African Bishops Release Joint Response to Windsor Report

The bishops who gathered for the first ever African Anglican Bishop's Conference released the long-awaited response to the report on homosexuality and unity in the Anglican Communion.

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By Pauline J. Chang, Christian Post Reporter
October 29, 2004|10:27 am

The 300 bishops who gathered in Lagos, Nigeria for the premier African Anglican Bishop’s Conference, released their first statement regarding the Windsor Report, on Oct. 29, 2004. The response, which offered “preliminary reflections” on the report on homosexuality and the unity of the Anglican Communion, essentially reiterated the conservative stance of the African bishops and called for greater equity in the worldwide Communion.

“We are gathered at an extraordinary and historic meeting of Anglican Bishops from all over Africa. We do so grateful for the Faith once delivered to the saints and the generosity of those who first brought the good news of Jesus Christ to the African continent,” the statement began.

The preliminary reflections began with a note of thanks to the members who drew up the Windsor Report. The report, which was released on Oct. 18, addresses the contentious issues of homosexual clergy and homosexual union blessings, and the consequential divisions that arose in the communion.

“We believe that the Windsor Report correctly points out that the Episcopal Church USA and the Diocese of New Westminster have pushed the Anglican Communion to the breaking point,” the statement noted.

“We call on the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to take seriously the need for “repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ,” they added.

Meanwhile, the African bishops rejected “the moral equivalence” drawn between the Episcopal Church USA and the African churches.

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“To call on us to “express regret” and reassert our commitment to the Communion is offensive in light of our earlier statements. If the Episcopal Church USA had not willfully “torn the fabric of our communion at its deepest level” our actions would not have been necessary,” they wrote.

They statement also iterated the support for a suggestion to let Africa establish its own theological education more befitting the conservative continent.

“We are encouraged by the suggestions offered for restructuring the various instruments of unity to strengthen our common life. We look forward to the day when the voices of the majority of the Anglican Communion are adequately represented in those various instruments,” they wrote.

The following is the full text of the bishops' statement, as released by the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa:

A Statement from the Primates gathered at the first African Anglican Bishop's Conference

We are gathered at an extraordinary and historic meeting of Anglican Bishops from all over Africa. We do so grateful for the Faith once delivered to the saints and the generosity of those who first brought the good news of Jesus Christ to the African continent.

We have come to celebrate the coming of age of the Church in Africa and we look forward to taking our rightful place in the various councils of the wider church. In that context we have received the Windsor Report prepared at the Primates' request and in preparation for our meeting in February we offer the following preliminary reflections:

· We are very grateful for the hard work of the Commission members and the dedicated servant leadership offered by the Most Reverend Robin Eames. We believe that the Windsor Report offers a way forward that has the potential of being marked with God's grace.

· We believe that the Windsor Report correctly points out that the Episcopal Church USA and the Diocese of New Westminster have pushed the Anglican Communion to the breaking point. The report rightly states that they did not listen to the clear voices of the Communion, rejected the Counsel of the four Instruments of Unity and ignored the plea of the Primates of the Global South in their statements issued on October 16th and November 2nd, 2003.

· We call on the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to take seriously the need for “repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report [134]) and move beyond informal expressions of regret for the effect of their actions to a genuine change of heart and mind. Failure to do so would indicate that they have chosen to “walk alone” and follow another religion.

· We note with approval that the Windsor Report calls for a moratorium on the election and consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in same gender union and the use of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. We urge the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to take this call to heart mindful of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 “We cannot advise the legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.” Failure to do so would indicate that they have chosen to “walk alone.”

· The Windsor Report acknowledges the great pain that has been inflicted upon faithful communities that have resisted doctrinal innovations within Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. However, we reject the moral equivalence drawn between those who have initiated the crisis and those of us in the Global South who have responded to cries for help from beleaguered friends. To call on us to “express regret” and reassert our commitment to the Communion is offensive in light of our earlier statements. If the Episcopal Church USA had not willfully “torn the fabric of our communion at its deepest level” our actions would not have been necessary.

· We note with approval the recognition that extraordinary episcopal care is needed for congregations alienated from their diocesan bishops. We remain convinced that the adequacy of that care should be determined by those who receive it, and we are looking for clear evidence that the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight proposal is effective by this measure.

· We are encouraged by the suggestions offered for restructuring the various instruments of unity to strengthen our common life. We look forward to the day when the voices of the majority of the Anglican Communion are adequately represented in those various instruments.

We are committed to the future life of the Anglican Communion, one that is rooted in truth and charity, and faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

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