The long awaited report of The Lambeth Commission on Communion has now been received, and it deserves careful consideration by all church leaders, clergy and laity alike. It is entitled “The Windsor Report 2004,” and it contains several important recommendations as to how we can maintain the highest possible level of communion among Anglicans in the midst of the controversies that have seriously divided us. The Commission recommends:
An enhanced role for the Archbishop of Canterbury as “the focus of unity, mission and teaching” in the Anglican Communion, especially in articulating “the mind of the Communion” in areas of controversy. It is further recommended that a Council of Advice be established to assist the Archbishop “in discerning when and how it might be appropriate for him to exercise a ministry of unity on behalf of the whole Communion.”
The adoption by all churches of the Anglican Communion of a common Anglican Covenant, which would deal with common identity, the commitments of being in communion with one another, and the management of disputes that may arise. At the heart of such a covenant lies the principle that “what touches all should be approved by all.”
A moratorium on the election and consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges. The Episcopal Church is asked “to express its regret” over the breach it caused by consecrating Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, and those Bishops who took part in the consecration are asked to consider withdrawing themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion.
A moratorium on all blessings of same sex unions and a study of the biblical and theological rationale for and against such unions. Bishops who have authorized the blessing of same sex unions are asked to express their regret for having done so. If they do not, it is recommended that they withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion.
The provision of alternative pastoral oversight by sympathetic Bishops for those congregations that dissent from their Bishop’s support of the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals and the blessing of same sex unions.
These recommendations are now before the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council meeting in London this week and will be formally presented to the next Primates’ Meeting of the Anglican Communion on Feb. 20–26, 2005, in Ireland. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church will consider The Windsor Report at a special meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 12 & 13, 2005.
Once again it has been made abundantly clear by this Report that the positions taken by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on these issues are in full accordance with the practice and teaching of the world-wide Anglican Communion. Please continue to pray for the mission and unity of the church as the above recommendations are enacted.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker,
Bishop of Fort Worth