What LAMBETH 08 achieved – in a nutshell (written for British readers but most useful as a short summary of how Rowan’s plan triumphed at Lambeth and now has to prove itself in real places) -- P.T.
Lambeth Conference Q&A: What has it achieved?
By Martin Beckford The Daily Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:27PM BST 03 Aug 2008
Why was this meeting so important?
The Lambeth Conference, a gathering of all Anglican bishops, only takes place once every 10 years. At the last one, a resolution was agreed stating that homosexuality goes against the Bible's teaching. But since then, the American church elected an openly gay bishop while the church in Canada ruled that same-sex unions could be blessed publicly.
So what new resolutions were made in Canterbury over the past three weeks?
None. The organisers felt it would be more constructive to allow the bishops to talk about their differences rather than cast votes or draft documents. They spent most of their days in small 'Indaba' groups of 40 talking about a range of topics, rather than in large sessions making statements.
Does that mean that nothing happened?
No. Most of the bishops feel they have benefited from the opportunity to discuss their differences, and some progress has been made on projects that the Archbishop of Canterbury believes will keep the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion together.
Although the conference was damaged by the decision of about 200 (one in four) bishops to stay away in protest at the presence of the liberal Americans, there were no walkouts or major new crises during the meeting. Meanwhile, a repeated call has been made for a halt to all ordinations of gay clergy, same-sex blessings and 'poaching' of bishops from other provinces.
What are these rescue projects?
Firstly a set of guiding principles of Anglicanism, to which all the 38 provinces are expected to agree, known as a Covenant. Those which do not agree to it may lose their place at important gatherings such as Lambeth.
A group called the 'pastoral forum' will also be developed to deal with crises over authority as they emerge, while a 'holding bay' will be set up for parishes that have defected from their national church, in the hope that they can return home eventually. The forum will be set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and headed by a bishop whom he will appoint.
All eyes will be on this pastoral forum to see if it really can act as a 'rapid response unit' to resolve future disputes.
What happens next?
Each of the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces - even the ones that boycotted the Lambeth Conference - have been given until the end of March to comment on the Covenant. The final report will be discussed at a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, a body consisting of lay people as well as clergy, next May.
But the provinces will then each have to decide if they want to accept the Covenant. The approval of the Episcopal Church of the USA is crucial, but this may not take place until 2015 because of the timing of its general conventions.
What will happen in the meantime?
The orthodox Anglicans who formed the Gafcon movement at a summit in Jerusalem are likely to press ahead with the formation of their own council of Primates and a new North American province for traditionalists.
They insist they have not effected a schism but their absence from Lambeth, their dismissal of the current 'colonial' structure of Anglicanism and their establishment of new structures mean they are effectively operating a rival Communion.