The first Lambeth Conference of xxxx 1867, presided over by Archbishop Longley, inside Lambeth Palace, London, only lasted three days. However, committee work from it continued afterwards by Bishops who remained in the London area. Two of the areas of concern addressed were:
What to do about a diocesan Bishop who expressed and stood by what were judged by virtually all the Bishops to be heretical views?
What to do about Missionary Bishops from different Provinces working in the same (virgin) territory?
In 2007 the Anglican Communion remains concerned about at least one Bishop (Gene R.) who has heretical views about sexual relations; and with the arrival in the U.S.A. and Canada of “Missionary Bishops” from four or five Anglican Provinces overseas, it is concerned about how these same Bishops relate one to another in the same territory and how all of them relate to the sitting Bishops of the Provinces involved.
In 1867 the Bishop in question was John William Colenso, Bishop of Natal in South Africa. He denied the doctrine of eternal punishment, questioned much sacramental theology, rejected the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and declared that the latter is inaccurate in many of its details. Already before 1867 he had been excommunicated and deposed by the local Metropolitan, Robert Gray of Capetown; but Colenso appealed to the Privy Council in London which on legal not doctrinal grounds did not confirm the ecclesiastical sentence. So Gray wanted the moral support of the Bishops at Lambeth for his action and this he received in full. However, in South Africa, this moral support did not have the effect of moving Colenso, for he clung to his rights under British law. [The continuation of this schism is reflected in the existence of the Church of England in South Africa alongside the Church of the Province of Southern Africa.]
By 1867 both the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church had Missionary Bishops operating in various parts of the world including North America, and in some cases they were in the same country and apparently competing for the same territory and the souls therein. To a man the Bishops at Lambeth desired to maintain the unity of the Anglican Communion and this concern enters the text of the recommendations they offered to the Churches.
In that the Report may shed a little light on the confused situation in North America in 2007 with respect to missionary bishops, here is the Report in full for consideration:
Your Committee report that, after full consideration of the questions referred to them by the Conference, they have adopted the following Resolutions:
I. That every branch of the Church is entitled to found a Missionary Bishopric.
II. That it is desirable that each branch of the Church should act upon rules agreed upon beforehand by the Synod or other Church Council of the said branch.
III. That each Missionary Bishopric should be deemed to be attached to one branch of the Church, and that all rules for the election of a Missionary Bishop, and for the formation of a Diocese or Dioceses out of the Missionary District, should be made by the Synod or other Church Council of such branch of the Church.
IV. That notice of the erection of any Missionary Bishopric, and the choice and consecration of the Bishop, should be notified to all Archbishops and Metropolitans, and all Presiding Bishops, of the Anglican Communion.
V. That in appointing a Missionary Bishop, the district within which he is to exercise his Mission should be defined as far as possible ; and that no other Bishop should be sent within the same district, without previous communication with that branch of the Church which gave mission for the work.
VI. That, while peculiar cases may occur in Missionary work, owing to difference of race and language, in which it may be desirable that more than one Bishop should exercise episcopal functions within the same district, the Committee consider that such cases should be regarded as exceptions, justified only by special circumstances.
VII. That, with respect to the special case of Continental Chaplaincies,
the Committee suggest to the Conference the consideration of some ecclesiastical arrangement by which the various congregations
of the Anglican Communion may be under one authority, whether of the English or American Church.
Resolution XI. " That a special Committee be appointed to consider the Resolutions relative to the notification of proposed Missionary
Bishoprics, and the subordination of Missionaries."
VIII. That the conditions on which a Missionary Bishopric should be brought within a Provincial organisation should be :
1. The request of the Missionary Bishop, addressed both to the Church from which he received mission and to the Province which he wishes to join.
2. The consent of the Church from which he received mission, that consent being given by the Metropolitan or Presiding Bishop.
3. The consent of the Province he wishes to join, that consent being given by the Provincial Synod.
IX. That the status, jurisdiction, and designation of the Bishop thus received into a system of Provincial organisation should be determined by the Synod of the Province to which his Bishopric shall be then attached.
X. That, as a general rule, it is expedient that such Missionary Bishopric should be attached to the nearest Province; but that in certain cases it may be necessary that some more remote Province should be selected.
(Bishop Tozer's Mission is a case to which the Committee desire to draw the attention of the Conference, as being one in which, for the present, Provincial organisation would seem to be impracticable, from the isolation of the district in which Bishop Tozer exercises his episcopal functions, and its remoteness from the Province of South Africa.)
XI. That Missionary Bishops and their Clergy should be bound generally to the Canons of Doctrine and Discipline of the Church from which their mission is derived, or to which they may have been united, and that all alterations in matters of discipline be communicated to the authorities of that Church.
XII. That when a Missionary Church shall be received into the organisation of a Provincial Synod, the said Church should be bound by the acts of that body ; but that, in order to effect this, the Missionary Church should be granted a power of representation, or of vote by proxy, in such Synod.
XIII. That, as a general rule, in conformity with Church order, all Missionaries and Chaplains residing or engaged in the exercise of ministerial duty within the Diocese or District of a Colonial or Missionary Bishop, should be licensed by, and be subject to the authority of the said Bishop.
XIV. That every Clergyman removing from one Colonial or Missionary Diocese or District into another Diocese ought to carry with him Letters Testimonial from the Colonial or Missionary Bishop whose Diocese or District he is leaving.
XV. That no person admitted to Holy Orders by the Bishop of any Diocese in England or Ireland, who shall afterwards have been serving under the jurisdiction of any Scottish, Colonial, or Foreign Bishop, should be received into any of the Home Dioceses, without producing letters Dimissory or Commendatory from the Scottish, Colonial, or Foreign Bishop in whose Diocese he has been serving.
W. J. GIBRALTAR, Chairman. WILLIAM GEORGE TOZER, Missionary Bishop, Secretary.