Thinking Anglicans

ACC Constitution: John Rees explains

The Anglican Communion Office has published an article titled The ACC Constitution: An Interview with ACC’s legal adviser Revd Canon John Rees.

The Anglican Consultative Council has a new Constitution. How did this come about? What does this mean in reality? How will it affect the work of the Instruments of Communion? The Standing Committee? ACNS spoke to John Rees, legal adviser to find out more…

The last two questions are perhaps the ones of most interest to TA readers.

Q. What’s your response to those who say this new Constitution is an attempt to give the Standing Committee and/or the ACC more power.

That’s very wide of the mark. The drafting committee took care to ensure that the plenary meeting of the Council would continue to have the same democratic rights to appoint the Standing Committee that it always had in its unincorporated state. The wider membership attending the plenary meetings of the ACC every two or three years remains the body which appoints its members of the Standing Committee and entrusts the Committee with the Council’s work in between its meetings. I have attended a good many Standing Committee meetings over the years, and I can vouch for the fact that its members are very conscious of the interdependence of the ACC with the Archbishop and the Primates and are careful to respect boundaries.

So it’s also misleading to suggest that the ACC would impinge on the authority of the Archbishop or of the Primates’ Meeting. Neither the Archbishop’s role as the pivotal Instrument of Communion, nor his role in calling together the Primates’ Meeting (which itself has no formal constitution) are in any way restricted by these Articles. As the Archbishop’s Registrar for the Province of Canterbury, I would have been very concerned if I had thought there was any intention to do so.

The definition of ‘Primates’ in these Articles remains essentially as it appeared in Article 3(a) of the earlier Constitution. Indeed, the drafting committee went out of its way (in Article 8.1) to emphasise that the Primates should elect their members of the Standing Committee “in such manner as they shall think fit”. The guidance that they, and the ACC’s membership as a whole, should have regard to the need for regional, order and gender balance was carried over from the earlier Constitution, and at best can operate only as an aspiration.

Q. Doesn’t making the ACC an English company subject the council to UK and applicable EU law including equalities legislation?

The incorporation of the ACC as a limited company does not subject the ACC to UK or EU equalities legislation to which it would not otherwise have been subject. The Church of England has played a major part, with other churches in the UK, in achieving and preserving certain exclusions for itself and other religious bodies in relation to this legislation as it has developed over the last thirty years. The Equalities Act would have been equally applicable to the ACC in its unincorporated form because it was also registered as an English charity. Equally, the ACC in its new structure will enjoy the benefit of exclusions from this legislation to the same extent as any other religious organisation in the UK. I share the unease of many religious people about the impact of this British legislation, but it is not right to say that the restructuring of the ACC will have altered its position viz-a-viz the implementation of this law.

33
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
33 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
Simon SarmientoFather Ron Smithchenier1JPMCharlotte Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Fr Mark
Guest

“The Church of England has played a major part, with other churches in the UK, in achieving and preserving certain exclusions for itself and other religious bodies in relation to this legislation as it has developed over the last thirty years.”

Oh dear, he makes it sound as if he is proud of this when he should be ashamed of it!

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

The fact of consideration of the possibility of a ‘constitution’ for the ACC seems largely based on the need for some sort of charitable status for its connections with the UK only. Of what use is it as an incorporation for the foreign provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion, whose local governments may not come to the party? Frankly, the idea of charitable status, in order to achieve some sort of tax-free immunity, has no direct relevance to other parts of the Communion -which would be profoundly affected by any attempt to corporatise the ACC. Is this purely a political… Read more »

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

Well, at least we know that these comments weren’t reviewed by PR people; it’s difficult to see how anyone who was deliberately setting out to reduce the number of people drawn to Christ, alienate the electorate and enrage Parliament as well, could do a better job of it than John Rees. Proudly announcing that you have successfully restricted human rights legislation is not only in itself immoral but also a catastrophically bad strategy if you want to win the hearts and minds of the many millions of people who believe in the equality of all people, as Christ did. Christ… Read more »

Priscilla Cardinale
Guest
Priscilla Cardinale

And then there’s this gem: “I have attended a good many Standing Committee meetings over the years, and I can vouch for the fact that its members are very conscious of the interdependence of the ACC with the Archbishop and the Primates and are careful to respect boundaries. So it’s also misleading to suggest that the ACC would impinge on the authority of the Archbishop or of the Primates’ Meeting. “ The phrase “tone deaf” comes to mind. Perhaps impinging on the power of the ABofC and the Primates is a fear of some Anglicans, somewhere, sometime (I tend to… Read more »

Lionel Deimel
Guest

I had the same reaction as Fr Mark to Rees’s remark about “preserving certain exclusions.”

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Agree with Priscilla. Especially as to the phrase “the Archbishop’s role as the pivotal Instrument of Communion.”

Lately the Archbishop has been pivoting so fast it’s hard to tell which way he’s facing.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I share with chenier1 the view that John Rees’ comments will be very useful in changing the hearts and minds of parliamentarians – and strangely I can understand John’s amazement as to how that should be! There seems to be such a gap of understanding – and as others have noted, the hope that the new appointment of a ACO spin doctor would improve the perception of the ACC is just a hoot when one reads this! I really do think it’s all over bar the shouting. There is little respect left for any of the Communions Instruments as Ephraim… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

If anyone is wondering why the ACO press release was created in the first place, this may shed some light:
http://geoconger.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/acc-faces-questions-about-the-legality-of-its-new-constitution-the-church-of-england-newspaper-august-6-2010-p-6/

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

I know where Canon Rees would feel most comfortable and useful – I’ve just reread “Barchester Towers” for the first time since grad school. He would revel in the intrigues and machinations about who was to be the ‘real’ Bishop of Barchester, and would give both the bishop’s wife and the odious Slope a run for their money. Too bad we can’t teleport him back there, where he would provide amusement but do no harm to living, breathing human beings.

Marshall Scott
Guest

Simon, I appreciate the link to the Conger article. Reading it, I note that Kearon and others spoke of changes needing “approval in principle.” I wonder what that means. I knew that the General Convention hadn’t dealt with this, nor had the Executive Council between Conventions. So, no body with authority in the Episcopal Church has addressed changes to the ACC Constitution, much less approved them “in principle” or otherwise. I don’t think most Episcopalians would be troubled in the face of it by efforts to establish the tax advantages available to a charitable organization. However, if the process is… Read more »

Sheila Stanley
Guest
Sheila Stanley

Like Fr. Mark and others here, I find myself very reluctant to belong to an organization which boasts about flaunting the EU’s human rights statutes. This goes against everything positive TEC and the U.S. has done to try to remove discrimination in our practices and in our hearts. To be a member of a body which endorses discrimination is rather like being a member of a whites-only country club. It isn’t us; it isn’t what Christ wants for us; it isn’t what we want to be. This should be a watershed moment for TEC–one of the major factors in deciding… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

According to this article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-slow-whining-death-of_b_676613.html), Britain is now the world’s least religious country.

It’s hard not to wonder how much of this is a result of the CoE’s insistence on serving as a force for prejudice.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“To be a member of a body which endorses discrimination is rather like being a member of a whites-only country club. It isn’t us; it isn’t what Christ wants for us; it isn’t what we want to be.”

You are quite right. This from Canon Rees as the cause for civil marriage of gays in the U.S. looks more promising, as next week again citizens of California will have marriage equaliy.

It sounds exactly like the “polite” words I heard growing up … “Well this way the coloreds [darkies, n*****s] won’t be able to “interfere.”

Yuck.

Scot Peterson
Guest
Scot Peterson

Quick point, all, on the equality legislation. In the United States, churches are immune from certain kinds of judicial intervention because of the ministerial exception imposed by the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. I agree that it’s shameful for the church to ask for special treatment (and John’s phrasing was not felicitous), but at the same time I really dislike the idea of the Vicar of X being able to bring an unfair dismissal claim in an employment tribunal (especially tricky given the continued existence of lay patronage in this country). Special exceptions are problematic, when they lead… Read more »

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

‘we should suffer the cost in terms of membership and resources’ No. The difficulty with your proposal is that you are perilously close to the strong efficient-market hypothesis; I do not think that viewing this in market terms is helpful in any way. Certainly the Courts will not accept anything along these lines; you might just as well argue that there need be no law relating to discrimination at all, because the market will reward those who get the best human resources, irrespective of gender, skin-colour and sexual orientation, thus ensuring that discrimination ceases to exist. On the other hand… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Well, at least this paper from these men is a little shorter. They really do lose the point by their verbosity. I think there are important points touched on here, but they are buried in drivel. For example the stuff on equalities legislation is actually unnecessary to their main arguments and completely fails to grasp UK/EU legislation and makes far too much of “Ethos Statements” – the original idea behind which has been mostly lost. The problem with these ACI chaps is they get stuck in their own rhetoric – they were briefly taken up as a useful tool by… Read more »

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

=======
Like Fr. Mark and others here, I find myself very reluctant to belong to an organization which boasts about flaunting the EU’s human rights statutes.
=======

On the other hand – I would be proud to belong to such an organization.

However, I am ashamed to be associated with one that flouts the EU’s human rights statutes.

John Roch

Scot Peterson
Guest

Chenier1: We disagree. But please note that although the courts *say* that they refuse to accept theological arguments, they do rely heavily on doctrine. Thus, in General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland v. Overtoun (cited as good law in Versani v Jesani), they spent pages dissecting the doctrine of predestination (not to universal acclaim re the result). They did the same thing with doctrine in Percy v. Board of National Mission (see Baroness Hale’s judgment…). If our (and the Catholics’) refusal to have women bishops is to continue and be legal (and theirs will for the foreseeable future),… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Re ACI: What broke the Archbishop’s confidence in this organization? Was it the stealth strategy by which (as Christopher Seitz explained to a breathless audience on the Stand Firm blog), Section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Covenant was turned into a time bomb, to be activated against the US Episcopal Church as soon as the first few provinces approved it? Voting membership in the Covenant at that time was not limited to members of the Anglican Communion; thus ACNA, together with Nigeria, Uganda, and a few others, stood ready to sign up immediately and expel TEC under… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

And now, here comes another critic of the ACC, namely Michael Poon at Global South Anglican:

http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php/blog/comments/questions_regarding_john_rees_clarifications_of_the_new_anglican_consultati

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

Scot

‘I’m not arguing for an efficient market; I’m arguing for anarchy (on this point, anyway).’

And you think the Courts would accede to that argument?

I rest my case…

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

Thank you, Simon, for the further links. I’m having some difficulty in grappling with the idea that anyone with even a scintilla of knowledge of English law ever believed that the Church of England would be able to transfer its assets, in whole or in part, to a company not registered and resident here, without, at the very least, a massive tax bill, but this does not appear to have occurred to the people at the Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. nor to Michael Poon. ACII do seem to have grasped that: ‘the ACC was what is generally regarded as a… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Poon has been drinking too much of the ACI ginger beer.

The Lutheran World Federation is governed by Swiss law as its Bye laws clearly show:

“1.1 Legal Status
The Lutheran World Federation (hereafter the “Federation” or the “LWF”) shall be a non-profit association incorporated and registered under Article 60 and following of the Swiss Civil Code.”

And as any who have had cause to come across the Swiss legal system they are not exactly slack!
The lads at ACI will be glad to note that Switzerland was the first country to vote in a referendum for same sex partnerships …

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

chenier1: “I’m having some difficulty in grappling with the idea that anyone with even a scintilla of knowledge of English law ever believed that the Church of England would be able to transfer its assets, in whole or in part, to a company not registered and resident here, without, at the very least, a massive tax bill.” The “orthodox” have been plotting so long that everything looks like a plot to them. In August of 1996, US Episcopal Bishop Wantland of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, set up a Wisconsin corporation, the Protestant Episcopal Church in USA, Inc. His intent, in his… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“The lack of in-depth consultation on the constitutional changes stands in sharp contrast with the thoroughgoing processes in the drafting and dissemination of the Anglican Communion Covenant.” – Michael Poon – Whatever one may think about the latest ACC proposed new ‘constitution’. Michael Poon is obviously not in favour of anything that might get in the way of the proposed Covenant. Though this may sound a little bit contradictory – given the reluctance of even the Global South to the idea of a Covenant which may not accede to their requirement for punitive treatment of TEC and the A.C. of… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

Charlotte, Bp. Wantland has pioneered more than one “orthodox” tradition. Besides underhanded scheming, he is also notable for being a remarried divorcee, like most of those so-called “orthodox” who spend all their time calling down fire and brimstone on homosexuals.

For these people, adultery seems to be nothing more than a lapse in manners, like wearing white shoes before Easter or eating with the wrong fork.

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

Charlotte There does seem to be a curious combination of an obsession with money and other assets coupled with the inability to take legal advice before launching into the fray; Poon’s claim that ‘ACC could in principle be registered in any country in the world – from Australia to Zimbabwe.’ is self-evident nonsense. The President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has insisted that the announced change to company law, which forces companies valued at more than $500,000 (£324,000) to be majority-owned by “indigenous” people, will proceed, even if the terms issued on 1 March are modified somewhat. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8619492.stm No-one in their… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

This last posting of Simon’s give further evidence of the Anglican Communion Institute’s desire to exercise undue influence over the ACC’s business – a charge it makes against the new Standing Committee Rules. For ACI – a minor player in the game – to accuse the Anglican Communion Leadership of trying to influence the Communion Churches is comparable to a flea on the tail of the dog trying to wag the dog. The ACI simply does not have any real credibility in the Communion at large to be able to exercise this sort of influence. The sooner ACI is forced… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest
Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

” Others voiced complaints and we remained hopeful that the ACO would respond to these complaints with transparency and by providing satisfactory answers. This has not happened.”

– latest ACI newsletter –

Could this be because the Anglican Communion Office disregards the self-importance of the so-called ‘Anglican Communion Instutute’ so that it declines to even enter into discussion with them about matters affecting the Anglican Communion?

There are far more important things going on in the A.C. at the moment, so that maybe missives from the ACI are being put on the ‘back-burner’ (or masybe even straight into the WPB)?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

And again, this one is about the interaction between the ACC Constitution and the Anglican Covenant
http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/2010/08/proposed-statement-of-clarification-for-adoption-of-the-covenant/