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Hallo again to all.

Should the Anglican Communion die, poisoned by people who want power and control, then Anglicans Online will become even more critical. We'd best get more exercise, eat our dark-green vegetables, move to more temperate climes, and buy a bigger server computer. But for now, we're ignoring the fray, and focusing on what we believe will still be important several generations from now. We'll have no more to predict about the Eames Commission report until some time after it is released and all of the recrimination (whatever form it may take) fades.

In past months we've had occasion to discuss 'the future of the Anglican Communion' with people in many places. Our travels have taken us far and wide; we like to attend church in those faraway places, and we like to listen. Usually we find that the clergy and staff recognise the name 'Anglicans Online', but the parish members do not. Not long ago in a city far from our home, a priest told us that she is a regular reader of Anglicans Online. In a playful mood, we asked her if she might be able to tell us what picture was on our front page, and she actually could. We were delighted. We love to meet people who say that they read Anglicans Online, and when we find out that they really do read it, our cup runneth over.

Boticelli's Knights of the Round TableMichael Peers, retired primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, frequently tells this story (quoted here from a speech not available online):

One of our greatest bishops of the 20th century, Desmond Tutu, when he was asked what holds the church together, especially in times of tension and controversy, said 'we meet'.  Sometimes people respond by saying that that does not sound like very strong glue to hold a church together, but consider what happens when someone says, 'I will not meet.'*

It all sounds so trivial: what holds us together is that we come together. We meet. Yet it is not so much trivial as it is axiomatic: what holds us together is us. We are together because we choose to come together. We meet. This is why we attend church. This is why dioceses and provinces hold synods and general conventions. What holds us together is that we meet. Out here at the end of this network, from our keyboards to your screen, we do not meet. We communicate, we share ideas, but we do not meet.

We know very few people who can tell us correctly what the Anglican Communion is. Some tell us what they wish it were, usually an enforcement mechanism by which they can exert power over others. Some tell us that it is a governance structure, or 'like parliament' or 'like congress' or 'like the United Nations'. That is how they see it, so to them, that's what it is. We have from time to time in this space reflected on what the Anglican Communion might be; some of our favourite musings include 19 March 2000, 16 December 2001, 20 July 2003, and 19 October 2003. If you read them over, you can see how we've struggled to reach understanding of what makes the Anglican Communion, in order that we might recognise were it to become un-made, or be changed. It's complex and difficult. Bishop Tutu's aphorism is so much easier to understand and to act upon. Meet.

Whatever the Anglican Communion might be, and however fiercely some parts of it wish to discipline, banish, demean, scorn, or punish other parts of it, all it takes to kill it is that we stop meeting. So whatever might come of the Eames Commission, whoever might howl for vengeance if it does or does not reach a certain conclusion, we pray that the Anglican Communion will ensure its existence by continuing to meet.

See you next week. And, of course, we hope to meet in our travels.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 5 September 2004

*One citation for this quote is Archbishop Peers' address to the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars.

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