OBSERVANCE of the Anglican Consultative Council’s bylaws are discretionary, a spokesman for the organisation tells The Church of England Newspaper, when they are inconsistent with its political agenda.
ACC spokesman Jan Butter told CEN the future membership rules of the organisation which seek to promote gender parity take precedence over its existing rules.
However, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s press spokesman tells The Church of England Newspaper, the ACC staff’s views are not the final word on the mat- ter, as the appointment of Bishop Ian Douglas and Canon Janet Trisk to the ACC Standing Com- mittee are under legal review.
Weakened by charges of mismanagement following ACC-14 in Jamaica, the credibility and moral integrity of the ACC Standing Committee is now being questioned over the propriety of seating two members whom critics charge are ineligible to serve.
The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) reported on July 2 that two new members of the Standing Committee would attend its July 23-27 London meeting. Bishop Paul Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and Bishop of Dhaka would attend the meeting in place of the President Bishop of the Middle East, Dr Mouneer Anis of Egypt, who resigned in protest in February.
ACNS also reported that the Rev Canon Janet Trisk, rector of the parish of St David, Prestbury, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, had been elected at the December Standing Committee meeting to replace resigned lay member, Ms Nomfundo Walaza of South Africa.
However, the ACC’s bylaws for- bid this appointment as Bylaw 7 states that a layperson must replace Ms Walaza. When vacancies occur, “the Standing Committee itself shall have power to appoint a member of the Council of the same order as the representative who filled the vacant place,” the bylaws state.
Asked how the appointment could be made in light of the prohibition contained in the constitution, Mr Butter told CEN the ACC was in the process of adopting new articles of incorporation as it moves from being an “unincorporated charity to becoming a limit- ed company.”
“The appointment of Canon Trisk was made under the terms of the company’s articles which are currently being registered with the Charity Commission. These articles emphasise the need to achieve balance not only between orders, but also between gender and region,” he said, adding the Standing Committee “in December came to the view that balance could best be achieved by appointing Canon Trisk.”
Asked if copies of the proposed new bylaws were available for review, the ACC responded that “discussions about the Articles are still ongoing between the legal adviser and the Charity Commission, so they are not yet available.”
Canon lawyer Mark McCall of the Anglican Communion Institute noted this “explanation does not pass muster. Whatever aspirations they may have concerning selections of new members, the Standing Committee, like the ACC itself, is required to operate within the scope of the constitution and bylaws that are in effect.”
“They cannot ignore existing rules and anticipate new provisions that may come into effect at some future point. This is in effect a concession that the appointment was ultra vires,” or unlawful, he said.
ACNS also reported that the African member of the Primates Standing Committee, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda and his alternate, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa had resigned as well. A spokesman for the Archbishop of Uganda has confirmed to CEN he had resigned.
Last month the ACI voiced its objections to the continuation of Bishop Ian Douglas on the Standing Committee, noting that his consecration as Bishop of Connecticut required that he relinquish his clergy seat on the ACC, and his place on the Standing Committee.
George Conger reporting for the Church of England Newspaper.