Lord Carey Guarded on Communion

Lord George Carey meets with Myles Hixson, who will be ordained to the diaconate on Feb. 19 at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Birmingham.

By the Rev. Woody Norman

The 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury was reticent to give his impressions of the Anglican landscape during his visit to the Spring Convocation at Beeson Divinity School on Jan. 26.

“I made a vow certain years ago that I wouldn’t speak of Anglican matters [or of Anglican] politics because I do not want to get in the way of my successors,” Archbishop George Carey after his hosts asked for his thoughts on the Primates’ Meeting of Jan. 11-16. “I’ve got to honor confidentiality.”

Lord Carey did, however, tell his audience that Archbishop Justin Welby called him before the primates began their meeting. “We had a personal conversation [in] which he set up what he was proposing to do, [and] what he was hoping to gain from our conversation,” Carey said. “So, I was honored with that confidentiality and I am not going to say anything that’s going to upset the process.”

Archbishop Welby is a person of reconciliation, Carey said. The Primates’ Meeting and its decision about the Episcopal Church is simply one step, the first step, in pulling the Communion together. Carey quoted the former Primate of Southern Africa, Desmond Tutu, as saying the Anglican Communion is a Communion because “it meets.”

He offered a general observation: “The Anglican Communion is not a Communion anymore. We are more like a federation, almost like the Lutheran Federation.” He believes that is simply a reality Anglicans must accept.

The Rev. Dr. Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, introduced the retired archbishop, lecturer, and author to the convocation of students, faculty, and guests. Lord Carey based his address on the convocation’s reading from Ephesians 3:14-21. His theme was “A Framework for a Powerful Life,” encouraging the assembled young seminarians in their calling to Christian ministry.

Citing the passage, the former archbishop expressed three ways of living powerful ministries in the real world: the extent of God’s power, the effects of God’s power, and the excellence of God’s power. Carey said the Apostle Paul held a high theology of the Holy Spirit, and so should those who are ordained to serve allow the movement of the Spirit in their ministries.

Later in the day the seminary held a luncheon in honor of Lord and Lady Carey. Among the guests was the Very Rev. Andrew C. Pearson, Jr., dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent, who hosted the Careys for the remainder of the week.

Also attending the convocation service and luncheon were three bishops of the Anglican Church in North America: the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones of the Anglican Chaplains jurisdiction; the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons, assisting bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South; and the Rt. Rev. Steven Breedlove of PEARUSA.

Before questions for Lord Carey, the Rev. Gerald R. McDermott, Anglican chair of divinity history and doctrine, spoke about Beeson’s Anglican Institute and Anglican Studies Program. Beeson, an interdenominational seminary, offers students an Anglican track of study.


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