A committee appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested that the “complete cessation” of same-sex blessings, among other steps, is the only way for the current Anglican Communion to survive as an “international family of Churches.”

However, the suggestions of the six-member Windsor Continuation Group—three Archbishops, two Bishops, and a Dean—were presented as “observations,” and not as a formal “report,” and are still preliminary.

Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster said that what the group has come up with “will further divide us.”

“It will not do to impose a rigid uniformity on a body so diverse as this Communion,” he said at a public session that the Windsor Continuation Group held.

Bishop Ingham accepted the thrice-made request of his Diocesan Synod and in 2003 issued a rite of blessing of committed same-sex relationships. At present, blessings are allowed in eight of the diocese’s 78 parishes. Three more parishes have also asked for permission to hold blessings, but since 2006 a moratorium on allowing the blessing in more than eight parishes has been in place.

The Group also proposed ending all cross-border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction by Primates (for example, the Primates of Rwanda and the Southern Cone claiming jurisdiction in Canada), and the consecration of bishops who live in openly gay relationships.

“If these three moratoria are not observed, the Communion is likely to fracture,” the Group suggested.

The Group suggested also forming a “Pastoral Forum” to deal with “situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.” The Forum would be empowered to “offer guidance on what response and any diminishment of standing within the Communion might be appropriate where any of the three moratoria are broken.”

Bishop Ingham objected to the Group’s suggestions for four reasons:

It builds on the Windsor Report of 2004, but that report “is not yet an agreed policy within the Communion.” Many Anglican Churches have objected to parts of it.

It is “punitive in tone, setting out penalties and the like,” rather than “inviting us in to deeper communion with one another through mutual understanding.” The Pastoral Forum will institutionalize external incursions into the life of the Communion’s independent national and regional member churches, he said.

It tries to impose uniformity upon “the complex diversity of our Communion.” In Canada, discrimination against homosexual persons is unacceptable.

The suggestions ignore reality, said the New Westminster bishop. “Whatever this document says, illegal incursions will continue.”

“We already live with a good deal of diverse practice across the Anglican Communion,” Bishop Ingham said. “Why can we not live with similar diversity in this matter too?”

The Windsor Continuation Group is chaired by Archbishop Clive Handford, former Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East; Archbishop John Chew, Primate of South East Asia; Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas; Bishop Victoria Matthews of Christchurch, New Zealand (former Bishop of Edmonton); the Very Rev. John Moses, former dean of St Paul’s, London; and Archbishop Donald Mtetemela, Primate of Tanzania.

For a story by the Anglican Journal go here.

The Windsor Continuation Group’s preliminary observations are here.

Bishop Ingham’s remarks can be found here.