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 Issues | Anglican Communion | Instruments of Unity

The "Four Instruments of Unity"

The four instruments of unity are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting, the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury remains a Diocesan Bishop who has special responsibilities within the Church of England and also has an historic place and responsibility within the wider Communion. As the organization has come under pressure there has been a desire to make the role of Canterbury more significant. This ranges from the inclusion of the Bishop of Dover in the House of Bishops to the proposals that within the Communion he have much more power. This tendency would alter significantly the ecclesiological basis of the Communion and would self consciously and disastrously mimic the papacy.

See page on Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Primates Meeting and Lambeth Conference
The Primates Meeting and the Lambeth Conference have both been seen by orthodox Anglicans as a source of encouragement though it is clear that there is an imbalance, particularly in the latter, caused by the relatively large numbers of Bishops in the North America and the UK.

Anglican Consultative Council
The Anglican Consultative Council is intended to be a representative body including Clergy and Laity.  Each province of the Anglican Communion chooses up to three members to serve on the ACC. The Council in turn appoints a Secretary-General who acts as an executive officer for the ACC and runs the Anglican Communion Office located in Paddington, London.

The Council meets ever two or three years and appoints a standing committee to conduct business in the interim. In principle it is a forum for both lay and clergy to participate in the mechanisms of the Communion as distinct from the Primates gathering and the Lambeth Conference. In reality there is a widespread perception that ACC has been hijacked by radical liberals.  The work of the Council and the Anglican Communion Office have been substantially funded from North American sources.  Furthermore, there has been a problem that representatives from the global south have not been accustomed to the political games played by most of the liberals from the UK and North America.


According to the ACO the work of the ACC includes:

"Sharing information about developments in the provinces and to serve as an instrument of common action, often by resolutions or initiating programs.
Advising on inter-Anglican relationships and formations of new provinces.
Sharing resources of all kinds and support for the mission of the global church. To engage in important ecumenical dialogues and interfaith work on an international level."


True Unity
These four instruments of unity have a purpose and a place but they all have to do with the organization and as such can never be the basis of true unity in the Coummunion.


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