August 4, 2006

Lambeth Speaks on General Convention

The proposed gathering of "Windsor" bishops in Texas appears, in its rejection of General Convention's official act in adopting B033, and as an effort to bypass the General Convention as the collective and authoritative "voice" of the Episcopal Church in Communion matters, once again to be ignoring a principle laid out by Lambeth from the very beginning:

"The Provincial Synod -- or, as it is called in New Zealand, the General Synod, and in the United States the General Convention -- is formed, whenever it does not exist already by law and usage, through the voluntary association of Dioceses for united legislation and common action. The Provincial Synod not only provides a method for securing unity amongst the Dioceses which are thus associated, but also forms the link between these Dioceses and other Churches of the Anglican Communion.... It is the office of the Provincial Synod, generally, to exercise, within the limits of the Province, powers in regard to Provincial questions similar to those which the Diocesan Synod exercises, within the Diocese, in regard to Diocesan questions. As to the relation between these two Synods, your Committee are of opinion, that the Diocese is bound to accept positive enactments of a Provincial Synod in which it is duly represented, and that no Diocesan regulations have force, if contrary to the decisions of a higher Synod; but that, in order to prevent any collision or misunderstanding, the spheres of action of the several Synods should be defined on the following principle, viz., That the Provincial Synod should deal with questions of common interest to the whole Province, and with those which affect the communion of the Dioceses with one another and with the rest of the Church; whilst the Diocesan Synod should be left free to dispose of matters of local interest, and to manage the affairs of the Diocese." -- Committee Report A of the Lambeth Conference of 1867
The findings of this committee were ratified in Resolution 4, which reads:
"That, in the opinion of this Conference, Unity in Faith and Discipline will be best maintained among our several branches of the Anglican Communion by due and canonical subordination of the Synods of the several branches to the higher authority of a Synod or Synods above them."
This does not, by the way, contrary to the assertions of some, refer to Lambeth itself, which was never conceived of as a canonical or synodical body, but as the invitation letter to the first Conference explicitly declared,
"Such a meeting would not be competent to make declarations or lay down definitions on points of doctrine." -- Letter of Invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, 22 February 1867
— Tobias S Haller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this good analysis of the upcoming meeting in Texas. Until now I have thought that the claim that TEC is descending into civil war was quite exagerated, but now I am not so sure. If Canterbury and other Bishops in England keep encouraging these groups and their meetings I think we are in trouble. What a mess!