Will the Anglican Communion be joined together or rent asunder? That was the question that the Rev. Dr. Richard Leggett offered to a group gathered at St. Faiths.

The reason for these discussions is that the current solution to global Anglicanisms difficulties is to craft a covenant document which would make room for what many call a two-tiered membership, with some who are full members and some in association but not fully entitled because of differences in their practice of worship or discipleship.

In this model, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church USA, the Anglican Church of New Zealand, the Anglican Church of South Africa, and possibly the Church of England, would be second-tier Anglicans primarily, but not only, because of the blessing of same-sex couples.

Leggett, a professor at Vancouver School of Theology, said that in 1886 questions in the Episcopal Church (USA) led to an agreement on essential elements of Anglican communion, and these were slightly revised (with broader, less restrictive, wording) at the Lambeth Conference (1888), and known afterwards as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

The essential elements were defined as: Scripture, containing all things necessary to salvation; the Apostles Creed as a full statement of the faith (with the Nicene Creed as a sufficient expression of faith); the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist; the ordered ministry, including bishops.

Since the late 19th century, other ways of maintaining community have developed; at the request of the Anglican Church in Canada in the late 1800s, the Lambeth conference was called to particularly wrestle with concerns over polygamy. In the late 1960s the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), which includes laity, priests and deacons, was formed to carry on business between the Lambeth Conferences which take place every 10 years, but for bishops only.

Only very recently has a gathering of Primates been vetted as a necessary body to give guidance to the Communion. At this point, only the Lambeth Conference and the ACC have been acknowledged as having authoritative, but not legislative voice, in our Communion.

The greatest concern about the proposal in the draft covenant for a more magisterial model, in which the Primates exercise global authority, is that it results in the loss of voice of the laity of the Church and, to a lesser degree, of the clergy.