A Response to General Convention 2006
In his response to General Convention, the Archbishop of Canterbury noted that ‘It is not yet clear how far the resolutions passed this week and today represent the adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report’. What follows is an initial attempt to set out the necessary details and possible assessments in order to gain greater clarity on the crucial test of whether or not the Episcopal Church has adopted ‘all the proposals set out in the the Windsor Report’.
The Windsor Report (and later statements from the Instruments) set out recommendations in relation to three very specific areas for the General Convention:
· a particular interpretation of the events at and following its last meeting in 2003 and to respond to the Communion accordingly
· commitments concerning future elections and consecrations to the episcopate
· commitments concerning the future response of the church to same-sex unions
What follows traces what General Convention has done in each of these three areas in the light of previous actions by the authorities of ECUSA and the requests of the Communion. Following that an assessment is offered.
The key texts cited are:
WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
Attitude to General Convention 2003
The key passage of The Windsor Report (para 134) here reads:
Mindful of the hurt and offence that have resulted from recent events, and yet also of the imperatives of communion - the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ - we have debated long and hard how all sides may be brought together. We recommend that:
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to express its regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached in the events surrounding the election and consecration of a bishop for the See of New Hampshire, and for the consequences which followed, and that such an expression of regret would represent the desire of the Episcopal Church (USA) to remain within the Communion
In January 2005 the House of Bishops in a Word to the Church said:
We decided at our September meeting in 2004 to set aside this time so we might together begin to receive the Windsor Report with humility. We have met for a day and a half in Salt Lake City. We welcome with gratitude the work of the Lambeth Commission on Communion. We realize this is a long-term effort which will most likely extend beyond our March meeting. In the meantime, we aim to practice the more intentional consultative processes called for by the Windsor Report. We also anticipate the Executive Council of our church joining in this consultation.
In this spirit of intentional practice, we affirm that all need to repent, as the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded us in his Advent Letter 2004. We repent of the ways we as bishops have sometimes treated each other, failing to honor Christ’s presence in one another. Furthermore, too often we have also failed to recognize Christ’s presence fully manifest in our sister and brother Anglicans around the global communion. We honor their full voice and wisdom. We desire mutuality. We recognize our interdependence in the Body of Christ.
Moreover, we as the House of Bishops express our sincere regret for the pain, the hurt, and the damage caused to our Anglican bonds of affection by certain actions of our church. Knowing that our actions have contributed to the current strains in our Communion, we express this regret as a sign of our deep desire for and commitment to continuation of our partnership in the Anglican Communion.
We note here that our decision-making structures differ from those in many parts of the Anglican Communion and that our actions require conciliar involvement by all the baptized of our church, lay and ordained. Therefore we as bishops, in offering our regrets, do not intend to preempt the canonical authority of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. At the same time, we are keenly aware of our particular responsibility for episcopal leadership.
The Primates in Dromantine accepted Windsor and, given the lack of a response to the Report from ECUSA, specifically stated
13. We are persuaded however that in order for the recommendations of the Windsor Report to be properly addressed, time needs to be given to the Episcopal Church (USA) and to the Anglican Church of Canada for consideration of these recommendations according to their constitutional processes.
14. Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (cf. paragraph 8)
Paragraph 8 of the statement includes the statement – ‘We therefore request all provinces to consider whether they are willing to be committed to the inter-dependent life of the Anglican Communion understood in the terms set out in these sections of the report’.
Following this, in March the HOB, issued a covenant which included the following as a response to this request of TWR:
We express our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions at the General Convention of 2003 and we offer our sincerest apology and repentance for having breached our bonds of affection by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking those actions.
It was this language that was picked up in the work of the Special Commission and it proposed the following should be considered at General Convention:
Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church join the House of Bishops’ March 2005 “Covenant Statement” in expressing “our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions at the General Convention of 2003 and we offer our sincerest apology and repentance for having breached the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking these actions.”
However, in the course of the General Convention, and in the face of concerns that this failed to respond adequately to TWR the proposal that went to the Deputies read
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for breaching the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another.
The HOD significantly amended this so that ‘breaching the bonds of affection’ was replaced by ‘straining the bonds of affection’.
The final resolution agreed by the HOB therefore reads
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another.
Elections and consecrations as bishops
TWR para 134 recommended that
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.
In March 2005, after Dromantine, the HOB issued a covenant statement which effected a moratorium on all consecrations until General Convention
The Windsor Report has invited the Episcopal Church "to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges" (Windsor Report, para. 134). Our polity, as affirmed both in the Windsor Report and the Primates' Communiqué, does not give us the authority to impose on the dioceses of our church moratoria based on matters of suitability beyond the well-articulated criteria of our canons and ordinal. Nevertheless, this extraordinary moment in our common life offers the opportunity for extraordinary action. In order to make the fullest possible response to the larger communion and to re-claim and strengthen our common bonds of affection, this House of Bishops takes the following provisional measure to contribute to a time for healing and for the educational process called for in the Windsor Report. Those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate after the date hereof until the General Convention of 2006, and we encourage the dioceses of our church to delay episcopal elections accordingly. We believe that Christian community requires us to share the burdens of such forbearance; thus it must pertain to all elections of bishops in the Episcopal Church. We recognize that this will cause hardship in some dioceses, and we commit to making ourselves available to those dioceses needing episcopal ministry.
The Special Commission was clearly divided on what to recommend on this subject but the majority proposed
Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, by action and inaction, contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly, we urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise very considerable caution in the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.
It was clear however that many (and this included the Abp of York, the Bishop of Exeter as the Abp of Canterbury’s representative at the HOB, and the Bishop of Durham, member of the Lambeth Commission) believed that the minority view – which would have said ‘refrain from’ rather than ‘exercise very considerable caution in’ – was needed.
The resolution that came from the legislative committee in A161 moved to that position, the relevant sections reading:
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, by action and inaction, contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly,we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to refrain from the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion;
The resolution also included the statement “that this General Convention apologize to those gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions.’
This is the resolution that the HOD overwhelmingly rejected.
The final agreed resolution passed as B033 on the final day with minimal debate reads
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, that the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further
Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.
Blessing of same-sex unions
The Windsor Report here stated in para 143
We believe that to proceed unilaterally with the authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions at this time goes against the formally expressed opinions of the Instruments of Unity and therefore constitutes action in breach of the legitimate application of the Christian faith as the churches of the Anglican Communion have received it, and of bonds of affection in the life of the Communion, especially the principle of interdependence. For the sake of our common life, we call upon all bishops of the Anglican Communion to honour the Primates' Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorise public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions.
It then made the following recommendation in para 144
While we recognise that the Episcopal Church (USA) has by action of Convention made provision for the development of public Rites of Blessing of same sex unions, the decision to authorise rests with diocesan bishops. Because of the serious repercussions in the Communion, we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites, and recommend that bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We recommend that provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter.
This was confirmed at Dromantine where the Primates stated (para 18)
In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public Rites of Blessing for Same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage.
The March Covenant from the HOB responded as follows:
In response to the invitation in the Windsor Report that we effect a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same sex unions, it is important that we clarify that the Episcopal Church has not authorized any such liturgies, nor has General Convention requested the development of such rites. The Primates, in their communiqué "assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship" (Primates' Communiqué, para. 6). Some in our church hold such "pastoral care" to include the blessing of same sex relationships. Others hold that it does not. Nevertheless, we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006.
The Commission proposed that General Convention pass the following resolution:
Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirm the need to maintain a breadth of private responses to situations of individual pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians in this Church; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention concur with the Windsor Report in its exhortation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to honor the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorize public Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions, until some broader consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention advise those bishops who have authorized public diocesan rites that, “because of the serious repercussions in the Communion,” they heed the invitation “to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorization” (Windsor Report 144).
The proposed resolution finally debated and defeated in the HOD as A161 included reference to this in the following terms:
Resolved that this General Convention not proceed to develop or authorize Rites for the Blessing of same-sex unions at this time, thereby concurring with the Windsor Report in its exhortation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to honor the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003; and be it further
Resolved that this General Convention affirm the need to maintain a breadth of responses to situations of pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians in this Church.
Resolved that this General Convention apologize to those gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions.
The final agreed resolution B033 includes no reference to the blessing of same-sex unions and so General Convention 2006 passed no resolution on this subject. It did, however, address the question of civil same-sex unions where it passed the following resolution:
Resolution A095: Gay and Lesbian Affirmation (Civil Rights)
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church’s historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention’s action calling upon “municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples”; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions.
Although referring to civil society and not the church the significance of this must not be lost. The language of ‘civil rights’ is now extended beyond protection in certain spheres to the church opposing constitutional prohibitions of same-sex civil marriage or civil unions. No theological rationale or justification is offered for this stance which treats same-sex civil marriage as a civil right. The resolution is in opposition to the traditional Christian understanding that marriage between a man and a woman is a creation ordinance and that the church is called to bear witness to this institution as good for society. It has sometimes been claimed that the Episcopal Church needs to take the stance it has done in relation to same-sex unions because of its cultural context and the desire to offer sensitive pastoral care and engage in relevant mission in American society. Here it is clear that the church is actually taking a stance that opposes and undermines the many Christians who, committed to Anglican Communion teaching about human sexuality and marriage, seek to shape their culture in the light of that teaching by resisting the redefinition of marriage in civil society.
So what has been achieved in each of the three areas compared to what had been asked and what has been offered at various stages since The Windsor Report appeared?
Attitude to GC 2003
Here there is the closest similarity to the Report and a strengthening in that respect of earlier statements and proposed resolutions. However, the Convention has refused to accept that ‘in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003’ it broke the bonds of affection, though that language was used (with qualification - ‘for having breached…by any failure to consult adequately…’) by the House of Bishops in March 2005 and in both the proposed SCECAC and GC resolutions. It prefers to conclude that it simply ‘strained’ them, for which it expresses regret. In other words GC does not appear to accept the assessment of the wider Communion that the fabric of the Communion has been torn.
In that sense, the final resolution is not much stronger than in the first Jan 2004 Bishops statement that spoke of ‘sincere regret for the pain, the hurt, and the damage caused to our Anglican bonds of affection by certain actions of our church’ and of ‘knowing that our actions have contributed to the current strains in our Communion’. It is clear that this statement was not a sufficient apology for the Primates meeting in Dromantine a year later, hence the stronger statement of the March HOB meeting.
The resolution helpfully goes beyond some earlier statements, especially in not being restricted to regret for consequences. Nevertheless, the resolution appears to reject the Windsor vision of the nature of interdependence. This is clear in its failure to draw out the implications of the Report’s discussion of such issues as adiaphora and ‘what touches all should be decided by all’ for the decisions of 2003 and its inability to see that the vision of interdependence must, in the face of the appeals of the Instruments prior to 2003, lead inevitably to the conclusion that the actions in 2003 amounted to a ‘breach’. In refusing to accept they are guilty of a moral wrong in their actions – a ‘breach of bonds of affection’ – and replacing it with a statement that refers to actions in terms more of misjudgments or sad necessities – ‘straining the bonds of affection’ - the gains on previous statements are quite significantly undermined.
The assessment of Bishop Jim Stanton sums up the situation well
Late today, the House of Deputies took up the resolution (commented on here on Friday) A160, and passed it with amendment. The amendment takes out the words "breaching the proper constraints" of the "bonds of affection," the language called for in Windsor, and substituting "straining" instead. The rest of the resolution is intact. It may seem like straining at gnats (pun intended), but there is a difference between these two formulations. The "proper constraints" means a boundary - something that is objective. Windsor had identified a specific problem: the actions of the GC 2003 had crossed a line that violated the "bonds of affection." In the change, as the debate showed, we Americans were not convinced that our actions were of such a character as the word "breach" might denote. "Strain," yes. "Push the envelope," yes. "Breach?" Well, we're just not sure about that. This may be heard by those outside the this country as yet another instance where we have to have our way in interpreting what happened, rather than "listen" to them. (How often have we heard that, after all, the fuss has just been stirred up by a few fundamentalist types?) Having said that, it still seems that this resolution is as close as we can get to an expression of regret.
Elections and consecrations of bishops
Here there are major problems of not only content but process which must be considered. However, it must be noted that the final resolution B033 does call on the relevant constitutional bodies ‘not to consent’. The language of ‘to exercise restraint’, echoing the weaker SCECAC proposal of ‘to exercise very considerable caution’ goes on to explain how that restraint should be shown (‘by not consenting…’) rather than where that restraint should be shown (‘in consenting…’). Attempts to water it down to the latter in the HOB were unsuccessful although those supporting that wording have subsequently issued a statement of conscience rejecting the agreed wording.
It is, however, important to recognise the ways in which it is different from Windsor’s recommendation and to recall that attempts to allow a vote in the HOD on an amendment using the Windsor wording were ruled inadmissible.
Force – The Episcopal Church was asked to ‘effect a moratorium’ but instead it has simply ‘called upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction’ not to consent. Although questions have been raised about the powers of GC it is clear that if it wished to do what asked it could have effected a moratorium with more force, for example by means of canonical revision. In addition, the HOB covenant of March 2005 shows that it is possible for there to be innovation and that the bishops could have clearly stated ‘those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate….’
Focus – The call is to ‘Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction’ and the restraint is to be shown ‘by not consenting to the consecration’ of a candidate. In contrast, Windsor spoke of ‘the election and consent to the consecration’. The wider scope of Windsor had been taken on board by both SCECAC and the defeated resolution sent to the HOD. These urged ‘nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction’ to act in a certain way in ‘the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops’. That breadth is lacking in the final resolution.
Fault – The criterion to be used in determining whether to withhold consent is a ‘manner of life’ which ‘presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion’. Windsor – responding as it did to the actions of GC 2003 – was much sharper and more specific, relating to any candidate ‘who is living in a same gender union’ while Dromantine spoke of ‘the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage’.
Future – The resolution has no time-frame and it is reported that the new Presiding Bishop made clear that the resolution was not a slamming of the door and would need to be reviewed. In contrast, Windsor clearly asked for a moratorium ‘until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges’. It may be that only such a consensus in the Communion would mean the candidate no longer ‘presented a challenge to the wider church which would lead to further strains on communion’ but if so it would have been easier to say so.
Even more controversial, perhaps, is the unprecedented manner in which this resolution was wrung out of the GC, especially from the HOD after their rejection of a similar motion 24 hours earlier. This inevitably raises some questions as to whether it truly reflects the mind of GC. The irony, of course, is that much play has been made in the last few years of the importance of proper processes, the special nature of the polity of the Episcopal Church etc. The covenant of March 2006 claimed it could do no more because ‘our polity…does not give us the authority to impose on the dioceses of our church…’. This followed the January claim that ‘our decision-making structures differ from those in many parts of the Anglican Communion and that our actions require conciliar involvement by all the baptised of our church, lay and ordained. Therefore we as bishops…do not intend to pre-empt the canonical authority of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church’.
There is no doubt that the relevant Commissions spent great energy and effort on the Report and crafting a response. However, this final resolution was hurriedly drafted and even more hurriedly forced through both Houses with minimal debate and dubious procedural tactics. Presumably the complaints often raised about the authority of Lambeth I.10 due to the manner in which parts of it (though not its refusal to approve ordinations or blessings of those in same-sex unions) were inserted during the debate will no longer be mentioned.
Blessing of same-sex unions
The General Convention failed to issue any statement on this subject. Furthermore, the Presiding Bishop-elect has apparently authorised clergy in her diocese to perform such blessings. This leaves several key requests without a response: ‘bishops who have authorised such rites…be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation’ (para 144), ‘provinces take responsibility for endeavouring to ensure commitment on the part of their bishops to the common life of the Communion on this matter’ (para 144) and ‘primates use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium’ (Dromantine).
An additional problems is that the covenant of March 05 simply stated ‘we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006’.
At the very best there is significant unfinished work here which the Presiding Bishop-elect and the House of Bishops now need urgently to address in order to clarify that ‘local option’ is no longer the position of the church. At the worst, the support for civil same-sex unions and opposition to those who resist such cultural changes shows a continued strong commitment to this cause.
The most generous reading that can be given of the GC is that there has managed to appear a middle ground among the bishops that is very eager to remain in the Communion. However, it appears they ultimately to want to do so on their own terms and these fall short of those requested by the Communion. Having been defeated by the ‘extremes’ in the HOD, this centre was able to reassert itself and now stands, behind a newly elected Presiding Bishop, regretting the strains of the past and likely to be able to prevent confirmation of another candidate to the episcopate in a same-sex union. This centre, however, does not see previous actions as breaching the bonds of affection, many of its members (especially the Presiding Bishop-elect) are in principle resolutely opposed to the mind of the Communion, and the manner in which it secured the resolution and the continued strong opposition to it (from both those committed to Windsor and those committed to ‘full inclusion’) make it unlikely to bring greater unity or coherence to the Episcopal Church or to produce the fruits of repentance sought by the Communion.
Another interpretation is that offered by the newly elected Presiding Bishop and others – the Episcopal church is one church with two minds, like conjoined twins. The problem is that the church was forced to develop a single, united response and the only way it could do so was by episcopal coercion. It could not do it in any other way as some wish to commit themselves to the Communion and are convinced the vision that lay behind GC 2003 is false while others are committed to that vision yet wish to find a way of remaining full participants in the Communion. In short, one mind wishes to repent and walk together, the other mind wishes to press on without having to walk apart. Developing the conjoined twins analogy, the problem here is that if one twin is sick, the other is liable to contract the disease. To press the analogy, most conjoined twins are either still-born or die young and the usual medical intervention, if at all possible, is to separate. In a different context, James speaks of ‘a double-minded man, unstable in all he does’ (Js 1.8) while Jesus famously warned ‘if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand’ (Mk 3.24-26)
The third and even more serious interpretation is that the difficulties over the Windsor Report and I.10 are simply the presenting symptoms of a much more serious malaise. The conduct of this General Convention reveals to what extent the Episcopal Church really is an unstable and dysfunctional body as, despite three years to reflect on the actions of GC 2003 and over 18 months to consider the Windsor Report, it proved incapable of giving a response even partly in line with the Report until the last minute and then only under great pressure. The attempt to forget issues of truth and attempt to craft a political consensus in the hope it would get support failed in the HOD and it was left to the HOB to make a final attempt to cajole representatives into something at least attempting to approach an adequate response. On this reading, the fundamental problem is more than simply two minds in one body, it is that there are two different and fundamentally incompatible understandings of the gospel (one of redemption from sin vs one of inclusion) and of the nature of the church (one of the one, holy catholic and apostolic church vs one of an American denomination).
Whichever of these is used to interpret the events of recent days, what is clear is that if the test is indeed ‘adoption by the Episcopal Church of all the proposals set out in the Windsor Report’, then the General Convention has fallen well short of such adoption. The Report stated – ‘We have already indicated (paragraphs 134 and 144) some ways in which the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Diocese of New Westminster could begin to speak with the Communion in a way which would foster reconciliation’ (para 156). As has been seen, the Episcopal Church has failed to speak with the Communion at all on para 144 and what it has said in relation to para 134 is significantly divergent from the recommendations of the Commission. As such, although resolutions were passed affirming the Windsor vision of communion, in practice where it matters most, there has been a refusal ‘to speak with the Communion in a way which would foster reconciliation’.
The final paragraph of the Report stated, ‘There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together. Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart’ (para 157). Sadly, that is what it appears the Communion must now do in relation to the Episcopal Church given its actions in General Convention 2006.