By The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey
Chief Operating and Development Officer, American Anglican Council
posted January 23, 2012
Dear Friends in Christ,
I wish to make a view brief observations about the Report of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England General Synod which was released today and which we have published in this Update. As you will recall, this Report was requested by the CofE General Synod's response to a Private Member's Motion seeking recognition of the ACNA. The American Anglican Council was there at the Synod on behalf of the ACNA, both before and during the debate, to counter misinformation by TEC about the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and to provide updates on litigation, canonical abuses and the realignment of Anglicanism in North America. Our brief, "TEC: Unjust Episcopal Acts," clearly helped shape the debate.
The Report of the Archbishops is short, and with less clarity than you or I might have desired. But it reflects a particular culture that abhors a "winner-takes-all" outcome, having fought civil and religious wars where such an outcome was only narrowly averted, and with much bloodshed. In that light, here are some important observations about the Archbishops' report that are, on balance, positive for ACNA:
1. The ACNA as an institution was not rejected, as TEC and its proxies no doubt desired. Our Anglican "bona fides" will be subject to review and discussion while the wounds remain fresh from the realignment here in North America. The Archbishops state that the concept of membership in the Anglican Communion is not straightforward (Paragraph 8). Within that declaration, they discuss the role of both the ACC and the assent of 2/3 of the Primates of the Churches already listed in the current schedule of membership as providing a basis for membership. But in contrast to previous statements by ++Canterbury and the Secretary of the Anglican Communion, there is no insistence here upon the ACNA submitting an application to the ACC or following its "schedule" as necessary steps for recognition. I believe this is a significant concession between the lines to those who have challenged the purported authority of the ACC to make such decisions, especially in light of actual precedent where it was recognition by the Primates that gave membership within the Communion.
2. Given the likely wish of TEC to have the ACNA rejected, I believe it is a back-handed compliment to the development of the ACNA as an Anglican Church within the Communion that the Archbishops found it necessary to allay TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada's fears by reaffirming their communion with TEC and ACoC.
3. With respect to the question about the interchangeability of Holy Orders between ACNA and the Church of England, Paragraphs 11 and 21 make clear that the ministers of ACNA stand in exactly the same place in relation to the CofE as other clergy in the Communion.
Of course, this leaves many questions unanswered. If ACNA clergy seek to be licensed in the Church of England under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure of 1967, how will their applications be received? Will they be received and recognized? Or will they be delayed and put off like the clergy validly ordained in the Anglican Church of Kenya for the Anglican Mission in England, who are still waiting? We will be watching carefully to see how evenhandedly the Archbishops proceed, in keeping with the report.
Where then do we go from here? On mission, of course - to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit so that people everywhere (and particularly here in North America) will come to know Christ as Lord and to put their trust in Him as Savior, in the fellowship of the church! the rest