General Synod – We affirm desire of ACNA to remain in the Anglican Communion

An amazing moment in General Synod as it passes a motion to affirm the desire of ACNA to remain part of the Communion.

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.”.

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 (indeed, it implicitly says that they *are* part of the Communion by using the word “remain”), 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. The motion is a firm slap on the hand to TEC’s wish to marginalise ACNA and to have the Church of England treat them as “schismatics”. That approach was squarely dismissed and with it the notion that TEC and the ACoC are the exclusive representation of the Communion in North America.

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  • James Noble

    So Peter – what I don't understand is why ACNA would choose to leave their Global South partners and head back towards the CoE? We know the CoE has many gay priests, does gay blessing services, and is treating their Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical members very badly indeed – precisely the issues that lead ACNA out of TEC and to the Global South. We know that the Global South will not tolerate those practices of the CoE and that the Global South are now all boycotting the Communion and the CoE over just these issues? So why is ACNA betraying their African supporters and heading back towards England – at just the time when the English FCA & Anglo-Catholics are running in precisely the opposite direction?

  • Canon Andrew Godsall

    No real surprise here – the C of E is a welcoming and inclusive Church. Of course it was clear that the original motion was going to fail and we have ended up with the usual catch all amendment.
    It is also important to recognise that the C of E has much closer communion with the Methodist Church – indeed we are in a covenanted relationship with the Methodists – and they are far more openly welcoming of gay and lesbian partnered clergy and laity than the C of E is.

    • I'm not sure you're reading the motion properly Andrew. Liberals have been wrong footed by an amendment which affirms ACNA and asks the Archbishops to look at getting over the current obstacles to full Communion.

  • Peter, I think you’re reading more into the motion than is actually there. All it is is statements of fact, which pretty well everybody can agree with – it’s well known that ACNA wish to remain Anglican. The second statement reiterates the difficulty of resolving the ACNA position with the much more broad Anglican community of the Church of England and calls on the leaders to explore the issue, the third is a classic C of E punt into the long grass by asking for a report at the 2011 Synod.

    It is a classic C of E fudge that comes up with a couple of statements of fact in which everybody can agree, and then curtails an intractable discussion and placates the people pushing the motion with a move to committee. All this motion has done is called time on the discussion for now, only to have it rerun next year. I suspect the main difference then will be that the Archbishop’s will have contributed a paper saying what we already know which is that ACNA will have difficulty being in communion with parts of the C of E who are just as broad and inclusive as the main Anglican churches in North America.

    Incidentally, it is worth noting that this doesn’t make mention of recognising ACNA as the only Anglican Church in North America, which does throw up the interesting prospect of the C of E being in communion with all three even though they refuse to be in communion with each other…

  • Justin Brett

    Richard has it right – the motion draws a subtle but clear distinction between being part of the Anglican 'family' – which it says ACNA is – and being a member of the Anglican Communion – which it recognises is an aspiration of ACNA.

    And frankly, if membership of the Anglican Communion IS the aspiration of ACNA – which would of course entail being in communion with TEC – then that seems to me to be an excellent aspiration and one that deserves every encouragement.

    • I don't think you're reading it right Richard. By the time the report comes out TEC will have consecrated Glasspool and the Communion will be breaking apart. At that point the political pressure from the other provinces will be so great that ACNA will have to be recognised.

      • Justin Brett

        You are forgetting the Covenant process. It should provide a method formally to recognise another province as part of the Communion (or not), and so to take action to include a new province within the Communion before the Covenant process is complete would be to negate the Covenant itself. The provinces who are going to apply pressure re: Canon Glasspool are the very ones who have most invested in the Covenant process.

    • I agree. I don't see this as a recognition of the ACNA, although neither is it a rejection. It recognises their desire to remain ( although some would argue that they "left" .) I am not sure the wording does say that they HAVE remained or that they are still a part of Anglicanism, or else why would it call this desire to remain an "aspiration" – which means something you long for but which is currently an ambition beyond your reach?

      All in all, the wording is tentative and cautious and it is impossible, at the moment, to say where it will lead. That is my analysis anyway!
      My recent post ACNA's aspirations recognised and will be explored further

  • Canon Andrew Godsall

    Peter there seem to be several views around on Stanfirm that suggests it is the conservatives who were wrongfooted here. The original motion would never have been passed. The amended motion does what Justin and Richard suggest and does it rather well.
    If ACNA wish to be in Communion with us here that's fine by me. It means they are in communion with all that the C of E is, which inludes many faithful gay and lesbian partnered clergy and laity. It's the kind of inclusivity that many of us have longed for and which Michael Scott-Joynt must surely mean when he writes:
    "The church is often accused of seeking to impose its own story, its own morality, on everybody. But we have argued consistently for a long time for the second version of a liberal society – one where difference is allowed to flourish and is not subjected to a single version of morality imposed on everyone…."
    Note: We do not subject everyone to a single version of morality

  • winston

    Andrew,

    I think you are right – we should welcome the ACNA folk into communion because it will mean that they are now in communion with a CofE which is in communion with the Episcopalians, the Lutherans in Scandinavia, the Methodists (sort of), and all the varieties of the Church of England. This is good news, a sort of bringing them in from the cold, welcoming them to the mainstream. I suppose this might be why so many liberals actually voted for the motion in synod!

    Peter, with regard to your reference to the communion breaking apart, you have prophecised this so many times on your blog over the years, and here we remain…..

    • Perhaps the real question now is whether ACNA will want to be in communion with the C of E after the vote today to give equal rights to the civil partners of clergy as they do to their spouse…

  • Winston

    Yes – very interesting. A while ago, Peter suggested that this would have serious implications. As I said before though, he has suggested this on many other things as well.

  • winston

    My last comment was to RTPeat.

  • A lot of criticism of my position! I guess the proof of the pudding will be in the content of the report that the Archbishops present to Synod in 2011. Remember, by that time we will be further on in the Covenant process and it will be apparent whether TEC wants to stay in the "Inner Circle" from whether it consecrates Glasspool or not. I guess we'll have to wait until then to see who's right.

  • Always interesting Peter, agree that we will have to wait until Synod 2011 for the "proof in the pudding". Although I don't always agree with you, I always find though provoking writings here and look forward to your posts. Keep up the good work.
    My recent post User:Gth720x

  • Always interesting Peter, agree that we will have to wait until Synod 2011 for the "proof in the pudding". Although I don't always agree with you, I always find though provoking writings here and look forward to your posts. Keep up the good work.
    My recent post User:Gth720x

  • Dear Mr. Ould,

    I do think you are right, despite the negative "feedback" from some of your readers. Things in former British North America are in a state of flux and changing rapidly. Many of the old T.E.C. Parishes have dwindled down to just a handful of congregants as older members have died or joined other Churches. Because of the hard left/apostate takeover of the old Episcopal Church, one historic (by American standards – 150 years old, maybe) Church I visited is having a difficult time raising money to repair the slate roof shingles. Many of the orthodox Christians who gave the most money have left for new A.C.N.A. or A.M.I.A. Churches. God is at work in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. I do hope the buildings can be saved, but it looks like the T.E.C. is a sinking ship with very little spiritual life left in it. On another point, I enjoyed watching your March "Ask Peter" programme on Vimeo.com. I'm looking forward to watching your next video as soon as it's put up on the web-site. (I hope the technical problems can be fixed on the next one.)

    Warm regards in Christ,
    http://bnafreedom.posterous.com

  • Dominic

    I begin to despair at the cries of those who claim that the next 'bad act' (this time the consecration of Glasspool) will irrevocably tear apart the Anglican communion. This is no more seminal a moment than many that have gone before -and they have never had that effect. Every time another event finally does take place people in the CofE, and in the Anglican communion, merely find another way to live with the compromise. The simple one this time will be, 'well, she's not my bishop/not in my country' – and they'll just happily go compromising along.

    If it was really about the Gospel then all evangelicals would long since have departed the CofE and the Anglican Communion – regardless of personal cost.

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