The Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative in inviting all the Primates of the Anglican Communion to meet together at Lambeth in January 2016 is a bold one; and one, we believe, to be welcomed. In many places in the media, it was reported as a last-ditch attempt to keep the Communion together; or, conversely, as a recognition of the fact that it is already broken. We hope that neither of these interpretations equates to the whole truth. Many – almost certainly the majority – of the parishes served by priests of The Society will contain in their congregations worshippers from across the globe, many of whom (or their parents and grandparents) will have been formed in churches of the Communion overseas. It is our duty to pray for the upcoming Primates’ meeting, and for Archbishop Welby. In an arresting image, the Archbishop has likened recent attempts to hold the Communion together as akin to spending all one’s energy in repairing the boat, without ever being able to row it anywhere. No doubt the January meeting of the Primates will offer the opportunity for some realism and straight-talking; but it should also provide an opportunity for serious reflection on the nature of communion – of our baptismal communion, and of what it means to say that communion is strained but not broken irrevocably and completely. The Primates might reflect on words from the second section of the ARCIC II document Church as Communion: ‘Within the history of Christianity, some diversities have become differences that have led to such conflict that ecclesial communion has been severed.’ We in the Church of England know something about living with diversity, about communion being under strain, and yet also resisting the temptation to cast one another out, to unchurch those with whom we disagree. The Archbishop of Canterbury and all the Primates are assured of our prayers.
This is a time of some change here at New Directions. Our long-serving, efficient (and unflappable) Deputy Editor, Kathleen McCully, has come to the view that her work commitments no longer enable her to give the time to this magazine which the job requires. We are hugely grateful for all the work which Kathleen has put in – most of it unseen to readers – to ensure that the magazine maintains such a consistently high standard of production. Fr Ian McCormack has given five years of his time as Editor of the books and arts pages, and he too feels the time has come to lay aside this task. We are fortunate indeed that a successor has already been found, in the person of Dr Tom Carpenter, an ordinand studying at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. We hope also to constitute again a wider Editorial Board to steer the magazine into the next phase of its life. Change and transition usually bring a little turbulence in their wake, and we apologise to our readers for the late appearance of this, the October issue. We promise that normal service will be promptly resumed.