Anglican Communion

The Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral was established in 1886 as the foundation of a nascent Anglican Communion. ( It confirmed agreement on:

Four ‘instruments of unity' emerged to underpin the Communion:

( Note that three of these four are entirely episcopal. It is also important that all of the pronouncements of all four instruments are advisory not mandatory nor legislative nor ‘quasi papal'.

Significantly, the Lambeth Conference of 1978 (Resolution 21) ‘ruled' that each member church is free to admit women to Orders while seeking ways of staying in communion and recognising the distress this would cause to sister churches. No similar motion has been passed on homosexual priests but Resolution 21 has been used as a precedent. (

At the Lambeth Conference of 1998 the notorious Resolution 1.10 said that homosexuality is against scripture. (

In November 2003 Gene Robinson was consecrated as Bishop of New Hampshire USA following the normal electoral procedure for ECUSA. This immediately triggered a crisis which resulted in the Windsor Report ( It recommended that churches in the Anglican Communion subscribe to a covenant. The criticism of this process was that it would be much easier to expel churches than bring them back. During the discussion of the Windsor Report at the Primates Meeting in Dromantine in February 2005, a number of Bishops, led by Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria, refused to take communion with fellow Bishops.

Subsequently, Archbishop Akinola began to ordain ‘conservative' ministers to serve in ECUSA territory. When the Primates met in Dar-es-Salaam in February 2007 they reached a hard fought agreement that ECUSA should ‘repent' and establish parallel pastoral arrangements for conservatives similar to the arrangements made for clergy in the UK dissenting from the ordination of women priests in return for which conservatives would not ordain ministers or consecrate bishops in the territories of other Primates without consent. In April 2007, ECUSA refused to establish such a parallel arrangement and in May 2007 Archbishop Akinola consecrated the Rt. Rev. Martin Minns as a missionary bishop to serve in ECUSA territory.

These recent developments call into question the development of the Anglican Covenant. Some people say that the Primates are becoming a ‘collegial Papacy' but a contrary criticism is that any covenant agreed upon will be so weak that it will mean little or nothing.

Given the autonomous nature of Anglican churches under their Primates within the Communion, it is significant that any covenant will be approved by the four instruments of unity before it is referred to national synods.

(KC/DT v/07) 

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