January 2011 Primates' Meeting

Primates' Meeting Dublin 25th- 30th January, 2011

What is the Primates’ Meeting?

The Primates' Meeting is one of the four Instruments of Communion which was established in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan (101st Archbishop of Canterbury) as an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” and has met regularly since. As "primus inter pares" - first among equals, the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers his fellow Primates together for prayer, worship and conversation on the current state of affairs and mission in the global church. The Archbishop of Canterbury chairs the meetings with the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, serving as secretary.

There are 38 Primates (Senior bishops, Presiding Bishops, Moderators) of the Anglican Communion. The Primates come together from the geographic Provinces around the globe.  When the primacy is vacant, it is usual for the province to nominate the Dean of the Province or the Senior Bishop to represent that province. (see biographies section for further information). At every meeting there are always a number of Primates who are unable to attend because of illness, diary commitments or issues in their Province. The informal nature of the meeting means that it does not require any kind of quorum to go ahead.

What is the main aim of this year’s meeting?

After the last Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt in 2009, a number of Primates felt that at the 2011 meeting a mechanism should be found to address the big issues affecting the life of the Communion. In response to these requests a different kind of meeting has been arranged: a facilitated conversation with the aim of identifying, exploring, and, where possible, proposing next steps for those issues identified by the Primates as most seriously affecting the life of the Communion and their Provinces.

As with previous meetings, Primates will also address items of ‘business’ such as appointing new members to the Primates’ Standing Committee. There will also be a reflection led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the theme of primacy.

What will be the outcome of the meeting?

The agenda of the meeting will develop as the meeting progresses, so it is impossible to say what the outcomes of this meeting will be. While the Primates' Meetings have always been private there is an intention to hold a press conference on the last day of the meeting (Sunday 30 January) to share with the Communion the salient points of the meeting.

There have been six meetings since 2002:

Alexandria, Egypt 1-5 February, 2009.
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 14-19 February, 2007.
Newry, Northern Ireland, 20-25 February, 2005.
London, England,15-16 October 2003.
Gramado, Brazil, 19-25 May 2003.
Canterbury, England, April 10-16, 2002.