The question of who chooses the next Archbishop of Canterbury was debated last week during the Church of England’s General Synod meeting. The proposal is to expand the membership to the Crown Nominations Committee to include more members from the global Anglican Communion.
From the press release:
The proposal would increase the Anglican Communion representatives to five while reducing the number of members from the Diocese to three. As at present, there would also be nine other members from the Church of England, including six elected by General Synod.
Consultation concludes March 31. A final proposal is expected to be voted on by General Synod in July.
The colonial roots of the Anglican Communion have played a central part in the debate. Those in support say opening the nomination to greater global membership would be less colonial. Those in opposition say it would be more colonial.
From the consultation paper:
The Church of England’s role within the Anglican Communion is rooted in England’s colonial history. These roots are neither monolithic nor simple, but nevertheless, as nations and peoples across the world seek to find better ways of relating internationally than the inherited and often unbalanced patterns still shaping our lives, the Church of England and the Communion cannot escape asking why a British cleric should always be primus inter pares [first among equals].
Pat Ashworth at Church Times has an article (limited access) on the February debate:
The Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller (London), recalled a period in the 19th century, before Pusey, when “foreign mission” was left to private enterprises and missionary societies, and when bishops were not appointed outside of England. “These proposals help us to walk together . . . to explore together how we should engage in our own Church and in the context of the global Communion.”
The Revd Mae Christie (Southwark), who had recently become a British citizen, having been born and brought up in the United States, said … primus inter pares should be a guide, but this was an appointment and not an election “determined by the context they came from. We all know how tenuous that position is, requiring consent of all the Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury is, at heart, a bishop of the Church of England: he starts first at home. . . I worry this proposal may appear more rather than less colonial.”
The Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley (Leeds), said that when she had been the Bishop of Waikato, in the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, she had experienced “immense respect for the see of Canterbury and the Church of England”, while acknowledging that it was “not without complexity, and in many ways bore the scars and scorn of colonialism”. She had been dismayed by some of the responses to the consultation so far, she said, particularly the use of the word “foreign”. She asked: “If we reject this consultation . . . what will our sisters and brothers in Christ say about us?”
From the Daily Mail:
During a discussion yesterday at the General Synod, the Church’s parliament, Rev David Bruce Bryant-Scott – an assistant chaplain on the Greek island of Crete, who was born in Canada – said: ‘I think if this proposal was put to my colleagues in the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada it would be resoundingly defeated.
‘That is because it would be seen as profoundly colonial. And perhaps there would be a great suspicion that this was an attempt to re-inscribe aspects of the Anglican covenant by stealth.’
The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Mark Tanner, told the meeting the move was ‘an embodiment of our fellowship [and] a visible expression of our global identity’.