BISHOPS at the Lambeth Conference have rejected the idea of a new Instrument of Communion — but a mooted congress held in the Global South has received wide support.
The session on Monday afternoon examined the Lambeth Call on Anglican Identity. Speaking at a press conference following its conclusion, the Primate of New Zealand in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Most Revd Philip Richardson, said that there was a “pretty strong negative response” to the suggestion of a new Instrument of Communion.
Archbishop Richardson, who is also the Bishop of Taranaki, was the lead author of the call. The text of the call set out that “Each Province of the Anglican Communion is autonomous and called to live interdependently,” and that “Four Instruments of Communion exist and express Anglican interdependence.”
These instruments are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the Primates’ Meeting.
The text of the call suggested a new instrument “centring those voices too often marginalized: indigenous leaders, the laity, women, and young people”.
But on Monday afternoon, Archbishop Richardson admitted that it would be “pointless to pursue” this after the negative response it received from bishops.
There was, however, “energy and support” for idea of an Anglican Congress held in the Global South, he said. The details of such a meeting will be discussed within the ACC, with a report expected next year.
According to the text of the call, the congress would aim “discern afresh the mission of God amidst a celebration of the diversity and artistry of our many cultures”.
The exact form that the congress will take is up for discussion, said the Archbishop of Perth, the Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy.
Speaking at the press conference, Archbishop Goldsworthy said that the word “congress” had different meanings for different people, and that there were questions about how much such a meeting would cost, both financially and for the environment.
Specific calls to review the Instruments of Communion and the Marks of Mission received a mixed response, Archbishop Richardson said, but that there was enough enthusiasm that the drafting group would now consider the written feedback from bishops, who discussed the call on their tables before offering a vocal indication of their feelings.
Archbishop Richardson added that he perceived strong support for the general idea of giving a greater voice to the marginalised.
The secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said that discussion and feedback showed that there was a need, and general desire, for “us as a family to have a regular review of who we think we are”.
But he reiterated that the calls are not resolutions, and that their function is not to be “on shelves in our libraries”. Instead, the hope is that bishops will take them to their dioceses and see in what ways they can be implemented.