24 March 2014
Anglicanism (2014) 9.2: Anglicanism, ecumenical
engagement and inter-religious dialogue
MTh Year II
EM8825: Anglican Studies in an Irish context:
Mondays: 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. noon, The Hartin Room.
Monday, 24 March 2014, 3.30 p.m.:
9.2: Anglicanism, ecumenical engagement and inter-religious dialogue.
Opening discussion: experiences of ecumenism and inter-church dialogue:
Ecumenical dialogue: origins
Father Paul Wattson … while he was an Anglican priest he first proposed the Octave of Christian Unity
Two weeks ago [11 March 2014], we saw how the search of Christian Unity was one of the priorities on the agendas of Lambeth Conferences from the very beginning. William Reed Huntington was the original thinker behind the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral, which became the touchstone for future Anglican endeavours to promote Christian unity.
After the Church Idea, Huntington published two further books – The Peace of the Church (1891) and A National Church (1898) – in which he commented on and developed his quadrilateral. In this last book, he proposed church unity on national but non-denominational lines, involving an organic union of American churches on the basis of territorial units by state and county. He believed this could be accomplished on the basis of his Quadrilateral rather than the 39 Articles and The Book of Common Prayer, and he wrote that the articles ought “not continue to be considered … one of the essentials of the Anglican position.”
He was the inspiration and principal author of the 1892 revision of Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer. He pursued this revision because he was convinced it would aid the cause of church unity, not only by attention to the patristic sources, but also by the principles of flexibility, adaptability and revisability.
His progressive ideas on the role of women in the Church were far ahead of their time, and it was he who established the order of deaconesses in the Episcopal Church. He also helped found the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City, contributing its iconographic plans and serving as a trustee for 22 years.
At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1907, Huntington’s final agenda was revealed in his two-fold proposal to add the Quadrilateral by way of a preamble to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church but also to remove the 39 Articles from their place in The Book of Common Prayer. In the end, both proposals were defeated, and Huntington died within two years at the age of 71, in 1909.
Despite Huntington’s feelings of failure, the ecumenical movement as we know it, and real Anglican engagement with it, begins in that first decade of the 20th century.
For example, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began as the Octave of Christian Unity over 100 years ago, in 1908, and focused on prayer for church unity. That week owes its origins to one of the earliest and one of the lasting Anglican efforts to promote Christian unity. The concept was first put forward by an Anglican friar, Father Paul Wattson, co-founder of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars.
The Society of the Atonement, also known as the Friars and Sisters of the Atonement or Graymoor Friars and Sisters were founded in the US in 1898 as a Anglican religious community by Lurana (Mother Lurana) White and the Revd Lewis (Father Paul) Wattson, with the aim of re-establishing Franciscan life in the Anglican Communion and working for a corporate reunion between Anglicans and Rome.
A major part of this effort was the Octave of Christian Unity, and although the Graymoor Friars and Sisters were later received as a body into the Roman Catholic Church, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity remains part of the legacy of Anglican ecumenical endeavours.
Irish Methodist missionaries commemorated in a window in a Methodist church in Orlando, Florida (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
Dialogue with Irish Churches
The beginnings of the modern ecumenical movement are normally traced to the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910. But even before Edinburgh 1910, the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in Ireland had a joint committee for united efforts from 1904.
In 1910, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church invited other evangelical Churches in Ireland to set up similar joint committees with it. This was difficult for the Presbyterian Church – which still referred to the Church of Ireland as “the Protestant Episcopal Church,” “the former Established Church,” or the “Anglican Church.”
The Church of Ireland accepted and by 1911 the first meeting of representatives of both the general Synod and the general Assembly was held in Dublin and the joint committee of the two Churches began to think about how to co-operate in philanthropic and religious work.
The issues addressed by the joint committee included temperance, national insurance, industrial schools and the Ne Temere decree of 1908.
In 1919, the Bishop of Down, Dromore and Connor, Dr Charles Fredrick D’Arcy (1859-1938), became the first Church of Ireland bishop to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.
‘Appeal to all Christian people’
A mission conference drawing together representatives of the Church Mission Society and other evangelical, non-Anglican mission agencies working in Kenya, including Presbyterians, concluded with a joint Communion service in Kikuyu in 1913. It may be difficult to imagine now, but that service stirred controversy, and was condemned, for example, by Bishop Frank Weston (1871-1924) of Zanzibar, who dismissed it as a “Pan-Protestant” communion.
For Anglicans, the Appeal to All Christian People issued by the 1920 Lambeth Conference was a seminal step forward towards Christian unity. Interestingly, Bishop Frank Weston was one of the key bishops involved in drafting this appeal, drafters of This appeal was addressed to all those throughout the world who had received Christian baptism, and it invited the Churches to seek unity together.
The Appeal is significant because it described all those who had undergone Trinitarian baptism as members of the Christian Church. In this statement, we can see Anglicans holding that the unity of the Church is grounded in the one baptism.
Anglicans have been the first to perceive the ecumenical significance of the mutual recognition by the Churches of common baptism.
The Appeal also recognised the authorisation of the Holy Spirit in the ministries of the non-episcopal churches. But it argued that the episcopate is a God-given instrument of unity and continuity that will enable God’s people to meet in the security of one Eucharist.
The 1920 Lambeth Conference also agreed that while maintaining the Book of Common Prayer as the Anglican standard of doctrine and practice, liturgical uniformity should not be required as a necessity throughout the Anglican Communion.
Continuing dialogue in Ireland:
In response to the 1920 Lambeth Conference appeal, the joint committees formed by the Irish Churches developed in 1923 into the United Council of Christian Churches and Religious Communions in Ireland, which later became the Irish Council of Churches (1966).
Throughout the 20th century, the Church of Ireland was a party to a number of bilateral discussions. However, dialogue between the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church become informal in 1923 and eventually petered out due to a number of factors, including the unstable political climate in Ireland and internal debates among Presbyterians about the meaning of subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith.
In 1931, the General Synod once again approached Presbyterians about a “scheme of union or … co-operation.” The ensuing discussions focussed on intercommunion, communicant membership, baptism, and the shared used of church buildings, but made little progress.
The talks eventually came to an end in 1935, and did not resume officially until 1964. Tripartite discussions began in 1968 between the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church and the Church of Ireland. In 1973 a plan for unity, ‘Towards a United Church,’ was produced but was not received with much enthusiasm.
Discussions continued and material for confirmation classes and a Communion Service for use on inter-Church occasions were produced.
In 1988, a new Joint Theological Working Party was proposed to replace the Tripartite Consultation. This was accepted by the Methodist Church and Church of Ireland but was rejected by the Presbyterian Church.
In 1989, a joint Methodist/Church of Ireland Theological Working Party was set up. A Covenant was agreed between the two churches in June 2002 and the joint Theological Working Party was replaced by a Covenant Council in 2003.
Legislation to regulate full inter-changeability of ministry between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland comes before the General Synod of the Church of Ireland within the next two month [May 2014].
National and international ecumenical bodies:
Of course, the Anglican Communion is not the only communion or grouping of churches of which the Church of Ireland and other Anglican Churches are now a part. In terms of looser alliances and federations, the Church of Ireland is an active member of the Irish Council of Churches (ICC, 1922), Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI, 1942 as BCC, and 1990), the Conference of European Churches (CEC, 1957), and the World Council of Churches (WCC, 1948).
The Irish Council of Churches:
The Irish Council of Churches began as the United Council of Christian Churches and Religious Communities in Ireland in 1922.
There were seven founding member churches at the council’s first meeting in January 1923: the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church, the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the Moravian Church, the Congregational Union, and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
Today, there are 16 member churches: Antiochian Orthodox Church; Church of Ireland; Cherubim and Seraphim; Greek Orthodox Church; Lutheran Church in Ireland; Methodist Church in Ireland; Moravian Church (Irish District); Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church (including the Unitarian Church); Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Redeemed Christian Church of God; Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); Romanian Orthodox Church; Russian Orthodox Church; and Salvation Army (Irish Division).
The current President is the Revd Father Godfrey O’Donnell of the Romanian Orthodox Church, chair of the Orthodox Network of Churches. The incoming president this year  is the Rev Dr Donald Watts, Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and the immediate past President is the Most Rev Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh.
The Council of Churches in Britain and Ireland (CTBI):
The British Council of Churches was founded in 1942 and the Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church were foundation members.
In August 1990, the British Council of Churches was replaced by the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland (now Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, CTBI) with the full participation of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Conference in England and Wales, and Scotland. The Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland are full members of CTBI, but the Presbyterian Church in Ireland declined to join when it was being set up.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC):
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) was founded in 1959. The Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church are full members.
The World Council of Churches (WCC):
The modern ecumenical movement traces its origins to the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910
The World Council of Churches (WCC) was founded in Amsterdam 1948 but has a pre-history dating back to the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910.
Throughout the 20th century, Anglicans played a prominent role in trying to establish these international ecumenical bodies.
Bishop George Bell … a key figure in the formation of the World Council of Church in 1948
The WCC brought together the work of two international inter-church working groups, ‘Life and Work’ and ‘Faith and Order.’ One of the leading figures in these movements was Bishop George Bell (1881-1958), as Dean of Canterbury (1924-1929) and then as Bishop of Chichester (1929-1958). His international contacts, and his continuing dialogue with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and other Germans Lutherans in the Confessing Church, and with Swedish Lutherans, were a contributing factor towards the setting up of the WCC after World War II.
The Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church are members of the WCC. The Presbyterian Church had been a member, but withdrew in 1980.
Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church:
During our Liturgy module, we saw that in the aftermath of Vatican II Pope Paul VI invited a number of outside theologians to meetings of the Commission for the Implementation of the Liturgy Constitution (now the Congregation for Divine Worship), including two influential Anglicans, Ronald Jasper of the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission, and Massey Shepherd, a major architect of the revised American Prayer Book.
Saint Peter’s, Rome ... since the 1970s, ecumenical dialogue for Anglicans has often been dominated by the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commissions (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
It is not surprising, then, that throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s, ecumenical dialogue for Anglicans was dominated by the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commissions (ARCIC 1 and 2), especially their discussions on Eucharistic doctrine.
Archbishop Henry McAdoo, Anglican co-chair of ARCIC ... detail from his portrait in the Chapter House of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
The Eucharist was the first topic discussed by ARCIC, which was co-chaired by Bishop Henry McAdoo of Ossory, later Archbishop of Dublin. In 1971, ARCIC-1 published its first report, the Agreed Statement, or the Windsor Report on Eucharistic Doctrine. The commission said it had reached substantial agreement as to the nature of Eucharistic belief in the two Communions.
The second ARCIC statement on the priesthood was reached at Canterbury in 1973. ARCIC also produced a statement on Authority at Venice in 1976.
At Salisbury in 1979, ARCIC published elucidations of the first two Agreed Statements in the light of criticisms. An elucidation on the Venice report was published in 1981, and a second statement on Authority was produced at Windsor in 1981.
The level of convergence claimed for these agreements was much less than that alleged to have been achieved in the statements on the Eucharist and Ministry.
Venice ... one of the many venues for ARCIC (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
All the Agreed Statements, together with their Elucidations, were collected together in a Final Report in September 1981, and submitted for approval by the Vatican, Roman Catholic hierarchies and Anglican provinces throughout the world.
In the agreement, there is no categorical assertion that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, neither has this been excluded. In fact, the whole thrust of the reasoning here is that the Eucharist makes present the once-for-all Sacrifice of Christ here and now.
The Vatican’s official response to these ARCIC reports has been wanting in many respects. Nevertheless, there are four areas in which there are mutual influences and even convergences between Roman Catholic reforms and recent Anglican revisions:
● The Sunday Eucharistic lectionary;
● The Eucharistic prayers;
● The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults;
● Liturgical language.
The second phase of ARCIC dialogue was from 1983 to 2011. The topics covered included salvation, communion, teaching, and the place of Mary. In 2007 the commission issued Growing Together in Unity and Mission, which stated: “The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the ministry of the Bishop of Rome [the Pope] as universal primate is in accordance with Christ’s will for the Church and an essential element of maintaining it in unity and truth.” The document goes on to say: “We urge Anglicans and Roman Catholics to explore together how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be offered and received in order to assist our Communions to grow towards full, ecclesial communion.”
The meeting opening the third phase of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue took place two years on 17-27 May 2011 at the ecumenical Monastery of Bose in northern Italy. This third phase of ARCIC is to consider fundamental questions regarding the ‘Church as Communion – Local and Universal,’ and ‘How in Communion the Local and Universal Church Comes to Discern Right Ethical Teaching.’
Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have had a shadow cast over them in recent years with the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and the formation of the Ordinariate for Anglican clergy who wish to enter communion with Rome while retaining many aspects of Anglican liturgy and tradition.
Nevertheless, there appears to have been a very warm and friendly atmosphere when Archbishop Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI met in Rome in 2012, according to reports at the time in the Church Times (16 March 2012, pp 2-3) and the Church of Ireland Gazette (23 March 2012, pp 1, 2), and again when their successors met last June, Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis I.
Meanwhile, the Societas Liturgica, founded in 1967 by Anglicans and Roman Catholics, has grown to become the international and ecumenical academy of liturgists, and has been an important forum for co-operation and agreement between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
The initiative was taken by of Wiebe Vos, a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church who had founded Studia Liturgica in 1962 as “an international ecumenical quarterly for liturgical research and renewal.”
In 1965, he invited 25 liturgists from Europe and North America to meet at the Swiss Protestant community of Grandchamp, in Neuchâtel. They formed Societas Liturgica “for the promotion of ecumenical dialogue on worship, based on solid research, with the perspective of renewal and unity.”
The first meeting of Societas Liturgica took place at Driebergen in the Netherlands in 1967. That meeting studied the Constitution on the Liturgy of Vatican II and recent work on worship by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. The Very Revd Gilbert Mayes, Dean of Lismore, was elected the first secretary.
The second congress was held in Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick, in 1969, and since then Societas Liturgica has met at two year intervals, meeting in Dublin in 1995.
Most of the papers delivered at meetings of the Societas have been published in English in Studia Liturgica. There are now more than 400 members of Societas Litugica. The international and ecumenical character of the society is illustrated by the list of its successive presidents and council members, including many Anglican liturgists such as Gray, Jasper and Bradshaw.
The most recent Congress of Societas Liturgica was held in Würzburg, Germany, last summer [5-10 August 2013].
The International Anglican Liturgical Consultation, which began in 1983, meets every two years at the same time as Societas Liturgica, with the active participation and engagement of ecumenical partners.
The WCC, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Lima) and Taizé:
The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches published Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, the Lima Report, in 1982
The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches has also encouraged ecumenical conversation and convergence on the liturgy with the publication of the document Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Lima, 1982).
This liturgy was strongly influenced by the ecumenical community at Taizé, and particularly by the Sub-Prior of Taizé, Max Thurian, and his interest in a diverse range of liturgical traditions, from the French Reformed to the Eastern Orthodox.
It discusses the Eucharist under five headings:
1, The Eucharist as Thanksgiving to the Father;
2, The Eucharist as Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ;
3, The Eucharist as Invocation of the Spirit;
4, The Eucharist as Communion of the Faithful;
5, The Eucharist as Meal of the Kingdom.
Dialogue with the Lutheran churches
A map showing the churches participating in the Porvoo Communion
As I have said, from the very beginning, the Lambeth Conferences were concerned not only with the unity of the churches that now form the Anglican Communion, but were anxious to pursue unity with other Churches, including the Old Catholics and the Scandinavian Lutherans.
The Anglican Churches and the Old Catholics have been in communion since the Bonn Agreement (1931), recognising each other’s orders, episcopate, ministry, &c, so forming effectively an overlapping communion – at least on continental Europe.
But the Church of Ireland is also part of a closer communion of churches, which is emerging in Northern Europe and which is being referred to increasingly as the Porvoo Communion – a grouping of more than a dozen Anglican and Lutheran churches in these islands, Scandinavia and the Baltic states.
The member churches of the Porvoo Communion that have ratified the Porvoo Statement are:
● The four Anglican or Episcopal Churches of England (1995), Ireland (1995), Scotland (1994) and Wales (1995);
● The two Anglican churches in the Iberian peninsula: the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church (Portugal);
● The seven Lutheran or Evangelical-Lutheran Churches of Estonia (1994), Finland (1995), Iceland (1995), Lithuania (1994), Norway (1994), Sweden (1994) and Denmark (2010).
● In addition, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (1994), the Lutheran Church in Great Britain and Ireland (2010), and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (2010) have observer status, and the Moravian Church appears to be applying for membership.
Bishop Michael Jackson at the signing of the Porvoo Agreement by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark in Copenhagen in October 2010
Initially, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark declined to sign Porvoo in the wake of strong criticism from Danish theologians in 1996 about the place of women as priests and bishops in the Church of England. But the Church of Denmark agreed to join in 2009 and signed the Porvoo Agreement in Copenhagen Cathedral in October 2010.
If Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which have their own separate dioceses, become independent states, which is possible within the next decade, then the future of the Church of Greenland and the Church of the Faroe Islands, independent from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, could be worth watching.
This new communion has the prospects of, at some stage, being more important to the Church of Ireland than membership of the Anglican Communion. It dates back beyond those early initiatives at the Lambeth Conference to embrace the Scandinavian Lutherans – particularly the Church of Sweden.
The Anglican interest in the (Episcopal) Church of Sweden can be traced back to the Oxford Movement in the 1830s and 1840s. Prior to the first Lambeth Conference of 1867, Charles Kingsley and others were urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite the bishops of Sweden to the conference. The Lambeth Conference of 1920, although it avoided the term “inter-communion,” agreed to a series of special relations with the Church of Sweden, including mutual participation in Episcopal consecrations.
And so when, for the first time, the Church of Sweden formally came into a closer relation with another church it was, strangely enough, not with another Lutheran Church, but with the Church of England. And, although there is now full communion between the Church of Sweden and the Church of Ireland and other Anglican churches, there are still tensions between the Church of Sweden and those Lutheran churches it sees as not having preserved the historic episcopate.
The ordination of women in Sweden threatened to rock this relationship in 1959 and 1960, but it was resumed in 1976, and it has been the bedrock on which the Porvoo Agreement is founded. New tensions arose five years ago with the election in May 2009 of Eva Brunne as Bishop of Stockholm, and her consecration in November that year. She lives in a registered partnership with another woman, and has a seven-year-old son.
The consecration of Eva Brunne as Bishop of Stockholm in November 2009
The Porvoo and Meissen agreements are similar to the agreements reached between the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the Waterloo Agreement between Canadian Anglicans and Lutherans, and similar agreements between Anglicans and Lutherans in other countries. Today, Anglican and Lutheran bishops share mutually in episcopal consecrations in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and many parts of the Americas.
Lutheran bishops from the member Churches of the Porvoo Communion have taken part in the most recent episcopal consecrations in Ireland: Pat Storey of Meath and Kildare (2013, Bishop Karsten Nissen of Viborg, Denmark), John McDowell of Clogher (2011, Bishop Ingeborg Midttømme, Bishop of Møre, Norway), Trevor Williams of Limerick (2008, the Bishop of Iceland), Alan Abernathy of Connor (2007, Linkoping, Sweden), Michael Burrows of Cashel (2006, Lund, Sweden); Peter Barrett of Cashel (2003, Lund, Sweden, as well as Haarlem, the Old Catholic Church).
Last year [April 2013], the Church of Ireland Theological Institute hosted a Porvoo Communion consultation on the diaconate and diaconal ministry.
The Porvoo Agreement may provide the basis for further developments in the Meissen Agreement between the Anglican Churches in these islands and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), which was signed in 1988.
The Meissen Agreement was signed only by the Church of England, but it may provide a basis for deepening the relations between the Anglican churches of these islands and the German Protestants, who are grouped in Lutheran, Reformed and United churches. It commits the churches to “share a common life and mission” and to “take all possible steps to closer fellowship in as many areas of Christian life and witness as possible,” by committing their churches to encourage partnerships and exchanges at all levels of church life, and on the part of theological colleges and specialist agencies.
Exchanges of ministers, church workers and students are also to be encouraged. It does not achieve full inter-changeability of ministers, but it does agree on mutual Eucharistic hospitality and encourages attendance at each other’s ordinations.
The Reuilly Agreement, signed in 1997 and approved by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1999 and the General Synod of the Church of Ireland in May 2000, links the four Anglican Churches on these islands and the French Lutheran and Reformed Churches, acknowledging one another’s churches and looks forward to a fuller visible unity.
The eight participating churches are four Anglican churches of these islands (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales); and the four French churches of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions: the Church of the Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France, the Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine and the Reformed Church of France. It dates back to visit to Strasbourg in 1989 by Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury, when the French Reformed and Lutheran Churches signalled their desire to enter into closer fellowship with Anglican churches on the model of the Meissen Agreement.
Welcoming this approach, the Anglican side felt a new relationship with the French churches ought to be built on long, historical links between the churches. Those links include the story of the arrival of the Huguenots in Ireland following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
The continuing theological and other work done by the Meissen Commission and the Porvoo churches offered a structure and resources for the Anglican/French conversations, which began formally in 1994, and were completed by 1997.
The Anglican-Orthodox consultations at Christ Church Oxford in late 2010
In Dublin, a number of Orthodox parishes are using former Church of Ireland parish churches – including the Romanian Orthodox Church in the former Christ Church, Leeson Park, and the Russian Orthodox Church in Harold’s Cross. In the past, the Greek Orthodox Church has also received hospitality in the former Saint Mary’s in the city centre and a former church in Ranelagh (Saint Columba’s) that has since been demolished.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, there were a number of attempts to open dialogue between Anglicans and the Orthodox traditions, most notably the establishment of a Greek college in Oxford, and the attempts at dialogue between the Nonjurors and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
However, modern dialogue between the Anglican and Orthodox traditions begins in 1962. Following the talks that year between the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Athenagoras I of Constantinople, the Primates of the Anglican Communion agreed unanimously to set up an Anglican Theological Commission to confer with theologians of the Orthodox Churches.
In 1964, the Third Pan-Orthodox Conference at Rhodes unanimously decided officially to resume dialogue with the Anglican Communion, and this was ratified by all the Orthodox Churches. After a preparatory phase (1966-1972) in which the Anglican and Orthodox Commissions met separately, the first series of joint conversations took place (1973-1976). In 1973, the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Discussions (A/OJDD) met for the first time in Oxford.
This first phase resulted in the Moscow Agreed Statement (1976) on the Knowledge of God, the Inspiration and Authority of Holy Scripture, Scripture and Tradition, the Authority of the Councils, the Filioque Clause, the Church as the Eucharistic Community, and the Invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist.
When the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission met in Cambridge in 1977 to study the subjects agreed at the conclusion of the Moscow Conference a “thunderstorm” broke out when the Orthodox members “realised with regret” that the ordination of women was “no longer simply a question for discussion but an actual event in the life of some of the Anglican churches,” and asked themselves “how it will be possible to continue the dialogue, and what meaning the dialogue will have in these circumstances.”
It was agreed that the 1978 meeting would take place “before the Lambeth Conference, in order, by expounding the Orthodox position, to enable their Anglican brethren to come to what, in their view, would be a proper appreciation of the matter. For the Orthodox the future of the Dialogue would depend on the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference.”
In February 1978, the then Bishop of St Albans, Robert Runcie told the General Synod of the Church of England that “the future as well as the character of these valuable doctrinal discussions now hangs in the balance.”
The main part of the 1978 conference at Moni Pendeli in Athens was devoted to setting out the Orthodox and Anglican positions on the Ordination of Women to the priesthood. In its report the Orthodox members said: “We see the ordination of women, not as part of the creative continuity of tradition, but as a violation of the apostolic faith and order of the Church … This will have a decisively negative effect on the issue of the recognition of Anglican orders ... By ordaining women Anglicans would sever themselves from continuity in apostolic faith and spiritual life.”
They added: “It is obvious that, if the dialogue continues, its character would be drastically changed.” The joint conclusions to the report stated: “We value our Dialogue together and we are encouraged that our Churches and their leaders, as well as the members of our Commission, hope that it may continue under conditions acceptable to both sides.”
Following the 1978 Lambeth Resolution 21 on the ordination of women, the Orthodox Co-Chairman of AOJDD, Archbishop Athenagoras, expressed his view that “the theological dialogue will continue, although now simply as an academic and informative exercise, and no longer as an ecclesial endeavour aiming at the union of the two churches”. He later recommended that Orthodox professors rather than bishops should take part in the dialogue as an indication of its changed status and purpose. Some Orthodox agreed with this. However, as the Bishop of St Albans discovered during his visits to the Orthodox Churches in the spring of 1979, other Orthodox felt there was no need to change the standing of the talks and wished the dialogue to be.
The steering committee of AOJDD met in July 1979 and agreed that the full commission should continue its work in July 1980. “The ultimate aim remains the unity of the Churches,” it affirmed.
Saint Michael’s College, Llandaff … venue for Anglican-Orthodox dialogue in 1980 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
The commission resumed work at Saint Michael’s College, Llandaff, in July 1980, and approved a report on “The Communion of Saints and the Departed,” and continued the work on “The Church and the Churches” and on the Filioque clause in the Creed. This continued at meetings at the Orthodox Patriarchal Centre at Chambesy in Geneva 1981, and at Canterbury in 1982 where the sub-commissions focused on “The Mystery of the Church,” “Participation in the Grace of the Holy Trinity and Christian Holiness,” and “Tradition, Christian Worship, and the Maintenance of the Christian Faith.”
During his visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I in 1982 Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury referred to first series of Anglican-Orthodox conversations as a “spiritual summer” with the Moscow Agreed Statement as its “first-fruits,” but also spoke of a “wintry season” of difficulties experienced in Anglican-Orthodox relations. Archbishop Runcie, thanked the Patriarch for his encouragement to continue the dialogue which had led to a “second spring.”
In Odessa in 1983, the commission gave particular to Primacy (Seniority); Witness, Evangelism, and Service; and Prayer, Icons, and Family Devotion. The 1984 meeting at Bellinter, Co Meath, agreed on a report and statements on “The Mystery of the Church,” “Faith in the Trinity, Prayer and Holiness,” and “Worship and Tradition.” The publication after this meeting of the Dublin Agreed Statement (1984) concluded the second phase. Both statements recorded a measure of agreement on specific topics, while acknowledging continuing divergence on others.
The third phase of this dialogue began in 1989, when the commission was re-constituted as the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD), chaired by Metropolitan John of Pergamon and Bishop Henry Hill (and later by Bishop Mark Dyer), drawing together senior clergy and theologians from the Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion. It has considered the doctrine of the Church in the light of the doctrine of the Trinity, and examined the doctrine of the ordained ministry of the Church. It has given particular attention to the question of who may be ordained to the presbyterate and the episcopate, to ecclesiological issues and to aspects of Trinitarian doctrine.
The publication of The Church of the Triune God: The Cyprus Agreed Statement (2005) concludes the third phase of the Anglican-Orthodox international theological dialogue. The statement sets out significant material on the life of the Church which is timely and pertinent to many of the current debates within Anglicanism. It was sent for consideration to the Lambeth Conference in 2008.
Christ Church Oxford hosted the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, which met from 31 August to 6 September 2010 and explored aspects of Christian anthropology: “what is a human being?”; “the freedom and growth of the human being with particular reference to the understanding of image and likeness”; and “human responsibility for the creation; a critical overview of recent statements by our churches.”
Archbishop Richard Clarke is a member of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD), which met at the University of Chester on 3-10 September 2012, to continue the commission’s in-depth study of Christian anthropology, particularly in regard to what it means to be a human person created in the image and likeness of God. The Commission met most recently in Novi Sad, Serbia, last September .
Anglicans and inter-faith dialogue:
Archbishop Michael Jackson and Bishop Trevor Williams visiting a mosque in Leicester in March 2011 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
[Discussion: Experiences of inter-faith dialogue]
There is a difference not just in terms of expectations, but in understandings, between inter-church dialogue and inter-faith dialogue.
In the Church of Ireland, the Committee for Christian Unity (now the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue) of the General Synod and the House of Bishops published Guidelines for Interfaith Events and Dialogue in 2007:
Guidelines for Interfaith Events and Dialogue
The Guidelines were written for members of the Church of Ireland to equip them as members of a society experiencing accelerated diversity of faiths and cultures. These Guidelines build on the agreement reached at a Porvoo Consultation in Oslo in 2003.
The Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON) of the Anglican Communion seeks to encourage:
● Progress towards genuinely open and loving relationships between Christians and people of other faiths.
● Exchange of news, information, ideas and resources relating to inter faith concerns between provinces of the Anglican Communion.
● Local contextual and wider theological reflection.
● Witness and evangelism where appropriate.
● Prayerful and urgent action with all involved in tension and conflict.
● Support for people of faith, especially Christians, who live as religious minorities in situations of discrimination or danger.
NIFCON does this by:
● Networking and meeting;
● Communication using various media
● Gathering information through its international presidents, management group, correspondents, and contacts support groups.
NIFCON has also been charged by the Lambeth Conference to study and evaluate Muslim-Christian relations and to report regularly to the Anglican Consultative Council.
Some of the Anglican work and consultations on Inter-Faith relations include:
● The Agreement between the Chief Rabbis and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
● The al-Azhar agreement.
● The declarations at Alexandria, Bali, Cairo, Islamabad and Kaduna.
NIFCON has convened or taken part in a number of key consultations, including:
● Bangalore (India), 2003, a South Asian consultation on ‘mission and dialogue’ that stressed the importance of engaging in trustful and respectful inter-faith dialogue while vigorously advocating the cause of minorities suffering religious oppression.
● Oslo (Norway), 2003, when Anglicans and Lutherans from the Porvoo Communion highlighted the need to maintain the integrity of the church’s ministry while enabling the pastoral care of the other.
● Kaduna (Nigeria), 2007, a meeting in the Christian and Muslim setting of West Africa, a consultation on ‘faith and citizenship’ that pointed to the challenge of witnessing persuasively to the Gospel while welcoming fellow citizens of other faiths as co-workers for the common good.
● Lambeth Palace (December 2011), marking a century of Anglican interfaith engagement and celebrating the life and work of the late Bishop Kenneth Cragg, the Anglican pioneer in the field of dialogue with Islam.
From these experiences and gatherings, and from soundings across the Anglican Communion, it is evident that Anglican churches can be renewed in their life and mission when they commit themselves as part of their discipleship to presence among and engagement with other faith communities.
We can recognise the three following dynamic patterns in particular through which we are being led into this newness of life:
● First, in maintaining our presence among communities of other faiths, we are abiding as signs of the body of Christ in each place.
● Second, in engaging our energies with other groups for the transformation of society, we are being sent in the power of the Spirit into each situation.
● Third, in offering embassy and hospitality to our neighbours, we are both giving and receiving the blessing of God our Father.
Ian Ellis, Vision and Reality: A Survey of 20th Century Inter-Church Relations (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1992).
Eric Gallagher and Stanley Worrall, Christians in Ulster: 1968-1980 (Oxford University Press, 1982).
Michael Hurley (ed), Irish Anglicanism 1869-1969 (Dublin: Allen Figgis, 1970).
Brendan Leahy, Inter-Church relations – a tribute to Bishop Anthony Farquhar (Dublin: Veritas 2008).
Alan Megahey, The Irish Protestant Churches in the Twentieth Century (Macmillan Press, 2000).
Norman W Taggart, Conflict, Controversy and Co-operation: The Irish Council of Churches and ‘The Troubles,’ 1968-1972 (Dublin: Columba, 2004).
Peter Thompson, Working out the covenant: the story so far (Dublin: Church of Ireland Publishing, 2007).
The ARCIC Final Report
The WCC Report, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Faith and Order Paper No 111 (The Lima Report)
For a study guide to the Lima Report, see: BEM study guide
The Church of Ireland/Methodist Church in Ireland Covenant
Appendix: The Church of Ireland/Methodist Church in Ireland Covenant
The Methodist Church in Ireland
The Church of Ireland
We acknowledge one another’s churches as belonging to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and as truly participating in the apostolic mission of the whole people of God.
We acknowledge that in each of our churches the Word of God is authentically preached and the sacraments of baptism and holy communion authentically administered according to the command of Christ.
We acknowledge that both our churches share in a common faith set forth in the scriptures and summarised in the historic creeds.
We acknowledge our common inheritance in traditions of spirituality and liturgy.
We rejoice in our diversity from which we may mutually benefit as we continue to develop varied forms of worship as appropriate to different situations.
We acknowledge each other’s ordained ministries as given by God and as instruments of his grace by which our churches are served and built up. As pilgrims together, we look forward to the time when our ministries can be fully interchangeable and our churches visibly united.
We acknowledge that personal, collegial and communal oversight is embodied and practised in both churches, as each seeks to express continuity of apostolic life, mission and ministry.
We believe that God is calling our two churches to a fuller relationship in which we commit ourselves
● to share a common life and mission;
● to grow together so that unity may be visibly realized.
As the next steps towards that goal, we agree:
● to pray for and with one another and to avail of every opportunity to worship together;
● to welcome one another’s members to receive Holy Communion and other ministries as appropriate;
● to share resources in order to strengthen the mission of the Church;
● to help our members to appreciate and draw out the gifts which each of our traditions has to offer the whole people of God;
● to encourage the invitation of authorised persons of each church to minister in the other church, as far as the current disciplines of both churches permit;
● to encourage united Methodist/Church of Ireland congregations
◦ where there are joint church schemes
◦ where new churches are to be planted
◦ where local congregations wish to move in this direction;
● to encourage united Methodist/Church of Ireland chaplaincy work;
● to enable a measure of joint training of candidates for ordained and lay ministries of our churches where possible and appropriate and to encourage mutual understanding at all levels in our churches;
● to establish appropriate forms of consultation on matters of faith and order, mission and service;
● to participate as observers by invitation in each other's forms of governance at every possible level;
● to learn more about the practice of oversight in each other’s churches in order to achieve a fuller sharing of ministries at a later stage of our relationship.
Primate of All Ireland
W Winston Graham
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
26 September, 2002
On-line later today:
10.1: Is there an Anglican culture? Anthony Trollope and the Barchester novels.
Monday, 31 March 2014:
2 p.m., 10.2: Is there an Anglican culture? The poetry of TS Eliot.
3.30 p.m., 10.3: Is there an Anglican culture? Rose Macaulay and The Towers of Trebizond
3, Dissertation proposals.
Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and an Assistant Adjunct Professor, Trinity College Dublin. This is an expanded version of notes prepared for a lecture on the MTh Year II course, EM8825: Anglican Studies in an Irish context, on Monday 31 March 2014.
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