"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Windsor Report Viewed from Western New South Wales

Some readers of this blog will be familiar with the Very Rev. Dr. Edwin Byford, archdeacon of the Darling in the diocese of Riverina, New South Wales, Australia, and rector of Saint Peter's Anglican Church in Broken Hill, NSW. Fr. Byford has recently shared his reflections on the Windsor Report with me and has given me permission to post them to this blog for your consideration. Fr. Byford prepared this text as a result of a request for three things helpful in the Windsor proposal and three things that were promlematic.

Fr. Byford writes:


1. Our autonomy is not in isolation. We exercise our autonomy in communion with all other churches in communion with the See of Canterbury. This imposes upon our national church the necessity of consultation with other national churches when there is a proposal for innovation within our own church. (This would also be necessary if an individual diocese wanted to make some innovation such as, for example, that of New Westminster about blessing of same sex unions or of Sydney to authorise those not in the Order of Priests to celebrate the Eucharist.)

2. The covenant sets out a relationship of communion and not unity. There is an explicit recognition that there will be significant matters of difference between and within national churches.

3. There is the recognition that we need an international process for the resolution and conciliation of disputes over matters of fundamental difference between and within national churches. (But see below for I think that there are problems with the proposed mechanism.)


1. With the process of resolving Contentious Communion Issues there is the risk of the tyranny of the majority. We have been able to live, often very happily, with passionate disagreement over fundamental aspects of our church life such as, for example, women being in the Order of Priests or of Bishops. A definitive statement through the Archbishop of Canterbury may create more problems than it resolves. Since the seventeenth century, at least, there has been real room for dissent within the Anglican Communion.

2. I would not like to see any rubrics of interpretation of the Holy Scriptures or our theological tradition laid down as definitive. All of us have no problems making the affirmation that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation etc. But our fundamental disagreements revolve around how we interpret and apply those very scriptures that all of us affirm as authoritative.

3. There will be genuine disagreements about what is local and what is a matter for the whole Communion. For the foreseeable future these will probably centre around matters of gender and sexual morality. These matters will not go away just because we have entered a covenant.

I think that an Anglican Covenant is a very good idea. I think that we do need to make our belonging to each other explicit and this is an excellent way of doing it. Setting out the necessity for consultation between national churches may well see matters of fundamental disagreement diminish as each church and diocese becomes more aware of the way other Anglicans understand themselves and what being Anglican means."


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