Project Canterbury


Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion














Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2007





O LORD God Almighty, Father of Lights and Fountain of all Wisdom, we humbly beseech Thee that Thy Holy Spirit may lead into all Truth Thy servants, the Bishops now gathered together in Thy Name. Grant them Grace to think and do such things as shall tend most to Thy glory and the good of Thy Holy Church. Direct and prosper, we pray Thee, all their consultations, and further them with Thy continual help, that, the true Catholic and Apostolic faith once delivered to the saints being maintained, Thy Church may serve Thee in all godly quietness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[5] AN ADDRESS &c.


IN opening the proceedings of the first Conference that has ever taken place of the Bishops of the Reformed Church in visible communion with the United Church of England and Ireland, my prevailing feeling is one of profound gratitude to our Heavenly Father for having thus far prospered the efforts which have been made to promote this solemn assembling of ourselves together. Many have been the anxious thoughts and great the heart-searchings which have attended the preparations for this remarkable manifestation of life and energy in the several branches of our communion. Many also have been the prayers, and fervent, I trust, will continue to be the prayers, [5/6] offered up by us, severally and collectively, that He will prosper our deliberations, to the advancement of His glory and the good of His Church. Having met together, as I truly believe we have done, in a spirit of love to Christ, and to all those who love Him, with an earnest desire to strengthen the bonds which unite the several branches of our Reformed Church, to encourage each other in our endeavours to maintain the faith once delivered to the saints, and to advance the kingdom of Christ upon earth, I will not doubt that a blessing from above will rest upon our labours, and that the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whose aid we have invoked, will direct, sanctify, and govern our counsels.

The origin of this Conference has already been stated in the circular of invitation which I addressed to you all. It was at the instance of the Metropolitan and the Bishops of the Church of Canada, supported by the unanimous request of a very large meeting of Archbishops and Bishops of the Home and Colonial Church,--a request confirmed by addresses from both the Houses of Convocation of my Province of Canterbury,--that I resolved upon convening it. Further encouragement to venture upon this unprecedented step was afforded when the petition from the Canadian Church was first discussed, a plain intimation being given by a distinguished member of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of [6/7] America, that it would be regarded as a very graceful act, and would be hailed with general satisfaction in that Church, if the invitation to the Conference were extended to our Episcopalian brethren in those States.

Fully conscious, however, of all the difficulties which must surround the attempt to organize and superintend an assembly of so novel a character, I might well have hesitated to incur so great a risk. But to have refused to yield to wishes thus fully and forcibly expressed, to have shrunk from undertaking the consequent responsibility, would have been unworthy of the position in which, by God's providence, I am placed. In faith and prayer has the task been undertaken; and I humbly trust it will please God to prosper our work to a successful conclusion. The result, indeed, has thus far more than justified the expectations raised. We rejoice to find that so many of our brethren from distant parts of the globe have been moved to respond to the call; and we welcome with feelings of cordial affection and genuine sympathy the presence of so large a proportion of the American. Episcopate. From very many also, who, owing to various circumstances, have been prevented from joining us, I have received letters expressing the profound satisfaction and thankfulness with which they regard the opportunities afforded by this gathering, for conferring together upon topics of mutual [7/8] interest; for discussing the peculiar difficulties and perplexities in which our widely-scattered Colonial Churches are involved, and the evils to which they are exposed; for cementing yet more firmly the bonds of Christian communion between Churches acknowledging one Lord, one faith, one baptism, connected, not only by the ties of kindred, but by common formularies; and for meeting, through their representatives, from the most distant regions of the earth, to offer up united prayers and praise to the Most High in the mother tongue common to us all, and to partake together of the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ.

It has never been contemplated that we should assume the functions of a General Synod of all the Churches in full communion with the Church of England, and take upon ourselves to enact canons that should be binding upon those here represented. We merely propose to discuss matters of practical interest, and pronounce what we deem expedient in resolutions which may serve as safe guides to future action. Thus it will be seen that our first essay is rather tentative and experimental, in a matter in which we have no distinct precedent to direct us.

The subjects which will be brought under your consideration have already been laid before you in the Prospectus of Arrangements for our proceedings. They may be briefly comprised under the [8/9] following heads:--(1) The best way of promoting the Reunion of Christendom. (2) The Notification of the Establishment of New Sees. (3) Letters commendatory from Clergymen and Laymen passing to distant Dioceses. (4) Subordination in our Colonial Church to Metropolitans. (5) Discipline to be exercised by Metropolitans. (6) Court of the Metropolitan. (7) Question of Appeal. (8) Conditions of Union with the Church at home. (9) Notification of proposed Missionary Bishoprics. (10) Subordination of Missionaries. In the selection of topics regard has been chiefly had to those which bear on practical difficulties seeming to require solution. It has been found impossible to meet all views, and embrace every recommendation that has been suggested. Some may be of opinion that subjects have been omitted which ought to have found a place in our deliberations; that we should have been assembled with the view of defining the limits of Theological Truth; but it has been deemed far better, on the first occasion of our meeting in such form, rather to do too little than attempt too much, and instead of dealing with propositions which can lead to no efficient result, to confine ourselves to matters admitting of a practical and beneficial solution.

The unexpected position in which our Colonial Churches have recently found themselves placed has naturally created a great feeling of uneasiness in the minds of many. I am fully persuaded [9/10] that the idea of any essential separation from the Mother Church is universally repudiated by them: they all cling to her with the strongest filial affection, while they are bound to her Doctrines and Form of Worship by cogent motives of interest. At the same time I have good reason to believe that there are various shades of opinion as to the best mode in which the connexion between the daughter Churches and their common mother can best be maintained; and I trust that the interchange of thought between those who are chiefly interested in those important questions will lead to some profitable conclusions. I may also state my belief that legislation on the subject of the Colonial Churches has been postponed until the view taken by this Conference shall have been declared. These matters have been regarded under various aspects in the voluminous correspondence which I have had with many of my Colonial brethren; they will all, no doubt, be fully developed in the course of our discussion by those who represent these several opinions. I trust that, under a deep sense of the solemnity of the occasion on which we are assembled, our discussions will be characterized by mutual forbearance, if sentiments at variance with our own shall be advanced, so that by the comparison, rather than the conflict, of opinions we may be drawn nearer to each other in brotherly harmony and concord. With the arrangement that certain [10/11] subjects shall, after a brief consideration, be referred to Committees, I believe that the various topics for consideration may be profitably discussed.

Doubtless, there is much in these latter days, even as we have all been taught to expect, which is dark and dispiriting to the mind that has not been exercised to discern the meaning of such signs. The enemy is on every side, plying his insidious arts, to sap the foundations of belief, to hinder the cause of God's Church, and prevent the Word of God from doing its work in the conversion of the soul of sinful man. No effort is spared to disparage the authority of those who witness for the truth and uphold the dogmatic teaching for which the Apostolic writings are at once the model and the warrant. Though it be not our purpose to enter upon theological discussion, yet our very presence here is a witness to our resolution to maintain the faith, which we hold in common as our priceless heritage, set forth in our Liturgy and other formularies; and this our united celebration of offices common to our respective Churches in each quarter of the globe is a claim, in the face of the world, for the independence of separate Churches, as well as a protest against the assumption by any Bishop of the Church Catholic of dominion over his fellows in the Episcopate.

Not one of us, I am persuaded, can fail to [11/12] respond to that earnest desire for Unity which is expressed in the Introduction to our Resolutions. It is but the echo of the petition which the Saviour of the world offered in behalf of His Church, when He prayed the Father, that those who should believe in Him might all be one in the Father and the Son. And while we deplore the divided state of Christendom, and mourn over the obstacles which at present exist to our all being joined together in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, this very feeling should be our most powerful motive to urge our petitions at the throne of grace, that it may please God, in His own good time, to remove such hindrances as at present render that union impracticable.

And now may our Almighty Father shed abroad upon us the spirit of wisdom, peace, and love, and inspire us with such counsels as may most tend to edification; so that, being knit together more closely in the bonds of brotherly affection and Christian communion, and animated with a more fervent zeal for the Saviour's honour and the salvation of souls, we may do our endeavour to prepare His Church for the coming of Him whom we lovingly adore, and whose Advent in power and glory we ardently look to and long for.



"WE, Bishops of Christ's Holy Catholic Church, in visible Communion with the United Church of England and Ireland, professing the Faith delivered to us in Holy Scripture, maintained by the Primitive Church and by the Fathers of the English Reformation, now assembled, by the good providence of God, at the Archiepiscopal Palace of Lambeth, under the presidency of the Primate of all England, desire--First, to give hearty thanks to Almighty God for having thus brought us together for common counsels and united worship; Secondly, we desire to express the deep sorrow with which we view the divided condition of the flock of Christ throughout the world, ardently longing for the fulfilment of the prayer of our Lord, 'That all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me;' and, Lastly, we do here solemnly record [13/14] our conviction that unity will be most effectually promoted by maintaining the Faith in its purity and integrity--as taught in the Holy Scriptures, held by the Primitive Church, summed up in the Creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed General Councils,--and by drawing each of us closer to our common Lord, by giving ourselves to much prayer and intercession, by the cultivation of a spirit of charity, and a love of the Lord's appearing."

RESOLUTION I.--"That it appears to us expedient, for the purpose of maintaining brotherly intercommunion, that all cases of establishment of new Sees, and appointment of new Bishops, be notified to all Archbishops and Metropolitans, and all presiding Bishops of the Anglican Communion."

RESOLUTION II.--"That, having regard to the conditions under which intercommunion between members of the Church passing from one distant Diocese to another may be duly maintained, we hereby declare it desirable,

"(1) That forms of Letters Commendatory on behalf of Clergymen visiting other Dioceses be drawn up and agreed upon;
"(2) That a form of Letters Commendatory for lay members of the Church be in like manner prepared;
"(3) [14/15] That his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury be pleased to undertake the preparation of such forms."

RESOLUTION III.--"That a Committee be appointed to draw up a Pastoral Address to all members of the Church of Christ in communion with the Anglican Branch of the Church Catholic, to be agreed upon by the assembled Bishops, and to be published as soon as possible after the last sitting of the Conference."

RESOLUTION IV.--"That, in the opinion of this Conference, Unity in Faith and Discipline will be best maintained among the several branches of the Anglican Communion by due and canonical subordination of the Synods of the several branches to the higher authority of a Synod or Synods above them."

RESOLUTION V.--"That a Committee of seven members (with power to add to their number, and to obtain the assistance of men learned in Ecclesiastical and Canon Law) be appointed to inquire into and report upon the subject of the relations and functions of such Synods, and that such Report be forwarded to His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, with a request that, if possible, it may be communicated to any adjourned meeting of this Conference."

RESOLUTION VI.-- [15/16] "That, in the judgment of the Bishops now assembled, the whole Anglican Communion is deeply injured by the present condition of the Church in Natal; and that a Committee be now appointed at this General Meeting to report on the best mode by which the Church may be delivered from the continuance of this scandal, and the true faith maintained. That such Report be forwarded to his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, with the request that he will be pleased to transmit the same to all the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, and to ask for their judgment thereupon."

RESOLUTION VII.--"That we who are here present do acquiesce in the Resolution of the Convocation of Canterbury, passed on June 29, 1866, relating to the Diocese of Natal, to wit--
"If it be decided that a new Bishop should be consecrated,--As to the proper steps to be taken by the members of the Church in the province of Natal for obtaining, a new Bishop, it is the opinion of this House, first, that a formal instrument, declaratory of the doctrine and discipline of the Church of South Africa should be prepared, which every Bishop, Priest, and Deacon to be appointed to office should be required to subscribe; secondly, that a godly and well-learned man should be chosen by the clergy, with the assent of the [16/17] lay-communicants of the Church; and, thirdly, that he should be presented for consecration, either to the Archbishop of Canterbury,--if the aforesaid instrument should declare the doctrine and discipline of Christ as received by the United Church of England and Ireland,--or to the Bishops of the Church of South Africa, according as hereafter may be judged to be most advisable and convenient."

RESOLUTION VIII.--"That, in order to the binding of the Churches of our Colonial Empire and the Missionary Churches beyond them in the closest union with the Mother Church, it is necessary that they receive and maintain without alteration the standards of Faith and Doctrine as now in use in that Church. That, nevertheless, each Province should have the right to make such adaptations and additions to the services of the Church as its peculiar circumstances may require, Provided, that no change or addition be made inconsistent with the spirit and principles of the Book of Common Prayer, and that all such changes be liable to revision by any Synod of the Anglican Communion in which the said province shall be represented."

RESOLUTION IX.--"That the Committee appointed by Resolution V., with the addition of the names of the Bishops of London, St. David's, and [17/18] Oxford, and all the Colonial Bishops, be instructed to consider the constitution of a voluntary spiritual tribunal, to which questions of doctrine may be carried by appeal from the tribunals for the exercise of discipline in each Province of the Colonial Church, and that their report be forwarded to his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, who is requested to communicate it to an adjourned meeting of this Conference."

RESOLUTION X.--"That the resolutions submitted to this Conference relative to the discipline to be exercised by Metropolitans, the Court of Metropolitans, the scheme for conducting the Election of Bishops, when not otherwise provided for, the declaration of submission to the Regulation of Synods, and the question of what Legislation should be proposed for the Colonial Churches, be referred to the Committee specified in the preceding Resolution."

RESOLUTION XI.--"That a special committee be appointed to consider the Resolutions relative to the Notification of proposed Missionary Bishoprics, and the Subordinates of Missionaries."

RESOLUTION XII.--"That the question of the bounds of the Jurisdiction of different Bishops, when any question may have arisen in regard to them, the question as to the obedience of Chaplains of the United Church of England and Ireland [18/19] on the Continent, and the Resolution submitted to the Conference relative to their return and admission into Home Dioceses, be referred to the Committee specified in the preceding Resolution."

RESOLUTION XIII.-- "That we desire to render our hearty thanks to Almighty God for His blessings vouchsafed to us in and by this Conference; and we desire to express our hope that this our meeting may hereafter be followed by other meetings to be conducted in the same spirit of brotherly love."

After a resolution of hearty thanks to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, for having convened the Conference, and for having presided at it, the Archbishop solemnly offered up the prayer for the Church militant. The "Gloria in Excelsis" was then sung by the assembled Bishops; His Grace the President pronounced the Benediction, and the present session of the Conference came to its close.


To the faithful in Christ Jesus, the Priests and Deacons, and the Lay Members of the Church of
Christ in Communion with the Anglican Branch of the Church Catholic,

WE the undersigned Bishops, gathered under the good providence of God for prayer and conference at Lambeth, pray for you that ye may obtain grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

We give thanks to God, brethren beloved, for the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love towards the saints, which hath abounded amongst you; and for the knowledge of Christ which through you hath been spread abroad amongst the most vigorous races of the earth; and with one mouth we make our supplications to God, even the Father, that by the power of the Holy Ghost He would strengthen us with His might, to amend amongst us the things which are amiss, to supply the things which are lacking, and to reach forth unto higher measures of love and zeal in worshipping Him, and in making known His name; and we pray that in His good time He would give back unto His whole Church the Blessed gift of Unity in Truth.

And now we exhort you in love that ye keep whole and undefiled the faith once delivered to the saints, as ye have received it of the Lord Jesus. We entreat you to watch and pray, and to strive [20/21] heartily with us against the frauds and subtleties wherewith the faith hath been aforetime and is now assailed.

We beseech you to hold fast, as the sure word of God, all the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; and that by diligent study of these oracles of God, praying in the Holy Ghost, ye seek to know more of the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour, very God and very Man, ever to be adored and worshipped, whom they reveal unto us, and of the will of God, which they declare.

Furthermore, we entreat you to guard yourselves and yours against the growing superstitions and additions with which in these latter days the truth of God hath been overlaid; as otherwise, so especially by the pretension to universal sovereignty over God's heritage asserted for the See of Rome, and by the practical exaltation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as mediator in the place of her Divine Son, and by the addressing of prayers to her as intercessor between God and man. Of such beware, we beseech you, knowing that the jealous God giveth not His honour to another.

Build yourselves up, therefore, beloved, in your most holy faith; grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Show forth before all men by your faith, self-denial, purity, and godly conversation, as well as by your labours for the people amongst whom God hath so widely spread you, and by the setting forth of His [21/22] Gospel to the unbelievers and the heathen, that ye are indeed the servants of Him who died for us to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

Brethren beloved, with one voice we warn you: the time is short; the Lord cometh; watch and be sober. Abide stedfast in the Communion of Saints, wherein God hath granted you a place. Seek in faith for oneness with Christ in the blessed Sacrament of His body and blood. Hold fast the Creeds and the pure worship and order, which of God's grace ye have inherited from the Primitive Church. Beware of causing divisions contrary to the doctrine ye have received. Pray and seek for unity amongst yourselves, and amongst all the faithful in Christ Jesus; and the good Lord make you perfect, and keep your bodies, souls, and spirits, until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.


C. T. Cantuar
M. G. Armagh
R. C. Dublin
A. C. London
C. R. Winton
C. St. David's
J. Lichfield
S. Oxon.
Thomas Vowler St. Asaph
A. Llandaff
John Lincoln
W. K. Sarum
John T. Norwich
J. C. Bangor
H. Worcester
C. J. Gloucester and Bristol
E. H. Ely
William Chester
T. L. Rochester
Horace Sodor and Mann.
H. Kilmore
Charles Limerick Ardfert and Aghadoe.

Robert Eden, D. D. Bishop of Moray, Ross, and Caithness, Primus.
Alexander Ewing, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles.
Charles Wordsworth, D. C. L., Bishop of St. Andrew's, Dunkeld, and Dunblane.
Thos. G. Suther, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.
William S. Wilson, Bishop of Glasgow and Galway.
Thomas B. Morrell, Coadjutor Bishop of Edinburgh

F. Montreal, Metropolitan of Canada.
G. A. New Zealand, Metropolitan of New Zealand.
R. Capetown, Metropolitan of South Africa.
Aubrey G. Jamaica.
T. Barbados.
J. Bombay.
H. Nova Scotia.
F. T. Labuan.
H. Grahamstown.
H. J. C. Christchurch.
Mathew Perth.
Benj. Huron.
W. W. Antigua.
E. H. Sierra Leone.
T. N. Honolulu.
J. T. Ontario.
J. W. Quebec.
W. J. Gibraltar.
H. L. Dunedin.
Edward, Bishop Orange River Free State.
A. N. Niagara.
William George Tozer, Missionary Bishop.
James B. Kelly, Coadjutor of Newfoundland.
S. Angl. Hierosol.

John H. Hopkins, Presiding Bishop of Pr. Ep. Church, in the United States.
Chas. P. Mcllvaine, Bishop of Ohio.
Manton Eastburn, Bishop of Massachusetts.
J. Payne, Bishop of Cape Palmas and parts adjacent.
H. J. Whitehouse, Bishop of Illinois.
Thomas Atkinson, Bishop of North Carolina.
Henry W. Lee, Bishop of Iowa.
Horatio Potter, Bishop of New York.
Thomas M. Clark, Bishop of Rhode Island.
Alexander Gregg, Bishop of Texas.
W. H. Odenheimer, Bishop of New Jersey.
G. T. Bedell, Assistant Bishop of Ohio.
Henry C. Lay, Missionary Bishop of Arkansas and the Indian Territory.
Jos. C. Talbot, Assistant Bishop of Indiana.
Richard H. Wilmer, Bishop of Alabama.
Charles Todd Quintard, Bishop of Tennessee.
John B. Kerfoot, Bishop of Pittsburg.
J. P. B. Wilmer, Bishop of Louisiana.
C. M. Williams, Missionary Bishop to China.

J. Chapman, Bishop.
George Smith, late Bishop of Victoria (China).
David Anderson, late Bishop of Rupert's Land.
Edmund Hobhouse, by Bishop of New Zealand.

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