After the Primates Meeting #pisky #primates2016 #anglican

It was a difficult week – very difficult.  I’m working on some material for the church press and I need a little time to think and digest.

I did some Radio material – Radio 4 Sunday Programme tomorrow – and we have a ‘holding statement’ on the SEC website which says this:

“In advance of the Primates Meeting, there were many predictions of breakdown and of fracture in the life of the Anglican Communion. It is therefore encouraging that the Primates have agreed to ‘walk together’ and that a Task Group will be established to work on our ongoing relationships. “However that unity has come at some cost to the ability of the Communion to express the diversity which has always been a valued characteristic of the Anglican Way. The consequences which follow the decision of The Episcopal Church (in the United States) to change its Canon on marriage are a sign of that change. The Scottish Episcopal Church sees itself as a diverse church in a diverse Communion. It is important to us that we seek to sustain our unity as we continue to address issues of human sexuality in our General Synod. “Further consideration will be given to these matters by our Faith and Order Board and by the College of Bishops.”








Meanwhile I am still reflecting on the extraordinary grace shown by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in response to the ‘consequences’ which the meeting decided were an appropriate response to the actions of TEC.  I was greatly privileged to work closely with Bishop Michael all week.  From  the depths of his personal and family history of slavery, racism and exclusion, he drew this remarkable statement:

“I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain. The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church. I am a Christian in the Anglican way. And like you, as we have said in this meeting, I am committed to ‘walking together’ with you as fellow Primates in the Anglican family.”



  1. Thankyou for your comments about the Primates Gathering and your confirmation that the SEC sees itself as diverse church. Like you, I am deeply impressed by the PB of TEC. I can see that it was an immensely difficult meeting to take part in. Like many, I am extremely unhappy at the outcome of the meeting and the hypocrisy that weeps crocodile tears over the treatment of the gay community while continuing to discriminate against them. However, surely the Primates Gathering has acted ultra vires. This wasn’t even a Primates Meeting and was specifically billed as a ‘gathering’ but even if it were a ‘Meeting’, it has no legislative function and so cannot ‘require’ anything in just the same way as the oft-quoted Lambeth 1.10 has no legislative force and cannot be imposed upon individual autonomous churches. I thought that the Covenant had been defeated but this seems very much as though it was being re-introduced by the back-door. I don’t see the distinction between ‘sanction’ and ‘consequences’ but I note that ‘consequences’ is the word used in the Covenant. The Primates Gathering under Archbishop Welby sees to be acting like a quasi-papal curia and seeking to impose a magisterium. One of the African Archbishops protested that they did not wish to have things imposed on them. Quiet right: but they must not impose things on us either. The Communion is a collection of autonomous churches and surely none of them, especially the SEC with its history, can accept other churches imposing a veto on what they wish to do but this is what Gafcon seems to trying to do. I think Archbishop Welby will sacrifice the Church of England on the altar of a spurious unity. I pray that the SEC doesn’t do the same. I am intrigugued by the suggestion that I have seen somewhere that there needs to be an Eastern Communion and a Western Communion. Like Stephen Clark above, I have no wish to belong to an Anglican Communion which allows itself to be bullied by one group of people into becoming a repressive organisation.

  2. “It is important to us that we seek to sustain our unity as we continue to address issues of human sexuality in our General Synod”. I remember a sermon at the time of the consecration of Gene Robinson. The Rector, even though he had no objections in principle, deprecated the move as being inconsistent with a desire for unity. On the contrary it represented an exercise of will in the full knowledge that this would cause harm and hurt to other members of the AC. I fear the decision of Synod in June last year was made with a similar willful disregard for the implications. It is not about whether God loves gays: God loves everybody, unconditionally, (red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight – and adults too, if you remember the words). I served, happily and constructively, as warden under a gay rector. But if we disregard clear scripture of old and new testament we run the risk of becoming, to quote Dr Welby, little more than rotary with a pointy spire.

  3. Just a word to some people who want to comment – and thank you to everyone who has responded. I’m starting to get comments which aren’t about my posting and in which people are addressing one another rather than commenting on the post. I won’t be approving those for posting.

  4. I was impressed with the humility of the PB of TEC, and the power of what he said.

    The #Primate2016 decision is misguided and is evidence that bullying others into submission is an available tool to the GAFCON primates who have gone home pleased with themselves – probably feeling in good conscience that their discrimination is now justified by the vote.

    The harm done to mission and all Churches, not just Anglican Churches is immense. We have now able to be intolerant and to deny God’s love to LGBT people in our churches, citing the vote as binding us.

    I expect to see an exodus of Clergy and People to inclusive congregations, who mirror the love and outspread arms of Jesus on the Cross. Elsewhere, there has been speculation that the TEC would do well to form a Mission Society in the CofE, there are plenty of societies propagating discrimination, we need more like #ModernChurch and #Inclusive Church to propagate the Gospel of love and inclusion.

  5. I was brought up in the Church of Scotland but had hoped, now in my late 50s, that the Scottish Eposcopal Church was for me. As a gay man I have been disillusioned by all churches over the years when it comes to their attitude to homosexuality. My faith has remained strong and yet I feel that the church simply tolerates me in their midst. God, I believe, made me as I am and loves me for what I am. He will look into my heart and see the good within me. He wants me to be the equal of others and not simply to be hiding at the back of the church.

    This week’s decision to punish the Espiscopal Church in America is wrong. Yes they have altered their Canon on marriage but I see that as a positive move forward for the benefit of all. Meanwhile the African churches receive no punishment for their attitude to homosexuality. In most parts of Africa homosexuals, if they make their sexuality known, are at risk of beatings or worse. The church does not welcome them. The Espiscopal church in Scotland should be ashamed to be linked to this week’s decision making process.

    Where do I go to worship now – I don’t know. What I do know is that the church on earth needs to take its lead from God and the Americans, be more inclusive and realise that it will be the better for it. My God is an all encompassing, loving God who sees deep inside the human heart and is not bound by the narrow mindedness of many mortals.

    1. Dear George,

      as a gay man myself and a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I want to invite you stay and to help us bring about what I believe to be the movement of the Holy Spirit when we continue the process (started last year) to change our canons too. Stand with us!


  6. I suppose we in the SEC face similar exclusion from the ACC if General Synod ratifies the change to the Code of Canons this year.
    The Lutheran Churches of Germany, like the Church of Iceland, have agreed same sex marriages in the Church. As you know, I often have felt that we have more in common with our Porvoo neighbours than with many Provinces of the AC.
    And would it really matter if we too are excluded?
    There are two Churches operating already: the church congregation and the care of each individual soul. And the hierarchy of prelates and Church politics. This is especially noted in the RC context. One priest advised me that next time I come to his church I must come and receive HC as ‘our revolution has already begun, but don’t tell my Archbishop!’

  7. While I thank the Primus for his comments, I am deeply saddened by the way our Communion is attempting to silence the legitimate voices of debate. I ask myself, (as one of my parishioners noted this morning) “Why did the Primates choose to exclude TEC but did not sanction the Canadian Church?”
    As an ‘ordinary Anglican’ I have treasured the fact the Anglicanism stands not for rigid conformity but for the principled acceptance of tolerance. “I may not agree with you but I respect your right to say it!”
    I want to know ‘who voted for what’ behind the closed doors of secret Primatial meetings. It would seem, for example, according to recent news reports that the Primus Inter Pares (Dr Welby) has either not done so, or is expressing serious reservations.
    As for me, increasingly I do not want to belong to a Communion that is bullied by GAFCON Primates. Some of whom approve of jailing homosexuals, and worse.
    As an Australian, I would like to know how our Primate voted!

  8. Thank you for this first comment, so reassuring, as we expected it to be. Is there a case for some more public expression of sec-tec solidarity, on the strength of both our history and our both being ‘diverse’ churches?

    1. Thank you, Bishop David. I would like (as an American myself) to echo Dan’s question, though I know it’s all very difficult, and understand the pressures some of the African churches are under in their relationship with Islam, which must heighten all the tensions that are felt.

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