An Anglican Season of Intentional Drollery

A number of years ago, the Anglican Church of Canada launched something called “The Decade of Evangelism”. I remember it well. Unfortunately.

After ten years of groping for the real meaning of “evangelism”, we came to the conclusion that – lacking access to even the most basic dictionaries in Canada –  we had no idea what it means but we were absolutely certain it did not mean that Christianity is objectively true and we should tell people that it is.

Here we go again. This time it is the Season of Intentional Discipleship – SID, more appositely known as Sudden Infant Death syndrome – another ten years of pretending we are functionally illiterate. This time we are doing it Intentionally, through.

It would be hilarious if those who should know better were not such willing participants in the chicanery.

From Fed Hiltz’s myopic version of the alarums and excursions from the recent Primates’ Meeting,  here:

Accordingly we welcomed a conversation about evangelism.  We were glad to hear of the call for a Season of Intentional Discipleship across the Communion (2016-2025)

Justin Welby “taken aback” by Curry criticism

From here:

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that he is “taken aback” by criticism of the decision to ask the Presiding Bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church to pray for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Curry prayed for the victims at the start of Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral, England, on Oct. 3, the first day of the Primates Meeting.

The Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, canon for communications and media relations for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), speaking on behalf of GAFCON, said that the decision to invite Curry to lead the congregation in prayer at the Evensong service “put the GAFCON primates in a difficult spot.” He said that they were “forced to look like they are walking together when they are not walking together.”

Welby’s claim to be “taken aback” is either a sign of startling naivety or disingenuousness.

It would be naïve for a leader in his position to fail to understand the depth and breadth of the rift that has divided the Anglican Communion and he should not be surprised that at least one faction is unwilling to pretend, under any circumstances, that it isn’t there. More plausibly, he does understand it and has seized the opportunity to score a political point against his opponents by claiming they are attempting to score a badly timed political point themselves.

On the other hand, if, as Rev. Canon Andrew Gross says, being present at Curry’s prayers presents difficulties for the GAFCON Primates, why on earth, I wonder, did they attend the, let’s pretend we are all getting along, Primates’ Meeting in the first place?

Fred Hiltz tackling what he can’t tackle and ignoring what he can

It goes without saying that trading humans for money is evil. It is an evil over which Anglican leaders have no influence: I suspect most of them are not slave owners themselves and anyone who is has little interest in their opinion. Denouncing human trafficking projects an aura of virtue without making any demands on the denouncer.

What Hiltz could do is stop tearing apart the Anglican Communion by continuing to destroy the sacrament of marriage. But he won’t.

From here:

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, says he hopes human trafficking will be in the spotlight when primates from across the Anglican Communion meet in Canterbury, England, October 2-6.

“It is right that the Anglican Consultative Council should challenge the provinces of the Anglican Communion to tackle this issue, and it is right that here in the Primates’ Meeting we should begin substantial attention to it,” Hiltz said. “My own hope and prayer is that together we will rise up and be strong and bold to defy and defeat this crime against humanity.”

Justin Welby wants another Primates meeting

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has quietly asked the primates of the Anglican Communion to reserve the week beginning Monday, October 2, 2017 for the next primates meeting. In an email sent by staffers at the Anglican Consultative Council to the primates and moderators of the church on 27 July 2016, the ACC stated that date had “been selected as the date for the next Primates’ Meeting. The meeting will take place in Canterbury. We will write with a formal letter of invitation in due course but I would be most grateful if you would now confirm this date in your diary.”

In the January 2016 Primates meeting, sanctions were imposed on TEC for authorising a liturgy for same-sex marriage. The Anglican Church of Canada managed to escape the sanctions because Fred Hiltz pointed out that the ACoC had not yet approved a change to the marriage canon. That changed in the July synod when the motion to amend the marriage canon passed; even though another vote has to be taken in 2019, some bishops are proceeding with same-sex marriages – they planned to do so even if the vote failed. Does this mean the same sanctions will be applied to the ACoC at the next Primates meeting?

Does it really make any difference one way or the other? Since the sanctions were completely ignored by TEC and by anyone who had any authority to impose them, including Justin Welby, the answer is “no”, the sanctions were an empty gesture designed to do nothing more than maintain a mirage of unity and reconciliation.

Conservative Primates who pressed for sanctions in January were bamboozled yet again; there was no good disagreement only good deceit – well executed liberal deceit, that is. It is time for the Primates to wash their hands of Canterbury’s conniving and formalise the division that has been eating away at he Anglican Communion for decades.

Bishop Charlie Masters’ thoughts on the Canterbury meeting, 2 weeks on

From here:

Ever since I returned from Canterbury, arriving home Monday, January 18, I have been praying about and wanting to share with all of you in the Diocese a bit more information and some further reflections.

My main goal is to thank all of you for your incredible prayer for the Primates, their families and the Provinces they each represented, and for all of us who were involved in these historic meetings. It was obvious to all that there was an incredible blanket of prayer covering all aspects of our time. Having that certainty in the midst of the times of tension and worry provided the rock solid conviction that the Lord Jesus was in charge, that he was hearing prayer, and that he was working to build his church.

It was quite a week. Thank you for praying!

The first thing that I want to say is that the week, January 11 to 16, was truly an extraordinary time. Expectations for this meeting hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Canterbury Cathedral, where all the primates stayed at the Canterbury Lodge, were through the roof.

Before heading to Canterbury, a friend and fellow bishop who loves history suggested that these meetings might be the most significant since the Council of Whitby – which was quite a while ago (664 AD). The future of the Anglican Communion, if there is to be one, seemed in everyone’s mind to be at stake. Would all the primates remain throughout the week? Would some walk? And if so who? And then for us in the ACNA there was the added excitement and anticipation that our own Primate, Archbishop Foley Beach, was a member of this gathering and we wondered what that would mean for him and for our future.

I was fortunate to be invited to be part of a small advisory team that traveled to Canterbury and stayed there throughout the meetings. We were available to pray, to serve in any way needed, to provide research and background information, and, later, to be available to the media.

In summary, I would say that the week was as spiritually challenging and charged and as much of an emotional roller coaster as any I can remember. For this reason I cannot thank you enough for all your prayer.

Was it a success? Yes! Because God is faithful.

People ask me, bottom line, was it a success or not? Does the fact that Canada was not mentioned in the one action of discipline mean it was a failure for us in Canada?

I don’t think anyone knew what to expect going in, but it is clear that what happened and how it unfolded was completely different from what anyone would have predicted.

It was the GAFCON Primates’ goal and prayer that this meeting would focus on restoring good order and reviving the Anglican Communion in line with the clear teaching of the Bible. Evidence that order was being restored would require suspension of the US Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) at least until there was repentance and evidence of a change.

What did happen was that the gathering addressed the very narrow issue of TEC and its change of liturgies and the marriage Canon at its most recent General Convention last summer. The decision to discipline TEC finally came to a vote on Thursday. Archbishop Foley has made it clear that, while he chose not to participate in that vote, it was passed by a very large majority. After that, with TEC and the ACoC Primates still fully participating, he and some of the GAFCON Primates absented themselves from the remaining day of the meeting. They felt they could only continue if there was evidence that the Communion was being brought back into Biblical order. The fact that the ACoC was undisciplined and TEC was disciplined in a minor way but was still at the table made it necessary for the GAFCON Primates to leave.

Was this gathering a success? By faith, I say “yes”; in the purposes of God they were a success and, in years to come, will be seen to be significant. I can say this because I believe that God answers prayer and I’m confident that our own Archbishop Foley along with our partners in the Gospel, the other GAFCON and Global South Primates, were walking in obedience to God. But the proof of that success, the outcome of what has begun to unfold, is yet to be seen and needs to be prayed into reality.

What I want to share now are some reasons why I think we can thank God for what he has done and is doing, and ask you to commit yourself to pray these beginnings into being, fully expressed for the purposes and glory of God.

Tip of the Tip of the Iceberg

Those of us who have been living through what’s known as the realignment of Anglicanism – which incidentally began June 15, 2002 in Vancouver – are familiar with the image of the iceberg. What you see above the waterline though it may be immense is actually less than 1/8 of the complete iceberg; 7/8 of the iceberg looms below the surface. It is a big mistake to assume that the visible ice is all there is.

As Archbishop Foley said in his statement what happened at these meetings was only a beginning.  But it IS a beginning, for which we can thank God.

As to the issue of discipline, although one could argue that the scope was far too narrow and the discipline far too weak and that others, including the ACoC should have been included, nevertheless this small step of discipline WAS taken. What was done was a good beginning.  (While the ACoC, as a whole, has not yet officially changed its liturgy and marriage canon, 11 ACoC dioceses allow the blessing of same-sex unions and this summer its General Synod will consider same-sex marriage.)
Yes, it’s the tip of the tip of the iceberg but it does say that no Province can simply make up its own mind on doctrine and practice when it is in conflict with the Bible and clear Anglican doctrine and continue in the Communion without being disciplined. This small step of discipline is immense in its implications as a beginning, but it is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going

Perhaps some of our older members might recognize the above line from a chorus that some of us sang many years ago. I think it’s pertinent to our discussion here because it’s my belief that the presence of our Primate in those gatherings, welcomed to take his place with fellow primates and participate fully as long as he chose to stay, was a spark which potentially has begun a glorious work of God.

When Archbishop Foley gave his brief report on the Anglican Church in North America, he was speaking as the second Primate of our Province, a Province that has been thriving and growing since 2009. He was not reporting on what we might do or would like to do, but he was reporting on what had already happened. He was speaking as one who could give evidence of life in our Province in all sorts of ways including a thoroughgoing commitment to be truly Biblical and truly Anglican. One small evidence of this life is our new Catechism which Archbishop Foley gave to each Primate at the meeting. This Catechism has already been translated into a number of languages and has been well received throughout the Communion.
Just as Elijah built the altar but it was God who had to send the fire, so I suggest the presence of our Primate at that gathering allowed God to ignite a spark of witness which was profound. We may see the implications for many years to come.

By his presence, Archbishop Foley was a very visible sign of the work of GAFCON, because the Anglican Church in North America came into existence as a result of the first GAFCON gathering in Jerusalem (2008), which called for its formation.
I don’t think I understood before this Primates’ gathering how powerful a witness it would be for Archbishop Foley to be a participant. Remember, more than 50 per cent of the Primates present had never been to a Primates’ meeting before. For them to have Archbishop Foley there so they could observe the man of God he is, the humble way he took his place at the meeting, and the anointing of the Lord on his life, it truly must have been a powerful witness, especially to Primates who were unfamiliar with the history of the crisis in the Communion. I believe he, together with the other GAFCON and Global South Primates, had a strong impact and brought a powerful witness.

I believe the scope, strength and breadth of the GAFCON movement has been strengthened and expanded as a result of these meetings. A spark has been lit.  Let’s pray that it becomes a roaring fire of Biblical Anglicanism seeking to bring the Gospel to a needy world which God loves.

Principled Approach (Living it out in the middle of the battle)

I believe our Primate and our GAFCON friends who were all at these historic meetings operated according to principle. They came because they were invited. Although they might have feared it would be a waste of time or, worse, that they might be trapped into something or maneuvered into appearing to say things they didn’t want to say, nevertheless, with all those risks in mind, they came believing that God wanted them to attend, at least for the beginning.

What was clear was that they all came because they were believing God and praying for the restoration of good order and for revival in the Anglican Communion according to the Bible. If that were to happen, as Anglicans, we rightly would be eager to participate in such a global movement and we would all be strengthened by our participation together.

This all depended however on there being good order, which meant there had to be discipline, or we would have no desire or ability to participate. The concept of the Communion devolving into a loose federation was of no interest to the Anglican Church in North America or the other GAFCON Primates.

I believe the GAFCON Primates stayed in the meeting as long as they did because they recognized that discipline was at least being discussed, and as long as that was on the table it was possible for our Primate and the other GAFCON Primates to remain. (Archbishop Ntagali left the meeting late on Tuesday as his Province had committed to participating in Communion meetings only if the ACoC and TEC were disciplined and no longer present. When his motion to have the ACoC and TEC voluntarily withdraw failed, he felt his duty to his Province required him to leave the meeting.)

Under immense pressure and knowing that every step they took or didn’t take was going to be dissected and analyzed, and at times misconstrued, the GAFCON Primates continued to walk faithfully and to take their place until it was no longer possible according to the principle with which they began these meetings.

Thus Thursday evening our Primate and the GAFCON Primates of the largest Provinces left and so were not present on Friday to vote on the final Communique or the election of the Standing Committee. |

All these steps taken, including the decision of Archbishop Foley to not vote on the discipline motion although he was given a ballot, were taken as faithful applications of wise principle.

Pray and press on

I truly believe that the outcome of these meetings does have an impact on the life of those of us “on the ground” and therefore it was right and proper for us to be intensely engaged in praying through every part of these meetings.

But having said that, we must remember that what was at stake at those meetings was NOT whether the Gospel is true, whether it’s the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, whether the Bible is the true and authoritative word of God, and whether Jesus is the only way to God. These things remain established Anglican doctrine regardless of what happens in a series of meetings.

What may be at stake however is whether the Anglican Communion, as a movement, will be strengthened to be a growing force for the Gospel in the days ahead.

It reminds me of Mordecai’s words to Esther when he was challenging her to intervene on behalf of the people of God. He made it clear that what was at stake was not IF God would raise up a protector for His people, but whether or not Esther would play a part in God’s plan or whether He would achieve His purposes another way.

Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14

It may be that, for such a time as this, in the purposes of God, he would want to use the Anglican Communion in an ever increasing and more powerful way for the cause of the Gospel. Meetings like the one that just happened in Canterbury, and the outcome of those meetings, will perhaps determine whether or not this is the case.

And so friends in the Anglican Network in Canada this is a renewed call to prayer. Pray that this will be a beginning; that God will do a great work of restoring and reviving and then using for his purposes this thing called the Anglican Communion. Pray too that God will renew, restore and revive us in ANiC. And as we pray, let us recognize the importance of the task which God has given us to “build Biblically faithful, gospel-sharing Anglican churches” and zealously focus on the five priorities which we are praying will become a transformational reality in every ANiC congregation, more and more.

So dear friends, thank you for your prayers.

Now let’s turn our hearts to even more prayer and “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” let us “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3:13b – 14)

Every Blessing!


The Rt Rev Charles F Masters
Diocesan Bishop
Anglican Network in Canada
Box 1013, Burlington, ON  L7R 4L8

A Statement on Archbishop Beach’s Participation at Primates 2016

Contrary to previous reports, it seems that the lack of repentance from TEC and the ACoC did finally provoke a walkout.

From here (my emphasis):

The Anglican Church in North America has received numerous questions regarding whether or not Archbishop Beach was “a full voting member of the Primates Meeting.” Archbishop Beach did not consider himself a full voting member of the Primates Meeting, but with the exception of voting on the consequences for the Episcopal Church, Archbishop Beach participated fully in those parts of the meeting that he chose to attend.

Prior to Primates 2016 he was informed that there may be certain times when the Primates would move into a formal meeting, and, as the Anglican Church in North America is not an official member of the Communion’s instruments, he would be asked to step out of the room. However, he was never asked to leave the meeting.

While at the meeting, he addressed the gathering and participated in various balloting measures that set the agenda, ordered the agenda, and sought to discern the way those in the room wanted to proceed. He did not vote on the consequences for The Episcopal Church.

Some have asked whether Archbishop Beach voted to approve the final Communique or the new members of the Standing Committee. Neither he nor a majority of the GAFCON Primates were​ present for these discussions on Friday. Although early in the week he joined the other Primates in affirming his desire to walk together, this desire was necessarily contingent upon The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada giving evidence of returning to Biblical and historical Anglican theology and morality (Amos 3:3). On Thursday ​evening, ​with the absence of repentance, restored order, and true unity, Archbishop Beach felt it necessary to withdraw from the meeting.

Archbishop Beach appreciated the gracious invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the meeting, and was thankful to be warmly received as the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America by most of the other primates who were present.  While the Anglican Church in North America is recognized and in full communion with provinces who represent the majority of Anglicans in the world, the future place of the Anglican Church in North America in relation to the formal instruments remains an open question.  Archbishop Beach was encouraged to see the growing recognition of the Anglican Church in North America as a part of the Communion by many of the Primates and Provinces around the table.

Has TEC been suspended from the Anglican Communion?

Some say, “yes”:


And some say, “no:


This is what the CofE director of communications (Arun Arora)is referring to:

So, no – the Episcopal Church has not been suspended from or by the Anglican Communion. The fact that the Primates’ approach is problematic regarding issues of human sexuality is another matter. But let us not imagine that these events make TEC “second class Anglicans,” let alone that they remove TEC members from the Communion in any way. They should have little impact on how members of TEC see themselves as part of a wider Communion, a community of Churches with a common history and with an extraordinary scope and richness.

And this is what George Conger is referring to:

An overwhelming majority of the Primates present voted that TEC should be excluded from all meetings which represent the Anglican Communion and that it should be suspended from internal decision-making bodies, initially for three years.

So is TEC suspended from the Anglican Communion or not? It depends on whether they really are disinvited from the meetings that Archbishop Eliud Wabukala is referring to above; we shall have to wait and see.

I don’t know about you, but the suspense is killing me.

Fred Hiltz on the Primates’ gathering

Fred Hiltz tells us what he thinks about the 2016 Primates’ gathering, here.

It seems that Hiltz has taken some heat for not standing “in solidarity with The Episcopal Church. Hiltz assures us that he feels empathy for Michael Curry but not quite enough empathy to accept the “consequences for our own Church”

To make up for this lack of spine, Hiltz apologises profusely to the ACoC homosexual contingent. Over and over.

In case anyone is labouring under the misapprehension that the issue at stake is one of Biblical truth or the definition and meaning of marriage, Hiltz sets us straight: it’s really all about “the very diverse political, cultural, social and missional contexts in which we live”. Or, to put it more plainly: “We are enlightened, they are not.”

The rest of the missive – which is not copied below – is about the usual temporal matters that are so dear to the heart of the Primate of Canada’s Christianity-Lite Anglicans: global warming, and so on.

Throughout the meeting of the Primates last week, I thought much about St. Paul’s teaching about the Church being the Body of Christ in the world.  It is the image at the very heart of Anglican ecclesiology.  It informs the manner of our relationships in the Church local, national and global.  In 165 countries we are 85 million people proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in more than 1000 languages.  We are a family of autonomous Churches that understand ourselves to be “Formed by Scripture, Shaped by Worship, Ordered for Communion, and Directed by God’s Mission”.  We are bound together by the long held principle of “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ” articulated at the great Anglican Congress of 1963 in Toronto.

While for the most part this principle inspires our common work and witness, there are times when our capacity to abide by it is deeply challenging given the very diverse political, cultural, social and missional contexts in which we live. While being ordered for communion, we recognize that in the face of deep difference of theological conviction over certain matters of faith and doctrine the bonds of affection between us can be strained, sometimes sadly so, to the point of people speaking of a state of impaired communion.

This meeting of the Primates was particularly challenging with respect to the tending of our relationships in light of the developments in The Episcopal Church regarding the change in its Canon on Marriage making provision for the blessing of same sex marriages.  I, of course, was deeply mindful of a call from General Synod 2013 for the enacting of a similar change in our own Canon, the first reading of which is scheduled for our General Synod this summer.

Since returning home, I am especially mindful of the pain the LGBTQ community within our Church is feeling.  I am very sorry.  I acknowledge their frustration and that of their supporters in being made to feel like the sacrificial offering on the altar of the Church’s unity.  I recognize that many are angry and deeply disillusioned with the very Church in which they endeavour to live out their lives as disciples of Jesus.  I know that for some it is in fact very difficult to remain within its fellowship, and that it will take a great resolve of will and courage to do so.

I apologize for the manner in which the Church has often regarded the LGBTQ community and condemned their lives with very harsh language. I call on our Church to re-affirm its commitment to rejecting anywhere in the world criminal sanctions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer or questioning people. I call on our Church to renew its resolve in listening to the voices and the stories of its LGBTQ members as we wrestle through conversations regarding the pastoral care we are called to provide for all people. I ask the prayers of the whole Church for the LGBTQ people in the midst of the hurt they are bearing and the hope to which they cling for the recognition and sacramental blessing of their relationships.

I am aware of sharp criticism over what some regard to have been a failure on my part to stand in solidarity with The Episcopal Church in openly rejecting the relational consequences it bears as a result of The Primates’ Meeting, or in accepting similar consequences for our own Church.  Allow me to comment on each of these matters.

First, in relation to The Episcopal Church, I empathize with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as he faces a firestorm of reaction in the United States. I recognize a need for a space of time in which that Church will respond through its National Executive Council. Notwithstanding the call of a majority of the Primates for the “consequences” named in the Communiqué, I recognize that there could well be a response from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council.  I know The Episcopal Church to be very committed to the work and witness of the Communion as a whole, and I recognize the frustration they will feel in not serving in a representative way on our Ecumenical Dialogues for example. I recognize that if The Episcopal Church is not allowed to vote on a matter of doctrine or polity that the life of the Communion is diminished. I am grateful however, that they will still have a voice in the discussions of such matters.

I have covenanted with Bishop Curry to uphold him and The Episcopal Church in my prayers, and I would ask the same of our whole Church. I was deeply impressed by the grace with which he spoke at The Primates’ Meeting. While declaring in no uncertain terms the pain he was feeling for the Church he leads, he was absolutely convinced that in good faith the General Convention acted.  He recognized the strain that places on relationships throughout the Communion, and he declared his unwavering commitment – in spite of the said consequences – to walk together in the hope of “healing a legacy of hurt, rebuilding mutual trust, and restoring relationships”. He was a stellar example of leadership under pressure, of courage with grace.

Secondly in relation to our own Church. For me to have entertained any thought of accepting consequences for our own Church would have been an overstepping of my authority. To do so would have been a betrayal of my office as President of The General Synod. I was not and am not prepared to take any action that would pre-empt the outcome of our deliberations at General Synod in July. As the report “This Holy Estate” declares, “It is for the General Synod to decide the matter” in accord with the jurisdiction given it regarding “the definition of doctrine in harmony with the Solemn Declaration”. (The Declaration of Principles, 6. Jurisdiction of The General Synod [j]). I believe in the synodical process and by the ministry entrusted to me, I am obliged to uphold it.

In this entire matter our Church has faithfully honoured the call within the Resolution (C003) of General Synod 2013 for broad consultation across our Church, throughout the Communion and with our ecumenical partners.  Alongside all the counsel received and noted in “This Holy Estate”, including that of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) one could indeed regard the outcome of The Primates’ Meeting as another piece of information.

I ask your prayers for the members of the Council of General Synod in the task mandated to them to bring forward a resolution to the General Synod to affect a change in the Marriage Canon. I ask your prayers for the General Synod Planning Committee in the care they will take in designing a process for our consideration of this matter. I ask your prayers for all the members of General Synod that they will enter into their work well prepared and with a commitment to speak and listen respectfully and in openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

While the meeting of the Primates was particularly challenging with respect to relationships throughout the Communion, there was about midway through a declared unanimous continue walking together and not apart. This meeting could have been marked by calls for exclusion of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and me. It was not. It could have been marked by walk-outs as some had anticipated. It was not. It could have been marked by ranting and raving.  It was not. Instead it was marked by perseverance to remain in dialogue that was frank but respectful. It was marked by a generosity of grace and patience, with one another. It was marked too, by renewed commitments in the consideration of matters of doctrine that could be of a controversial nature, to consult broadly in the seeking of advice and counsel.

We were reminded once again of the principle named by the Windsor Continuation Group that “when the Primates speak collectively, or in a united or unanimous manner, their advice – while it is no more than advice – nevertheless needs to be received with a readiness to undertake reflection and accommodation”. While there have been calls through the years for “an enhanced authority” on the part of The Primates’ Meeting, there has been – and rightly so – a resistance to the meeting becoming a Curia for the Communion. We recognize that we are but one of The Instruments of Communion which is the only body with a Constitution outlining its objects and powers, all of which are focussed in one way or another on our relationships in the service of God’s mission in the world.

More on the Archbishop of Uganda’s departure from the Primates’ gathering

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali’s statement below makes it reasonably clear whose side – no one should be under the illusion that there are no sides in this disagreement – Justin Welby is on: TEC’s and the ACoC’s. This doesn’t bode well for enforcing the sanctions that were placed against TEC, nor does it create much confidence that in three years’ time, if TEC has not repented, much will be done to further censure them. The success of the liberal technique of wearing everyone down through the passage of time and endless enervating conversation is well established and will be employed during the next three years.

The fact that, by the end of the meeting, there was any criticism of TEC at all was little short of miraculous.

To compensate for this unforeseen lapse, the first thing Welby did after the meetings were over, was apologise for the “hurt and pain” the Anglican church has inflicted on lesbian, gay and transgender people”

From here (my emphasis):

Unfortunately, neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor any of the other structures of the Anglican Communion were able to discipline the Episcopal Church USA. That meant that the Anglican Communion had become like the time in the Book of Judges when God’s judgment was upon the people of God because it says, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Even the Anglican Church of Canada has allowed the blessing of same-sex unions in their church.

We had hoped that the meeting this past week would restore godly order to the Anglican Communion and re-establish the Bible as the authority for our faith and morals.

On the second day of the meeting, I moved a resolution to ask the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw from all Anglican Communion groups. It grieves me to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was chairing the meeting, did not take my resolution seriously and simply moved on to another matter without ever allowing any discussion on it.

At that point in the meeting, I realized that the process that had been set up would not allow us to accomplish the purpose for which we had come.

The Canterbury Compromise

The 2016 Primates’ gathering in Canterbury is over and few are happy about the outcome. Liberal Anglicans, particularly in the U.S., are outraged, rebellious and, doing what liberals do best, experiencing pain and reinforcing their victimhood, while conservatives, even the GAFCON primates who attended the gathering, believe the sanctions against TEC were too weak.

The Anglican Church of Canada emerged unscathed because they have not yet adopted a marriage liturgy that accommodates same-sex marriages; the vote to alter the Marriage Canon will occur in 2016 and again in 2019. The sanctioning of TEC will undoubtedly cast a pall over the ACoC 2016 general synod but it’s anyone’s guess whether the threat of similar sanctions will prevent the motion succeeding; my guess is that it won’t.

Since both conservatives and liberals are less than satisfied by the meeting’s outcome, it is reasonable to assume that a compromise has been reached. But what has been compromised?

On the second day, the Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, moved a resolution that asked the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw from the meeting and other Anglican Communion activities until they repented. Neither Fred Hiltz nor Michael Curry received this idea with enthusiasm, the resolution failed to pass and Stanley Ntagali left the meeting. He was uncompromising.

The remainder of the conservative Primates stayed to attempt to win support from other undecided Primates and to present the Gospel truth regarding same-sex marriage to the entire meeting. They compromised; I think they would say that they did not compromise the Gospel message, a claim whose truth I would not dispute, but they did make a political compromise. Whether it was a wise compromise, only time will tell, but this is why I think it may not have been:

TEC has been given three years to repent of their actions. Short of a sovereign act of God on a par with parting the Red Sea, TEC will not repent. Every reaction I have seen from TEC clergy has been defiant; their presiding bishop, Michael Curry not only has no intention of repenting but thinks that TEC’s role in the Communion is to convince conservatives of the error of their ways. TEC’s Rev. Gay Jennings serves on the Anglican Consultative Council, a role which, according to the sanction, she will be denied for the next three years; she plans to show up anyway and has defied anyone to stop her. If no one does stop her – and I doubt anyone will – who will stand up to an unrepentant TEC in three years time when secular and, I suspect, mainline church values have become further hardened against an orthodox view of marriage?

Lambeth 1.10 declared that same-sex blessings are unbiblical. That seems to have been forgotten in the Primates’ gathering. The ACoC allows same-sex blessings but, since the rigour of what is permitted or not permitted has loosened, the ACoC has been let off the hook. There has been a sleight of hand a – to use a Welbyesque corporate idiom – moving of the goalposts. In three years time, who knows to what remote region of outer space the goal posts will have been transported?

Sadly, I think the GAFCON primates have been manipulated by Justin Welby. The conservative Primates seem to me to be wonderful Godly men – who are politically naive; I intend that as a compliment.

The underlying problem that did not appear to be addressed in the meeting is that there exist within Anglicanism two different religions. One is orthodox Christianity with 2000 years of history and a consistent understanding of what the Gospel is behind it and the other is, at best, a sub-Christian mish-mash of Unitarian, new-age, relativist, anti-biblical, feel-good religion whose main aim is to reinforce the idea that virtue resides in the acting out of our inner desires no matter what they may be. The two cannot co-exist and a less than definitive censure on the deviant variety may well be worse than none at all, since it makes conservatives complicit in perpetuating the illusion that they can and the illusion of progress where there is nothing but liberal stalling.

Only time will tell – and I hope I am wrong, I really do – but I believe that three years from now TEC will have strengthened their resolve, there will be more committees, more meetings, more dialogue, more listening. The only thing missing will be a resolution to the problem.