When leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion gather in Canterbury, England, in mid-July for their decennial Lambeth Conference, they will deliberate over the future of a church that is experiencing deep, and perhaps irreconcilable, internal conflicts.
Already, about a third of the 38 Anglican primates, or regional leaders, have announced that they are boycotting the conference to register their opposition to the sanctioning of gay unions and the ordination to the priesthood of non-celibate gays and lesbians. In addition, theologically conservative Anglicans have organized a separate summit, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), to be held in Jerusalem the week of June 22nd. It is expected to draw around 1,200 senior church leaders (including some 300 bishops) from provinces that represent nearly half of the world's roughly 80 million Anglicans.
This theological divide reflects the profound demographic changes that have taken place in global Anglicanism during the past hundred years. Like much of the rest of Christianity, during the last century the demographic center of Anglicanism has moved decidedly southward, where the faith is practiced in a much more traditional fashion than in the generally more theologically liberal North.
Read the full analysis Global Anglicanism at a Crossroads on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.