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At Lambeth 2022 important points were made that contribute to the ongoing discussion of the nature of Anglican identity. But these may not find their ways into summary reports, writes Chris Sugden.

By Chris Sugden
Evangelicals Now
August 23, 2022

I begin with Justin Welby's second inspiring Keynote Address to the Conference. He said: 'Revolution means first that our church institutions do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Mic. 6:8). That we do not tolerate what is wrong because it fits the culture or we have always done it that way, or because our lawyers say so. A church that leaves the world unchanged around it has been changed by the world. A church that leaves people unconverted has been converted to the world.'

Former General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion (EFAC), Vinay Samuel from India, notes that a revolution must be true to God's word, empowered by the Spirit and centred in Christ, as there are many human revolutions in the world. Love is not the only foundation for revolution. It has to go with truth.

Disagreeing well

It appeared in many places that there was an attempt to reimagine the Communion as a partnership of multiple diversities disagreeing well.

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) issued a Communique in response which said: 'We therefore ask that a resetting process commence without delay at the Primates' level for specific proposals to be discussed for the repair of the tear in the Anglican Communion. We hope that these proposals set forth the orthodox reading of Scripture as the basis for "faith, order and practice" and that there will be regulatory ways and disciplines that ensure and encourage Provinces and dioceses to abide by the common mind of the Primates or the Bishops in council (as for example in Resolution I.10). We also ask that this process includes discussion on how to reach out to those orthodox Anglican Provinces that have formed during these two decades of turmoil and division, but which are technically not registered as Provinces within the Anglican Communion.

'If it is the case that the Archbishop of Canterbury neither has nor seeks the authority to discipline a church of the Anglican Communion ... and that matters of discipline are the responsibility of the Primates, the Primates of GSFA will prayerfully consider this new position statement. ... We shall study the ramifications of what he has said and bring forward proposals for the way the Anglican Communion is governed and represented as the process of re-setting the Communion is launched.'

In communion?

It is questionable whether discipline is not possible. It has been exercised in the past.

Provinces have declared themselves in communion, partial communion, or not in communion, on many occasions. And the Primates, on several occasions, decided that the Episcopal Church (of the USA) should be excluded from certain bodies of the Anglican Communion, as did +Justin's own Primates Meeting of 2016!

The challenge is to lay out what it means in practice to say one is in partial communion or not in communion with others.


In his private letter to Sandi Toksvig, the lesbian humanist TV presenter who had criticised Archbishop Justin's recognition that the majority of Anglican Provinces defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, made public by Ms Toksvig on Twitter, Justin Welby said: 'We have been honest about the differences and nevertheless accept each other...'.

What does acceptance mean? As a blanket statement, 'we accept each other' is not true.

What does the Global South mean by acceptance? Not, 'we agree with them, nor we agree to differ and live and let live' but: 'While we cannot have fellowship with them at the eucharist, we accept that they desire to follow Christ, we accept that they desire to be part of the church, we are open to conversation and talking and praying together, but it does not mean that we accept their theology ... It means we have attended a conference with them, but the membership of the Communion is broken at the moment.'

Statements of support

Fourteen Statements of Support were issued by the Conference for Christians facing challenges in different parts of the world.

Former Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, expanded on the Conference Statement of Support for the Church of Pakistan which focused on support for young Christian girls forced to marry older Muslim men; and a call for new legislation to stop people being falsely accused of blasphemy laws -- as even when released, the people who falsely accused them are not punished.

Bishop Humphrey told a press conference: 'We are pressing for freedom of religion and meeting the Parliamentarians and the Church to encourage them, though the Church are 3% of the 222 million Pakistanis.

'The UK makes a big contribution to education in Pakistan. At the Ministerial Conference last month in London we urged the UK Government to see that support from the UK and European Countries should also go to minority groups who have difficulty in getting support. They should bluntly and openly allocate certain specific funds for minority groups, some of whom are under huge pressure.'

Archbishop Justin elaborated on the Conference Statement of Support for Nigeria, saying: 'It is a very, very, very bad situation. I pray for them and my heart breaks looking at the appalling situation...'

This article was first published in Evangelicals Now September 2022. https://www.e-n.org.uk/2022/09/world-news/lambeth-22-the-news-you-may-not-have-seen-or-heard/

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