Primates suspend Episcopal Church from full participation in the Anglican Communion

Archbishop to appoint a task group to conduct a visitation of American church

The primates of the Anglican Communion have suspended the Episcopal Church from full participation in the life and work of the Anglican Communion. On 14 January 2016 a motion was presented to the gathering of archbishops and moderators gathered in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral that called for the Episcopal Church to be suspended for a period of three years.

The resolution as shared with Anglican Ink calls for the Episcopal Church to lose its “vote” in meetings of pan-Anglican institutions and assemblies, but preserves its “voice”, demoting the church to observer status..

The motion asks that representatives of the Episcopal Church not be permitted to represent the Communion in interfaith and ecumenical bodies or dialogue commissions, nor serve on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, nor vote at meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council — whose next meeting is this summer in Lusaka. Unlike the recommendations of the Windsor Report, which called for the “voluntary withdrawal” of the Episcopal Church from the life of the Communion, today’s vote directs the archbishop to discipline the American church.

The Episcopal Church may not take part in the decision making process “on issues of doctrine or polity”, either, agreed the primates.

The motion further asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to “appoint a task group to maintain conversations among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of commonality, and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held in the love and grace of Christ.”

The archbishop’s task group will be tasked with implementing the dialogue and codifying what “this looks like” a source familiar with the deliberations told AI.

The motion was passed by a two thirds margin, sources tell AI.

The three year time frame to repent and bring its house in order was given so as to “respect the polity of the Episcopal Church” a source tells us. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has no authority to bind the American church. That can only be done by the Church’s General Convention which is scheduled to meet in 2018.

Debate within the meeting focused on the actions of General Convention. Several primates, for whom this was their first meeting, were unaware of the background to the debate, and the group as a whole focused its attentions on the actions of last summer’s General Convention.

Leaders of the GAFCON movement, at the start of the meeting, sought to group the Anglican Church of Canada with the Episcopal Church, but Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz told the gathering his church had yet to adopt provincial-wide rites for same-sex marriage. It would come before the next meeting of General Synod, he explained, but had not been settled. Archbishop Hiltz’s explanation appears to have satisfied the group as a whole as the motion proposed and its accompanying debate focused on the Episcopal Church.

The Lambeth Palace press office did not respond to requests for comment, while a spokesman for Archbishop Foley Beach of the ACNA said he would not be commenting at this time. The Rev. Arun Arora, director of communications for the Church of England released a message on Twitter in response to the news of sanctions, stating: “@anglicanink Acting within the love&grace of Jesus Not about sanctions but consequences in context of unanimous commitment to walk together”. He declined to expand upon this statement.

The meeting continues to mid-day Friday, and a formal press conference has been scheduled after the close.

The meeting continues.

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