THE Archbishop of Canterbury told the Synod he regretted “the fact that there was not the will to uphold the moratorium in such a significant part of North America”. He was speaking on Monday, before the House of Deputies’ motion to end the moratorium on the ordination as bishop of people in same-sex relationships had been ratified by the US House of Bishops.
Dr Williams’s main purpose was to bring the Synod up to date on the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, Jamaica.
He began with a DVD of worship at the event, and told the Synod: “In the light of all the Bob Marley music, I felt I should assure people that the clouds seen on the DVD in the service were genuinely incense.”
There was now no longer a joint standing committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), but a single study committee. The session had been “procedurally confused”. But the “Ridley, Cambridge” draft of the Anglican Covenant had been broadly approved. Sections one to three had been approved. The fourth section, on which there was broad agreement, was not felt to have been sufficiently examined by the provinces, and so was being referred back for further revision before a final revision and final text by the end of the calendar year.
Section 1403 spoke of the Anglican Relief and Development umbrella organisation that, in the light of the more collaborative approach asked for in Lambeth, was asked to co-ordinate the relief and development work of the provinces.
Dr Williams also drew attention to a new Communion project, “The Bible the Life of the Church”, which had been very successful in New Zealand. It was “essentially hermeneutics in plain English”, which would help people use the Bible in their daily lives.
He also drew attention to resolution 1409, which referred to the work of the Windsor Continuation Group and how those recommendations were being used. There had been repeated requests for a moratorium on bishops living in same-sex unions, same-sex blessings, and inter-provincial oversight. The ACC had again endorsed those requests and had also asked the inter-Anglican study commission on faith and order to examine the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ACC, the Lambeth Conference and the primates meeting, in ecclesiastical and theological terms.
The ACC had also called again for repentance, conversion, and renewal. It had also held seminars on Anglican networks, including the Anglican health network, which it welcomed and commended. In large parts of the globe, an “extraordinary percentage of primary health care is provided by the Anglican Communion”. In most of the developing world, 80 per cent of health care was provided by Christian organisations of one sort or another.
Practically every province had attended, including those that did not attend the Lambeth Conference; and those who did not attend were not absent for “ideological reasons”.
The Archbishop and other ACC members then took questions. The ACC had decided that the environment should be integral to the five marks of misson, and not a sixth mark, Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield) told the Synod.
The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin described the ACC worship as a “wonderful experience”: actions spoke louder than words, and there had been “no sense of people pushing others out at the table”, she said.
The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, in answer to the question how the Anglican Communion was reaching out to people with no experience of the Christian faith, said that there was “credible evidence” of the sharing of information about how mission was done. The ACC’s new Evangelism and Church Network Group was a significant way forward for a better world vision, he said.
On health networking, the ACC’s aim was to work closely with NGOs and governments, and not to be a “super-provider”, but able to assist with brokerage in getting resources to the right places.
Sister Rosemary CHN (Religious Communities) asked what form referral of Section 4 of the Anglican Covenant to the provinces would take — was there opportunity for amendment?
Dr Williams said that the Ridley draft was not further amendable, but would come back to the Synod for final discussion. He described Section 4 as “quite a bundle of fishbones in technical terms”; it needed another round of examination.
Canon Chris Sugden (Oxford) had questions about the ACC’s resolution to extend the Listening Process. Was the aim to revise Lambeth 1.10 or to help pastoral ministry with lesbian and gay Christians?
Dr Williams replied that it was intended to give the opportunity for informed reflection and discussion and to listen to the experience of lesbian and gay people. That was a “specific and explicit” aim. There was “no agenda to the process”, he reiterated: it was for the maturation of the Church worldwide.
Canon Sugden had also questioned the source of the funding from America. Dr Williams said that he had been directly involved in obtaining the funding. He could say, “hand on heart”, that there were no conditions attached.