The Windsor Report 2004

Appendix One: Reflections on the Instruments of Unity

The Anglican Consultative Council

  1. Recent attempts to restructure the membership of the Anglican Consultative Council have foundered, partly on grounds of lack of finance, and partly because of a perceived imbalance between the orders of laity, clergy and bishops. This is particularly true of a suggestion that each province be represented on the Anglican Consultative Council by its primate. Some provinces in fact do this as a matter of policy, but ordinary membership of the Anglican Consultative Council is restricted to the duration of three ordinary meetings of the full Anglican Consultative Council, and then any primate so elected is forced to relinquish membership. The present membership of the Anglican Consultative Council could be made more effective, and more accountable, by being required to be drawn from those persons who have a voice within the highest executive body of each province. Members who ceased to hold such office while serving as members of the Anglican Consultative Council would be required to stand down and be replaced unless that member church made other arrangements. Such a requirement would allow for greatly improved mutual accountability and a sense of responsibility between the Anglican Consultative Council and each province. Should the Anglican Consultative Council move to assume a more synodical role, its authority would be strengthened if the episcopal house were to consist of the primates of the Communion.

  2. The role and frequency of meetings of the Primates' Standing Committee and the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council need to be regularised. The members of the Anglican Consultative Council Standing Committee are currently the trustees of the funds of the Anglican Communion, with charitable status conferred under the laws of the United Kingdom. As such the Anglican Consultative Council Standing Committee has to make some decisions which carry financial implications quite independently of the Primates' Standing Committee, even though the two bodies generally meet as one 'Joint Standing Committee'. If the Primates' Meeting is to continue to meet on an annual basis, it would seem that the Joint Standing Committee of the primates and the Anglican Consultative Council should meet in close proximity, in order to allow for clear communication and understanding. If this is so, the Commission takes the view that the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council should be amended to ensure that members of the Standing Committee of the Primates' Meeting become members ex officio of the Anglican Consultative Council, and in turn become also members ex officio of its Standing Committee, and trustees of the Communion. This would give structural and constitutional reality to the present arrangements of meeting annually, but with unresolved questions of differing responsibilities.

The Lambeth Conference

  1. It will help the life of the Anglican Communion if there is a clearer understanding of the ecclesiological foundations of our life as Anglicans and in particular of our theology of episcopacy and its relationship to both its local context and the wider communion. The much-used phrase that we are “episcopally led but synodically governed” fails to explain adequately the relationship between the exercise of episcopacy and synodical government within and between provinces and begs the question as to what are the boundaries between leadership and governance. In clarifying this it might then be possible to reach agreement on the nature of 'corporate episcopacy' and the extent to which bishops meeting at Lambeth provide worldwide leadership, and on the nature of their authority over their own and other provinces of the Communion. While the decisions of Lambeth Conferences do not have canonical force, they do have moral authority across the Communion. Consequently, provinces of the Communion should not proceed with controversial developments in the face of teaching to the contrary from all the bishops gathered together in Lambeth Conferences. This might go to the heart of receiving what was said about synodality in The Virginia Report[106]. It is a fact that just as bishops of a particular province meet together from time to time to take counsel together as guardians both of the unity and teaching of the Church, so too bishops in the past have come together in council to give leadership to the Church on important issues. The Lambeth Conference follows this tradition.

  2. Whilst this Commission does not wish to bring forward proposals to change the formal status of resolutions of the Lambeth Conference, we would like to suggest that there should be some level of distinction between different kinds of motion at the Conference. It might be helpful if there were a special category of Lambeth Resolutions which could be stated to “touch upon the definition of Anglicanism”, or upon “the authentic proclamation of the Gospel”; these motions could be subject to a distinctive procedure to demonstrate their differentiated status, and therefore for the special attention of the Communion. Clearly some process would need to be established whereby such issues could be identified. Such motions would also require a clear process by which they could be adopted - the extended consideration of the whole conference; to require an increased majority for passing or to trigger stated methods of reception, in order to be seen as the definitive teaching of the Anglican Communion.

The Primates' Meeting

  1. The Commission is convinced that the Primates' Meeting should continue to provide an important element in the life of the Communion as the body which affirms the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference in the life of Anglicanism. In that respect, the Primates' Meeting should serve formally as the Standing Committee of the Lambeth Conference and as such should monitor developments in furtherance of resolutions of the Lambeth Conference in addition to the process of reception. This will allow the Primates' Meeting to begin the enhanced responsibility which successive Lambeth Conferences have recommended. It should be a primary forum for the strengthening of the mutual life of the provinces, and be respected by individual primates and the provinces they lead as an instrument through which new developments may be honestly addressed. In order to fulfil this role, it must be enabled to meet regularly. The Commission believes that greater attention should be paid to the organisation of the Primates' Meeting to facilitate greater participation by the primates and to provide for more formal and businesslike sessions.

The Anglican Communion Office

  1. The role and the particular responsibilities of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion in relation to the Instruments of Unity and the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury need to be carefully evaluated and set out. In particular the relationship and the accountability between the holder of that office and the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council needs fundamental reappraisal. Some forms of regular meetings or the ability to communicate in person quickly and easily have to be established and maintained.

  2. Any committee or body of trustees that is made up of persons located in a wide variety of countries spread around the Anglican Communion experiences peculiar difficulties in holding regular and effective meetings and in being able to communicate easily. This makes for particular difficulties in relating to the executive staff of the Anglican Communion Office in order to offer support, encouragement and advice, or suggest directions in which to move. Closer oversight and accountability is required in both directions. There should be regular reviews of staff performance and remuneration. The recent appointment of a new Secretary General also offers an opportunity for a reappraisal of staffing structures in both St Andrew's House for the Anglican Communion staff and at Lambeth Palace for those who assist the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to Anglican Communion affairs. Duplication of roles is to be avoided wherever possible.

  3. It is clear to the Commission that any effective attempt to enhance the synodality of the member churches of the Anglican Communion will require a vehicle whereby liaison and monitoring of the developments across the Communion can be afforded the importance they deserve. Apart from any Council of Advice which may be established, the Commission views as a matter of urgent priority a reassessment of the work of the Anglican Communion Office in London in this respect. This office functions as a secretariat for the entire Anglican Communion, including the three conciliar Instruments of Unity, even if it is technically only the secretariat of the Anglican Consultative Council. The demands on staff and time and the financial foundation of the Office at present are entirely unacceptable as a means of fulfilling these roles.

  4. We recommend therefore a rethinking of the strategic role of the Anglican Communion Office. It should be understood to serve all Instruments of Unity, and have sufficient staffing and resourcing from across the Communion to be able to act in a neutral and unbeholden way for the good of the whole Communion. In addition to all its current tasks, the office should be able to monitor the development in all the provinces, from information provided by the provinces designed to assist the Instruments of Unity to be aware of the development in the life of the Communion. This has financial implications which will need to be addressed by each member church of the Anglican Communion in reviewing and increasing their contributions to the inter-Anglican budget to enhance the effectiveness of the Instruments of Unity.