Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Affirming Anglican Identity

The following is the text of an article printed in The Lambeth Witness, the daily newsletter of the Inclusive Church Network.


The coming together of inclusive Anglican groups in Canterbury has been an amazing testimony to the cooperation that has emerged in pursuit of a shared goal. That goal includes the specific concerns about full inclusion, but now also includes a broader concern – one which has been feeding the crisis in our Communion. That concern is the attack on the orthodox and comprehensive tradition of Anglicanism by those seeking to remake our Communion into a confessional church.

It has been encouraging to see the emergence of organisations – Inclusive Church in the UK and the Chicago Consultation in the US - dedicated to addressing this wider, systemic issue. Last October, about fifty Canadian Anglicans came together for a conference called The Widening Circle. From that event has emerged a similar movement in my own country, taking its name from the conference. We identified our goals as affirming and reclaiming the comprehensive, inclusive tradition of our branch of the Christian faith; asserting the autonomy of national churches with respect to doctrine and discipline; and resisting a narrow and exclusive version of Anglicanism, expressed in my country primarily as opposition to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church.

We have been clear from the start that our movement does not consider itself factional. Indeed, we feel the Anglican Communion needs to move beyond factionalism in order to be truly inclusive of those who consider themselves conservative or liberal, catholic or evangelical, traditional or progressive. To say that Anglicanism is comprehensive means just that: we contain within our church the multitude of the human response to God; and it is that diversity which we celebrate and affirm.

Neil Fernyhough

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