This morning some Bishops went to parishes in and around Canterbury to share in their Sunday worship, whilst others were at the Cathedral. I joined that latter group and stayed to enjoy the hospitality of the Cathedral with a buffet lunch served in the precincts. I get the feeling that we are all in need of a quieter more restful day.
We have had a week and a half of building relationships and trust, now we need to capitalise on all this as we map a way forward for the Communion. We are here as leaders of the Communion and that means more than just being friendly. The key question is how do we structure the Communion without creating a centralising ‘magisterium’ of teaching and order, which would undermine the nature of the bonds which holds us together as a worldwide Communion.
Although there has been much attention on issues in human sexuality, which are of course important, in many ways these discussions have guided us to the complex questions about the Anglican Communion and its comprehensiveness.
One of the gifts which the Anglican Communion has offered to God and to the world has been our ability to hold together a diversity of responses to the God whom we have encountered in Jesus Christ. Diversity which has been worked out in the way in which we have made our decisions about the order of the church. We have been a Church which has been held together by belief, as contained in the historic creeds and the historic formularies, and not by agreeing to particular statements about that faith in each generation. This has always frustrated those who like clarity and structure to the content of faith.
There is pressure from those in the Communion who would be happier with statements or confessions of faith, but many of us are wary of such a move as that requires churches to ‘opt in’, whereas a family is something from which you choose to ‘opt out’. So it is going to be a busy week, but my observation is that we have been well prepared for it by the worship, prayer and personal engagements which have been the substance of the Conference thus far.