“We know we don’t have much time”, says Inclusive Church over the future of the 77 million strong Communion, threatened by deep rifts over different theological approaches to sexuality and the Bible. “The decision for everyone to go their separate ways could be taken at the Lambeth Conference in 2008. Meetings leading up to it start this week.”
Speaking at the launch of a fundraising initiative for “the Anglican centre”, the Bishop of Salisbury, Dr David Stancliffe, said: “I live by the catholic conviction that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. I welcome this campaign to reinvigorate and encourage the broad centre of the Church of England.”
Dr Stancliffe particularly highlighted Sudan, which is linked with Salisbury. He said that such examples of practical friendship were more important than claims of pan-African homogeneity, and added that Sudan had not followed the lead of Archbishop Akinola in neighbouring Nigeria.
Meanwhile, an ‘open letter’ has been sent to the Archbishops of Canterbury, York, Wales and Armagh on behalf of a 500-strong Anglican clergy organization, the Society of Catholic Priests, calling on them to refrain from action against the Episcopal Church of the USA.
The letter warns the leaders of the Anglican Communion not to treat TEC/ECUSA as the source of all the problems in the church. Instead, the Rev Jonathan Clark, who heads up SCP, asks the Primates to recognise that “fractures within the Communion run not between but through provinces, dioceses and parishes.”
The Richard Jenkins, director of another Anglican organization, Affirming Catholicism, commented: “This letter reflects a real and concern among ordinary clergy that the Anglican leadership isn’t doing enough to value those who in conscience feel that the Church should take a more open attitude to lesbian and gays. Staying together with integrity means learning to value all shades of opinion.”
Moderate evangelicals are also upset at the vituperation of the current arguments in the church. Fulcrum (“renewing the evangelical centre”) is among those who are seeking to maintain dialogue while holding on to their biblical and Reformed principles.
Inclusive Church says it “consists of Anglicans who were happily minding their own version of the Anglican business until pushed. Many priests and bishops are members, as well as churchgoers and, increasingly, people who simply care.”
Explianing its 'Enough is Enough' campaign, the network adds: “We aren’t saying that everyone should think the same. We are saying we believe the church should have room for a breadth of views and a breadth of people. We value diversity because it is God-given.”
However this is not a view shared by hardliners within world Anglicanism. Some Primates (regional church heads) from the Global South are refusing to share communion with those they disagree with, or to meet with them. They want those they oppose kicked out of the church, or at least pushed into a siding.
Following calls for the exclusion of the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, from the Tanzania gathring, Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola – who some say wishes to install himself as head of the Communion – is reported to have said that it is “unacceptable” that Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu should attend.
Dr Sentamu is black, an African and an evangelica