Malcolm French (Simple Massing Priest) posted an excellent essay yesterday called “Federation, Communion or Church.” He begins with this observation: “One of the many annoying rhetorical fourishes of late has been the claim that opposition to the proposed Anglican Covenant constitutes a desire to ‘change’ the Anglican Communion into a ‘loose-knit federation’ of autonomous churches.” Of course, the Communion has been a “loose-knit federation of autonomous churches,” and it would continue to be that—not covert to that from something else—if the Anglican Covenant is rejected.
Most helpfully, French offers this quotation from a speech by the retiring Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada Michael Peers:
[W]orldwide Anglicanism is a communion, not a church. The Anglican Church of Canada is a church. The Church in the Province of the West Indies is a church. The Episcopal Church of Sudan is a church. The Anglican Communion is a ‘koinonia’ of churches.Read Malcolm French’s entire essay here.
We have become that for many reasons, among which are the struggles of the sixteenth century and an intuition about the value of inculturation, rooted in the Incarnation, which has led us to locate final authority within local churches.
We are not a papal church and we are not a confessional church. We are autonomous churches held together in a fellowship of common faith dating from the creeds and councils, recognizing the presidency of a primus inter pares (the Archbishop of Canterbury), often struggling with inter-church and intra-church tension, but accepting that as the price of the liberty and autonomy that we cherish.
As I said to the members of the Council of General Synod last month, the price of this includes a certain measure of messiness.'