The Church Times reports on the campaign by supporters of ACNA for back-door recognition of the breakaway group by the Church of England.
While the sponsor of the private members motions says that the motion has nothing to do with interfering with the internal life of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, she and the motion’s supporters disapprove of the idea that when ACNA clergy left their former churches they were treated as if they left for a new denomination. They are also surprised that Anglican churches might object to the new denomination appropriating their property.
Three English bishops are supporting a lunch-and-learn where Synod members can hear about ACNA complaints first hand.
In the meantime, some facts are gradually filtering through, and some bishops are trying to craft an alternative motion.
The General Synod’s Secretary General, William Fittall, has supplied a seven-page background note on the ACNA, which was set up in June last year and says that it has 100,000 members in the US and Canada.
The note offers “material on how new provinces are admitted to the Anglican Communion, how the Church of England has entered into communion with Churches outside the Anglican Communion, and how episcopally ordained ministers of some Churches which are not in communion with the Church of England can be permitted to minister”.
Bishops were said at the pre-Synod briefing on Monday to be producing an alternative motion. ACNA did not respond this week to requests for comment.
The Church Times asked the Cafe’s Jim Naughton what he thought of all this. He said:
“My primary concern about this motion is that it would set a bizarre precedent that would encourage schismatic activity in other provinces.
“When you look at ACNA’s numbers, then subtract the folks who were never Episcopalians to begin with, you see that they’ve spent millions of dollars to draw away about three per cent of our Church. That sets the bar for the quasi-recognition that is being discussed awfully low, and can only encourage similar splinter groups — who may be upset about other issues — to take similar initiatives.
“Passing this resolution, or one like it, will make it harder for the Covenant to get a fair hearing in the Episcopal Church.”