Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, seen here at a General Synod press conference in June. Photo: Art Babych
A proposal to separate The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the U.S. from the rest of the Anglican Communion has been rejected by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion in London. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, told the Anglican Journal that he finds this decision “encouraging” and a step towards healing.
In a recent meeting, the committee decided that such an action, proposed by committee member Dato Stanley Isaacs of South East Asia, “would inhibit dialogue and… would therefore be unhelpful.” The proposal followed the consecration of Bishop Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, in the diocese of Los Angeles.
The Episcopal Church’s decision to proceed with the consecration broke one of three moratoria outlined in the Communion’s Windsor Report. The report requested a period of “gracious restraint” during which there provinces would not proceed with the ordination of gay or lesbian people as bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions, and cross-border interventions by bishops outside their own province. In June, Canon Kenneth Kearon, general secretary of the Anglican Communion, wrote to members of The Episcopal Church to inform them that as a result of the Los Angeles consecration, their membership on committees for ecumenical dialogue had been withdrawn.
But the standing committee did not go further in that direction. Commenting on the meeting’s results, Archbishop Hiltz, said, “For lots of people, it’s very encouraging because there was a lot of anxiety…,” said Archbishop Hiltz of the standing committee’s decision. “… It’s pretty clear, in spite of a request that the Episcopal Church be [asked] to leave, that that was one voice and everybody else said, ‘No, that’s not the way forward.’ “
In June, Archbishop Hiltz had expressed concern that all voices in the Communion be heard. He said that whether people resign or are excluded, fewer voices at the table can be damaging.
Several members of the Communion’s standing committee have resigned in recent months, including Bishop Azad Marshall of the diocese of Iran, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda and his elected alternate, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa. Bishop Paul Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and bishop of Dhaka, joined the July meeting as the elected alternate for Middle East president Bishop Mouneer Anis, who resigned his membership in February.