The Presiding Bishop writes:
Given divergences that look interplanetary in degree and scale, what does this diverse body have in common? Certainly a recognisably common framework of worship, descended from the Church of England. A reliance on sacred scripture, in common with tradition and reason, also characteristic of roots in British Christianity. And a passion for caring for their flocks – the hungry, the sick, the aged and infirm, widows and orphans, and the forgotten, as well as those who know no good news.
But the forms and structures of the various provinces of the Anglican communion have diverged significantly, in ways that challenge those ancient ties to England and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those provinces are the result of evangelism tied to colonial structures, whether of Britain or her former colonies, and that colonial history has still to be unpacked and assessed. The present attempts to manage conflict in the communion through a renewed focus on structural ties to old or new authorities have generated significant resistance, both from provinces who largely absented themselves from Lambeth and from dissenting voices among the attending bishops.
The Anglican communion’s present reality reflects a struggle to grow into a new level of maturity, like that of adult siblings in a much-conflicted family. As we continue to wrestle, sufficient space and respect for the differing gifts of the siblings just might lead to greater maturity in relationship. This will require greater self-definition as well as decreased reactivity. Jesus’ own example in relationships with his opponents and with his disciples will be instructive.