Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Church of England "recognizes" and "affirms" ACNA's desire to "remain" in the Anglican Communion

The most fantastic news. Today the Church of England Synod recognizes and affirms that the ACNA wants to remain in the Anglican Communion. It provides a process forward.

That this Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada,

“(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;

(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and

(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.”

The key words here are "recognize" and "affirm" and "remain." It puts forward a process as the Archbishop of Canterbury requested yesterday and it has a target date for a report for the next steps. This is the most excellent news. It really laid the line where we go from here - the whole thing could have been voted down and that would have been devastating for the ACNA.

It took amazing faith and guts for the Church of England to go forward and I am at this moment blown away by this news - I look outside at the snow right now and I am just blown away.

Peter Ould in the Church of England writes,

"There’s no other way to read this motion except that the Synod of the Church of England is fully in line with the desire of ACNA to be part of the Communion, and recognising that this stance has issues has asked the Archbishops to report back next year on how to go about helping the ACNA be part of the Communion. "

Pure and simple, the Church of England recognizes the ACNA. We are not "schismatics." They call it as it is, as it was show in the courtroom in the Commonwealth of Virginia - we have a division, what bishops at the Church of England Synod today called a schism in the Episcopal Church. They do not close a blind eye, but say it plainly, that the Church of England is "aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America."

But they do not once name-check The Episcopal Church, but instead calls us all - calls us all - "Anglican churches of the United States and Canada." This is enormously significant.

Not only that, but the CoE recommends a mechanism for a way forward. It's a bold and courageous step forward, led by the mother church.

Today, the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, meeting in London February 8-12, affirmed the Anglican Church in North America’s desire “to remain within the Anglican family.”

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, thanked Mrs. Lorna Ashworth of Chichester for bringing the church to the attention of the General Synod. “We are very grateful to Mrs. Ashworth and the scores of other friends in the Synod of the Church of England for all they did to give us this opportunity to tell our story to the mother church of the Anglican Communion. It is very encouraging that the synod recognizes and affirms our desire to remain within the Anglican family.” said Archbishop Duncan.

A private member’s motion, put forward by Mrs. Ashworth, and subsequently amended by the Synod, states that “this synod…recognize and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family.” The motion passed by a resounding 309 – 69 margin (with seven abstentions).

The motion was amended by the Right Reverend Michael Hill, the Bishop of Bristol. His purpose, in his own words, was “(1) to encourage those who are part of the Anglican Church in North America; (2) to commend the process of recognition afforded by the Instruments of the Anglican Communion; and (3) to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to report progress back to Synod in a year’s time.”

The discussion at Synod presented an important opportunity for members of the Anglican Church in North America, joined by many friends in the United Kingdom, to share the vision and mission of the church with fellow Anglicans. “We are deeply thankful that we were given the opportunity to tell the Synod about our church, and our vision for reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. This chance to speak directly to our Anglican family was very rewarding. We look forward to working with the friends we made and reaching out to others in the years ahead,” said Bishop Donald Harvey, who, with Mrs. Cynthia Brust, Dr. Michael Howell, and the Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum, represented the Anglican Church in North America in preparation for the Synod vote.

Read it all here. Yes, my rector was among those officially representing the ACNA in preparation for today's vote.

Convocation of Anglicans in North America releases a statement:

HERNDON, Va. (February 10, 2010) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) welcomed the news that the General Synod affirmed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)’s desire to “remain with the Anglican family” today. CANA is a founding member of ACNA.

“This is a significant step forward for the ACNA and for all orthodox Anglicans in the U.S. We are grateful to the General Synod for recognizing the home that has been created for those Anglicans who wish to remain a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Both ACNA and CANA have provided that home at a crucial time in the life of the church. Today’s affirmation from the General Synod is a welcome response to that need,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.
To close, we bring you an elegiac Bob Dylan performing his Times They Are a'Changin' last night at the White House.

UPDATE: Here is Lorna Ashworth's excellent speech to the General Synod of the Church of England:

• Good afternoon members of synod and guests

• I shared the other night that I once jumped out of an airplane, and that my parachute didn’t open all the way. You will have gathered by now that I survived. It’s funny how that memory began to resurface as the time for this debate drew closer… but like with that jump… I think I will survive.

• I have heard that some are wondering what secret, hidden agenda there is underlying this private members motion. I am sorry to disappoint, but there isn’t any. There isn’t any hidden agenda and I hope that I can make it as clear as possible as to why I chose to table this motion.

• The first reason is this; why not?

• Why wouldn’t we take this opportunity to stand by and affirm our brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking to practice, faithfully, historical / biblical Anglicanism (as has been practiced for hundreds of years), who have not diverted from the doctrines, creeds and formularies of the world wide Anglican Communion, who have, like others, been getting on with the mission of the Church.

• It would seem obvious at this point to stop and simply ask why the debate? What’s the problem if they are just doing what Anglicans do?

• Let me put it to you this way. It was half a lifetime ago that I was sitting in a presentation by a visiting speaker at the theological college I was attending in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. I was not really paying attention and was a bit distracted. I remember this so well because about a year or so later I read a book called, Knowing God by J.I. Packer and realised that the visiting speaker had been that man. I was gutted. I had missed the opportunity to learn from his humility, godliness and wisdom in person; something I have sought to rectify by reading his books as so many other thousands have also done around the world.

• Packer has been an honorary assistant minister for over two decades in the largest Anglican Church in Canada called St Johns Shaughnessy, Vancouver. On February 13 2008 the congregation met and voted 475-11 with 9 abstentions to accept the episcopal oversight of Bishop Donald Harvey.

• They and many other churches in Canada and in the United States have sought alternative oversight in order to continue to be historical / biblical Anglicans and in order to remain in communion with the rest of the world wide Anglican communion.

• The provinces to which ACNA members once belonged have strayed from the fundamental core teaching of the Anglican church. They have either rejected the uniqueness of Christ, or they have questioned it; the same with Christ’s virgin birth, and his physical, literal death and resurrection, as providing the only means of salvation for those outside the Kingdom of God. Scripture is not seen as the authoritative Word of God to His people, and the biblical standard of marriage not upheld.

• This unrest in the communion has not been sprung upon us. There have been many meetings of leaders and panels and many statements issued; one of which came on 15th Oct 2003 from Lambeth Palace after a meeting of worldwide church leaders. Quote “actions in New Westminster and in The Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardize our sacramental fellowship with each other.”

• Earlier in 2003 the Bishop of Yukon, Terrance Buckle offered alternative oversight to parishes in New Westminster after the diocese with its bishop, Michael Ingham, authorised same sex blessings and showed no signs of honouring the request for moratoria. Bishop Buckle was threatened with disciplinary action if he intervened. Then on Sept 19th, 2003, the Metropoliton of British Columbia, David Crawley, speaking about Bishop Terrance Buckle said, “Many of us are deeply grieved and embarrassed that a bishop, who has sworn an oath to maintain order in the life of the church, is himself the author of disorder.” Surely I cannot be the only one who sees the irony of this statement?

• On 28 February 2008, days after the parish vote at St. John’s, Dr. Packer together with the other clergy at St. John's were served with a Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry under Canon 19 and the notice is based on the following facts:

1. that he has publicly renounced the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada; and
2. that he has sought or intend to seek admission into another religious body outside the Anglican Church of Canada.

• More irony.

• Many of us fail to see how faithful Anglicans like Dr. Packer have publicly renounced the doctrine of the church? We fail to see how being a practicing Anglican outside the jurisdiction of the ACoC constitutes another religious body?

• Could it be that Packer and others like him have become doctrinally delinquent?

• On the issue of discipline… Those who would elevate the infringement of order, made to preserve doctrine, to the same level as violations of doctrine itself – are not elevating order but dumbing down doctrine.

• The question begins to surface, who is it that is causing division? Those who remain unchanged in their doctrine and practice as Anglicans? Or a small minority within the world wide Anglican Communion who are imposing doctrinal innovation and not allowing space for traditionalists to remain.

On 13th July, 2009 in the Washington Times, the Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori is reported as reminding the Church of England that "schism is not a Christian act." I would agree.

• The second reason I chose to table this motion is that I would like synod to be able to express its own mind on this subject. The whole point of Private Members Motions is to bring matters of concern to this gathering for discussion and debate.

• Most lay members, like myself, have little understanding of the technical ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of canon law with its uses or misuses.

• But as a lay person, I can see very clearly that there is a problem.

• Men & women, clergy and lay had been left uncertain as to where they belonged in the Anglican family.

• They now however have come together, with the support of many other Anglican provinces to form ACNA. They once again have a home.

• This motion is not about the formal procedures of entering into institutional communion. I am very happy that those processes take their own proper course.

• I fully understand that certain aspects of church life are matters for bishops and archbishops. I have no intention of trespassing there. But I would remind synod that this elected body did have a role in the process of entering into communion with:

• The Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan and the Church of Bangladesh after consulting the dioceses in 1970-71. In 1994-95, it did the same with regard to the Lutheran Porvoo Churches. In 1974, Synod also sanctioned communion with the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar.

• Synod, this is our opportunity to affirm others who believe what we believe as Anglicans. To affirm that we recognise in them the marks and life of a faithful Anglican church.

• In closing: We have been debating mission shaped church and will be discussing fresh expressions of church in our commitment to make the good news of Jesus and His kingdom known.

• The Anglican Church in North America, has set itself the goal of planning 1000 churches in 5 years. They have already established 37 new congregations among those who are un-churched in North America. Oh, that our vision would be that great, that detailed and that practical. They have set themselves a bold target.

• They might miss it… but let us not stand by as mere observers. Let us offer what we can. Our support as synod for them.

• We share the same gospel of the same Lord Jesus, according to the same tradition that has shaped us all.

Thank you Synod

And here is the video courtesy of Anglican TV:


Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly that this is great news for the ACNA.

To be recognized and affirmed by the CofE is wonderful.

Robin Adams

Bill C said...

Lest we become too excited with this resolution, I think we need to parse it a bit. Although the CoE synod does favorably “affirm” the desire of the ACNA, what does it affirm? Not our desire to be a replacement province in North America. Not our desire to be a parallel province in North America. Not our desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion. Merely our desire to be part of the Anglican “family” – whatever that is. Anglicans – the nearly infinite source of nuance.

Is this good news? Of course. Is it more than it says? I don’t think so.

It states a “need to explore further”, not action, and it “invites” the CoE archbishops to “report further” in a year.

The ABC is so well known for his incisive, action-oriented reports that I am certain that this report (if it ever happens) will be a murky, meaningless, grey veil of obscurantism and “everything is being handled perfectly by the existing TEC real Anglican presence as they work diligently to resolve this unpleasantness”.

Even so, I think that passage of the resolution was a remarkable event, but we should not try to read between the lines for what is not there.

Anonymous said...

Is grasping at straws all you have left?

Anonymous said...

This says nothing. Matt Kennedy is right - the original (already very weak) motion would have actually supported ACNA, this (even weaker) version does nothing.

What does it say about the CoE's relationship with TEC? exactly the same as it says about ACNA. That's no victory.

More to the point: as Rowan said yesterday, the CoE has many "exemplary" gay priests and bishops. With whom does ACNA want to be in communion? The Global South or the CoE?.

Do you want to be "in communion" with a CoE who is absolutely, definitely, still "in communion" with TEC?
with a CoE who absolutely, definitely ordains gays and lesbians and offers gay blessing services?

Why would you leave TEC over precisely these issues - but then want to leave the Global South and join back with a church that does all the same things?

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Do we know how many voted in favor and how many voted against the amended resolution?

Daniel Weir said...

I think the passage of final version of the resolution was a good thing. It left open the possibility of ACNA's admission to the Communion but did not put the Synod on record as being in favor of that. The question of admission needs to considered carefully and so one should expect a hasty decision.

Rolin said...

This is great news. The outcome could have turned out badly, but ACNA dodged the bullet. ACNA has been given tacit equivalence to TEC and ACoC, and CoE will now try to figure out what to do about that.

Br_er Rabbit

Daniel Weir said...

Tacit equivalence, Rolin? To use an analogy that was used at the Covenant Communion site, what the Synod said was like a father saying that he has no objection to the fellow his daughter is dating and might - or might not - dependingon how things go give his approval for marriage. That is a bit from the relationship with the existing sons-in-law. Dad may not be althogther happy with them - as some but not all in the CofE are unhappy with TEC and the ACofC - but the sons-in-law are family. For the present TEC and ACofC are family and ACNA is courting. I expect it will be along courtship and I think it might be successful.

Daniel Weir said...

I almost missed the difference in wording between the resolution and BB's headline. "Family" in the resolution; "Communion" in the headline. The headline is simply not accurate. How could the Synod recognize or affirm ACNA's desire to remain within the Communion when ACNA is not now nor ever has been within the Communion? Some, but not all, of its members were members of Churches within the Communion, but ACNA never was. Is this simply BB's spin?

Anonymous said...

It was a compromise, and a very adroit one. It recognizes reality -there is such a thing as ACNA, and it shows awareness that ACNA says it wants to be in communion with the CofE. It avoids the snares and traps of actually bringing ACNA into the fold as a full alternative to TEC. Everyone's unhappy or everyone's happy, depending on how you look at it.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Daniel,

"Some, but not all, of its members were members of Churches within the Communion, but ACNA never was"

Your statement distorts the facts. Most, not "some" of ACNA's members were members of Churches within the Communion.

Some were not Anglicans, but it is the goal of ACNA to make your statement true by planting churches among the unchurched.

Why are you so threatened by ACNA? I can guarantee that we have better things to do than try to get TEC kicked out of the AC. We are also busy defending ourselves against the Red Queen, but that is another story.


Daniel Weir said...


I am sorry that I chose the wrong word. I do not have access to statistics about ACNA and had no idea about what proportion of the members were formerly members of Churches in the Communion. I did not intend to mislead but simply to correct BB's characterization of the resolution.

I am concerned that, having stated that I am pleased with the Synod's decision, you would conclude that I am threatened by ACNA. It is that kind of personal statement, based on very limited knowledge, that drives some folks with thinner skin away from discussions such as this. I am not easily driven away.It matters little what you think of me, but I suggest that there may be some who follow this blog who would think less of you because of such a statement.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Weir,

I'm sorry if my assertion offended you. I made it based on a cumulative impression of your postings rather than exclusively on your postings in this thread.


Daniel Weir said...

I'm sorry Ralph, but the gap between what I have posted anywhere and the conclusion that I am threatened by ACNA is vey large and I simply think that your judgment may be clouded by your own anger at TEC and anyone who remains in TEC. Of course, I could be as wrong in that conclusion as I think you are in your conclusions about me.

I have been critical of those who think they are entitled to leave the Episcopal Church with property that was given to the Episcopal Church, but I don't see a real threat there as in most states, Virginia being the notable exception, the courts have ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church.

One final comment: I continue to have a good relationship with the clergy of the nearby Anglican Chapel and I am very thankful that friends who were very uncomfortable belonging to our Episcopal parish have found a new home. Far from being threatened by the Anglican Chapel, I am glad that it provides another way for people to worship withing the Anglican tradition.

wyclif said...

"ACNA has been given tacit equivalence to TEC."

Quite a victory, that...

I fail to see how this is progress. It is not. This is meaningless, and politically speaking, probably intended to pacify.

Unknown said...

It was an overwhelming vote in favor of recognition a year ago. Of course it's progress - the major PR offensive in the US is that TEC wants to have full control over the "Anglican" brand. The repudiation of that view - that indeed the ACNA is filled with people who are seeking to remain Anglican is not something we should take lightly.