Thesis: if we admit ACNA to membership* of the Anglican Communion then we take seriously what it means to be Anglican** and to be a Communion.
The existence of the Anglican Communion makes a claim that global fellowship between Anglican churches is both possible and desirable and raises questions about what it means to be ‘Anglican’ (can any church adding ‘Anglican’ to its name become a member church of the Communion?) and to be a ‘Communion’ (is fellowship in this Communion with or without obligations, and what kind of obligations? How is fellowship deepened between members? What (if anything) can break fellowship?).
Present difficulties in the Anglican Communion (exemplified by the failure of all bishops to go to Lambeth 2008 and by the absence of some primates from recent Primates’ Meetings) mean that all is not well. Among these difficulties the pressing need to develop our understanding of ‘Anglican’ is felt (e.g. some Anglicans are calling the actions of other Anglicans ‘unAnglican’). As well, there is stress on our understanding of ‘Communion’, most urgently experienced in the debate over the possibility of the Anglican Covenant being embraced as a key document for the ongoing life of the Communion. For some the argument for the Covenant is its necessity to hold the Communion together; for others the argument against the Covenant is its likely effect of transforming the Communion into a global (Roman Catholic-like) church.
In fact I would like to suggest that another question is implicit (at least) about our understanding of ‘Communion’: are we a formal Communion focused on arrangements between official national or regional Anglican churches with an unvarying principle of only one such church per nation or regiona being recognised, or are we a pastoral movement motivated to draw in as many Anglicans as possible into our global life?
To be continued ...
*membership = in every possible way: admission to ACC, ACNA primate invited to Primates’ Meetings, bishops invited to Lambeth, etc
**for purposes of this and related posts, ‘Anglican’ includes both ‘Anglican’ and ‘Episcopal(ian)’