jQuery Slider

You are here

The ties that bind our Anglican Communion family are slowly coming untied

The ties that bind our Anglican Communion family are slowly coming untied
ACO General Secretary says relationship with Canterbury is the only test of communion

By David W. Virtue, DD
December 14, 2017

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, reflects on how membership of the Communion is defined. We believe he is totally wrong in his description of who is, and who is not an Anglican.

There is much about our Anglican Communion which makes us unique. We are an extraordinary international family, bound together by faith in Jesus Christ and by our rich tradition, says Idowu-Fearon.

The See of Canterbury is one of the unique features which binds us together. At the Primates' Meeting in October it was clear just how much Canterbury meant to those who came. For Anglicans, communion with the See of Canterbury -- and with its Archbishop -- is the visible expression of our communion with one another.

VOL: Realignment in the Communion is underway and won't be stopped. It is a fiction to think otherwise. Communion with the See of Canterbury and with Justin Welby in particular, is now up for grabs.

In his advent letter to GAFCON, the Primate of Nigeria says: "the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration clarified that the Anglican Communion is not determined simply by relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury". However, the relationship with the See of Canterbury is essential for Anglicans. You cannot be in the Anglican Communion without it.

VOL: GAFCON primates would argue otherwise, and they will seriously consider if they need to stay connected to Canterbury when they meet in Jerusalem next year.

The fundamental character of this relationship was spelled out by the 1930 Lambeth Conference which refers to the Anglican Communion as "a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury..."

True. But things have changed. The divisions are not about polity or loyalty to Canterbury or a colonial past. It is about doctrine. It is about the substance of the 'faith once for all delivered to the saints' and that is not up for discussion or compromise.

Similarly, the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council defines member churches as "the churches in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury whose names are listed in the Schedule to these Articles".

VOL: The Constitution is not infallibly written in stone. Scriptural authority trumps a constitution just as it trumps Episcopal General Convention resolutions about homosexual marriage. The authority of Scripture is what the GAFCON Primates look and adhere too, not an 87-year-old document.

As recently as 2012, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order said in its excellent report "Towards a Symphony of Instruments" that the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is integral to the way the Anglican Communion is made up: "it is not possible for a Church to be a member of the Communion without being in communion with the archbishop as bishop of the See of Canterbury".

VOL: If so, then the GAFCON Primates who hold the allegiance of at least 75% of the Anglican Communion can walk away and start a more perfect communion of their own. The remaining 25% will be dead and gone within 20 years as their provinces are failing and dying and that includes the Church of England which is beginning to see the seeds of schism growing within its own ranks. All the Episcopal Church's 100 dioceses are losing members, their ASA is plummeting, with some dioceses shrinking faster than others. The Anglican Church of Canada is shrinking even faster.

Of course, individual member churches and Provinces of the Anglican Communion are free to enter into relationships of communion with non-Anglican churches. However, this does not make those churches members of the Anglican Communion.

VOL: Who says they are "non-Anglican"? That is simply not true. The ACNA, AMIE, GAFCON-UK and Continuers, to name but a few jurisdictions, are solidly Anglican, even if they are not members of the Anglican Communion. ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach is recognized by the Primates of a dozen Anglican provinces. If he is not an Anglican why did Welby invite him to Canterbury two years ago to talk about the schism in TEC! If he is a 'non-Anglican' there would have been no point inviting him!

We pray wholeheartedly for all churches and communities who are engaged in spreading the gospel, but it's not correct to say that they are part of the Anglican Communion if they are not in communion with the See of Canterbury. This applies to Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), and other similar bodies.

VOL: One could rightly argue that progressive provinces like TEC, the ACoC, a vast swathe of the C of E and the SEC are not preaching the gospel at all, hence they are dying. Archbishop Foley Beach has been back-doored into the Anglican Communion via the GAFCON primates and he is recognized by them as solidly Anglican. If he is not Anglican pray tell, what is he?

In our Advent, as we wait for the coming of the Prince of Peace, let us all pray for peace and unity among all Christians, especially those who were once part of the Communion.

VOL: PRAY FOR PEACE when Fearon deliberately rules out millions of Anglicans that he doesn't think are Anglicans because the ACC and Welby won't recognize them!!!!! What sort of "peace" is that. Empty gesture, empty words. No peace.


Get the latest news and perspectives in the Anglican world.
comments powered by Disqus
Barnabas Fund

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice


Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top