Thinking Anglicans

Views on the ACC

Last week’s Church Times had a fascinating though lengthy letter from a Canadian, Pamela Bird headed Canadian and US Churches and the Anglican Consultative Council.

The whole letter should be read, but after reciting the history of the ACC’s constitution, based on her personal involvement at every stage, she writes this:

…It cannot, any more than Lambeth Conferences or Meetings of Primates, legislate for the Anglican Communion, but, because it consists of bishops, clergy and laity, duly appointed by their national synods, it does represent the whole weight of the whole body of Anglicanism. It cannot impinge on the autonomy of individual provinces any more than can Lambeth Conferences or Primates’ Meetings, but can make strong recommendations for their consideration.

This preliminary history is necessary to make it clear that the Anglican Consultative Council is not a “club” from which members may be expelled. It is meant more as a forum in which just such issues as sex orientation may be discussed, and a way forward may be discovered and developed.

There have been issues before this latest where solutions have been sought in love and understanding. The ordination of women was one such at its very first meeting, as was also grave misgiving in South Africa over some World Council actions and Anglican participation. The Communion didn’t fall apart, nor suggest that some of its members should withdraw. I should like to stress the word “members”, not “delegates”.

It beggars belief that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States — two of the three prime architects of gatherings and fellowship in the Communion —should be invited to depart or should themselves consider it; or that others of the original member provinces should concur.

The 1978 Lambeth Conference was more cautious than the 1968 one, and back-pedalled furiously. What had been spawned? Bishops seemingly were afraid for their “authority”, and were precipitate in suggesting that the Primates should meet as often, though not necessarily at the same time, as the ACC. This was an episcopal decision only: it did not come from the General Synods or national governing bodies of the provinces, though presumably they were expected to finance the meetings.

Some of the provinces whose archbishops are so vociferous on a certain issue were not in existence when the Anglican Consultative Council was proposed and constituted, largely at the instigation of Canadians in the Anglican Church; the Canadian Church has been foremost in its support of Communion affairs, of MRI, especially in Africa, and the dismantling of apartheid.

Lambeth Conferences of bishops are attended by invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury; Primates call themselves together; but the Anglican Consultative Council has a constitution, and exists by the will of the whole of Anglicanism. It must not be conned into thinking that other gatherings can ask its members to withdraw.

Having been so deeply involved in the formation and early history of the Anglican Consultative Council, and being both English and Canadian, I have very serious concern for the continuance of the Anglican Communion. It is unique in its philosophy of unity in diversity, and, through this, it has been able to reconcile many thorny questions. But if the African Primates in question persist in their current paths of thinking, I greatly fear a break-up is probable. In any case, it should be a matter for the ACC — including the Canadian Church and ECUSA — to ponder, until reconciliation is reached.

Anglican Mainstream has published the reply they sent, which is also in today’s Church Times.

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JaniceJ. C. FisherNeilSimeonDr Abigail Ann Young Recent comment authors
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Dr Abigail Ann Young
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The response in Anglican Mainstream is a bit disingenous. The authors wrote: “Miss Bird (CT Letters, 12 May) ignores the fact that the ACC has a legal constitution. Article 3 of that constitution specifically provides for alterations to its membership. This alteration can include both additions and (if the need arose) expulsions. “Alterations to the membership require the assent of two-thirds of the Primates. As the Primates’ meeting in Northern Ireland unanimously agreed the request to ECUSA and the Anglican Church in Canada to withdraw from the ACC, it is plain that the two-thirds assent was present for this request.… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

Sounds a bit like an argument about who can and can’t stop whom coming to the party – which I think misses the point: whatever the words are, however mildly they are requested, by whom, to whom, if they are ignored, ultimately the party will just be cancelled. By endlessly splitting hairs, we can presume that we’re winning the argument – and in the process the whole argument will be totally and utterly lost.

J. C. Fisher
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“Nor can they change the rules governing membership in the ACC. Only the ACC can do so, though it must have the assent of two-thirds of the Primates.” . . . which, Dr. Young, I would imagine will be easier to do, without the ECUSA/AngChCanada members in (voting) attendance? 🙁 ********* “ultimately the party will just be cancelled” [Boy, I am oh-so-grateful for the grammar teacher who warned me (a zillion years ago) to check “What’s being concealed in a passive tense?”] No, Neil, the party WON’T “be cancelled.” People can, and will, decide on their own whether or not… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

The “party” being discussed here is an earthly one, the ACC (and by implication the future meetings of the Anglican Communion). JCF, the reality is that gatecrashers to this party cannot presume that they will be welcomed but might justifiably find that an alternative de facto party emerges from which they can and are excluded.

The heavenly wedding banquet you are confusing this with will certainly not be cancelled. Indeed it is open to all repentant sinners who have been washed in the precious blood of the Lamb.

J. C. Fisher
Guest

The parties are ONE AND THE SAME, Neil: *if* you want them to be (Christ proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was Here, Now!)

It occurs to me that this differing perception of Eternity (existing now? or only later?) may be more profound than anything we have to say on our differing understandings of sexuality.

And again I say: Party On! (Got my invite from *The Host* right here: if the Host is for me, then who can be against/close the gates on me?)

Come One, Come All! 😀

Neil
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Neil

No they’re not one and the same. When I used the word “party” first, I was using it only as a metaphor for the ongoing relationships within the Anglican Communion or something like that. I wasn’t talking about heaven! I look forward to heaven with anticipation. And I am as good as there – it is certain – if I have repented and believed in Christ. But I am not actually there yet, no! And sin can close the gates on me – if it is unforgiven because I am unrepentant. That is why this whole issue is not a… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

For me, Neil, “repentance” means *trusting solely in the mercy of the Host* (of the Eternal Banquet): which includes *trusting God to form me* into that which is most pleasing to God. “If I deny that something is sin when God clearly says it is sin” Nevermind that what you, Neil, understand as “God clearly says is sin” is 180 degrees opposite of what *I* understand “God clearly says”—I think that if I put my faith in *my own understanding* of God’s word/will, I am just as lost. We don’t trust in concepts, or issues . . . or dogmas.… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

“”repentance”…. includes *trusting God to form me* into that which is most pleasing to God.” If you mean that, you will leave sin behind and let Him change you. “..if I put my faith in *my own understanding* of God’s word/will, I am just as lost.” And that is why we must submit to what God actually says, not our latest understanding of it – innovations about what someone *thinks* God says should not have been proceeded with because they are simply their owners’ own understanding. Was the Holy Spirit wrong for thousands of years – or did He just… Read more »

Simeon
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Neil wrote: “And that is why we must submit to what God actually says, not our latest understanding of it – innovations about what someone *thinks* God says should not have been proceeded with because they are simply their owners’ own understanding.” And just where in the world do you think *your* understanding came from in the first place ? Did it float down from the heavens on a white cloud, surrounded by trumpeting angels, right into your brain ? No, it came from human beings, no better or worse than us, trying to reason their way through tough questions.… Read more »

Janice
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Janice

Forgive my butting in! From this and previous posts, J. C. Fisher, it comes over as you wanting to be a Christian – but purely on your own terms. We are ALL called to follow Him, not to do what we want. To say a sin is not a sin, which in practice you have implied before, is almost like reinventing a religion of your pleasing.

Jan

Neil
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Neil

I don’t pretend to have been original in what I’ve said. It’s all been said before. As has this: We’re back, yet again, to the authority of Scripture. “No, it came from human beings, no better or worse than us, trying to reason their way through tough questions. Sometimes they got it right, sometimes they didn’t.” No, it came from *God*, through human beings. That is why it is “God-breathed”. The examples you give about so called things on which we’ve changed *our* minds, are in no way comparable with homosexual practice which God universally prohibits as sin in Old… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

Oy vey. And I *so* just wanted to say “Amen!” in response to your last response to me, Neil (Actually, I still will: Amen!) [Simeon, honey: you know I love you, but we’ve GOT to try to go the extra mile here. Breathe deeply, and try not to let those who can’t understand what it’s like to live under-the-iron-fist of a Network bishop get to you, ‘kay? {Smooch o’ Peace!}] “J. C. Fisher, it comes over as you wanting to be a Christian – but purely on your own terms.” Grace&peace, Janice. In response: hmmm . . . I would… Read more »

Janice
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Janice

And God’s grace and peace to you J.C. Fisher

Jan