Archbishop Robin Eames, Primate of all Ireland, chaired the first full meeting this week of the international Commission on Anglican Structures and Relations set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The meeting in Windsor, England will consider what ways the highest degree of communion and relationship can be maintained given the serious divisions now facing the Anglican Communion.
The full Commission is going to meet on three occasions: in February; June; and September 2004. It intends to complete its initial report by the end of September 2004 for submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury in October. Intensive work will also be commissioned from individual members of the Commission and others, and undertaken beyond the three main sessions.
The Commission will begin by considering recent work elsewhere on the issue of Communion, giving primary consideration to the resolutions of the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 on this issue. It will also consider what has been achieved in the Grindrod, Eames and Virginia Reports, which addressed matters of Communion in relation to the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate.
There are no plans to hold sessions of the Commission in public, but it is felt that it will be important for the work of the Commission to be as open as possible. Evidence considered by the Commission will generally be published on its web site, and it intends to publish interim reports of its work following each plenary session. Specific submissions to the Commission will be invited from particular groups or individuals, both in written form and by the reception of evidence in interview, either at plenary sessions, or at subsidiary meetings and sub-committees.
Changing Attitude has agreed to draft a submission on behalf of the Joint Strategy Group, which will be forwarded to the Commission after discussion and final agreement by the group.
Archbishop Eames meets divided US churchesAt the end of January, Archbishop Robin Eames held meetings in Washington DC with representatives of the various opposing groups in ECUSA. He held confidential discussions with representatives of the American Anglican Council, an organization of conservative Episcopalians, and with Bishop Peter Lee and others who supported Bishop Robinson’s appointment. Dr Eames commented, “It is important that I hear at first hand the feelings of those in the United States who are so divided on this issue. It was a genuine period of listening and questioning.”
The Primate of New Zealand expresses concern
The Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, Primate of the New Zealand Church and a member of the Primates’ Commission, reacted to the letters being issued by members of the AAC (see report on the right). The Rt Revd John Paterson, said that he was becoming “increasingly concerned at the intemperate language and the extravagant claims being made about the state of the Anglican Communion at a time when the Archbishop of Canterbury has appealed for restraint and time for the Commission to work carefully and prayerfully through the issues.”