The 4th Anglican Global South to South Encounter is now over. The communique has been released. This is the Trumpet from the south. It is an eloquent and gracious document. It addresses the hopes and shared aspirations of the Southern Provinces. It also addresses the torn fabric of the Anglican Communion. Before I comment on what it says I would like to note something important that happened.

Archbishop Duncan was invited to preside at the celebration of Holy Communion at the Encounter.  All the Primates received communion.  This is an unofficial declaration that they are in communion with him.  Different provinces have differing ways of deciding who they are in communion with.  Unofficially it is clear that these 20 are in communion with the ACNA. I also note the following in the Communique.

We are grateful that the recently formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is a faithful expression of Anglicanism. We welcomed them as partners in the Gospel and our hope is that all provinces will be in full communion with the clergy and people of the ACNA and the Communion Partners. (Section 19)

We also read in Section 18

Some of our Provinces are already in a state of broken and impaired Communion with The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. Their continued refusal to honor the many requests [1] made of them by the various meetings of the Primates throughout the Windsor Process have brought discredit to our witness and we urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to implement the recommended actions. In light of the above, this Fourth South-to-South Encounter encourages our various Provinces to reconsider their communion relationships with The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada until it becomes clear that there is genuine repentance. (emphasis mine)

In some Anglican Provinces the Primate can decide who the province is in communion with.  In others, it takes a vote by the House of Bishops or their General Synod.  What is clear today is that the 20 provinces that made this statement are on a path to enter into formal communion with the Anglican Church of North America and possibly declare The Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada to be out of communion.  Neither of these is a surprising development. I simply note that we have reached the point where individual Provinces will now make formal the reality on the ground.

There is a great deal of important things in this communique that do not deal with the current crisis in the Anglican Communion.  Most of it in fact.  I encourage you to read the entire communique.  It does say some very important things about the crisis and about the proposed Anglican Covenant.  First, I am convinced there will be an Anglican Covenant.  There is a widely recognized need to spell out the nature of our relationships within the Anglican Communion and to establish a clear mechanism for disciplining a province that breaks the Covenant. There are aspects of the proposed Anglican Covenant that need to be changed.  In particular the proposed “Standing Committee of The Anglican Communion” that usurped the traditional role of the Primates Meeting and concentrated influence into the hands of small Revisionist Provinces will likely get dumped into the trash bin of history.

We are currently reviewing the proposed Covenant to find ways to strengthen it in order for it to fulfill its purpose. For example, we believe that all those who adopt the Covenant must be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10. Meanwhile we recognize that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Covenant in its implementation, not the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. (Excerpt of Section 21)

I am also struck by the very strong commitment to remain within and reform the Structures of the Anglican Communion. Adopting a workable Covenant is part of this of course.

We believe that there is a need to review the entire Anglican Communion structure; especially the Instruments of Communion and the Anglican Communion office; in order to achieve an authentic expression of the current reality of our Anglican Communion. (Excerpt of Section 22)

The Anglican Communion is not a hierarchy in the way that Roman Catholicism is.  We are a church with Bishops and Archbishops that are charged with the responsibility of defending the faith of the church and for overseeing the life of the church. Each Province has a Primate or a Presiding Bishop (title vary) that represents the church in the Instruments of Communion and most especially the Primates Meeting.  The Provinces enjoy autonomy with interdependence. When the Primates meet, The Archbishop of Canterbury is looked to as “Primus inter pares” (first among equals).  The ABC enjoys a moral authority and is recognized as the leader, but not in the same way as the Pope is by the Cardinals.  With this in mind let me close with a couple of observations.  First the provinces of the Global South do not want to start a new communion.  As Archbishop Anis said “We are the Communion”.  Second, these Provinces want to stay in communion with the historic See of Canterbury.  Third this communique sends a politely worded message to Archbishop Rowan Williams.  Here is my very loose interpretation of this message “Rowan, you are first among equals.  Equals…remember that! 20 of your equals have a word for you.  You are out of time. Get it together or we will do it for you. Respectfully yours, The Global South.”

The blog Stand Firm has the entire text of the Communique posted on top of some very interesting commentary posted by others.  I encourage you to read it all.