BISHOPS from the Global South intend to invite their fellow bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, to re-affirm Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the Anglican Church’s “official teaching” on marriage and sexuality.
The announcement was made at an off-campus press conference this morning (29 July), arranged by the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA). They pledged not to receive communion alongside gay-partnered bishops and those who endorse same-sex unions, and announced that they were putting forward a “Resolution” that would reaffirm the impermissibility of same-sex marriage.
In the afternoon, it was announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury would meet with Primates aligned with the GSFA on Saturday.
At the press conference, the Archbishop of South Sudan, the Most Revd Justin Badi, who chairs the GSFA, also called on the Anglican Communion to impose sanctions on Provinces that both ordain bishops in same-sex relationships and allow same-sex marriages to be conducted. These are the US Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church in Wales.
“We have not taken this decision lightly,” Archbishop Badi told the press conference. He suggested that the Anglican Communion had “for too long been driven by the views of the West” in the interests of “making it all easier” for people to choose to be part of it.
“We often feel that our voices are not listened to, or respected. . . Today, in Canterbury, we may be ‘gathered together’, but we most certainly cannot ‘walk together’ until Provinces which have gone against scripture — and the will of the consensus of the bishops — repent and return to orthodoxy. The Communion is not in a healthy condition at present, and only major surgery will put that right.”
All “orthodox” bishops would be encouraged to remain in their seats when others went to receive communion at the opening and closing services in the cathedral; the spouses of gay bishops are also invited to these services.
The Primate of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd James Wong, said: “At this conference we are being asked to look at the needs of our broken world, and to offer hope. But we cannot mend a broken world when the Anglican Church is so broken and fractured. All Provinces must remember that they are part of one body, and one Communion. Unfortunately, some Provinces put emphasis on being autonomous, and forget the necessity of being interdependent.”
“We have absolutely no intention of being a breakaway group of the Anglican Communion. . . We see ourselves as seeking to be a holy remnant that God has preserved,” he said.
The Anglican Communion, both Archbishops reiterated, “must be based on a shared commitment to holy scripture”.
The language and aspirations were in marked contrast to the tone of the early-morning press conference held by the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, who chairs the Lambeth Conference Design Group (LCDG); two LCDG members, the Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Emma Ineson, and Cathrine Ngangira, from Bearsted, near Maidstone; and a former Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, who has worked with the Calls drafting groups.
Archbishop Welby reflected that half the bishops of the Communion had refused to attend the 1867 Lambeth Conference — “wholly white and entirely male until the 1970s”, something no longer the case in post-colonial life. Reiterating that it had no judicial powers, he emphasised: “The Lambeth Conference is not a Synod. Under no circumstances. Ever.”
The Conference should be a time when the bishops could be refreshed and meet with God. “If that doesn’t happen, the rest of it doesn’t matter.”
Archbishop Makgoba spoke of the “shocking depravity” of world events; the “life and death issues” around the Communion; and its power to influence work such as the global distribution of medicines.
On the importance of the safeguarding discussions to come, he made reference to those who had “suffered horrendous abuse. . . If the Church is not a place where the love of Christ is known and felt, you might as well shut up shop.”
He spoke of how peacemaking could help towards work on climate change; those who were threatened by rising sea levels could work with those with the infrastructure to deal with it.
“We are a messy family,” he said, “but heal, nurture them, and preach [the gospel].”
Dr Ineson hoped that the Conference would not just be a talking shop. “Our faith in Jesus is what holds us together.”
Ms Ngangira urged a focus on reconciliation. Poor and rich alike were living in a world much divided, a world “crying and yelling for reconciliation. . . a world bigger and broader than we can comprehend, centred on the personhood of Jesus”. The Conference must ask the difficult question of what the Church could do to minister in the world. “Listen to the grassroots”, she urged. “What is the Lord saying?” The process was “not a full stop but a comma. . . The voices we need to hear are not in the room right now.”
Of the withdrawn re-affirmation, Bishop Thornton said: “We cannot use the language of the Resolutions, because this is not a law-making body. It is a conversation.” He apologised for “lack of clarity” in conveying a process which had been about ensuring that bishops had their voice heard before any text was finalised.
Archbishop Welby said: “The Anglican Communion is a family. Families have to work through their differences.” He also emphasised, in response to questions, that Lambeth 1.10 was “still very much part of the Anglican Communion. There is deep division. It will be to decide in each Province and diocese.”
An insinuation that the re-affirmation of Lambeth 1.10 had been removed because of pressure “from the gay bishops” and that the Design Group had “sided with the most progressive”, led to a rebuke from Bishop Thornton. “I don’t recognise the language you are using about the bishops,” he said. Archbishop Welby repeated that Lambeth 1.10 was “quoted twice and therefore exists” in the Call on Human Dignity.”