The news of the possible change in status of The Episcopal Church within the wider Anglican Communion has raised lots of questions so here are some key facts.
The full text of the “communique,” which was released the following day is available here.
- We gathered as Anglican Primates to pray and consider how we may preserve our unity in Christ given the ongoing deep differences that exist among us concerning our understanding of marriage.
- Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage. Possible developments in other Provinces could further exacerbate this situation.
- All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion.
- The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.
- In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.
- Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.
- It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.
- We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising [sic] the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.
Before I say a word about our gathering here at the Primates Meeting, I just want to say a word of thank you to you for all of your prayers: your prayers for this meeting, your prayers for me personally, both here and in my earlier sickness. We are well, and God is God, and I thank you.
Let me say a word about the meeting.
This is not the outcome we expected, and while we are disappointed, it’s important to remember that the Anglican Communion is really not a matter of structure and organization. The Anglican Communion is a network of relationships that have been built on mission partnerships; relationships that are grounded in a common faith; relationships in companion diocese relationships; relationships with parish to parish across the world; relationships that are profoundly committed to serving and following the way of Jesus of Nazareth by helping the poorest of the poor, and helping this world to be a place where no child goes to bed hungry ever. That’s what the Anglican Communion is, and that Communion continues and moves forward.
This has been a disappointing time for many, and there will be heartache and pain for many, but it’s important to remember that we are still part of the Anglican Communion. We are the Episcopal Church, and we are part of the Jesus Movement, and that Movement goes on, and our work goes on. And the truth is, it may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people. And maybe it’s a part of our vocation to help that to happen. And so we must claim that high calling; claim the high calling of love and faith; love even for those with whom we disagree, and then continue, and that we will do, and we will do it together.
We are part of the Jesus Movement, and the cause of God’s love in this world can never stop and will never be defeated.
God love you. God bless you. And you keep the faith. And we move forward.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Statement from Bishop Brookhart
January 16, 2016
I rarely post on Facebook, but the events at the recent Anglican Primates meeting in Canterbury and the reporting on that event in the secular press prompt these comments.
First, The Episcopal Church has not been suspended or kicked out of the Anglican Communion, as the press has reported. It would be more accurate to say that we have been put in the time-out corner for being naughty. Our misbehavior regards our authorizing blessing of same-sex marriages. The primates, that is, the senior bishops of each of the provinces of the Anglican Communion, state that this action is a fundamental departure from the teaching of the majority of the Provinces. It may well be true that what we have done departs from the doctrine of other churches, but it would be more accurate to say that it is a departure from the beliefs of the bishops present.
Second, the primates, then, “require” that the US Church be kicked off any ecumenical or interfaith committee, that no one from TEC be elected or appointed to any internal committee, and that any TEC person already on such a committee not be allowed to be part of any doctrinal or polity decision. As I said, we are in the time-out corner for the next three years.
Three, I believe that I am correct that this action is far beyond the authority of the Primates. These are decision made by the Anglican Consultative Council and perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury. The primates are acting like prelates in the pejorative sense of that word. Or, more bluntly, they are trying to bully TEC, and are thereby indulging in the worst kind of clerical arrogance.
Four, this hardly comports with the description of love in I Corinthians 13 nor with the Pauline command to forbear with one another.
Five, I wonder who is being punished by this high-handed action. The rest of the communion will now not have benefit of the considerable talents of the TEC.
Six, the good news is that no one walked out of the meeting as many had predicted. The primates, rather, stated their unanimous desire to walk together. This suggests that we all owe considerable thanks to Archbishop Welby for his prayerful humility and his well-known skills at reconciliation. I am grateful to God for that.
Seven, I am enormously proud of our Presiding Bishop. He has taken the high road of love and conciliation while all the time pointing to our Lord. I especially appreciate his reference to Galatians with its profound insight that in Christ all of our usual divisions are overcome.
Finally, I believe that history will look favorably on TEC. We have taken what I believe is the course of action that accords with scripture, tradition and reason. I wonder what the primates will do when other provinces of the communion follow our lead, as some surely will. My prediction: no time-out for them.
The Rt. Reverend Franklin Brookhart
Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Montana