Williams to gather primates in October

August 8, 2003

Reacting to events this week at General Convention, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called a special meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in London, October 15-16.

According to a news release on the Anglican Communion News Service’s Web site, Dr. Rowan Williams said a meeting is needed. “I am clear that the anxieties caused by recent developments have reached the point where we will need to sit down and discuss their consequences,” he was quoted as saying.

“I hope that in our deliberations we will find that there are ways forward in this situation which can preserve our respect for one another and for the bonds that unite us,” he said.

In his official letter to primates, Williams writes, “I hope also we will take quite seriously the intervening period to reflect carefully on our life together as a Communion and to consider how we might best bring our faith, experience and wisdom to bear constructively on these discussions.”

On Tuesday, convention confirmed the Rev. Gene Robinson as the bishop coadjutor-elect of New Hampshire. He is the first noncelibate gay priest to be elected bishop in the Episcopal Church.

On Thursday, convention passed a resolution recognizing “that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions,” but stopped short of authorizing liturgies for such services.

Members of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops said the archbishop’s announcement of a primates meeting was not unexpected. “I think he’s exercising his appropriate authority,” said the Rev. Ian Douglas, a deputy from Massachusetts. “He’s doing what he needs to do.”

“I think there’s some desire of the part of all that there be a conversation that includes the primates, not just sound bites from different parts of the world,” said Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan. “We welcome the fact there will be a conversation.”

Opponents of Robinson’s election and same-sex blessings were also pleased by the news of the October meeting. “We are extremely grateful to Archbishop Williams for his swift response to our plea for intervention,” said Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and chair of the bishop’s network of the American Anglican Council. “I am confident that the archbishop will make adequate provision for mainstream Anglicans in North America.”