Several days ago I noted that the web pages of the Province of Burundi carried remarks by Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi on the Kigali Meeting. I suggested that his remarks and his actions in the past several months do not seem to support the Kigali Communiqué, at least in so far as it distanced itself from the soon to be invested Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Now the Anglican Communion News Service has posted a statement
from the Burundi House of Bishops, a statement in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reflection, “The Challenge and Hope of Being Anglican Today.” In it they say,
“The Anglican Church of Burundi remains committed to the Anglican Communion and to endeavouring to work with all the Primates who have been entrusted with leadership of its Provinces. We are committed to the Gospel imperative to maintain unity and communion that is rooted in truth and love. We are called to be a "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" church and to affirm loyalty to the authority of Scripture and the traditional teachings of the Church. Though we recognise the principle of unity in diversity, Scripture should remain our guide in all matters of doctrine, ethics and decision-making. As has become apparent, we ignore Biblical teaching, the Apostolic Faith, and Church practice at our peril, and compromise our unity, fellowship, and communion. We must pray that we shall find ways to move forward with renewed commitment to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph.4v3)”
At the close they state, “Finally, we believe that hope for the Anglican Communion is dependent on the Church worldwide earnestly seeking a deep work of the Holy Spirit that will lead to repentance, forgiveness, revival, and healing. We should work for a Church characterised by justice and compassion that strives to be a sanctuary of care where the truth can be told with love. Only then will we be able to meet the challenge to walk together in a way that honours the name of Christ whom we seek to serve, and witness to his reconciling love in a hurting and fragmented world.”
The House of Bishops statement says “We recommend therefore that our relationships should be guided by the decisions of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I. 10 and Resolution III. 2(e), the Windsor Report recommendations, and the Dromantine requests.
Interestingly, it is Lambeth Resolution III.2 (e) which ought to draw our attention. In these contentious times it is almost never invoked. What it says is, that the conference
“also affirms that "although some of the means by which communion is expressed may be strained or broken, there is a need for courtesy, tolerance, mutual respect, and prayer for one another, and we confirm that our desire to know or be with one another, remains binding on us as Christians". (Eames, p.119).”
The House of Bishops of Burundi wrote this statement in reference to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reflection written some months ago. Coming so soon after the Kigali Communiqué it is of interest primarily because it is precisely a document in which courtesy, tolerance, mutual respect and prayer are communicated. (a second phrase to this sentence was in error and is now deleated.)
Here, I believe, is a Province that disagrees with us, but is committed to courtesy, tolerance and mutual respect, and is not in the business of condemning out of hand the life of the Episcopal Church.