As I come, this Saturday, to give my final lecture as a St Francis College Brisbane staff member, it is poignant to do so on the subject of ‘The Vocation of Anglicanism’. In that light, it is such a delight to find today an Ad Clerum from Bishop David Jenkins - written in 1993, in the white heat of conflict, as the final legal steps for the ordination of women went through Parliament. It is a typical +David description of the Anglican (Church of England) spirit in which I was raised - so far from so much that passes as Anglican in some places today - not least these key points which also sit so happily with the UCA ‘Basis of Union’ ...
* the openness and dynamic interaction of different key parts of faith, through the happy historical refusal to make a clear decision on which elements in the ‘living system of communion & practice’ take priority
* an insistence on loving commitment leading to growing mutual understanding, not insistence on a priori belief - ‘We agree to belong rather than belong to agree. We choose to live with our difficulties, tensions and disagreements rather than choose to live without one other’
* the understanding of this as gift and promise for the ‘catholicity and ecumenicity’ of the whole Church
* ‘an invitation to pilgrimage, exploration and service together, rather than...an insistence on consensus and conformity which squeezes out all discussion, controversies and even those conflicts which are inevitable... in this confusing world’
*a distinctive but partial understanding (given through historical ‘accidents’) ‘to be contributed, in all humility and perseverance, to the partial understandings & partial misunderstandings of others’ - not a dependence on types of ‘ultramontane’ authority, biblicist confession, or sectarian identities calling us ‘to be right over others’
* all this, for God’s whole Church, in God’s Christ, for the sake of God’s World
+David always stood eloquently and firmly for this dynamic openness, as an episcopal leader unafraid to speak up for the marginalised of all kinds and bear the consequences - and thus he was deeply loved as ‘wor’ (our) bishop by the wider County Durham community beyond the church, as well as by so many who served with him. I pray that we shall see many more similar church leaders stand up in our own day and a widespread strengthening of such open, just and loving faith - in every church space, Anglican or whatever.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.