Bishops and the Machinery of Church Government
Bishops and the Machinery of Church Government
The Official Position of the Archbishops and Bishops in the Church of England
When Henry VIII broke the relationship of the English Church with Rome he appropriated for himself the title 'Supreme Head' of the Church of England, which Elizabeth changed to 'Supreme Governor'. This title has been retained until today. As royal prerogative has decreased it has been replaced by the power of Parliament, and the governorship of the Church likewise has passed to that body and more particularly to the party in power at any given time. At no point from Henry VIII until present times has there ever been the suggestion that the archbishop of Canterbury, who has ranked as 'Primate of all England' since the pontificate of Innocent VI (1352-62), has any practical authority over the Church of England except in a few minor aspects.
The archbishop of Canterbury exercises some of the dispensing powers held by medieval Popes under a statute of 15341 which enables him, among other things, to permit clergy to hold more than one living, grant special licences for the celebration of matrimony at any time and place, and to grant academic degrees. Technically he still holds powers from medieval times to depose or suspend a bishop for good cause and undertake visitations of any diocese, however these powers have not been used since the Reformation so after a lapse of four hundred and fifty years and more their authority must be open to question. Apart from this his functions in crowning the Monarch, acting as host to the Lambeth Conference, presiding over the Church Assembly and later over General Synod and the Convocation of Canterbury are largely honorary. His honorary rank as 'Primate of all England' does mean that he is often called upon to be the spokesman of the Church over national issues and sometimes to advise the prime minister. It frequently means that he is the one to introduce Church measures into Parliament. As such he exhibits a degree of moral authority. The force of such moral authority is very much dependent on the individual archbishop and is affected by his personality and charisma. As archbishops are chosen by prime ministers, until recently almost independently of the Church, they have frequently been chosen for their ability to speak to the nation and in the House of Lords in a way which will not be a challenge to the government in office. It has been suggested that more controversial figures, like Bishop Bell of Chichester, may have lost the opportunity to become archbishop on these same grounds.
The archbishop of York, who ranks next as 'Primate of England' has no dispensing powers and has only jurisdiction and visitation rites within the province of York, he is not even regarded as the potential successor to the archbishop of Canterbury although this may sometimes occur. He shares the presidency of General Synod and presides over the Convocation of York, but these functions give him influence and a hearing rather than other forms of authority.
Apart from the two archbishops, the bishops of London, Winchester and Durham, and the twenty one most senior diocesan bishops have seats in the House of Lords. This gives them a forum in which they may voice their opinions on ecclesiastical affairs, but these are voices of influence and not of ecclesiastical authority. Within their dioceses all bishops can exercise a certain degree of practical authority. They appoint diocesan chancellors, archdeacons and rural deans. They have little control of their cathedrals as they do not appoint the deans as they, like the bishops, are appointed by the prime minister. The dean and chapter of each cathedral are virtually autonomous.2. It is the bishops or their suffragans, who ordain all new clergy and receive the oath of canonical obedience from their clergy. In practice it would be difficult for them to refuse ordination to a man who came with the correct references from the theological college and a curacy agreed with a church in the diocese. Oaths of canonical obedience too tend to be nominal, as over this whole period clergy frequently disobeyed their bishops over ritual and liturgical practice. As the bishops exhibited great reluctance to use the ecclesiastical courts their only sanctions were the witholding of licences forcurates and some financial grants. Bishops do have the authority to present clergy to livings which are in their gift, but for those livings held by lay patrons, colleges and trusts it is almost impossible for the bishop to refuse to institute the patron's nominee however unsuitable they may regard the cleric to be.3 Likewise Parson's Freehold prevents them removing unsuitable incumbents, uniting many parishes or exercising discipline in many instances4. They do carry out visitations by process of a questionaire or through their archdeacons but they have few sanctions to enforce obedience to any problem areas unless the clergy, church wardens and congregation support them. Within their dioceses they presided over the Bishop's Conferences which until 1970 preceded the Diocesan Synods. Here they have a voice of influence rather than authority, for there are few major decisions they can make extra to those sanctioned by Church Assembly, General Synod and even more especially by Parliament. As the bishop presides over most boards and committees within his diocese, and as apart from ritual matters most clergy are willing to accept his authority, the bishop's influence is often considerable and in practice he can wield quite a large amount of authority especially when he has a strong personality. As Kenneth Kirk, Bishop of Oxford, stated in the 1940's,
'Our ingrained tradition is so strong, that the bishop's words on administrative and financial matters were he ever to speak on them at all - would probably outweigh in popular esteem anything any committee could decide5'
The influence of Michael Ramsey as Archbishop of Canterbury was particularly strong. Owen Chadwick, in his life of Michael Ramsey,showed how he exercised this in his relationship with the government and through the House of Lords to win more freedom for the Church from the control of the State. On a personal level too Chadwick showed how Ramsey helped to improve relationships with the Roman Catholic Church leading to future dialogue6.
The influence of bishops, particularly the archbishops of Canterbury, is considerable especially over moral issues and sometimes over political issues where they coincide.
This influence has grown during the period as they have had increasing access to the media and have been able to voice their opinions through newspapers, radio and television to their fellow Anglicans and beyond them to the rest of the community. This influence does not constitute authority and is sometimes the opinions of individual members of the episcopate rather than the whole body, nevertheless its significance should not be discounted7.
An interesting example was when Cosmo Lang's opinion was sought by Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister, over the abdication of Edward VIII8 though Lang had studiously avoided making public utterances in the matter. Subsequent archbishops have not been so reticent and Archbishop Fisher was more forthright in his condemnation of the British intervention in Suez9. There is no record of episcopal protest having a significant effect on government policies during this period.
The bishops meet together as a group in the Convocations, in Church Assembly and later in General Synod, and as a smaller group in Parliament. Outside these bodies there is no conference of bishops where they meet just as a group to make any decisions on behalf of the Church, although less formal gatherings do take place often at the request of the archbishops of Canterbury.
For some years experimentation has taken place in various dioceses whereby suffragan bishops have been given areas of pastoral responsibility and authority functioning as a team with the diocesan bishop rather than the suffragans functioning largely as clergy who have the ability to confirm and ordain when the bishop felt overworked10. These experiments led to the 1971 report Bishops and Ministry11 which suggested a form of collegial episcopacy within dioceses whereby there was a small group of bishops each working in given geographical areas, and as a team responsible for decision making. It suggested that suffragan bishops be replaced by full bishops who would be appointed by the method used for the appointment of diocesan bishops12. Although this report was designed to remove the anomaliesin the position of suffragan bishops it did suggest an interesting concept of bishops working together in the exercise of authority and responsibility outside of the Convocations and General Synod, even though the groups of bishops would be fairly small. The Report claimed that this expression of episcopal collegiality had its roots in the early Church and was based on a Cyprianic concept whereby each diocesan bishop held the fulness of apostolic authority within his own diocese13. Although the Report used the idea of collegiality not for the Church of England as a whole but for a college of bishops in each individual diocese. No doubt the report has affected the internal workings of some dioceses, but there has been no change in the method of appointment of suffragans and so the concept has yet to come to possible fruition.
The divergence of opinion in belief and practice found throughout the Church of England during this period has also been found within its bishops, who contain representatives from all the main groupings, and has prevented the bishops from speaking with one voice on various topics. As Archbishop Garbett of York wrote in 1947,
'It is undeniable that there is occasionally lack of unanimity among the bishops on certain questions of doctrine, worship and practical politics. This is inevitable if all Church parties are to be represented on the episcopal bench. An unanimous episcopal vote would be the result of the exclusion of all who held the views of a minority. As long as the Church of England is comprehensive there must be some variety of opinion among the bishops14'
Such divergences have sometimes hindered the passage of ecclesiastical legislation, such as the 1928 Prayer Book.More generally they have prevented even the House of Bishopsfrom taking a stand over a unified approach to doctrine within the Church or against fellow bishops, such as Henson and Barnes, whose writings have been felt by many to be against the position generally held by most of the Church.
The question of where the seat of authority is to be found in Anglicanism, and of the role of the archbishop of Canterbury, wasdiscussed by the bishops at the 1978 Lambeth Conference and was answered by Dr Coggan, then the Archbishop of Canterbury. He contended that for Anglicanism authority did not rest in the Lambeth Conferences, or in the Anglican Consultative Council, nor ?would it rest in a Doctrinal Commission if one wereestablished. It certainly did not rest in the archbishop of Canterbury, as he made clear when he said,
'There are those who would say perhaps that authority ought to be centred in the person of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, but down the years the feeling against that has, I think rightly, been strong. It is not, I believe of the genius of Anglicanism to have at its head someone who is papal or patriarchial15... I do not think there is a quick or easy answer to the question 'where is authority to be found?' Nor do I think it is of the genius of Anglicanism to define too rigidly, though there is always, on the part of some of us, a craving for rigid neatness16.'
Gareth Bennett was later to condemn these remarks of Dr Coggan by stating,
'that a notion of authority so obscure in conception and so imprecise in its exercise might in fact be no authority at all17.'
Although this was spoken in the context of a Lambeth Conference it is undoubtedly true for the Church of England itself. No archbishop during this period has attempted to claim for himself any primatial role of authority, only the exertion of influence. The role of bishops in the authority structure as a whole has decreased as the laity have received more power through General Synod, yet in both General Synod and in the Church Assembly the clergy could exercise a veto on the wishes of the House of Bishops. Coggan said that it was not the nature of Anglicanism to be headed by a patriarchial figure, the Church of England has never had such a figure and has shown no enthusiasm for getting one. The overall authority which acts as a constant check on new developments is the State, which has carefully restricted the powers of any new piece of authority structure to arise in the Church, and the State has exhibited no desire to increase the power of bishops or archbishops.
The Convocations had their origins in Pre-Reformation England. The Convocations of Canterbury and York were revived in the 1850's after over 130 years when they had not been permitted to conduct any Church business.
Each Convocation consists of two Houses, an Upper House of all the diocesan bishops in the province with some suffragan bishops, and a Lower House consisting of lesser clergy. An archbishopsits as president over the Upper House and over joint meetings of both Houses, although the Sovereign has the power to appoint a vicegerent to preside over the archbishops, though the only ?instance of this was Henry VIII's appointment of Thomas Cromwell, a layman, to this post. Convocations cannot sit without a Royal Licence and although they can and do pass many resolutions none of these have any legal power within the Church but do have varying amounts of influence. Prior to the establishment of General Synod they had the right to pass Canons, subject to Royal Assent, but this was surrendered to the General Synod at its inception18.
In Convocations the Upper House (Bishops) is usually the initiating body and the Lower House's work is that of revision and advice but even so both Houses must agree before any resolution is said to have the approval of Convocation. Should the Lower House refuse to support a resolution of the Upper House it cannot be overridden and the bishops are defeated although this rarely occurs. After resolutions are made, bishops can be asked to introduce a bill in the House of Lords, archbishops can be requested to petition the Crown, and measures could be sent to Church Assembly or later to its successor General Synod.
The Church Assembly was established under an Enabling Act of 1919 to give the Church a better forum for discussion and to initiate ecclesiastical legislation. It consisted of the Convocations of Canterbury and York which formed two Houses of Bishops and Clergy, and a House of Laity elected by the laity in each diocese. The laity were excluded from discussion and decision making on doctrine and worship which kept these areas of debate completely in clerical hands and meant that the bishops had more influence in these major areas. Even as late as 1952 when Archbishop Fisher told the House of Laity that they would be consulted over Canon Law revision he made it clear that this was a concession.
The Constitution of the Church Assembly expressly stipulated that,
'it does not belong to the functions of the Assembly to issue any statement purporting to define the doctrine of the Church of England on any question of theology, and no such statement shall be issued by the Assembly.19'
This Constitution was prepared by a group within the Church and although referred to in the Enabling Act was not drawn up by Parliament. However it is fairly certain that had they not imposed limits on themselves the bill might have incurred more difficulties on its passage through Parliament.
The Enabling Act contained safeguards to preserve Parliament's ?supremacy, an Ecclesiastical Committee of fifteen members of the House of Commons would examine any proposed legislation to ensure this before such measures were submitted to Parliament when they would be accepted or rejected by that body but were not able to be amended by Parliament.
Archbishop Davidson, when he spoke on behalf of the Enabling Bill in the House of Lords, said of it that, 'Parliament retains its right not only in theory but in fact',
'Remember that these powers are definitely and in set terms limited by Parliament in each individual case of their exercise.20'
From the start the bishops knew and were prepared to accept these Parliamentary constraints as the price for a small measure of freedom.
The establishment of the Church Assembly was not universally welcomed in the Church even among the bishops. Hensley Henson strongly opposed it as he was concerned that minority groups in the Church could use it as a forum to extend their influence to the detriment of what he saw as the broad basis of Anglicanism21. He accused the new Church Assembly of being, 'almost confessedly hostile to every feature of the establishment,' and stated that, 'in principle the Enabling Act is an Act of Disestablishment22. in spite of all the Parliamentary restrictions to prevent this, as at the time he felt the Church was safeguarded from internal friction. However he later came to value the Church Assembly and to admit that it did much useful work in the measures it did get through, in its reforms and reports23.
Measures in Church Assembly were not introduced by individual members, even bishops. Rather, members proposed a committee be established to consider a subject and the committee, if appointed, prepared any measures to come before the Assembly. Although many such proposals came from the archbishops and bishops it did mean that their ideas came before the Assembly through their influence and because others agreed to their importance rather than by any power of authority. The measures proposed by committees still had to proceed through the voting system which provided another check on episcopal dominance.
It was said that the debate in the Church Assembly resembled, 'the school debating society with the headmaster in the chair'24 as everyone was anxious to avoid conflicts and friction and there was general reluctance in opposing official policy. Thus most of the committees it set up and the reports they subsequently produced tended to be ones initiated by the bishops, although these committees had many non-episcopal members. The ?measures supported by the bishops were not attacked in the way that would later happen in General Synod, probably because the clergy and laity did not have effective voting power to change them, or perhaps, on the laity's behalf, a greater sense of deference to bishops.
Although most of the measures proposed by the Church Assembly were accepted by Parliament there were several notable exceptions. The most important of these were those concerning Prayer Book revision in 1927 and 1928 when Parliament refused twice to accept measures which had majorities throughout Church Assembly and which were supported by nearly all bishops. This was not the first time Parliament had rejected the Church's measures, having already refused the Shrewsbury Bishopric Measure and a measure concerned with London churches in the 1920's.
Following the rejection of the 1928 Prayer Book, Church Assembly deliberately avoided controversial measures for many years and so no further confrontations with Parliament arose which might have led to calls for disestablishment. Thus the Church Assembly did not bring in many of the measures that were becoming increasingly necessary for the Church in the twentieth century.
Hensley Henson, who after the failure of the 1928 Prayer Book Measure, became a staunch advocate of more independence for the Church, and a fierce critic of its leadership for not demanding this, felt that the arrangements for Church Assembly severely weakened the archbishops and prevented them from giving a proper lead to the Church. The archbishops were expected to take the chair in the debates. He claimed that the true position of the archbishops of Canterbury should be, 'analogous to that of the prime minister in the House of Commons', but by having to chair debates he was reduced to that of the 'Speaker'.25' Because of this,
'The Assembly does not always receive from the Archbishop the guidance which it needs, and is entitled to expect, for his Grace's position in the chair is rarely compatible with his intervention in debate, never really compatible when the subject of debate is one on which there is acute difference of opinion.26'
By the 1950's the laity came to feel the need for wider participation, and the archbishops were persuaded to consider a greater role for them by establishing a committee to enquire into their future role which reported in 1958, The Convocations and the Laity.
After much debate and further committees a report was produced in 1966, Government by Synod which laid the foundation for the establishment of the General Synod to replace Church Assembly27. The Synodical Government Measure which resulted was accepted by Parliament and received ?the Royal Assent in 1969.
General Synod has three Houses, Bishops, Clergy and Laity. All the bishops have the right to sit in Synod, clergy and laity are elected. Although its powers to make Canons, pass measures and conduct relationships with other Churches, Anglican and non-Anglican, would appear extensive they are still very much subject to exterior authority. Canons have to receive Royal Assent and measures have to pass first the scrutiny of the ecclesiatical committee and then, if the committee deems it necessary because of the nature of the canon, it must come before Parliament for assent before having any force whatsoever just as the measures of Church Assembly.
In the General Synod the composition of the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy is identical to that of the Convocations at any given moment. Although the three Houses meet separately they usually meet together for all major business. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are the joint presidents of General Synod and usually take the chair if present but can choose to be chairman on any particular occasion or one of the panel of other chairmen including lay persons can take their place.
If a General Synod measure concerns doctrine, services or ceremonies it has to be debated and voted in each House separately, but it is finally put to the Synod in the form proposed by the House of Bishops, when it is subjected to the same voting procedure as the other measures, so this gives the bishops only a small amount of extra authority.
The clause reserving to the bishops the right to express in their terms proposals on certain matters states,
'A provision touching doctrinal formulae or the services or ceremonies in the Church of England or the administration of the sacraments or sacred rites thereof shall, before it is finally approved by the General Synod, be referred to the House of Bishops, and shall be submitted for such final approval in terms proposed by the House of Bishops and not otherwise.28'
Bishops usually chair the boards councils and committees of the Synod.
Appointments to General Synod Commissions are made by a standing committee which includes both archbishops and representatives of all three houses so even here the bishops have only a share in the choice of members. Measures which come before Synod usually originate from the work of these Commissions, it is very rare that measures originate in the House of Bishops29.
To get motions through General Synod they have to have a majority in all ?three Houses, and on major issues a two thirds majority. On some issues, such as Anglican-Methodist Unity Scheme and the Convenanting Proposal, the House of Clergy have rejected motions which received the necessary votes in the House of Bishops. Most of these failures which thwarted the hopes of the bishops were brought about by the Anglo Catholic group of clergy and, in the case of the Anglican-Methodist Unity, by a combination of Anglo Catholic and Evangelical clergy.
The bishops exert some influence in the General Synod but this falls far short of the authority to persuade the other two Houses to vote in the same way as them if they feel differently about a motion. It is interesting that here again the Anglo Catholic group of clergy which makes the greatest theological claims for bishops as successors of the Apostles is prepared to work against them on major issues of theology and Church unity.
The archbishops' and bishops' lack of authority, as showm by the veto which can be imposed by the other two Houses in General Synod, has raised important questions. It has been suggested that the bishops' authority is undermined and their proper functions usurped. As John Halliburton expressed it,
'They have after all not only a seniority but a Commission to the ministry of discernment. This needs not only to be recognised but to be asserted; and the constitution of the General Synod stands in need of essential modification in this respect30.'
Those who, like Henry Chadwick, regarded synods composed of clergy and laity, as well as bishops, as being the embodiment of the consensus fidelium and in the spirit of the early Church,pointed out,
'The consensus of bishops in council is therefore integrally linked to the wider, universal consenus of the faithful, both clerical and lay; and that wider consensus has often exercised, gradually but decisively, a controlling critical interpretation of the decrees and definitions of even general councils. The reception of the believing community is integral to the process of authoritative doctrinal or ethical decisions.31
Yet even Chadwick stated that,
'The moral unanimity of a council of many bishops has always been understood to have decision making and binding force for the ?community represented32
suggesting the Synod's role in the authority structure of the Church is not to overrule the bishops on major issues.
Some bishops also felt that General Synod was not functioning in the way that it was intended and the concept of partnership between bishops, clergy and laity was not intended to weaken episcopal authority. Although it was admitted that often the bishops did not provide a united position from which to influence the other Houses, this was especially true of moral issues such as homosexuality. Even where the bishops were largely united, such as over the Anglican-Methodist Unity Scheme, their influence alone was unable to persuade the other Houses to follow them. It is certainly the opinion of one retired archbishop of Canterbury that in his opinion the,
'General Synod now has too much power and there is the danger that we forget that ours is an Episcopal Church.'33
The position of the bishops in General Synod where their decisions can be overuled by either the House of Laity, the House of Clergy, orboth, clearly puts them in a different relationship to the Church of England than that of bishops in either the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Churches. This is of course bound up with the whole Church of England understanding of the role of bishops in the authority structures of the Church.
It is clear too that this has led members of the Free Churches to see bishops as 'moderators' and 'superintendent ministers' in their functions when they have been involved in unity talks with the Church of England, and caused them perplexity when Anglicans could not accept this verdict as will be shown later in this thesis.
This undermining of episcopal authority is clearly an issue in Anglican/Roman Catholic reunion discussions. It is hard to reconcile a Church that holds a high doctrine of episcopal authority with one that ever enables bishops be outvoted by clergy and laity. This will be discussed further in the chapter on ARCIC34.
The Lambeth Conferences
The Lambeth Conferences of bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion first met in 1867 at Lambeth and has continued to meet ?there at approximately ten year intervals ever since. It provides a forum for discussion on major topics affecting the Churches. The conferences pass resolutions indicating areas of general agreement but none of these are binding on the member Churches. Generally these take the form of statements of basic principles or hopes for the future such as the 1920 Lambeth call for the reunion of Christendom. Sometimes there are shown to be considerable areas of division among the bishops as over the Church of South India in 1930. The 1948 Conference seemed to deliberately avoid controversy in that it avoided all mention of the Doctrine in the Church of England which had appeared in 1938, and the debates among English clergy and bishops over Bishop Barnes's The Rise of Christianity both of which were then recent news. Sometimes the bishops proclaimed a change in attitudes, as in 1958,then for the first time they universally supported family planning. This support was restated in 1968 shortly after the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. The 1968 Conference, among many other topics, discussed the role of the Thirty Nine Articles. It endorsed the main conclusions of the Archbishops' Commission on Christian Doctrine Report, Subscription and Assent to the Thirty Nine Articles (1969), but suggested that individual Churches within the Anglican Communion could consider whether or not to have the Articles bound up with their Prayer Books and whether assent to the Articles be still required of ordinands. If it were required, it was suggested the assent be in a form that set the Articles in their historical context35. Only the Church of England would not be able to choose whether or not to implement these fully.
As with almost all Lambeth Conference resolutions the wording includes 'suggests' or 'recommends'. There was always the awareness that these resolutions had no binding force but rather a varying amount of moral influence upon the Churches that comprise the Anglican Communion. Nowhere was this more true than Resolution 5i of the 1968 Conference36 where the bishops welcomed proposals for the Anglican-Methodist Unity Scheme and stated that it,
'believes the proposed Service of Reconciliation is theologically adequate to achieve its declared intentions of reconciling the two Churches and integrating their ministries.'
This resolution was reached after considerable debate and not without the belief of some English bishops that the rest of the Anglican Communion was not sufficiently aware of all the implications37. Bishop Cyril Eastaugh of Peterborough wrote to the Church Times on 13th September 1968 that,
'The resolution on this matter passed by the Lambeth Conference must not be taken as a considered and responsible decision of the bishops.'
It clearly had no influence on future voting in the Church Assembly and General Synod.
The various parts of the Anglican Communion which are represented at the Lambeth Conferences have always expressed their complete freedom in rites, ceremonies, usages, observances and discipline, even where,
'this freedom naturally and necessarily carries with it the risk of divergence to the point even of disruption. In case any such risk should actually arise it is clear the the Lambeth Conference as such could not take any disciplinary action38.'
Various Lambeth Conferences have talked about the importance of episcopal ordination in any Church reunion scheme with the Free Churches.
The Lambeth Conference of 1930 in its section on the Unity of the Church upheld the concept of the historic episcopate dating back to the time of the Apostles or at least the the second century, as asserted in the 1888 Lambeth Quadrilateral, having the functions of,
'the general superintendance of the Church and more especially of the Clergy; the maintainance of unity in the one Eucharist; the ordination of men to the ministry; the safeguarding of the faith; and the administration of the discipline of the Church39.'
However they refused to include further definitions,
'we must insist on the Historic Episcopate but not upon any theory or interpretation of it40'
They stated that, from any other Church with which they entered into a union,
'we do not require of others... any one theory or interpretation of the Episcopate as a condition of union... we are content to believe that the acceptance of the Episcopate itself, in its continuity of succession and consecration, and in the discharge of its historic functions, will bring the united Church those gifts of Grace which, as we believe, the Providence of God has associated with it.'41
This attitude towards episcopacy, demanding it to be accepted with no theological basis, was to be that which prevailed in the Church of ?England in future years and caused endless problems during attempts at reunion with other Churches especially the Methodists. If the Anglican Communion had an agreed theology of episcopacy and therefore insisted on other Churches accepting this, debate would have been more straightforward. To insist on the acceptance of episcopacy with no theology of episcopacy led to constant bewilderment and frustration in the Free Churches. The Lambeth bishops, just as the Church of England bishops, were in such a dilemma because of the various episcopal theologies accepted among their members, therefore they were unable to produce a theology of episcopacy which commanded universal support. The accompanying definition of the function of a bishop could be applied to a 'superintendent minister' or similar person in the Free Churches, the only additional authority seemingly conveyed is by the continuity of succession.
Again in 1958 the Lambeth Conference stated the need of an episcopally ordained ministry, asserting the importance of,
'the principle of continuity by succession, which appears to be indispensible, at least from the human point of view.42'
They insisted that episcopal ordination is essential in any reunion scheme as,
'we cannot enter into the fulness of Christ's life in the Church without the recognised embodiment of this element of his ministry.43'
The position of the archbishop of Canterbury vis-85-vis the Lambeth Conferences is unique. The first Conference was summoned after many requests to the then archbishop for such a conference. At that timemost of the Anglican Communion still lay within British colonies or dominions. A tradition having been established, the bishops still continue to meet in England, although since 1958 the venue has moved from Lambeth to the University of Kent. William Temple, when referring to the 1930 Lambeth Conference, said of the Anglican Communion,
'This Communion is a commonwealth of Churches without a central constitution, it is a federation without a federal government'44
Without a constitution or a federal government it is virtually impossible to give such a body a head, unless that head had autocratic powers which would render it totally unacceptable to Anglicanism. Archbishop Ramsey believed that archbishops of ?Canterbury had a continuous role here, not one of authority or as in any sense a dominating figure in worldwide Anglicanism but as a symbol of the origins of all these Churches and of their unity in fellowship. As he said in 1973 at his presidential address to the Diocesam Synod of Canterbury,
'if an Archbishop of Canterbury will identify himself with the Communion as a whole and try to be less an English prelate than a servant of the Anglican Communion as widely as he can, then the see of Canterbury will continue to have its symbolic role.45'
Yet in the same speech he had to admit to tensions between the Church of England and other Churches in the Communion which felt, 'suspicious of the Church and State relation in this country'. They had won their freedom and independence from State control and they had authority within their own Churches to decree, legislate and appoint in the way they believed was right for their Churches.Yet the very Church from which they owed their descent did not have this freedom or make many efforts to demand it, even its power to implement some of the resolutions passed by the Conferences was severely restricted. Archbishops of Canterbury might serve as host and chairman to the Conferences but their role could never be more, even as in England their authority and control over their fellow bishops was so nominal as to be almost non-existent. It had become a long standing part of the Anglican tradition that there should be no figure at the head of the Church who would in any sense command obedience from its bishops, clergy and laity.
Archbishop Coggan stated that the greatest value he believed emanated from the Conferences was fellowship, and the friendships formed and deepened46. In this he was probably echoed by most of the participants, each member Church was too independent of the others, especially afterthe 1920's, for the Conferences to exert anything more than a certain degree of influence.
1) 25 Henry VIII, c.21
2) The factual details of what a bishop can or cannot do in his diocese are well set out in E.Garth Moore and Timothy Briden, Moore's Introduction to English Canon Law, 2nd edn. (1985),p.21ff
3) This position has been slightly changed by the Patronage Measure of 1986, but not in respect of Crown livings.
4) Most of these areas are dealt with at greater length in the chapter on Discipline
5) E.W.Kemp, The Life and Letters of ?Kenneth Escott Kirk, (1959), p.96
6) Owen Chadwick, Michael Ramsey : A Life, (1990)
7) Accounts of such influence and archepiscopal protests are to be found in Edward Carpenter, Cantuar : The Archbishops in their Office, (1971), especially pp.408-502
10) These experiments were summarized in Paul Welsby, Episcopacy in the Church of England, (1973), a General Synod consultative document p.11ff
11) ACCM, Bishops and Ministry, the report of the Ministry Committee Working Party ?on the Episcopate, (1971)
14) C.Garbett, The Claims of the Church of England (1947),p.117
15) The Report of the Lambeth Conference 1978, (1978),p.122
17) G.Bennett, To the Church of England, (1988), p.196
18) Technical details of Convocation and General Synod are to be found in Moore and Briden, Moore's Introduction to English Canon Law, (1985), 2nd edn, p.25ff.
19) Constitution 1514(2) quoted in The Church Assembly and the Church, published by the Church Assembly (1930), p.16
20) The Church Assembly and the Church, pp.115-6
21) Owen Chadwick, Hensley Henson, (1983),pp.186-7
22) H.H.Henson, Anglicanism, (1921),p.ix
23) H.H.Henson, The Church of England (1939), Cambridge, p.227
24) Guy Mayfield, The Church of England (1958), p.133
25) H.H.Henson, The Church of England, (1939), Cambridge, p.227
27) A good brief account of the emergence of General Synod is to be found in Paul Welsby, A History of the Church of England : 1945-1980, (1984), OUP, p.146ff.
28) Synodical Measure, 1969, Sch.2.Sec. 7(1),p.12
29) Information supplied by A.W.Nunn the Private Secretary to the General Synod
30) J.Halliburton, The Authority of a Bishop, (1986), p.50, see also D.W.Gundry 'The Need for Revision' p.57, in The Synod of Westminster : Do we need it? ed. Peter Moore (1986)
31) In Vogel,A.A., ed., Theology in Anglicanism, Wilton, Connecticut(1984),p.26
33) Lord Coggan in a private letter to the author of this thesis
34) It is interesting that Bishop Mark Santer, the co2Dchairman of ARCIC II commented, 'If episcopal authority is submerged by synodical majorities, then synodical government is as corrupt and sick as the arbitrary use of episcopal power,' Mark Santer, 'The Way Forward', in Communion and Episcopacy ed. Jonathan Draper, Ripon College, Cuddesdon (1988), p.111
35) Resolution 43, The Lambeth Conference 1968 (1968), pp.40-41
37) Alan Stephenson, Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences, (1978), pp.249-251
38) The Lambeth Conference 1930, (1930), p.154
39) Ibid. pp.114-115
42) The Lambeth Conference, 1958 (1958), 2.88
44) W.Temple, Thoughts on Some Problems of the Day,(1931),p.77
45) Quoted in Alan Stephenson, Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences, (1978), pp.288-9
46) D.Coggan, Convictions, (1975), p.153f