The Panel of Reference

The Panel of Reference, established by Archbishop Rowan Williams in response to the request of the Primates and Moderators of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion in their Communiqué issued from Dromantine, Northern Ireland, in February 2005, met in London from Tuesday, 12th – Thursday, 14th July 2005.

Panel of Reference held its second plenary meeting in Saint Andrew’s House, London, between 9th and 12th May 2006.

The Panel of Reference met in the offices of the Anglican Communion Secretariat during the week beginning 30 April 2007 for its third plenary session. In its meeting, it reviewed its work so far and discussed how best to follow up the work that had already been undertaken.

The Panel ceased its work in April 2008

This first plenary meeting was devoted to the preparation of the work of the Panel, and of the rules of procedure which the Panel decided to adopt. The result of its discussions and the mandate of the Archbishop of Canterbury by which the Panel was established are set on the following pages. The Reference Procedure was revised at the second plenary meeting.



Applications to the Panel of Reference Updated 12 May 2006

  1. The Panel of Reference, established by the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to the request of the Primates at their meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, in February 2005, has held its first meeting and has agreed its procedures.  It has indicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury that it is ready to receive references from him.

  2. The mandate requires that situations where congregations are in serious dispute and unwilling to accept the episcopal ministry of their bishop can only be considered by the Panel on reference from the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Panel is also empowered to consider situations where dioceses are in serious dispute with their provinces, and also, by reference from a Primate, to mediate in situations arising within that Primate’s jurisdiction.
  3. Requests for the services of the Panel should be sent in the first instance to:
    Mr Christopher Smith
    Chief of Staff
    Lambeth Palace
    United Kingdom
    SE1 7JU
    requesting the Archbishop of Canterbury to consider referring the situation to the Panel.

  4. The Archbishop has indicated that, in the first instance, he will consider applications for reference to the Panel in cases where:
    • parishes are in dispute with their diocese, and a congregation has passed a resolution indicating that it wishes to seek the help of the Panel in resolving a dispute with its bishop, in which case its letter should be written in the name and over the signatures of those authorised by the congregation
    • his attention is drawn to other grave situations.

  5. It would not normally be appropriate for the Archbishop to intervene in cases of clerical discipline where the normal provisions and processes of clerical discipline are being fairly and appropriately applied, or where there are civil or ecclesiastical proceedings pending, until such processes have completed their course or been stayed.
  6. On receipt of an application, the Chief of Staff will contact the applicant(s) with further details of the nature of the information required for submission to the Panel, and the form in which this is to be presented.

  7. All information submitted will be treated in confidence by the Panel. Information submitted may be made available on a confidential basis for comment and response by relevant parties.   All parties to the process are requested to keep in confidence all submitted material and communications with the Panel.

  8. The Panel requests that parties seek a stay on any civil or ecclesiastical proceedings and refrain from actions which may exacerbate a situation during the period of reference to the Panel, failing which the Panel reserves the right to postpone consideration of the reference.

  9. With the co-operation of the parties, it is the hope of the Panel to offer advice to the Archbishop of Canterbury on any matter referred by him to the Panel within six months of its receipt of a formal reference.