The Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) and the Church of Canada are both sending representatives in response to the request to them to give the reasoning behind the appointment of bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire and the blessing of same-sex unions in New Westminster. The degree to which they will be allowed to participate in the meeting is still uncertain. The Primates asked them to withdraw from official representation. Whether this means exclusion from the programme of events and receptions being planned is not clear.
Opening service at St Peter’s, Nottingham
St Peter’s, a Nottingham city-centre church, will host the opening service for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting on Sunday afternoon 19 June. The Archbishop of Canterbury will preside at the service and the leader of the Evangelical Alliance, the Revd Joel Edwards, will preach at the service.
Church members argue for inclusion
Angela Newton, the parish secretary at St Peter’s, says they will be welcome there. She said she was saddened at the prospect of the hard-liners threatening the inclusive nature of the Communion. “Our thoughts are being polarised,” she said. “There is no seeking to meet halfway. Everything is either one thing or the other. I hope we are not to be ruled by one large group.”
Wendy Pearce, leader of the administrative team at St Peter’s, All Saints’, and St Mary’s, all of which are now linked, said: “Some people in the congregation would consider their position if they could not embrace everyone in the church. We are a very broad-minded church.”
Hilary Evans, the PCC secretary, said: “We have got a few gay men and, I think, some gay women in the congregation, and it is something we are comfortable with.” Trevor Davys who works in the parish café, said: “The gay issue is irrelevant, as far as I am concerned. The ACC should hear things like that, but what they will hear is second-hand. The church is a place for sharing and support. That’s the fundamental issue: the way the community sees the Church.”
The Rector of St Peter’s and All Saints’ is Canon Andrew Deuchar, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s former secretary for Anglican affairs, was responsible for bringing the ACC to Nottingham. He said: “If the ACC members leave Nottingham with a different agenda from the one they came with as a result of what they have experienced here, then it will have been a success.”
He said that the Communion had faced serious splits in the past: the Colenso affair, the Kikuyu controversy, and the issue of polygamy, which had occupied three successive Lambeth Conferences. Traditionally, however, threats of this kind had been resolved by discussion “over cups of tea at Lambeth. We just kept talking. The risk is that people might stop talking to one another. We have to accept that the good old Anglican way of sitting down and talking to each other has changed. A process of inculturation has changed this. The way the Communion does its business is different now. We may regret that deeply, but people now speaking from a very conservative stance are speaking from a very different context.”