Some of the frustrations from the 1998 Lambeth Conference of the world's Anglican bishops spilled over to a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Scotland, as it spent a dozen days in mid September sorting through issues of unity, sexuality, international debt and globalization. The theme itself, The Communion We Share, gave a clue to such continuing concerns.
Formed in 1968 to provide a forum to deal with pressing concerns of Anglicans worldwide, the ACC has no authority over the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion.
In an unusually blunt presidential address, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said that Anglicans do not live by the principle of "anything goes," that "the constant interplay of Scripture, tradition and reason provide limits to diversity."
As Christians struggle to share their faith with the world around them, "vigorous debate and healthy intellectual engagement" are inevitable, he said. But he repudiated unilateral action by dioceses and provinces within the Anglican Communion.
"No one has the right to take decisions that affect the whole," he said, warning that "unilateral action which affects and impairs the whole communion to engage in division is itself to undermine the truth."
Efforts to increase the size of the ACC and make it more representative were rebuffed. The call to take a closer look at the composition of the ACC, regarded as one of the "instruments of unity" for the Anglican Communion, came from the last meeting of the ACC, in Panama in 1996, and from the Lambeth Conference, which asked that the primate, a presbyter and person from each province be sent to ACC.
On the other hand, the council endorsed the idea of an Anglican Congress to be held in association with the next Lambeth Conference. It urged the archbishop of Canterbury to invite the diocesan bishop and four other people, three of them laity, at least one a woman and one under the age of 28.
The Virginia Report, a theological exploration of the basis of unity in the Anglican Communion prepared for the Lambeth Conference, provoked some spirited debate at the ACC.
The host bishop, Scottish primus Richard Holloway, said ACC was One of the few structured vehicles in Anglicanism that might resist the tendency in the report to increase the authority of the archbishop of Canterbury, the primates and the episcopate in general.
The discussion also provoked impatience among some delegates who resented the navel-gazing when there were more pressing issues in the world. Archbishop Glauco Soares de Lima, primate of the Episcopal Church in Brazil, expressed his concern about the ongoing colonialism between countries and churches in the North and the South. …