Anglican Communion Theology

Anglican Communion Theology: A Practical Exercise

On 15th May 2007 the Growing Together study group used Study Sheet 59 on the Anglican Communion to discuss the question "What is Church?"

  1. We considered the Anglican Instruments of Unity of the Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral - The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Meeting of Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council - and rejected them as superfluous
  2. We decided that we wanted to be an autonomous Church of England; werecognised that was the constitutional position but it had been clouded by the recent history of the Lambeth Conference and other Instruments of Unity implying authority they did not have.
  3. We rejected the notion of a Covenant as it would either be excluding or not worth the trouble; we also questioned a process which would only reach national Synods after being processed by the Instruments of Unity which are a near Episcopal monopoly.
  4. In considering our own approach we started with ourselves as a House Group. As a Church we would accept three of the four pillars of the Quadrilateral: The Bible as the Word of God; the Nicene Creed as a sufficient expression of our faith; and The Dominical Sacraments; but we rejected the concept of a hierarchical priesthood. We would allow unlimited latitude in how these were individually understood (eg the nature of Eucharist and atonement, the way of understanding Scripture) but would want to limit the way in which they were realised (i.e. people might conclude that the Bible supported racism but we would not allow this to be proclaimed among us).
  5. We would establish a rotating Presidency of the Eucharist, responsibility for Baptising and preaching. We would negotiate an agreement with other groups in our village to form a village church.
  6. It was pointed out, however, that to preside would require training and collective acceptance and that there needed to be a method of inspection, supervision and guidance to protect against 'rotten apples'.
  7. We therefore accepted the role of bishop as pastor but not administrator; and agreed that Ministers by the vote of the community from which they came, confirmed by five existing Ministers.
  8. We agreed that priests and our bishop should be elected by democratic process.
  9. Interestingly, then, after starting out with a radical approach we came back to a position as follows: A disestablished, autonomous Church of England with elected priests and bishops but without the current massive burden of legislative and administrative provision.
  10. We were committed to strong links with other Anglicans but this should be undertaken informally through networks.

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