Anglicans Address Key Issues of Identity, Authority, Relationships

Top Anglican theologians and bishops are beginning a new round of talks on “key issues” that threaten to break apart the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, such as varying viewpoints on homosexuality and the changing structure of the global church.

In a letter issued late last month, the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (IATDC) called on “all bishops and theological education centers” to offer their answers to “some of the key questions troubling the Anglican Communion.”

“I realize that you have many calls upon your time, but am sure that you agree with me about the need for the widest possible participation in the conversation that is now being resumed,” wrote the Rt. Rev. Professor Stephen Sykes, Chair of the IATDC.

The new round of dialogue comes during a time of heightened tension in the Church over issues of the autonomy, authority and subsidiarity of national denominations. While such conflicts developed through several decades, they were thrust to the fore in recent years following the ordination of a gay bishop in the U.S. denomination, and the subsequent frustration among “global south” churches over what they viewed as an inadequate punishment of their northern counterpart.

Accordingly, late last year, the Anglican Church in Nigeria changed its official name from “The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)” to “The Church of Nigeria.” The church also made significant changes to its constitution by erasing references to “communion with the see of Canterbury” – the traditional method with which the members of the Anglican Communion related to each other.

The IATDC, which was originally formed in 2001 to describe the nature of the communion that exists between Anglican churches around the world, was suspended over the last two years because its funding was channeled to the Lambeth Commission, which produced the Windsor Report on same-sex relationships.

In continuing its work, the IATDC will be addressing the wider theological framework of the Anglican identity and inter-Anglican relations. The IATDC will also include responses to the Windsor Report.