EFAC Australia

Anglican Communion

The Diocese of Perth - A Test Case?

The Perth Diocesan Synod has twice debated (the same) motion that sought to affirm same sex partnerships as consistent with Christian discipleship.  In 2012 and 2013 the motion was passed by a majority of Synod voting by houses but vetoed by Archbishop Roger Herft.  On both occasions, the Synod debate was accompanied by media coverage before and/or after the Synod.  On both occasions, Archbishop Herft made use of the full thirty days allowed to him under the statutes to prayerfully consider his decision.  Under the statutes, the second use of the archiepiscopal veto required that the motion be voted upon by the Provincial Council.  The Provincial Council unanimously rejected the motion, thereby endorsing the Archbishop’s veto. 

The Archbishop’s reasons for veto included that:

a.    the resolution ‘as worded’ was capable of being interpreted as contrary to the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia which govern the Matrimony Canon 1981; and

b.    the resolution gave a focus to sexuality that is ‘at variance with the doctrine of the human person’ as expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10/98’

Justin Terry – The Future of Anglicanism

Justin Terry’s lecture at Ridley Melbourne was wide ranging and extremely helpful. Justin is a positivist so it was great to hear of the remarkable growth in the Diocese of London and along what he called the ‘trade routes’ of the UK. While large parts of the Church of England are in decline there have been as many new plants as church closures. An amazing work has happened in and through larger churches planting and planting again as well as the explosion of mission through migrant churches in the UK. What are our trade routes and how are we following this Biblical pattern for mission?

Justin had some great insights into the challenge of mission in an increasingly secular society. His analysis of the shift back to paganism was very insightful.

Peter Smith summarises a talk he gave at the February 2014 QLD EFAC Meeting in which he gives reasons why we should keep on contending for the faith we have received.

Over in Western Australia the Perth Anglicans are divided over matters of human sexuality. The attempt to affirm same sex civil unions at the previous two synods is no minor issue.  Although the media narrowed in on the homosexual issue there is a deeper concern about the nature of Anglican authority. Is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ our supreme authority OR are we at liberty to determine our own identity and set our own agenda according to human reason? In other words, are we members of God’s holy, catholic, apostolic church ruled by God’s word or are we a human invention, a creature of our own thoughts and no church at all?
Since the re-formation of the Church of England in the sixteenth century there have been numerous stoushes about the nature of Anglican authority.  The newly reformed church under Cranmer rejected the Roman Catholic Magisterium. 1  In doing so, “They understood that they were restoring the church to its catholic and apostolic character and not replacing it with something new. For them the phrase ‘Reformed Catholic’ was a tautology.”2 Cranmer, under Edward VI established the Bible as the ultimate authority for resolving disputes and determining the life and health of the church.3
Under Cranmer, God’s word written, both Old and New Testaments, read in the Anglican way of OT promise and NT fulfilment in the gospel Christ, became the supreme authority. Cranmer, like Hooker who came after him, was not so naïve as to say “no authority” but the Bible. He understood that an honest reading of Scripture required humble submission to the authority triad of Scripture, a careful reading of tradition and the exercise of human reason (ascending rungs of a ladder with the Bible as the top rung or supreme authority).

General Synod
Richard Condie reports and reflects on the recent meeting of General Synod

In my experience, the General Synod (the national Anglican meeting that takes place once every three years) does not enjoy a great reputation. It is  known for strong, sometimes acrimonious debates about matters that have the potential to divide us. It is known as a forum for the lawyers, debating the minutiae of Canon Law. It is known for our less than admirable tendencies to align on political and churchmanship lines that highlight rather than unite our differences. So how is it that I came away from the General Synod meeting in Adelaide last month, feeling positive about the experience?
It wasn't just that the meeting finished a day early, which allowed Synod reps to enjoy the delights of South Australia's capital. Nor was it the excellent hospitality of St Peter's College and warm pastry treats for morning and afternoon teas. Nor was it the South Australian wine that we enjoyed with dinner. I think it was the positive spirit of the meeting which developed as we worked really hard to communicate and engage with each other.

Peter Smith challenges some aspects of contemporary worship and commends Cranmer’s way of encouraging the faithful.

The Anglican Church of Australia has undergone a profound liturgical revolution since the turbulent days of the 1960s.1 Whole dioceses and local churches right across Australia have been working towards more meaningful forms of corporate worship. For most, the innovations are driven by a desire to make the experience of church more engaging.2

Sadly, much of what passes for vitalAnglican worship today would be described by our Reformed Anglican forebears as Arian or Pelagian. Rather than helping people to feel good, the effect of many of the new service forms undermines Christian assurance. What is more disturbing is that churches once proud of their Anglican heritage have swept away the Reformed Angli­can liturgical heritage. A style of worship that reflects the doctrines of the medieval church period is flourishing today, including dioceses that pride themselves as orthodox.3