Monday, January 07, 2008

On Lambeth 2008 & Attendance by Invited Bishops

How the Church of England House of Bishops presents the Patterns of Leadership and Decision-Making in the Global Anglican Communion.

If one carefully reads what is printed below, and which has just been released by the Church of England, one sees very clearly important aspects of how the appointed leadership of the mother church of the Anglican Family views the Anglican Communion.

In terms of the present controversy concerning the attendance of (already invited) bishops at The Lambeth Conference, it would seem that this statement (which surely reflects Anglican thinking at least in recent times) identifies the attendance at Lambeth as a moral and spiritual duty on each invited bishop, and not as an optional duty. Indeed, one may say that attendance is an outward and specific expression of belonging to the Episcopal College of the Global Communion of Churches (see section II below). I wish that Archbishop Akinola and other Africans would come to see attendance in these terms! They have so much by the providence and grace of God to share with their fellow Episcopoi.

Please read on:

Patterns of leadership and decision-making in the Anglican Communion

This process of shared discernment in the life of the Church takes place within the framework provided by distinctive Anglican patterns of leadership and decision- making.

In accordance with the tradition of the Church going back to Apostolic times, the bishops of Anglican Communion are called to lead their churches in mission. They have a responsibility for teaching the Apostolic faith, acting as the chief ministers of the sacraments, exercising pastoral oversight and symbolizing and maintaining the unity of the Church. Their ministry is exercised in a personal, collegial and communal way.[1][1]

The collegial and communal aspects of episcopal ministry are exercised in consultation with other bishops and with representatives of the other clergy and of the laity. This consultation takes place through the various synodical structures that exist within the churches of the Anglican Communion and by means of the four ‘Instruments of Communion. ’ These are the instruments of unity and means of communion which link the churches together in order that their common life may be built up and their common mission exercised more effectively. These Instruments of Communion are:

I. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as the Bishop of the See of Canterbury presides in the Anglican Communion as whole, is a locus and means of unity. He exercises a ministry of primacy that involves teaching, the gathering of his fellow bishops to take counsel together, and determining which churches belong to the Anglican Communion. He is the host of the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’ Meeting and President of the Anglican Consultative Council.

II. The Lambeth Conference which, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, expresses worldwide episcopal collegiality by gathering the bishops of the Anglican Communion for common counsel, consultation and encouragement and serves as an instrument in guarding the faith and unity of the Communion.

III. The Primates’ Meeting, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which assembles the presiding bishops of the Communion for mutual support and counsel and acts as the executive committee of the Lambeth Conference. It monitors global developments and works in full collaboration in doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters that have Communion-wide implications.

IV. The Anglican Consultative Council, which is a body consisting of bishops, clergy and laity from the churches of the Communion. It has a responsibility for fostering mutual responsibility and interdependence within the life of the Communion.

(text from the Response of the C of E to the Draft Anglican Covenant)

The Epiphany, Jan 6, 2008 Peter Toon

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