Seven archbishops who claim to represent more than 30 million Anglicans have refused to take Communion with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding head of the American Episcopal Church in protest of her support of gay clergy and unions.
In a statement released at the Anglican conference in Dar Es Salaam, the archbishops said: “We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the Church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired.
“Scripture teaches that before coming to sit with one another at the Lord’s Table we must be reconciled. (Matthew 5:23-26 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29) We have made repeated calls for repentance by The Episcopal Church and its leadership with no success. We continue to pray for a change of heart.
“We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding, ‘Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith’”
The incident came shortly after it appeared that the Anglican Communion had avoided further rifts over homosexuality.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was one of the authors of a report handed to the conference of senior church representative in Tanzania yesterday that said the American church was complying with instructions not to install any more gay bishops.
The report was critical of the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, for getting involved in the affairs of the American church.
Conservatives are angry at the report. They had wanted to create a parallel second church in America outside the jurisdiction of presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Eight conservative Anglican bishops in the US have already created a rival network that does not recognise the authority of Jefferts Schori, with the blessing of Archbishop Akinola.
“It’s a really poor report. It is shocking that a report like this could have been written at this stage. It’s way too soft,” Dr Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of South Carolina, said, reports The Guardian.