Communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting
Canterbury Cathedral, England. 11-15 January 2015
Walking Together in the Service of God in the World
The meeting of Anglican Primates, the senior bishops of the 38 Anglican Provinces, joined by
the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, took place in Canterbury between
Monday 11 January and Friday 15 January at the invitation of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of
Canterbury. The first morning was spent in prayer and fasting.
We came knowing that the 2016 Primates’ meeting would be concerned with the differences
among us in regard to our teaching on matters of human sexuality. We were also eager to
address wider areas of concern.
The meeting started by agreeing the agenda. The first agreed item was to discuss an important
point of contention among Anglicans worldwide: the recent change to the doctrine of marriage
by The Episcopal Church in the USA.
Over the past week the unanimous decision of the Primates was to walk together, however
painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of
Christ. We looked at what that meant in practical terms.
We received the recommendation of a working group of our members which took up the task
of how our Anglican Communion of Churches might walk together and our unity be
strengthened. Their work, consistent with previous statements of the Primates’ meetings,
addressed what consequences follow for The Episcopal Church in relation to the Anglican
Communion following its recent change of marriage doctrine. The recommendations in
paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Addendum are:
“It is our unanimous desire to walk together. However given the seriousness of these matters
we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The
Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be
appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the
internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any
issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.
“We have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Task Group to maintain
conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding
of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognising the extent of our commonality and
exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of
These recommendations were adopted by the majority of the Primates present.
We will develop this process so that it can also be applied when any unilateral decisions on
matters of doctrine and polity are taken that threaten our unity.
The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together
to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction
arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of
criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.
The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have
often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused
deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that
God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church
should never by its actions give any other impression.
We affirmed the consultation that had taken place in preparation for the meeting by
Archbishop Welby and commended his approach for future events within the Communion.
The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion
of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican
Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come
forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction.
In the wake of the climate change conference in Paris last month, the meeting heard about a
petition of almost two million signatures co-coordinated by the Anglican Environment
Network. Reports were made about moves to divest from fossil fuels, the expansion of the
African Deserts and the struggle for survival of the peoples of the Pacific as island life is
threatened in many places by the rise of sea levels.
The meeting discussed the reality of religiously motivated violence and its impact on people
and communities throughout the world. Primates living in places where such violence is a daily
reality spoke movingly and passionately about their circumstances and the effect on their
members. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself has taken important initiatives in bringing
people together from a range of faith communities globally for discussion and mutual
accountability. The Anglican Primates repudiated any religiously motivated violence and
expressed solidarity with all who suffer from this evil in the world today.
The Primates look forward to the proposal being brought to the Anglican Consultative Council
for comprehensive child protection measures to be available throughout all the churches of
In a presentation on evangelism, the Primates rejoiced that the Church of Jesus Christ lives to
bear witness to the transforming power of the love of God in Jesus Christ. The Primates were
energised by the opportunity to share experiences of evangelism and motivated to evangelise
with their people.
“The Primates joyfully commit themselves and the Anglican Church, to proclaim throughout the
world the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the
beauty and joy of the Gospel.”
The Primates supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his proposal to call a Lambeth
Conference in 2020.
Primates discussed tribalism, ethnicity, nationalism and patronage networks, and the deep evil
of corruption. They reflected that these issues become inextricably connected to war and
violence, and derive from poverty. They agreed to ask the Secretary General of the Anglican
Communion to commission a study for the next Primates’ meeting. The Primates agreed to
meet again in 2017 and 2019.
The Primates owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of the Anglican Communion Office, and
especially the Secretary General, to the staff at Lambeth Palace and at Church House
Westminster. The Primates were especially grateful for the warm welcome, generous
hospitality and kindness offered by the Dean of Canterbury and all at the Cathedral. Their
contribution was very important in setting the mood of the meeting in prayer and mutual
listening. Thanks to the Community of St Anselm for their prayer, help and support, Jean
Vanier for his inspiring addresses, and the Community of St Gregory for the loan of the crosier
head to sit alongside the St Augustine gospels.
The Primates received their time together as a gift from God and experienced many signs of
God’s presence amongst us. They appreciated the personal care and humility shown by the
Archbishop of Canterbury especially in his chairing of the meeting. We leave our week
together enriched by the communion we share and strengthened by the faithful witness of
Anglicans across the world. The Primates deeply appreciate the prayers of many throughout
the world over our time together.