In lieu of the strokes of divisions faced by the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a special round table discussion between seventeen Church leaders, theologians and lawyers. This weeks council, the first full meeting of its kind, will consider how to structurally respond to the schisms that are rapidly spreading across the communion.
The Commission will consider two major issues at hand: the election of the first openly gay bishop in the Diocese of New Hampshire and the approval of rites for blessing same-sex unions in Canada.
While the commission is not responsible for making judgments on issues of sexuality, they must consider how to deal with subsequent divisions that arose throughout the communion.
The weeklong Commission will not make judgments on issues of sexuality, but rather on how the 77-million member Anglican Communion can deal with the subsequent divisions.
Robin Eames, Primate of all Ireland, has been assigned as chair to the meeting in England, At a meeting of Primates in Lambeth Palace last October the Archbishop of Canterbury was invited to appoint an international Commission under the chairmanship of Archbishop Eames.
The divisions which are emerging are serious and question what sort of Anglican Communion its members wish to see in future. Sincerely held views are being expressed on all sides of the argument but it is vital that ways are found of dealing with division on any issue which will stand the test of time, Eames commented.
There is a widespread desire to maintain Anglicanism as a world Communion. To enable this to happen decisions need to be taken which will allow autonomy to relate to communion and relationships while acknowledging the on-going mission of the Church throughout the world, he continued.
The reports and findings will be submitted to the Primates and Provinces shortly afterwards.
In related news, thirteen Primates that are part of the commission, released a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, criticizing the actions of the North American churches, and the lack of action thereafter.
The members of the Commission are:
Archbishop Robin Eames
Primate of All Ireland, Chairman
The Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan
Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry, the Anglican Church of Canada
Bishop David Beetge
Dean of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa
Professor Norman Doe
Director of the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University, Wales
Bishop Mark Dyer
Director of Spiritual Formation, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA
Archbishop Drexel Gomez
Primate of the West Indies
Archbishop Josiah Iduwo-Fearon
Archbishop of Kaduna, the Anglican Church of Nigeria
The Revd Dorothy Lau
Director of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council
Ms Anne McGavin
Advocate, formerly Legal Adviser to the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Archbishop Bernard Malango
Primate of Central Africa
Dr Esther Mombo
Academic Dean of St Pauls United Theological Seminary, Limuru, Kenya
Archbishop Barry Morgan
Primate of Wales
Chancellor Rubie Nottage
Chancellor of the West Indies
Bishop John Paterson
Primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council
Dr Jenny Te Paa
Principal of College of Saint John the Evangelist, Auckland, New Zealand
Bishop James Terom
Moderator, the Church of North India
Bishop N Thomas Wright
Bishop of Durham, the Church of England.