The Brooks Memorandum, a concise statement on just how a Province becomes, continues and might be expelled from the Anglican Communion, has been widely reposted from its first publication by The Episcopal Majority. TEM is to be congratulated on getting this out to the general public. Fr. Jake has a take HERE, and Episcopal Café weighs in HERE.
It does not answer the question of Anglican identity, but it does answer the question of the basis for inclusion in one of the two important lists – the list of member churches in the Anglican Consultative Council. We might remember that some years ago there was an attempt to rename the ACC as the Anglican Communion Council. That was viewed by enough people as a really bad idea and so was dropped. The ACC remains a consultative gathering, but it alone among the “instruments of unity” has a founding document that gives it authority to act on behalf of the member churches in specific areas.
The second important list is of course the list managed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and used for invitations to Lambeth. As per churches that list is published near the back (pg 206) of the document called “The Canons of the Church of England.” Using that list as the framework for invitations, the ABC can of course not invite particular bishops.
So the ACC list determines who is part of the one constitutional governing body of the Anglican Communion, and the ABC’s list determines which bishops gather at Lambeth.
The question as to which Primates are invited to Primates Meetings seems to be this: The ABC invites, but the list of the ACC prevails. (Hopefully the ACC and ABC lists are the same as per membership in the Anglican Communion.) At least that is how I read the runes.
Some time ago I proposed a very simple Anglican Compact that spoke to the same issues. I think it still makes sense, and the Brooks Memorandum confirms at least part of its structure.
Here is that compact again:
“A Compact among the Churches of the Anglican Communion.
We acknowledge that the Dioceses, Provinces and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury are the constituent members of the Anglican Communion. We believe that God is calling us in Jesus Christ to the following affirmations:
Member Churches pledge:
To uphold and propagate the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, which statements of historic Faith and Order are to be found in the collective informing corpus of the 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662 Books of Common Prayer of the Church of England, understood to be continued as informative into the present in the books of Common Prayer of the several churches.
To invite ourselves and others into fellowship and, if God so wills, into organic union, with other churches on the basis of the principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, such churches to be considered part of the Anglican Communion if in communion with the See of Canterbury.
To exhibit mutual respect and interdependence in the Communion, honoring Anglican faith and witness as it finds expression in the affirmation of the faith in the recitation of the ancient creeds of the undivided Church, the commitment to common prayer and sacramental life informed by Holy Scripture, in the witness and ministry of the autonomous churches of the Communion, and in the ministry of all the baptized, every Christian contributing to the life of the whole.
Member Churches agree:
That each church is autonomous within the generous orthodoxy of life in Christ. Every member church recognizes the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion of all churches in the Communion. All baptized persons command the respect of every member Church. The several vocations of the baptized may are exercised in a member Church by affirmation of that Church. Such license and affirmation in one church of the Communion does not imply affirmation of the practice of that vocation in the life of any other church of the Communion.
That the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council exercise certain executive powers within this fellowship. They hold the power to invite and include churches and persons into the deliberative consultations and programmatic activities of the Anglican Communion. No church can be a member of the ACC that is not in communion with the See of Canterbury; communion with the See of Canterbury does not guarantee membership in the ACC.
That Bishops express godly counsel and teaching as they meet in the Lambeth Conference, the Primates Meeting and at other times. Such counsel and teaching informs the Communion and must be held in high regard, but such counsel cannot direct or command actions of member Churches.
That withdrawal of a member church from the Anglican Communion may be effected only by declaration by the Archbishop of Canterbury that the member church is no longer in communion with the See of Canterbury. The Constitution of the ACC may describe membership and conditions for withdrawal of membership in the ACC. Invitation to the gatherings of bishops and inclusion in the ACC are matters respectively of decision by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the membership of the ACC. Exclusion or disinvitation effectively limits fellowship but does not remove a church from inclusion in the Anglican Communion.
That no more than one church may have jurisdiction in a particular area except when for historical, ecumenical or pastoral reasons two churches both in communion with the See of Canterbury and with one another have mutually agreed to continue overlapping ministries.
This Compact will become effective when received and affirmed in a manner proscribed by the Anglican Consultative Council by two thirds of the current member Churches of the Anglican Communion.”
Meanwhile, of course, identity as an Anglican is a much broader matter. It is something individuals do in the context of their church and worship community. It is something churches sometimes claim seemingly unrelated to being part of the Anglican Communion.
Can one identify oneself as an Anglican and not be part of the Anglican Communion? I think so. The Anglican ethos or spirit or way is a subset of the more general problem of working out how to express our faith in a world that is broken is so many ways – including ecclesial. In looking for the “pattern” that constitutes being Anglican there are no easy determinants. But there are some.
These determinants are not things like “core” doctrine or “central” beliefs. They are more like steering mechanisms. I think these determinants include something of the following:
(i) A profound sense of the incarnational – of God present in Jesus Christ, in creation and in people.
(ii) A willingness to live into and through modernity, requiring that we understand our particular context as a faith community, one that is open to question and to mystery both.
(iii) An attitude of provisionality – in which we take positions and act on them without recourse to certainty, knowing that the whole truth belongs to no one person or group. This keeps us back from at least some forms of infallibility claims.
(iv) A commitment to belief – being willing to act on our understandings, faith, sensibilities and positions – within the context of a community of believers.
This is not a list of what we need to believe in order to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Those lists are found in the Creeds, the Baptismal Covenant, various religious statements including the Lambeth Quadrilateral. This is simply a list of additional determinants of what we might call an Anglican identity. Much of the content of belief draws on the witness of the core documents, but the way in which that content is used is what makes us Anglicans rather than, say, Presbyterians. And, of course, belief itself is a deeper and broader river.
I am writing this in Quito, Ecuador, where I am putting together several talks for local clergy on precisely these issues. This is all preliminary mutterings, but perhaps there will be more later.
Meanwhile at 9,200 feet the air is thin, the coffee good, and I feel blessed.