It has often been stated that what the Anglican Communion offers is a way of being a global church without a centralised authority. But how to cohere – in the sense of holding together? Previous generations spoke of bonds of affection but that sounds a bit ‘soft’ to me. We’ve explored Anglican Covenant but that that isn’t the way forward.
The ‘single issue’ pressures which threaten to pull us apart are very strong. Both within provinces and across the Communion, clarity about divergence seems to offer more security than patient engagement in ‘honest conversation across difference’. Archbishop Justin speaks of ‘visible unity in Christ with functional diversity’
There are however many strands of our life which do help us to hold together. We have an extraordinary network of diocesan companionships – like our relationship in the Diocese of St Andrews with the Diocese of Calcutta – which quietly help us to explore and affirm what we share. Our contexts could not be more different – yet there is a commonality to our life which sustains our belonging together
And there are the Anglican Networks. I’m in South Africa at the moment – heading towards an Eco-Bishops Meeting which is being held at the invitation of Archbishop Thabo of South Africa. Shared concern about the impact of climate change is another agenda around which we can gather. I’ll be going to listen and learn from the experience of people whose lives are affected by climate change in dramatic ways. That meeting around climate change – like other meetings around other agendas – are part of the reason why I have hope for our Communion