Comments: General Synod Questions about ACNA and South Carolina

The Church of England needs to tread very carefully indeed regarding its relationship with the breakaway Anglican Church in North America. Any recognition of a collective body of this nature will set unworkable precedents for all sorts of schismatic groups.

The ANCA in its war with the Episcopal Church is desperate to see itself as 'the' Anglican body in the United States and seriously covets recognition by the parent C of E. As a move towards this the ANCA has successfully hijacked Provinces such as Nigeria and Uganda, which despite their frequent condemnatory comments remain in communion with Canterbury.

However, the ecclesiastical situation in the United States may be compared to a free market competitive economy, quite unlike ecclesiology anywhere else. It is prone to permanent fissiparous tendencies as the competing breakaway Anglican bodies ANCA/AMiA/CANA etc already indicate. If any of these are recognised there could be no end to divisions.

Most telling will be the guest list for the enthronement of Justin Welby, which Primates are on and which are not. The big question will be whether Robert Duncan will get a ticket?

Whilst Welby is still fresh and relatively unknown he will have quite a lot of authority. I hope he exercises it carefully otherwise he'll have a rotten time of it, sadly just like his hapless predecessor.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:03am GMT

"are there any plans to consider proposing to the Synod fuller recognition of the Anglican Church in North America than has been considered to be appropriate up to this point." - Lorna Ashworth -

If there were such a plan, would this not be a sign to other dissidents in Communion Churches that intentional schismatic action brings rewards from Head Office? I'm sure TEC would be quite offended if ACNA and other faux-Anglican Churches in North America were given 'status' within the Communion as 'fellow Anglicans'. That certainly would create problems for those loyal to the see of Canterbury.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:09am GMT

I can't help feeling that Sir Humphrey Appleby would have considered this a perfect example of how to avoid answering the question. I wonder if the Bishop of Guildford is considering a career in the Civil Service.

Posted by Jeremy Bonner at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:27am GMT

If the Church of England recognizes ACNA as a member of the Anglican Communion, then TEC should set up some churches in England.

TEC already has churches in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. Why not add England to the list?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 2:13pm GMT

Jeremy,

What need of that? I suspect that before too long there will be alignments between certain CoE dioceses/parishes and ACNA and between other CoE dioceses/parishes and TEC. I rather doubt that TEC wants to spend money on English misssions when it's having a hard enough time funding domestic ones.

Posted by Jeremy Bonner at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 3:00pm GMT

Please note that this is largely about whether or not to recognize and license non-TEC (or former TEC) clergy for ministry within the Church of England.

Membership in the Anglican Communion, as such, is much more complicated as the "Communion" has no Constitution. The governing documents of the ACC do provide a mechanism for membership therein; and the Canons of the C of E provide for a mechanism by which churches are determined to be "in communion" with the Church of England. As I understand it, at present ACNA is neither a member of the ACC, nor officially "in communion" with the Church of England. The recognition of individual clergy for licensing to function is more likely based on pedigree and courtesy, in this period of uncertainty, than current official ecclesiastical position.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 3:31pm GMT

And what about the Reformed Anglican Church in UK .... why not recognise them, too? We all have our splinter groups after all, bring one into the AC, then you should bring them all in. Asking for trouble ...

Posted by Sara MacVane at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 3:32pm GMT

Jeremy Bonner asks, "What need of that?"

One might as well ask, what need of CofE links to ACNA?

But to answer your question, depending in part on the women-bishops vote today, TEC members in England (and perhaps CofE liberals) might want a church with a covenant that asks the baptized to respect the dignity of every human being.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 3:43pm GMT

Tobias, then is the old definition of Anglicans being those in communion with the See of Canterbury something of an urban legend? Canterbury seems to have little to do with determine membership.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 3:47pm GMT

Having been licensed in the Church of England, this sentence is dubious

"... is more likely based on pedigree and courtesy, in this period of uncertainty, than current official ecclesiastical position."

I also doubt that the debate is confined to licensing procedures only. The Episcopal Diocese of SC is not "ACNA" and so its status is a matter for clarification so far as the CofE is concerned; hence the questions. Is it, e.g., "extra-provincial" as it claims, so far as the CofE is concerned, etc?

Posted by cseitz at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 4:31pm GMT

Interesting the leap from talking about South Carolina to talking about relationship with ACNA since the group in SC that is leaving TEC has not to date expressed any intent to join forces with the ACNA. The departing group has stated that it will be some sort of extra-provincial diocese in the Anglican Communion, but the soonest the ACC could consider such a request is at its next meeting in 2015 (someone correct me on the year if I am wrong).

So unless another province picks them up, as in the case of Ft Worth and San Joaquin, the group that voted last Saturday to leave TEC can certainly call themselves Anglican, but they will not have any official place in the Anglican Communion.

As Tobias mentions, there are actually quite a few churches in the United States that style themselves as Anglican and have an Anglican style of worship, but that are not a part of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Daibhead at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 5:19pm GMT

I received this email today. It is from a "TEC loyalist" responding to the ACI essay.

"I wrote a response to your query about whether TEC loyalists in South Carolina would welcome an arrangement with Bishop Waldo:


I think yes. We’ve only got 12 parishes, and maybe another half–dozen missions, and the “missions” are scattered in small towns where the only Episcopal church in the area has thrown in with Bishop Lawrence. I expect TEC to make an attempt to hold as much property as possible (a strategy I personally oppose), but even if some real estate is saved I don’t think we have the numbers to sustain a diocesan infrastructure. I’d be happy if the “Diocese of Upper South Carolina” became “The Diocese of South Carolina” (TEC). Where I live, the cathedral in Columbia, SC is just as far away as the cathedral in Charleston is now."

Reasonable. On the ground. Litigation avoiding. Cost saving. May his tribe increase.

Posted by cseitz at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 5:43pm GMT

Presumably people from abroad are allowed in under the Overseas Clergy Act. Until the time of Abp Coggan I believe clergy of the Church of England in South Africa were excluded, then there was a change. In a case I dealt with when I was a DDO the man in question, appointed as a curate in an evangelical parish was eventually given a PTO but not a licence. Perhaps an ecclesiastical lawyer might give us his/her wisdom?

Posted by Perry Butler at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:07pm GMT

As a athiest it could not bother me either way whether women were allowed to be bishops. What does strike me as strange however is how this huge monolithic organisation, which is "established" within the government of this country, is allowed to continue in this role after exhibiting such old fashioned and sexist views.

Clearly those who quote the bible as part of their objection to women bishops presumably and logically must also be in favour of slavery, and homophobia.

Posted by LES at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 8:22pm GMT

The Reformed Episcopal Church is a significant part of the ACNA. The Reformed Episcopal Church has long been closely associated with the Free Church of England -- it's full name is "The Free Church of England, otherwise called the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." Would the Church of England's "full and unimpaired communion" with ACNA automatically result in "full and unimpaired communion" with the Free Church of England? If not, why not?

Posted by dr.primrose at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 8:34pm GMT

Here is ACI's answer to the dilemma with the schismatic withdrawal of Bishop Lawrence and his Standing Committee in South Carolina:

" Litigation could be avoided, those dissenting in the diocese could receive immediate pastoral care from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, the current status quo in South Carolina would be recognized and contained, and hope for eventual reconciliation not completely abandoned.

"ACI’s affiliate, The Cranmer Institute, would be willing to fund and host discussions to explore this concept at its facility on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. We suggest that the talks be convened by Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, who in addition to being the chairman of the Communion’s Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order is also an expert on reconciliation." - ACI web-site -

This clearly demonstrates ACI's association with schismatic Bishop Mark Lawrence. It does make one wonder how long ACI can continue to masquerade as 'Anglican' within the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 7:11am GMT

Re your observations on ACI, FR Ron - also re Christopher Seitz's post above - are you familiar with the expression "Boll weevil" used in the last century to describe a group of Southern Democrat politicians? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boll_weevil_%28politics%29

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 9:11pm GMT

Perhaps with the retirement of Dr. Williams this newfangled IASCUFO can make a graceful exit as well.

I mean really. An international commission on unity, faith, and order? What could be less Anglican?

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 9:52am GMT

Calling for reconciliation in accordance with Communion thinking agreed to by all -- yes, how schismatic.

What a sad presentation of the Gospel and of what is supposed to be the common life of Christians.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 2:56pm GMT

"Reconciliation in accordance with Communion thinking agreed to by all."

That's not reconciliation. That all provinces toeing the same doctrinal line.

Fortunately it will never happen.

If you want a single worldwide unity, faith and order, the Roman Church can attempt to provide.

On this side of the Tiber, unity does not require uniformity.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 3:11pm GMT

Jeremy. It is the Roman Catholic Church that does not require Uniformity. It has United, shared faith, and multiple Orders - or Rites as they are called.

We Roman Catholics cannot understand why there is so much resistance to allowing Anglo Catholics and Conservative Evangelicals what would in effect be their own Rite, we have about 16 Rites around the world. Several of which function in England.

We have no trouble with the Ordinariate. We have no trouble with the Polish Mission which conducts services in Polish in 200 Catholic Parishes around England (5 Percent of total) around the same percentage as provision for Anglo Catholics and Conservative Evangelicals in the CofE would be. And yes, there is the same issue of other Priests not being able to officiate in the Polish Mission - in this case because they don't know the language. But this is no way makes the rest of us disunited with them.

Why do Anglican 'Liberals' resist uniformity at an international level, but insist on it at National level?

Posted by Bernard at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 4:46pm GMT

The RC church does not permit its members and congregations to play mix and match when it comes to the provinces, clergy or bishops they recognize or anathematize, Bernard.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 7:12pm GMT

"...there is the same issue of other Priests not being able to officiate in the Polish Mission - in this case because they don't know the language."

There's one heck of a big difference between not being able to perform a rite because you don't know the language--I can always learn Polish--and not being able to perform a rite because you don't have the correct gender--nothing is going to give that woman priest a pair of testicles in place of her ovaries.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 9:23pm GMT

To Roger Mortimer. Where there are multiple Juristictions in one area Roman Catholics can in effect choose which Bishop to be under by which of the Juruisdictions churches they choose to attend. The question has been asked about the Ordinariate. Could a non-Ordinariate Catholic become a Priest in it? The answer is Yes, they would have to attend an Ordinariate group for several years first, but it is possible. I have also been to several Masses by a Syro-Malabar Rite Priest from South India, he operates with the agreement of English Catholic Bishops, but he remains under the Authority of his Indian Rite Bishop.

As for recognising other provinces etc. Concerned Anglican asked - if the ACNA is recognised, will the Free church of England be recognised? The answer there is that The Church of England and Free Church of England have been moving towards mutual recognition for a generation, and Free Church of England bishops attended the consecration of the last two Archbishops of Canterbury. Therefore both one of their Bishops and Robert Duncan are likely to be at Welby's enthronement.

Posted by Bernard at Friday, 23 November 2012 at 10:23am GMT

I did not say "which of the Juruisdictions [sic] churches they choose to attend", Bernard, I said which "they recognize or anathematize". This is a whole different matter and it is what the SC business is about.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Friday, 23 November 2012 at 1:49pm GMT
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