The Archbishop of Canterbury has called a meeting of leading bishops to discuss loosening the Anglican Church's global structure due to growing differences over homosexuality and female bishops.
The Anglican Communion, the world's third largest Christian body with 80 million members, has been split between the more liberal churches of North America and Britain, where women are now allowed to become bishops and same sex couples can marry, and their more conservative counterparts in Africa.
In 2013, senior African Anglican leaders denounced the Church of England's decision to allow celibate gay bishops, warning this would only widen divisions within the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, will propose to the 38 national church heads that communion be reorganized as a group of churches all formally linked to Canterbury but no longer necessarily to each other.
The meeting, set for January 2016, will address issues such as religiously-motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality.
"The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians," Welby said on Wednesday.
"A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism," he added in a statement. "We each live in a different context."
Welby's move represents a change of strategy from that of his predecessor Rowan Williams, who was committed to getting liberals and conservatives to work together globally.
The Anglican Communion split after deeply Canada's Anglican Church began blessing same-sex couples in 2002 and the Episcopal Church, its U.S. branch, ordained its first gay bishop in 2003.
In January of this year the Church of England consecrated its first woman bishop, and women already serve as bishops in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
However Anglican churches in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, do not ordain women as priests and they have called for homosexuality to be re-criminalized.
© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.
Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!
- Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
- Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
- God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
- Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
- HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!
Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details