First, one major complexity is that the Communion has no clear definition of itself. The oldest and probably still most widely accepted understanding of the Communion is that offered by the 1930 Lambeth Conference and subsequently quoted in the preamble to TEC’s constitution. It defined the Communion as a “fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury,” which have in common “the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer”; that “they are particular [dioceses] or national Churches”; and that “they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.”
As we have noted before, this definition reflects the essence of catholic ecclesiology: the people of God are united in one local church by their communion with their recognized bishop, and through the communion of all the bishops in a college of bishops the people of God around the world are joined in one communion.
It is sometimes suggested that a better definition is the membership schedule attached to the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council. But this definition is clearly inadequate and is not in fact accepted by any of the Instruments as defining the Communion as a whole for all purposes. Indeed, while it purports to be only a definition of ACC membership, the ACC itself does not accept the schedule as performing even that limited role.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Central New York TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * South Carolina * Theology Ecclesiology
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