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Canterbury’s international agenda in tatters: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 23, 2011 p 1. September 23, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Global South, Lambeth 2008, Primates Meeting 2011.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s strategy to hold together the Anglican Communion was left in tatters this week after the primates representing the Global South coalition of churches gave his leadership a vote of no confidence.

The Global South primates—representing the majority of the Anglican Communion’s members—have repudiated the course chosen by Dr. Rowan Williams for the “instruments of communion”, saying it lacked moral and theological integrity.

With the Anglican Covenant process under increasing pressure from liberals and conservatives, and his programme of dialogue around the topics dividing the church, but not addressing the divisions within the church, rejected by a majority of the Communion, Dr. Rowan Williams’ international agenda appears to have all but collapsed.

The latest blow came in a statement released after Aug 30 to Sept 10 Global South meeting in China.  While the primates said they were “wholeheartedly committed to the unity of Anglican Communion and recognize the importance of the historic See of Canterbury,” they were not pleased with what Dr. Williams’ subordinates were doing.

The instruments of communion: the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, “have become dysfunctional and no longer have the ecclesial and moral authority to hold the Communion together.”

The Global South primates stated it was “regrettable” that the 2008 Lambeth Conference had been “designed [so as] not to make any resolutions that would have helped to resolve the crisis facing the Communion.”

The Dublin 2011 Primates Meeting was also a failure.  It had been “planned without prior consultation with the Primates in regard to the agenda” and there had been “no commitment to follow through the recommendations of previous Primates’ Meetings.”

They noted that the call made by the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences for the Primates Meeting to “exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters” had been “completely set aside.”

The primates’ strongest criticisms, however, were reserved for the London-based Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) which it accused of bias.

The ACC, “the Anglican Communion Standing Committee, and Communion-level commissions such as the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) and the Anglican Communion Liturgical Commission no longer reflect the common mind of the churches of the Communion because many members from the Global South can no longer with good conscience attend these meetings as issues that are aggravating and tearing the fabric of the Communion are being ignored,” the primates said.

The archbishops of Southeast Asia, Uganda, Jerusalem and the Middle East, West Africa, the Southern Cone, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Myanmar (Burma), and Central Africa observed the communion had “undergone a tremendous transformation in recent decades. Today, the majority of Anglicans are found no longer in the west, but in churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are firmly committed to our historic faith and order.”

“At the same time,” the primates noted that many Anglicans in the West were “yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality.”

These political ideals must not trump God’s unchanging word, they argued. “Beginning with the undermining of Scriptural authority and two millennia of church tradition, the erosion of orthodoxy has gone as far as the ordination and consecration of active gay and lesbian clergy and bishops, and the development of liturgies for same-sex marriage.”

The primates Sept 9 statement said they would not be quitting the communion, however, but would focus their energies on creating a “Decade of Mission and Networking” as a “unifying vocational platform on which we realize and build up our common life and witness.”

Economic and educational ties within the Global South would be strengthened, they said, and gave their commitment to “support faithful orthodox Anglican churches and groups in the west which share our historic faith and order.”

Primates Standing Committee elected: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 25, 2011 p 7. February 26, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2011.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Communion News Service has released the results of the elections to the Primates Standing Committee.

The primates attending the Dublin meeting of primates elected one representative and one alternate for five geographical regions. While no formal rules have been established to order the primates meeting and its powers are unclear, the recent custom has been that only those primates present at the meeting vote, and each primate only votes for those in his region.  Elections for representative and alternate are held separately.

On Feb 15 ACNS reported that the Primate of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng was elected for Africa and the Primate of Burundi, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi was elected alternate.

The Africa region includes: Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa.

For the Americas, the Primate of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected, and Archbishop John Holder of the West Indies elected as alternate.  The Americas region includes: Brazil, Canada, Central America, the USA, Mexico, the Southern Cone and the West Indies.

For Europe, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth was elected and the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Alan Harper elected as alternate.  Europe includes: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

For the Middle East and West Asia, the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah was elected, and the Moderator of the Church of Bangladesh, Bishop Paul Sarker was elected as alternate.  The West Asia region includes: Bangladesh, Jerusalem and the Middle East, North India, South India and Pakistan.

For Asia, Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong was elected, and Archbishop Winston Halapua of Polynesia was elected as alternate. The Asia region includes: Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Melanesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

ACNS reported that “each Primate serves for a period of three years, and thereafter until the next Primates’ Meeting. Also membership ceases when a member ceases to be a Primate.”

Dublin primates meeting marks an ‘end to the communion as we know it’: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 4, 2011 p 1. February 3, 2011

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The primates in Dublin

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A meeting of the leaders of 23 of the Communion’s 38 provinces has produced a draft agreement diminishing the primates’ role as an instrument of unity for the Anglican Communion.  The primates meeting is to be restructured into a pan-Anglican fellowship for conversation, with a goal of “acknowledging diversity and giving space for difference” within the church, according to a ‘working document’ released at the close of the Jan 24-30 meeting in Dublin.

The reforms put forward by Dr. Williams and the Dublin primates have abandoned the calls for discipline and good order made by the primates since the 1997 Jerusalem meeting, conceding there is not political will to take action against the Episcopal Church.  It also follows upon the revamping of the Lambeth Conference as a teaching instrument for bishops in 2008, the controversial 2009 ACC meeting that torpedoed the Anglican Covenant process, and the creation in questionable circumstances of an all powerful Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion last year.

Dr. Williams has now effectively gathered the authority once held by other instruments of the communion into his own hands, and into those of a London-based bureaucracy.

The bulk of the meeting was spent in preparing the working document on the purpose and authority of the primates meeting and their standing committee.  “By God’s grace we strive to express,” the document states, “unity in diversity which is the Spirit’s work among the churches of the communion and the community of primates.”

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told a press conference at the close of the meeting, “what we have been doing is rebuilding our relationships,” seeking to come together as a “communion of independent churches.”

The Dublin primates prepared public and private letters on a range of issues: gender-based violence, the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, political instability on the Korean peninsula, Zimbabwe, political instability in Egypt, government travel restrictions imposed by Israel on the Bishop in Jerusalem, and the independence referendum in the Sudan.

Letters on problems of climate change, Haiti and the murder of a gay rights activist in Uganda were also released by the gathering.  Members of the primates standing committee were also elected, though their names were not made public.

Dr. Williams acknowledged the absence of 15 primates, noting a candle had been lit for them in the conference centre chapel.  However, no  “meeting can allow itself to be shaped wholly by the people who are not there,” he said.

“The fact remains that two-thirds of the body of primates was present and something like three -quarters, possibly a little more, expressed their willingness to be present but were unable for one reason or another. That means that two-thirds of the primates at least wish to continue to meet and wish to continue the conversations they’ve begun,” Dr. Williams said.

A spokesman for the Gafcon movement told The Church of England Newspaper that it was unlikely the primates affiliated with the conservative reform movement would comment on the meeting.  Each archbishop made his own decision whether or not to attend, the spokesman explained, and there is no common response yet to what took place in Dublin.

A senior Global South leader told CEN, the Dublin meeting was “irrelevant” to several of the absent primates.  “It doesn’t mean a thing to them,” he noted.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Williams’ sole power lay in his ability to call meetings of the church.  Lambeth and now Dublin has shown he has lost this “moral authority” as his invitations now go unanswered, the bishop noted.  Dr. Williams cannot now claim that he speaks for a majority of Anglicans, he said.

The former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Dr. Phillip Turner of the Anglican Communion Institute told CEN he was disappointed by the reports produced by the meeting.  “Here we have reports on both the function and the organization of the Primates meeting that neither locate as an aspect of ecclesiology the office and role of a primate within a communion of churches nor speak of how the meeting and its standing committee are to address a province or diocese within the communion whose actions other Provinces do not recognize as in accord with scripture.”

“These reports are theologically vacuous,” Dean Turner said. “Sadly, they only display the fact that this Instrument has become dysfunctional.  It has become dysfunctional because neither the Primates as a group nor the Primate who is primus inter pares were willing and able to address the actions” of the North American churches.

The “fabric” of the communion remains torn “because of a failure in leadership,” he said, noting that the “communion as we have known it is gone.”

In its place the Dublin primates have adopted an ecclesiology where “we are all friendly and we do good works, but we need not share commonly recognized forms of belief and practice,” Dean Turner said.

15 Archbishops skip Dublin primates meeting: The Church of England Newspaper Jan 28, 2011, p 7. January 26, 2011

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Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, Archbishop Joseph Kopapa of Papua New Guinea, Archbishop David Vunagi of Melanesia greeting Canon Kenneth Kearon outside the Emmaus Conference Centre in Swords, Ireland at the start of the Primates Meeting on Jan 25. Photo courtesy of the Church of Ireland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Only 23 of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces will be represented at this week’s Primates’ Meeting in Dublin.

Little is expected from the closed-doors January 25-31 meeting at the Emmaus Conference Centre outside Dublin. No agenda has been prepared in advance, and according to a press hand out from the Anglican Communion News Service the “agenda of the meeting will develop as the meeting progresses.”

ACC Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon said it was “obviously regrettable when a Primate is unable attend because it means that that particular perspective is not represented, but it is ultimately the decision of each individual Primate in consultation with their Province.”

He noted, however in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme on January 23 the Primates absent from Dublin had nonetheless “reiterated their commitment to the communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury in their writing to me.”

While the commitment to the Communion remains strong, there is less of a tie to the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England Newspaper has learned.

The tenor of conversation among the boycotting Primates centres round the realisation that Dr Williams is unable, and apparently unwilling, to resolve the Anglican crisis. Dr Williams’ successes in persuading conservatives to go along, will not be repeated this time due to their absence. The “rump” meeting in Dublin 2011 has already been dismissed as illegitimate by some of the boycotting Primates, who represent 40 of the Communion’s 55 million active Anglicans.

Past undertakings given at the 2005, 2007 and 2009 Primates’ Meeting have not been fulfilled one Primate noted. It was not just around issues of human sexuality that action did not follow upon words, but in resolutions ranging from the appointment of an envoy to Zimbabwe to promises to mediate the Brazilian split.

In a January 21 editorial published on the Global South (GS) Anglican website, a spokesman for the boycotting Primates noted the decision to stay home was “not a sudden or knee-jerk reaction.”

In the course of several conversations and in a group meeting at the All Africa Bishops Conference last August in Entebbe, the Global South Primates “indicated that it would be extremely difficult – and in fact, quite pointless – for them to be present at the planned Primates’ Meeting 2011.”

They told Dr Williams unless the American Church was prepared to honour its past undertakings and the decisions of the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings, they believed it was a waste of time and resources to attend.

The GS Primates also voiced frustration with the secrecy and lack of communications coming from London.

“What is most disturbing and difficult is that given the intractable miry situation the Communion is already in and being further driven into, there was hardly any timely and intentional prior consultation and collegial engagement of all concerned, or at least as many as reasonably possible, in preparing for the Meeting to ensure certain degree of significant and principally legitimate outcome to hold and move the Communion together.

“As it stands, the Meeting is almost pre-determined to end up as just another gathering that again cannot bring about effective ecclesial actions, despite the precious time, energy and monetary resources that Primates and Provinces have invested in attending the Meeting,” the GS Primates concluded.

“With the disappointing lack of serious transparent planning and leadership beforehand to prepare the Primates for a genuine meeting of minds and hearts to face the very real and obvious issues before us, it will be strenuous to expect any significant, meaningful, credible and constructive outcome of the Dublin Meeting,” they argued.

Those Primates in Dublin will find the 2011 meeting to be unlike the 2007 session in Dar es Salaam or the 2009 meeting in Alexandria. The Dublin Primates will be sequestered from the press and local observers. No outings to Dublin’s Anglican attractions or Irish cultural events are scheduled, while the traditional public worship services with local Anglicans are off this year’s agenda.

It is expected that time will be taken to orient newcomers to the Primates’ Meeting, as almost two-thirds of those present in Alexandria in 2009 will not be in Dublin — only 12 of the overseas Primates present in Dublin attended the Alexandria meeting.

According to ACNS, a variety of reasons were offered for the absences. The Archbishop of the Congo was unable to obtain a visa. The Primates of Mexico and Burma pled illness. Four Primates cited other pressing engagements: Kenya, North India, Sudan and Rwanda. The Archbishop of Tanzania offered “personal reasons” for his absence, while seven Primates absented themselves due to the invitation to Dublin of the Primates of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada — the Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Nigeria, Uganda, Southeast Asia, the Southern Cone, and West Africa.

Canterbury rejects African call to postpone Dublin primates meeting: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 26, 2010, p 7. November 25, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2011.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected Africa’s call to suspend the Dublin primates meeting, a spokesman for Dr. Rowan Williams’ tells The Church of England Newspaper, and the meeting will go on as scheduled.

On Nov 17 Lambeth Palace confirmed that Dr. Williams had received a letter from CAPA chairman Archbishop Ian Earnest.  This letter raised a “concern about the planning process for the Primates’ Meeting and request[ed] that it be postponed.”

“However, given the closeness of the time, and the fact that the majority of Primates have already indicated that they will attend, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not minded to postpone the meeting whose date was set two years ago,” the Lambeth Palace statement said.

Dr. Williams’ decision not to postpone the Dublin meeting, will likely cause a quarter to a third of the primates to stay away, replicating the divisions surrounding the 2008 Lambeth Conference where a majority of African bishops boycotted the meeting.

CEN reported in its Nov 12 issue that Dr. Williams had written to the primates on Oct 7, asking for comments on plans to hold multiple small group gatherings of like minded archbishops, suspending the current format of a single plenary session.

In a letter to the CEN published last week, Canon Kenneth Kearon, writing as the “Secretary General of the Anglican Communion”, denied the report, stating there were no plans to cancel or suspend the meeting.

However, at the close of a two day meeting in Nairobi of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) primates on Nov 9, Archbishop Earnest wrote to Lambeth on behalf of the African church asking the Dublin primates meeting be postponed so as to avoid the scandal of a boycott, and “save face” for  Dr. Williams.

Lambeth Palace told CEN the “archbishop’s intention is for [the Dublin meeting] to be a very different style of meeting driven by the need for discernment and dialogue around those issues that affect the life of the Communion.”

The spokesman added that Dr. Williams was “pleased to note that Archbishop Earnest expresses on behalf of the CAPA Primates that there is no desire to exclude anyone from the meeting and the Archbishop of Canterbury is anxious that all Communion Primates and Moderators recognise the importance of this event.”

A disconnect between Dr. Williams and the CAPA primates may be present, however, as the CAPA primates told Dr. Williams on Aug 24 during the All African Bishops Conference in Entebbe that if US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop Fred Hiltz were there, they would not come.  This view was reiterated in the Nov 9 letter, sources note.

The agenda for the Jan 25-31 meeting at the Emmaus Conference Centre north of Dublin has not been published, apart from the plans to break the meeting up into small group discussion sessions.   Nor have any public events been planned for the meeting, a spokesman for the Church of Ireland reported.  Unlike past primates meeting which included public worship at local Anglican churches and cathedrals, the Church of Ireland told CEN that no requests had been for Christ Church or St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin to host the primates.

No plans to cancel Dublin Primates’ Meeting, ACC says: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 19, 2010 p 7. November 19, 2010

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ACC Secretary General the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon

First published in the Church of England Newspaper.

There are no plans to cancel the Dublin primates meeting, ACC secretary general Canon Kenneth Kearon has declared

In a statement released via Twitter on Nov 11 in response to a story last week in the Church of England Newspaper about the Jan 25-31 meeting, ACC spokesman Jan Butter wrote: “Am afraid this story is not accurate. Communion Sec. Gen. Canon Kearon adamant: never any plans to cancel Primates’ Mtg.”

In its Nov 12 issue, the CEN reported Dr. Rowan Williams had proposed suspending the Primates Meeting—a gathering of the communion’s 38 primates—in favour of holding multiple small group gatherings of like minded archbishops.

Dr. Williams suggested that given the “number of difficult conversations” and the threat of a boycott of its meetings by some of its members, a regime of separate but equal facilitated small group sessions might better serve the primates’ “diverse” perspectives.

The report in the CEN, however, did not claim the archbishop’s Oct 7 letter called for the cancellation of the primates meeting.

In response to a request for clarification, the spokesman for the ACC stated there had been a “slip of the pen”’ in the Twitter message in saying there were never any plans to “cancel” the meeting.  “The point I was trying to get across was that there have never been any plans to suspend the upcoming Primates’ Meeting in Dublin next January,” Mr. Butter wrote.

However, behind the scenes conversations between Dr. Williams and the primates remain on-going, CEN has been told.  While reservations and supplies have been laid on by the ACC staff for the 38 primates and the Archbishop of York to meet at the Emmaus Conference Centre outside of Dublin, it is not clear how many primates will attend the gathering.

In 2008 Dr. Williams called the bluff of the Global South bishops and declined to honour their request to postpone the Lambeth Conference, due to their objections to the presence of the US and Canadian bishops.  As a result a majority of African bishops sat out the every ten year meeting of the communion’s bishops.

In his Oct 7 letter, Dr. Williams warned the primates of the substantial “damage” to the communion a boycott of the meeting would entail.  Whether he can find a synthesis between the opposing camps within the communion, offering suggestions as to ways the primates could meet together without actually having to meet together, remains unclear.

CAPA primates respond to Canterbury’s call: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 19, 2010 p 7. November 18, 2010

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President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya with the CAPA primates on Nov 9 in Nairobi

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The African primates of the Anglican Communion have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, offering their counsel on the format and agenda of the forthcoming primates meeting in Dublin.

Meeting at the ACK guest house in Nairobi from Nov 8-9, the primates or representatives from 12 African provinces along with the Primate of Southeast Asia, Archbishop John Chew of Singapore, met in private session to discuss issues of African and international concern.

At the close of the meeting, a letter to Dr. Williams was prepared, responding to his Oct 7 letter suggesting that a regime of facilitated small group meetings be instituted in place of the traditional format of the primates meeting, in light of the threatened boycott of the gathering.

The contents of the African letter have not yet been disclosed, sources tell CEN, as the primates do not want to force Dr. Williams’ hand by way of a leak to the press.

However, in his opening remarks to the meeting, the chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), Archbishop Ian Earnest of the Indian Ocean stated the question of a boycott of the Dublin meeting had to be taken by each archbishop.

CAPA would make its views known to Dr. Williams, he said, “but the decision to attend rests solely on the individual Archbishop.”

Archbishop Earnest added that Dr. Williams had invited him in his “capacity of CAPA Chairman to be part of a preparatory committee. He is also anxious that a small group of primates meet with him.”

He added, “I would like to have your opinion and thoughts about it.”  Last month Archbishop Earnest announced he would boycott the meeting due to the presence of the US and Canadian primates.

On Nov 9, the primates met with the President Mwai Kibaki at Harambee House.  According to a statement released by the president’s press office, the primates “commended President Kibaki and the coalition government for the strides made in the reform agenda in the country.”

Archbishop Earnest told the president that CAPA was “fully committed” in supporting government efforts “in sustaining peace and stability” across the continent, the statement said.

“CAPA leadership has played a key role in contributing towards peace and stability in their respective countries. For example in the Sudan, Burundi, DRC and Kenya, the Anglican church has contributed to peace,” Archbishop Ernest said.

President Kibaki urged the church to use its influence in “seeking peaceful and amicable solutions to conflicts in Sudan, the horn of Africa and other countries experiencing insecurity in the continent.”

Dublin primates meeting in doubt: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 12, 2010 p 6. November 11, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed suspending the Primates Meeting—the fourth ‘instrument of unity’ in the Anglican Communion—in favour of holding multiple small group gatherings of like minded archbishops.

In a letter to the primates dated Oct 7, Dr. Rowan Williams suggested that given the “number of difficult conversations” and the threat of a boycott of its meetings, a regime of separate but equal facilitated small groups sessions might better serve the primates’ “diverse” perspectives and forestall the substantial “damage” to the communion a full-fledged boycott would entail.

Dr. Williams also called for a reform of the structure of the meetings, suggesting that an elected standing committee be created and the powers and responsibility of the meeting of the communion’s 38 archbishops, presiding bishops and moderators be delineated.

Lambeth Palace did not respond to a request for clarification about the Oct 7 letter, while a spokesman for the Anglican Consultative Council said it could not address the question of a potential boycott as “the content of correspondence between the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury is private.”

On Oct 24 Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz warned a joint meeting of the Canadian Anglican and Lutheran House of Bishops of the boycott threat.  “There is a lot of tension within the group,” he said, as some primates were “unwilling to come to the table with everyone present.”

The Anglican Journal reported that Archbishop Hiltz believed Dr. Williams “might try to deal with this problem by arranging prior meetings of smaller groups of like-minded primates.”

The African primates attending the All African Bishops meeting in Entebbe on Aug 24 told Dr. Williams they would not attend future primates meeting if US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop Hiltz were there.  The African primates voiced their concern over unilateral actions taken by the North American churches and also upbraided Dr. Williams for what they saw as his pusillanimity in responding to the ensuing crisis of doctrine and discipline.

The Archbishop of Canterbury answered his critics in Entebbe by stating he did not have the authority to withhold invitations, CEN was told by those present at the meeting.  However, a formal boycott of the meeting has not been announced by the African primates, as further consultations with the Gafcon coalition and other like minded primates are scheduled.

The following month, Dr. Williams published notice that the next primates meeting would take place from Jan 25 to 31, 2011 at the Emmaus Retreat & Conference Centre in Dublin.  On Sept 21 Bishop Jefferts Schori stated she had received notice of the meeting, and was planning on attending.

Subsequent meetings of the GAFCON primates in Oxford in October and a second meeting of the CAPA primates on Nov 8-9 in Nairobi have yielded a common resolve to oppose the North American block, but a common tactical response to the threat has yet to be decided, sources tell CEN.   Suggestions under consideration range from a boycott of the Dublin meeting, the convening of a rival primates meeting, the withdrawal of the Global South from all pan-Anglican gatherings for a season, or accommodating Dr. Williams and his pleas for restraint one more time.

What was certain, one primate told CEN, was the resolve of the Global South/Gafcon/CAPA coalition not to walk away from the Communion, but seek its reform and renewal.

Established in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan as an opportunity for selected primates to meet for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation,” the primates meeting has grown haphazardly in recent years.  The heads of the communion’s 38 provinces are currently invited to participate in the gathering, while Dr. Williams has added the Archbishop of York to the meeting’s current roster.  The two-diocese Church of Bangladesh’s senior bishop attends the gathering, but not the senior bishop of the two-diocese Church of Ceylon.

The meeting has traditionally elected a standing committee from regional blocks: the Americas, Europe, Africa, South Asia, and East Asia, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as its chairman.  The five regional members also serve on the newly formed standing committee with members from the Anglican Consultative Council.   The primate from the European block drawn from the Church in Wales, the Church of Ireland or the Scottish Episcopal Church has the same standing as the member for Africa, even though the African churches is over 50 times larger.

The appointment of the Archbishop of York to the meeting’s membership and the structural inequality of the regional blocks have prompted criticism from within the meeting, while its attempts at exercising authority over the wider communion have been attacked from without.

2011 primates meeting set for Dublin: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 1, 2010 p 7. October 1, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has published notice that the next meeting of Primates will take place from Jan 25 to 31, 2011 at the Emmaus Retreat & Conference Centre in Dublin.

Established in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan as an opportunity for selected primates to meet for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation,” the primates meeting has grown in recent years to include the archbishops, presiding bishops and moderators of the Communion’s 38 provinces, and the Archbishop of York.

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated on Sept 21 that she had received notice of the meeting, and was planning on attending.  The primates of the Global South coalition will meet next month and are expected to take up the issue of whether they will attend the gathering.

During Dr. Williams’ tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury the primates have met at Lambeth Palace in 2003, in Dromantine, Northern Ireland in 2005, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2007, and in Alexandria, Egypt in 2009.

The choice of Dublin as the site of Dr. Williams’ fifth primates meeting came as a surprise to some primates, who had been led to believe after the Alexandria meeting they would next gather in Central America.

Dr. Williams has traditionally not disclosed a detailed agenda before the start of the meeting.  In December 2008 a number of Global South primates met with Dr. Williams in Canterbury to discuss the Alexandria meeting and offered suggestions as to topics of discussion.  The Global South archbishops stated after the meeting they were nonplussed that their suggestions did not influence the agenda.

Dr. Coggan’s vision of a meeting devoted to prayer and reflection for the primates has given way to mixed business meeting – academic seminar format.  In 2003 the Archbishop of Nigeria first objected to participating in a Eucharistic service with US Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.  Dr. Williams prevailed on Archbishop Akinola to relent, but successive meetings saw shrinkage in the time spent in worship as more primates absented themselves from corporate Eucharist as they could not worship with those with whom there were not in fellowship.  By the 2009 meeting in Alexandria, no attempt was made to hold a corporate Eucharist for all the primates and no group photo was taken.