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Primates’ view of leadership needs broadening

04 April 2014


From Canon Colin Craston

Sir, - The Global South Primates are deeply concerned about divisions in the Anglican Communion clearly manifest in matters such as homosexuality and gender issues. They want the Archbishop of Canterbury to call a Primates' Meeting in 2015 to address these concerns. They need to be reminded that the government of the Church in Anglicanism is not simply decided by episcopal leaders.

It is "episcopal leadership in council with clergy and laity", in other words, synodical. The Lambeth Conference in the 20th century had to learn that, and so the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) emerged. Throughout the century, Provinces and dioceses adopted synodical government.

This could be seen as a modern adaptation of the Reformation Age association of the House of Bishops with Parliament, in place of papal dictatorship. It could also be argued that the pattern of government in the New Testament was by decision of full church membership, which could include slaves, with apostolic guidance.

So, let us not depend on Primates alone to solve Anglican divisions. I recall with gratitude times in the past when the Primates and the ACC worked together. The Resolution of the Lambeth 1998 Conference, dealing with homosexuality, indicated that the Primates and the ACC should pursue the debate. Clearly, it was not decided by that somewhat unsatisfactory debate.

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