Anglican and Old Catholic Ecclesiologies: Towards Further Convergence

Anglican - Old Catholic Theologians' Conference, Leeds, August/September 2005

Conference Results

The official theological conference between the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht took place at Hinsley Hall, Leeds from 29 August to 2 September 2005. Some seventy theologians, Old Catholic and Anglican, from many countries, attended this conference which was held under the auspices of the annual Old Catholic Theological Conference and the Centre for the Study of the Christian Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Utrecht gave their support.

The conference was intended to provide some theological underpinning for the celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Bonn Agreement of 1931, which brought the two families of churches into communion, and to point to a future deepening of their communion.

Papers were given by the Revd Professor Dr Urs von Arx and the Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen (on the origins of the Bonn Agreement); by the Revd Mattijs Ploeger and the Revd Prebendary Dr Paul Avis (on catholic, apostolic, triniatarian and eucharistic concepts of the Church); by Dr Colin Podmore and the Revd Professor Dr Günter Esser (on episcopacy, conciliarity, collegiality and primacy); and by Ms Sarah Aebersold and the Revd Canon Professor J. Robert Wright (on the Church, local and universal). The Revd Robert Frede and Preb. Dr Paul Avis chaired the conference.

Two plenary sessions (chaired by the Right Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield, and the Most Revd Dr Joris Vercammen, Archbishop of Utrecht) enabled the conference to engage with a panel of the speakers. The following affirmations and related questions received significant support:

1. Ecclesiological convergences and some questions that they evoke

a. Anglicans and Old Catholics affirm that the local Church, interpreted as the diocese, is the basic ecclesiological entity.

b. Anglicans and Old Catholics affirm, with different emphases, a 'eucharistic ecclesiology'.

c. Anglicans and Old Catholics are in 'full communion' through the Bonn Agreement: this is a sufficient and definitive basis for any steps to deeper unity.

2. Convergences in mission and the practical questions they evoke

a. Anglicans and Old Catholics preach the Gospel in a pluralist and increasingly secular Europe.

b. Anglicans and Old Catholics ought to work together more closely than they currently do.

© L. Walton, September 2005