided, and on publishing information in culturally appropriate forms.
Five pilot face-to-face “conversations” are to be run across the Communion, based on the indaba method of decision-making that was used successfully at the Lambeth Conference. They will be facilitated by Canon Phil Groves of the Anglican Communion Office and Canon Flora Winfield from Lambeth Palace, and will focus on “mission issues and addressing the difficult questions related to sexuality, the authority of scripture, faithfulness to tradition, and the respect for the dignity of all”.
Bishop Gregory Cameron acknowledged the mood of the ACC meeting overall as “disappointment and some frustration among the members who strongly advocated the sending out of the Covenant text now, but the mood as a whole is good — co-operative and mutually respectful.”
The Church of England’s lay representative, Elizabeth Paver, lost out by one vote in an election to be chair of the ACC. She will be vice-chair to the Bishop of Southern Malawi, the Rt Revd James Tengatenga.