diversity. The strains in our diverse Communion have been evident for sometime. Our diversity has led to disagreement, dispute, and, recently in NorthAmerica, division.Is there a way forward from here? If so, what is it?
The Way Forward from the Present Crisis
Some say the way forward is to finish with the Communion, to accept that its dayis over. It would be in the spirit of our post-modern times for each Anglicanchurch to ‘do its own thing’ and to pick and choose which other Anglicanchurches we wished to be networked to.Others say that the way forward from this crisis is by the same way that wearrived at it: we Anglicans work out our respective missions, sometimesdisagreeing with each other, always talking together, sometimes failing to listenwell to each other, but, in the end, somehow making a go of our relationships. Then, thirdly, there is the way of the Covenant to which we are invited to offerour commitment. The first option, to finish with the Communion, is attractive. But it does not sitwell alongside the vision for a united church as an anticipation of that wider unityof all things which is the great theme of the Epistle to the Ephesians. A unitedchurch is an important part of our Lord Jesus Christ’s final prayer (‘that they maybe one’ in John 17).Whether or not we think of the Anglican Communion as a ‘worldwide church’, theunity of the Communion contributes an example to all churches, and forms (andhas formed) an important point in ecumenical dialogue between churches,especially with the two largest (groups of) churches, the Roman Catholic Churchand the Eastern Orthodox churches. Unity within any church is demanding, unityamong divided churches is even harder work. The first option is an avoidance of some very demanding challenges. As faithful disciples listening to God’s Wordthrough Scripture, should we be embracing these challenges or avoiding them? The second option for a way forward, to keep going as we have been doing,raises questions whether we would be facing the depth of the present difficultiesin the Communion, measured, for example, by many absentees at the lastLambeth Conference. The ‘bonds of affection’ which have been the glue holdingthe Communion together till now have come unstuck. We are in a fine mess.Continuing as we have been going, hoping shattered bonds of affection will berestored without significant change to the Communion is unrealistic. We need anew beginning in which member churches re-establish the things we hold incommon as Anglicans and commit ourselves to an agreed way of resolving futuredisputes. Thus we need the third option, the possibility of an Anglican Covenant.2 |Page