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Future of Anglican Communion Unpredictable

Weeks remain before Anglicans worldwide meet at the Primates table, and conservative Anglicans say they are ready to "act together," even if they are seated next to Episcopal Presiding Bishop Kathar
( [email protected] ) Jan 22, 2007 03:22 PM EST

Weeks remain before Anglicans from around the globe meet at the Primates table, and conservative Anglicans say they are ready to "act together," even if they are seated next to Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

"In Africa whether you are a friend or [enemy] normally we welcome you, but welcoming you does not mean we agree with what you are doing," said Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi at an Anglican Mission in America conference last week. "When you are called to a meeting you don't say ‘no,’ but you can say ‘no’ to the agenda for that meeting.

"We can begin the meeting, but the agenda itself will tell whether we can continue with everybody or not."

Global South Anglican leaders had stated earlier that they would not be able to recognize Jefferts Schori as a representative of the Episcopal Church at the mid-February Primates meeting in Tanzania.

Although Indian Ocean Archbishop Gerald James Ernest said they would work together on this issue, many say they cannot predict the outcome of the upcoming meeting.

"Even the Archbishop of Canterbury might not know and even he may be deceived," said retired Southeast Asian Primate Moses Tay when describing the challenges that Primates will soon face.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he feared schism within the Anglican Communion and the situation slipping out of his control. The Church of Nigeria had warned of going separate ways from the worldwide communion if the Episcopal Church did not repent of its apostasies.

At a meeting with heads of 38 Anglican provinces, there may be a little witnessing to the controversial Episcopal head. Tanzanian Archbishop Donald Mtetemela requested for prayers "so that I may have the wisdom to bring God's word to Katharine as I know it in my heart."

"This is a good opportunity to bring what I believe about Jesus Christ, to bring it to Katharine," he added.

Before her investiture as head, Jefferts Schori had told Time magazine that Jesus is not the only way to God and to heaven. Her remarks fueled more protest that began with her showing support for same-sex marriage and the consecration of gays. Nevertheless, she went on to become the first woman presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in November.

Fearful of anger bursts and the meeting going out of control, Mtetemela urged prayers for the Primates to remain controlled and "mindful ... of what the people left behind are expecting of us."

The annual winter conference saw its largest turnout ever of some 1,600 Anglicans in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Anglican Mission in America has grown to more than 100 churches, half of which are newly planted churches. Congregations began to split from the Episcopal Church and formed their own conservative Anglican groups when openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was consecrated in 2003.