Frequently Asked Questions
The four instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion, and each of their roles, are the:
- Archbishop of Canterbury (unique focus of unity; calls the Lambeth Conference; chairs the Primates’ meetings; President of the ACC)
- Lambeth Conference (gathering of the bishops of the Communion; meets once every 10 years)
- Primates (Archbishops of each province; meet regularly)
- Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) (includes one to three persons from every province; an advisory council which seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church)
The Anglican Communion understands itself to be a family formed by mutual responsibility and interdependence chiefly enabled through these four instruments. The four instruments are modeled on the early Church’s “conciliar structure” – a model upheld by both Scripture and tradition in which the Church met in councils to consider and resolve theological and doctrinal issues. Today, they are also responsible for articulating and upholding the mind of the Church on matters of doctrine and theology.
Some key decisions made by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church are recorded:
- Consent to election of Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire (2003)
- Resolution B001 – Doctrine: Endorse Certain Historic Anglican Doctrines and Policies (2000)
- Resolution D025 – Repealed the moratorium on Homosexual Bishops (2009)
In many cases, however, bishops vote by voice, and therefore no record of their vote exists. (An example of an unrecorded voice vote in the House of Bishops is the 2003 vote on Resolution C051 on Blessings of Same-Sex Unions.) Additionally, the election of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is conducted by secret ballot, so votes of individual bishops are not recorded. In these cases, the only indication of how a particular bishop voted is his/her own word if he/she chooses to reveal that information.
The Lambeth Commission was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury to examine the life of the Communion. The Windsor Report 2004 was developed by the Lambeth Commission; the report outlines the state of the Anglican Communion and how to address issues threatening to divide the worldwide Church.
Lambeth 1.10 was a “resolution on human sexuality” passed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference; it has since been upheld by each of the other three instruments of Anglican unity as the Communion’s mind on human sexuality. The resolution upholds, among other things:
- marriage defined as “between a man and a woman in a lifelong union”
- abstinence for those who are not called to marriage
- homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture”
- rejection of “legitimising or blessing of same sex unions” and of ordination of “those involved in same gender unions”
- recognition of the need to “minister pastorally and sensitively” to all, including those who practice homosexuality
- The Anglican Church of Nigeria
- The Anglican Church of Kenya
- The Church of Uganda
- The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America
- Province de L'Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda
- The Anglican Church of Tanzania
- The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
- Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
- The Church of the Province of South East Asia
The ACNA is currently seeking recognition of other provinces of the Anglican Communion.