The Windsor Report 2004

Recommendations on the Instruments of Unity

  1. We have concluded that there needs to be a clearer understanding of the expectations placed on provinces in responding to the decisions of these Instruments. We do not favour the accumulation of formal power by the Instruments of Unity, or the establishment of any kind of central 'curia' for the Communion. However, we do believe that there are several ways in which the nature of the moral authority of the Instruments of Unity could be more clearly articulated. The terminology we use to describe these 'Instruments of Unity' suggests that their primary purpose lies elsewhere; neither the concept nor the goal of 'unity' is made explicit, and it thus appears that they are not inter-related at all. We have a 'Council' which is 'consultative', a 'Conference' which meets once a decade, a 'Meeting' which has no prescribed timetable, and an 'Archbishop'. We recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury be regarded as the focus of unity and that the Primates' Meeting, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and possibly others, be regarded more appropriately as the Instruments of Communion.

  2. Further work is necessary on the relationship between those Instruments of Unity. At the moment, there is no clear demarcation indicating which responsibilities fall to which instrument; this is particularly true of the relationship between the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council. Which speaks with the more authoritative voice for worldwide Anglicanism? Should the Lambeth Conference, as the gathering of the chief pastors and teachers of the churches have a 'magisterium', a teaching authority of special status? Is the Anglican Consultative Council, as the sole instrument which has lay participation alongside ordained membership other than the episcopal order, and thus most closely resembles the synods and conventions of the provinces, more appropriately the body which can take something approaching binding decisions for the Communion? What is the relationship between the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting? When the Primates' Meeting began, it was envisaged as taking on certain responsibilities akin to a Standing Committee of the Lambeth Conference, providing the sort of frequent meeting which would allow it to address emerging crises[75]. Has it, in fact, developed such an 'enhanced responsibility' as the Lambeth Conference and the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission have strongly recommended? It may be clearer if the 'Primates' Meeting' became known as the 'Primates' Conference - the Lambeth Standing Committee'.

  3. We are aware that engagement with structural questions concerning the Instruments of Unity may be thought to take us beyond our mandate and, in any event, would be matters for the Instruments themselves (and especially the Anglican Consultative Council) to address. However, we offer our own thoughts and suggestions on these matters in Appendix One.