“Here are some more interesting things in the Lambeth Calls Study Guide” is not a phrase anyone who is actively searching for a life partner has ever said. Unfortunately for my beloved, we have been bound by the vows of marriage for going on 22 years, so she hears shit like that way too often. I try to make sure to let her know of my unfailing gratitude on a regular basis. And still, there are some interesting things in the Lambeth Calls document beyond section iii of the Call on Human Dignity (not that I have carefully studied the whole thing, but I have given it more than a cursory glance.)
The first is that each of the ten Call areas is presented presented in a slightly different way. For instance, the Call on Safe Church has two sections: one for study notes and one for the Call itself. Some Calls seem to be presented in bold at the beginning of their section, while other sections begin with what appears to be an introductory statement in bold. All of them include a subsection entitled “The Call” to which some add “Specific Requests” as a part of the title. So is the Call at the beginning or in the body of the text? If it is in the body, then the Call on Human Dignity specifically requests that “The ACC … examine whether its work on Gender
Justice should be expanded to promote provincial and inter-provincial vision and practices toward human dignity with attention not only to gender but also sexuality.” That work should be “informed by relevant networks and departments of the [Anglican Communion Office] and informed by Lambeth 1998 resolution I.10” but the body of the text does not ask for a reaffirmation of 1.10.
(If you somehow stumbled onto this post and have no clue what this nonsense is about, please don’t feel obligated to find out. Just go find something that brings you joy and do that. If Anglican Communion shit-posting is your thing but you need a little context, try this.)
The Call on Anglican Identity is, thankfully, a bit more straightforward in its organization, with the statement in bold at the beginning of the section corresponding to the bullet points beneath. For those playing along on Twitter, we have more or less come to the consensus that, outside of having a name for who we are, the Anglican Communion is in many ways no closer to understanding what we are than we were in 1867. In addition to affirming the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, the Instruments of Communion, and the Five Marks of Mission, the text calls for “an Anglican Congress meeting in the Global South before the next Lambeth Conference.”
What strikes me as interesting here1 (in addition to the use of the term “Congress” which seems a bit old-fashioned but in an endearing way) is that the gathering this imagines sounds a lot like the Global Anglican Future Conference. There was a time, not so long ago, when whispers floated through St. Michael’s, Charleston, that GAFCON would replace Lambeth as The International Synod of Anglican Bishops. GAFCON does not, of course, have standing within the structure of the Anglican Communion, which is a thing that cuts both ways. Sure, none of their statements carry any sort of mandate to be heard by, for instance, the Lambeth Conference, but at the same time, they are free to speak in all sorts of ways that inclusion within the structure of the Communion would curtain. To paraphrase a colloquial phrase, it is better to have the stream flow from inside the circle going out than to have it outside flowing in. Calling an Anglican Congress in the Global South prior to the next Lambeth seems like an excellent way to give legitimacy to the concerns raised by GAFCON attendees while not giving legitimacy to GAFCON itself.
As I type, the Archbishop of Canterbury has released a statement on the Lambeth Calls. Or perhaps I should say that a statement has been released. (I am a big fan of the administrative use of the passive voice.) In an apparent response to the strum und drang following the release of the Call documents, it has been announced that the Call on Human Dignity will undergo some revision. “This will be released as soon as it is available.” Second, a third option for voting has been added. In addition to saying “This Call speaks for me” and “This Call requires further discernment” there is not a third option that states “This Call does not speak for me,” which is fine, I guess. Having posted yesterday about the value of making a clear and unequivocal statement, I can hardly go back not and say the first two choices were adequate. But it can be said that there is a place for face-saving in the midst of the discourse.
1This is the second thing in the post which I have noted as interesting, therefore making my opening salvo of “interesting thingS” an accurate statement.