Theological Education - IATDC


A letter from the IATDC Chairman, the Rt Rev Professor Stephen Sykes, to diocesan bishops, theological education institutions, ACC members, and Primates of the Anglican Communion.

For some years now the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission has been carrying out a study on the nature of communion, and doing this in conversation with representative leaders of the Anglican Communion. You may recall the ‘Four Key Questions’ in 2002 and ‘The Six Propositions’ which were circulated in 2003. Responses to these documents have been shaping our discussions, and although it has been necessary to suspend meetings of the Commission since then – because of financial restraints – the work which has already been done enabled the IATDC to prepare documents offering advice to the Primates for their meeting in 2003, and to present a condensed summary of the argument we have developed so far to the Lambeth Commission when it began its work, in June 2004.

When the ACC met last year, it urged that the Commission’s project should be resumed, and we are delighted that funding has been arranged for a full meeting, to be held in Kenya, later this year. Consequently I am writing to you now to request your further help in the discussion, by responding to a series of questions which are listed below. We would like to receive your responses by the end of May, 2006.

The context for the issues we are raising now can be understood by referring to the IATDC web-site where you will find summaries of the responses received to the Key Questions (“The  IATDC Communion Study, 2002”) and Six Propositions (“Prospects and Proposals, 2003”) as well as the Reflections offered to the Primates and the Summary Argument, referred to earlier. What we would like now is to have your comments on some or all of the following issues:

  1. Anglicanism has always given a high place to the reading of Scripture as the ground of its worship and teaching. How is it possible for Anglicans in different parts of the world to listen to the Bible together?

  2. The IATDC and the Windsor Report are both emphasising the notion of ‘covenant’ as a basis and expression of communion. If a covenant is more than a constitution, what implications does this have for decision-making by churches that are in a covenantal relationship with each other?

  3. How do you think the genuine and meaningful expressions of communion that your church experiences with Anglican Christians in other parts of the world will be able to survive current disagreements in the Anglican Communion?

  4. What sort of language (theological and otherwise) is appropriate for speaking about Christian people with whom you disagree?

I realise that you have many calls upon your time, but am sure that you agree with me about the need for the widest possible participation in the conversation that is now being resumed. Any further comments on the overall approach that the IATDC is taking, as it is outlined in the Summary Argument which has been circulated, would be greatly appreciated.

We will value your personal insights, but previously some diocesan bishops have also set up study groups to give a wider framework for the discussion, and theological colleges used the questions as a basis for staff meetings. We also welcome contributions from individuals, and especially lay people, so we will be pleased if you feel able to spread the contents of this letter as widely as possible. However, to include your contributions in the agenda of the Commission’s next meeting, we would ask for replies before the end of May. We expect to provide you with some interim document by the end of the year, and that further discussion will be incorporated into the preparations for the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

Could I ask you to reply to my assistant
The Rev Dr Philip Thomas,
The Vicarage
Co. Durham
England DL5 6PP

or the Commission Secretary,
The Rev Canon Gregory Cameron,
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew's House
16 Tavistock Crescent
London W11 1AP

Thank you for any time you are able to give to this process. We believe that it is, in its extent and duration, a unique procedure among our churches, and in its own way, a contribution to building and sustaining the communion of our Communion.

Please be assured of my prayers and the prayers of the Commission for your ministry � as I hope our efforts might be included in your prayers too.

Very sincerely,

+Stephen Sykes,
Chairman of the IATDC