The Letter I’d Write if I Were an Anglican Primate

Lisa Severine Noland’s article about the perils of going to Lambeth this summer has galvanised me to draft the letter I’d write if I were an Anglican primate in a predominantly "reasserter" province:

Esteemed ++Rowan Williams!

It is with the deepest regret that I find myself compelled to write this letter to you.

At this point there is little purpose to be served by recounting the events of the last ten years and more in our Anglican Communion.  Starting with the resolution we passed on homosexuality at our last Lambeth gathering, we have seen a perverse pas de deux unfold as provinces such as The Episcopal Church and certain dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have allowed (and in many ways encouraged) the inclusion of openly non-celebate homosexuals into their sacerdotal and episcopal hierarchy, the formulation and performance of same-sex blessings in their churches, and many other related permissions and actions.  We have also seen that the response of (this province and) many other provinces in our communion to these and the many other humanistic and syncretistic developments in these and other provinces (including your church, I hasten to add) by affording proper pastoral oversight to those who dissent from these pernicious trends has been met with decidedly non-Christian responses both in ecclesiastical and secular proceedings.

There is also little purpose to be served by recounting the many meetings we have had, both in the regular course of business of the Communion and the special meetings.  The Communion on the whole has expressed its dissapproval of the actions of TEC and ACC, based on the plain sense of Scripture and Anglican doctrinal tradition.  Nevertheless these expressions have been in reality evaded with vague official statements which are not backed up by the reality of the dioceses represented by those making the statements.

Now we face yet another Lambeth conference with the serious possibility that those churches which have forwarded these condemned agendas use the economic superiority and favourable image with sympathetic elites to shame those who come into acquiesing to their idea, which would constitute an abrogation of the episcopal vows of each of us who would attend such a gathering.

At this point this Province, having considered things carefully, has come to the conclusion that the Anglican Communion has lost the will to effectively uphold the Christian sexual ethic of sex solely within the bonds of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman.  This is not simply an issue concerning homosexuals; it is the entire teaching of the Holy Scriptures on this subject which is under attack.  We have also come to the conclusion that the Communion has lost the will to either effectively deal with provinces which encourage this abandonment or to allow other provinces to remedy the situation, as evidenced by the exclusion of certain bishops in communion with you from the Lambeth invitation.  We believe that this loss of will is not a general one amongst Anglican churches, but one at the Communion’s highest levels.

As a result of this, this letter is to inform you that I am intiating the process of this Province’s formal withdrawal from the Anglican Communion, effective immediately.  I should also add that, because we are an Anglican church in doctrine, in Apostolic succession, in worship and in affection, we would like to remain in full communion with your see for the indefinite future.   I say "indefinite" because, as I alluded to earlier, current trends in your church–to say nothing of possible government coercion in the future–may jeopardise any communion that we might have between us.

It seems that some mention of the social agenda of the Anglican Communion is in order.  Although the provinces that promote the agenda described above generally vocalise great enthusiasm for social justice in general and the Millennium Development Goals in particular, a cursory examination of the wealth distribution in our world makes one doubt the real meaning of two score of rhetoric on these issues.

This is a decision that we do not take lightly or in haste; however, we believe that the integrity of this Province and the ministry that God has entrusted us to must be safeguarded, and our decision should be considered in this light.

"May God, the source of all peace, who brought back from the dead him who, ‘by virtue of the blood that rendered valid the unchangeable Covenant, is the Great Shepherd of God’s Sheep,’ Jesus, our Lord– may God make you perfect in everything that is good, so that you may be able to do his will. May he bring out in us all that is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Yours faithfully,


P.S. I have opted to use the Russian salutation, as the use of "Dear" amongst men may give rise to misinterpretation in certain circles with which we are both familiar.

I am confident that those of you who are better versed in Anglican canon law will take exception to the way in which I have expressed many things here.  I attempted to replicate to the greatest extent possible the prose I see in Anglican documents, especially with the use of long, complicated run-on sentences.

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