Reflections on Anglican/Orthodox Conference

October 12, 2009

Fr. Gregory Jensen writes his observations on the recent Anglican/Orthodox Conference at Nashotah House, an Anglican Seminary, where serious talks at unity between the conservative break-away Anglican Communion of North America and Orthodox Church of America are underway. Some highlights:

The recent Anglican/Orthodox Conference at Nashotah House was, for me as an Orthodox observer, an extraordinary experience and one that fills me with hope (albeit, a guarded hope). Over the 3 or so days of the conference I was consistently impressed with the seriousness of all the speakers and the substance of their presentations. Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Communion of North America I think spoke for many of his fellow Anglicans when he said that “we (the Anglican Communion) come to you (the Orthodox Church) in our brokenness and our need for what it is you have.” This is, in my opinion, an extraordinary statement from a Christian leader.

At the same time neither Archbishop Duncan or the other Anglican speakers were unaware that there remain real, substantive differences between our two tradition. Of these the most serious were seen (from the Anglican side) as the “filioque” clause, which was added to the Nicene Creed by the Western Church, the ordination of women as presbyters and the Orthodox condemnation of Calvinism. To be sure there are other areas of disagreement, but these three seem to be the main ones that the Anglicans needs to address among themselves.

It appears that Archbishop Duncan of the ACNA is escalating these talks to his superiors on Africa:

After the meeting, Archbishop Duncan was in fact on his way to speak with the Anglicans of the Southern Cone (primarily Africa) about recent developments between ACNA and the OCA. Quite prudently, the Archbishop is hesitant to proceed unilaterally and would submit Metropolitan JONAH’s invitation to reconciliation to the collective discernment of those Anglican community with which ACNA is in communion. What the rest of the Anglican world will say, and what ACNA will do if the invitation to reconciliation is rejected, no one at this point knows–including I suspect Archbishop Duncan.

Fr. Jensen concludes with one personal observation:

Many of the Orthodox speakers were themselves former Anglicans and in many cases Anglican priests who studied at Nashotah House. These men were greeted by the former fellow Anglicans with evident warmth, affection and respect. To my shame I must confess, I find it hard to imagine myself being so generous in similar circumstances. And I cannot help but think my own shortcomings in this area are shared by many, maybe even most, Orthodox Christians–clergy and laity.

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