A Statement on the Windsor Report
18 October 2004, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist
The Windsor Report 2004, which is the name given to the Lambeth Commission report called for by the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been released, as previously announced, today, October 18, 2004.
The report itself is sixty pages in length, with four substantial appendices attached. It is thorough, thoughtful, and while lengthy achieves clarity of expression. It is as Archbishop Eames writes, “part of a process…part of a pilgrimage toward healing and reconciliation.”
We, the bishops of the Episcopal Church in Alabama, welcome the report in its entirety. We find, upon first reading, a balanced, constructive document that will help provinces of the Anglican Communion avoid some of the destructive conflict that has taken place over the last year, and will, if implemented with good will and diligence, lead the Communion into a more complete fulfillment of all that Christian communion implies and promises.
By balanced, we mean that the report not only looks carefully at actions taken by our church, the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster, but also at the actions of primates and bishops of other provinces of the Communion who have intervened in the life of parishes and dioceses struggling with the actions taken by the Episcopal Church (USA) and New Westminster. All of the above parties are seen to have caused pain, anxiety, and confusion, and having strained our bonds of affection in the Communion. All of the above parties are asked to express regret for their actions and to place a moratorium on the actions seen in the report as damaging our common life.
The House of Bishops, meeting in September 2004 in Spokane, agreed that the report of the Lambeth Commission would be received with humility. It is our belief that such a stance makes possible a statement of regret over our actions, as recommended by the report. How the Episcopal Church (USA) will respond to the recommendations regarding moratoria on future actions will be more complex, but we believe our church will attend to these recommendations with all care and consideration.
With regard to the constructive quality of the report, several important elements should also be highlighted.
The Archbishop of Canterbury should have a council of advice, whose purpose is entirely focused on helping the archbishop respond to challenges to the communion with sufficient knowledge of varying cultural and theological contexts.
Clear, concise canon law regarding relationships between provinces of the Anglican Communion should be developed at the level of the Communion and adopted by individual provinces, including the development of a proposed “Anglican Covenant.” This will need careful study.
The report gives warm approval to the plan for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight formulated at the Spring meeting of our House of Bishops in Camp Allen, Texas, to help in situations of conflict between a parish and its bishop over current issues.
Strong support is given to promoting practically the process of listening and discernment regarding issues of human sexuality, as commended by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
Finally, it must be pointed out that the report is a series of recommendations, not judgments or mandates or punishments or laws. It will take some months for the report to be apprehended, and its recommendations adapted and adopted by the various official organs of the communion charged with these tasks. The Bishops of the Fourth Province will consider the report at our regularly scheduled meeting in December, and the full House of Bishops will meet in mid-January for the same purpose.
We welcome conversation around the content of the report here in the Diocese of Alabama. We ask that you add your prayers to ours, that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth and all peace.
The Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr.
Bishop of Alabama
The Rt. Rev. Mark H. Andrus,
Bishop Suffragan of Alabama