THE FIVE-DAY meeting of leaders from 20 Anglican provinces of the Global South ended in Singapore on Friday with a call to strengthen the Anglican Covenant and “review the entire Anglican Communion structure”.
In their final statement, entitled the “Fourth Trumpet from the Fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter”, the 150 delegates said that the election and intended consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian in the Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC), “demonstrated, yet again, a total disregard for the mind of the Communion”.
The leaders spoke of their grief over “the TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada and all those Churches that have rejected the Way of the Lord as expressed in Holy Scripture.”
These Churches had continued “their defiance as they set themselves on a course that contradicts the plain teaching of the Holy Scriptures on matters so fundamental that they affect the very salvation of those involved”.
Leaders of the Global South had been in the forefront of developing ways to discipline those who departed from the essentials of the faith, the statement says.
“We are currently reviewing the proposed Covenant to find ways of strengthening it in order for it to fulfil its purpose. For example, we believe that all those who adopt the Covenant must be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10” [which rejects same-sex blessings and the ordination of partnered gay or lesbian people]. “Meanwhile we recognise that the Primates’ Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Covenant and its implementation, not the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.”
Twenty years of conflict over the issues had distracted the Communion from its work to evangelise the world, they said.
“While we have been so distracted, Christian heritage, identity and influence has continued to decline in the West.” What was now needed to achieve an “authentic” expression of the current reality of the Anglican Communion — of which Christians in the Global South represented “the vast majority of the active membership” — was a review of its entire structure, they said.
“In recent years the peace of our Communion has been deeply wounded by those who continue to claim the name Anglican but who pursue an agenda of their own desire in opposition to historic norms of faith, teaching and practice.” That had led to the GAFCOM meeting in Jerusalem in June 2008.
They were “appreciative” of the “brief” video greetings sent to the meeting by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they welcomed the presence of two bishops from the US Episcopal Church who were among those from their province “who do not accept their Church’s innovations”. They were also “grateful that the recently formed Anglican Church in North America is a faithful expression of Anglicanism”.
Among those present were the Global South representatives from Africa, the West Indies, Asia, and South America, and “partners in the Gospel” from Australia and New Zealand. The entire delegation from the province of West Africa, and invited participants from the UK and Ireland were not able to attend because of travel difficulties.
The Bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Shannon Johnston, argued this week that is was possible to be both “pro-Communion” and “pro-inclusive”, writes Pat Ashworth. The Bishop said that he had withheld consent to Canon Glasspool’s election because the presiding officers of the General Convention had assured the Archbishop of Canterbury that the moratorium on ordaining partnered gay bishops remained in place.
A partnered gay priest, Canon Michael Barlowe, is one of four candidates for Bishop of Utah.