FLORIDA -- The international members of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (IASCER) met from Nov. 29- Dec. 5 to evaluate the present ecumenical dialogues involving Anglicans and the progress in church unity within the denomination. The commission, which convened at the Duncan Center in Delray Beach, Florida, particularly focused on the impact made by the consecration of a gay bishop within their diocese.
The commission received with regret the news that the meeting of the Anglican - Oriental Orthodox International Commission had been postponed, and that the plenary meeting of the International Anglican - Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) had been put on hold.
However, it welcomed the establishment of a new sub-committee of IARCCUM, which, at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, would address the ecclesiological concerns raised in Anglican - Roman Catholic dialogue by recent developments. It noted that the Most Revd Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, had resigned as Anglican Co-Chair of the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission, and expressed gratitude for the work he had done.
The Commission looked forward to the completion of the work of the Anglican Communion - Baptist World Alliance International Conversations, due to report in 2004, and the establishment of a new Anglican - Lutheran International Commission, which it is hoped would be formed by 2005. It also welcomed the approval and signing of the Covenant between the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain, and the signing of the Covenant between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in Papua New Guinea.
Present at the meeting at the Duncan Center were: the Revd Prebendary Dr Paul Avis, the Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the Revd Canon Gregory K Cameron (Secretary), the Revd Dr William Crockett, the Rt Revd Christopher Epting, the Rt Revd Dr John Gladstone, the Most Revd Drexel W Gomez (Chair), the Revd Canon Jonathan Gough, the Rt Revd John Hind, the Revd Canon Luke Pato, the Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, the Revd Canon Professor J Robert Wright, and the Revd Dr Karackattil George Pothen of the Mar Thoma Church. Mrs Christine Codner and the Revd Terrie Robinson of the Anglican Communion Office provided administrative assistance for the meeting.
The Commission consists of representatives from each international dialogue involving Anglicans, including the multilateral dialogue of Faith and Order, and of certain other commissions and networks, and consultants who bring particular regional or theological expertise. The next plenary meeting of IASCER is scheduled for 4 - 10 December 2004.
The following are the resolutions adopted during the 2003 session.
Resolution 1.03: Recent Developments in the Anglican Communion
Deeply regrets the ecumenical consequences for Anglican international ecumenical dialogue resulting from the consecration in the Episcopal Church (USA) of a non-celibate priest in a committed same-sex relationship as Bishop Co-adjutor of New Hampshire, noting with particular concern the impairment of the work of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC) and of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) and the declaration of the Russian Orthodox Church, which severed ties with ECUSA whilst “wanting to maintain contacts and co-operation with the members of the Episcopal Church in the USA who clearly declared their loyalty to the moral teaching of the Holy Gospel and the Ancient Undivided Church”.
acknowledges the urgent need to address the ecclesiological and practical issues for the Communion and its ecumenical relations that arise from a province of the Communion taking unilateral action involving a substantive matter of faith, order or morals.
welcomes the establishment by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the Primates of the Anglican Communion of a Commission to address the ecclesiological questions concerning the unity and working together of the Communion.
notes that in the past Anglican participation in global ecumenical dialogues with other world communions has been predicated on the assumption of common faith and practice, and
therefore urges the Commission to find ways of reasserting and maintaining common faith and practice so that such world-wide ecumenical dialogue may proceed with confidence in the future.
Resolution 2.03: Ongoing Studies - Direct Ordination
notes with concern the suggestion in the IALC statement Anglican Ordination Rites that ‘provinces may wish to consider the possibility of direct ordination’;
observes that the invariable practice of Anglican churches has been sequential ordination and that this is presupposed in the ecumenical agreements that they have made.
Resolution 3.03: Ongoing Studies - Use of Language
recognising that the language of the methods and goals of ecumenical dialogue is complex and that there is a danger that different parts of the Anglican Communion may mean different things by the same terms, and may sometimes describe the same reality by different terms, recommends that a glossary be produced of this language.
Resolution 4.03: Anglican - Old Catholic Relations
reaffirms its support for an international celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Bonn Agreement in the year 2006, to be held either in continental Europe or in England, or both, to consist of a major theological conference and of a major liturgical celebration held either together or separately;
further suggests that the theological conference be held in conjunction with the regular conference of Old Catholic theologians and either immediately before or after the next regular meeting of AOCICC, and that Prebendary Paul Avis serve as the liaison of IASCER for this purpose;
also recommends that the major liturgical celebration of the Bonn Agreement be timed to coincide with a meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the same year, and that consideration be given to holding such a meeting in an appropriate location on continental Europe.
Resolution 5.03: Iglesia Filipina Independiente
encourages the Episcopal Church in the United States of America to resume negotiations with its full communion partner, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, to establish a formal body to co-ordinate ECUSA-IFI relations and to report on its progress at the 2004 meeting of IASCER.
Resolution 6.03: All Africa Anglican - Lutheran Commission
having noted with regret the lack of recent progress by AAALC, encourages Anglican churches in Africa to advance their relations with their Lutheran counterparts, acknowledging that it must be for the Anglican and Lutheran churches involved to determine the most appropriate regional contexts for such ecumenical initiatives. IASCER looks forward to receiving reports on progress at their meeting in 2004.
Resolution 7.03: Papua New Guinea
welcomes the Covenant between the Anglican Church in Papua New Guinea and the Roman Catholic Church in New Guinea, and the Agreed Statement on Baptism between the Anglican, the Evangelical Lutheran and the Catholic Churches in Papua New Guinea, and regards both as notable ecumenical advances;
in welcoming both developments, IASCER expresses the hope that the Anglican Communion Office might be given the earliest possible notice of similar proposed developments in order that IASCER and the other competent bodies of the Anglican Communion might give due consideration to such proposals.
Resolution 8.03: Reception of Agreed Statements in the Communion
requests the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting to clarify the procedures by which agreed statements from bilateral commissions may be received in the Anglican Communion.
Resolution 9.03: Churches Uniting in Christ (United States of America)
is generally encouraged by recent progress within CUIC on the reconciliation of ministries;
is, however, concerned about the extensive use of functional, as opposed to sacramental, language for ministry;
advises that the tendency to use “ministry” as a synonym for Christian life and discipleship should be avoided;
points out that the sufficiency of “servant” language to describe the diaconate is being widely reconsidered in the light of fresh New Testament scholarship;
expresses the hope that some of this material may be recast to reflect a theology of ministry and holy order that is more clearly focussed on the nature and purpose of the Church.
Resolution 10.03: Reconfiguration of the Ecumenical Movement
re-affirms Resolution IV.7 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference that called for the reform of the WCC in such wise that the Orthodox Churches would wish to remain within the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church would wish to participate more fully in its work;
believes that rediscovering the founding vision of the WCC as a ‘fellowship of churches’ is the key to a viable future for the WCC;
welcomes the recommendations of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC;
questions the wisdom of planning a full Global Christian Forum event in 2007 without considering its relationship to the next Assembly of the WCC in 2006;
believes that the reform of the WCC, including a degree of devolution to global regions and national councils of churches, could make the idea of a global forum largely redundant.