Talk of the Communion becoming a Federation is unsettling and one of the unsettled is Andrew Goddard who writes 'From Communion to ... Federation?' at Fulcrum. He kindly mentions my own recent post on the matter, though he disagrees with my prediction. But it is the words of Ruth Gledhill he takes particular aim at when she writes,
'The move towards a more federal model, an Anglican Federation along the lines of Europe's Lutheran Federation, is a much better model for the Church in today's world.'
Rightly Goddard deduces that no one in the Communion really wants a Federation instead of a Communion:
'The way forward after January is unlikely to be simply a reversion to an earlier attempted solution, whether the Dar Primates’ model or the Anglican Communion Covenant in its present form. It is, however, even less likely to be an agreement from the Primates that they need to embrace a “federation” model of global Anglicanism. This effectively abandons any claim to respect provincial interdependence (not to mention any doctrinal or ethical basis for unity which is clearly so important for many of the provinces whether in terms of the Jerusalem Declaration or the broader wording in Section One of the Covenant). Instead it gives unfettered freedom to provincial autonomy on the basis that we must all simply “agree to disagree”'
I wouldn't put my case that we are heading towards a 'Federation' in the words Gledhill uses because I do not think it would be 'a much better model for the Church in today's world.'
I remain convinced, with Andrew Goddard, in the importance of being an interdependent Communion. I agree with him as he analyses the implication of moving to a federation model with its consequential loss of the Anglican genius for the Communion we have enjoyed:
'It is very hard to see how a paradigm shift to a “looser” or “federation” model in any way shows “respect” for decades of theological and ecclesiological thought about what it means to be “a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” identified in part by being “bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference” (a definition going back to Resolution 49 of the 1930 Lambeth Conference)'
The difficulty I have with what Goddard writes is that it does not look like it is possible. The AC of former days is not the present reality - the reality in which we are currently a federation of communions (with various overlaps, and with everyone claiming to still belong to the AC. But not all willing to share in the eucharist together).
So I would rephrase what Ruth Gledhill writes:
The move towards a more federal model, an Anglican Federation - no doubt along peculiarly Anglican lines - is the best model we can hope for the global Anglican churches in today's world to remain in some kind of connection with each other.
A commenter (below) has asked the following questions of the post above:
1) What do you define as "a communion"? A body of people* meeting in fellowship and sharing the eucharist together. 'Fellowship' implies holding things in common - koinonia - as well as a commitment to an interdependent life together. *In this context the 'people' may be episcopal/clerical/lay representatives of Anglican churches meeting as Lambeth, Primates, ACC. Added (in light of further comment): I am distinguishing at this point 'communion' and 'Communion'. The latter as in the 'Anglican Communion' or (if we so term) the Communion of Orthodox churches or those churches forming the Communion of the Western rite and Eastern rite Catholic churches speaks of a global organisation of churches (whether lightly or tightly organised). But in each such case these Communions are fellowships of churches willing to take communion together.
2) What do you define as "a federation"? A collection of communions with a commitment to meet together from time to time but no commitment to sharing the eucharist together when the full collection meets.
3) What do you mean by an "interdependent communion" (i.e. interdependent Communion), and how does it differ from a "communion"? 'Interdependent' underlines an aspect of 'communion' (see above). Strictly speaking it is redundant but I was emphasising a point made by Andrew Goddard.
4) In which years has the Anglican Communion ever satisfied your definition of a communion and/or an interdependent communion? 1867. OK, seriously, I acknowledge that the communion of the AC has been impaired since the ordination of women in the 1970s affected Communion meetings so that - so I understand - not all present would share the eucharist, and in individual churches some would not receive the eucharist from a presiding woman priest/bishop. Nevertheless across large swathes of the AC people got on with meeting together and, in 1998, if not all then nearly all bishops turned up to Lambeth and, as far as I know, prior to 2003, all Primates shared the eucharist at the Primates' Meetings. Thus the AC mostly but not completely satisfied my definition until c. 2003. Since then 'impairment' has shifted to 'broken' or 'divided' and thus I see the AC as not currently being an honest title for the global Anglican collection of churches.