The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has issued a call for prayer as ACNA bishops discuss the ordination of women following a five-year study on holy orders by an appointed task force. The call for prayer, published on the ACNA site:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As many of you may have heard, the College of Bishops is gathering this week (September 5-7) in conclave (a private assembly of the bishops) to discuss the report we have received from the Task Force on Holy Orders earlier this year, specifically women’s orders. This is the beginning of our formal discussion as bishops, and I sincerely doubt it will be the end of our prayerful deliberation on this important issue. We are seeking to hear God’s will for us as Biblically orthodox, and faithful North American Anglicans, who are part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
There are two things which I want to share with you, as members of the Anglican Church in North America.
First, as Anglicans we are a conciliar Church in which decision-making and authority are shared amongst the clergy and laity. If the College of Bishops were to be united in discerning that it is God’s will to move in a different direction than that which is established in our Constitution (see Article VIII, Section 2), it would need to be brought to the full leadership of the Church for discernment (ie. Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly, see Article XV).
Second, I believe in the power of prayer, and that God provides prayer as a means to further his purposes in the world and in the Church. I ask you to keep the bishops (and specifically your bishop) in your personal and corporate prayers as we gather to discuss this issue and how we move forward together. Our bishops are godly men and are committed to seeing the Anglican Church in North America flourish and prosper under the authority of Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the Church. Please pray for us. “To him who is able to do more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20,21).
Forward, Always Forward. Everywhere Forward!
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America
Up until now, the ACNA has left decisions over whether to ordain women as priests and deacons up to individual dioceses. Women cannot becoming bishops in the ACNA (see ACNA FAQs page).
From Archbishop Beach’s letter on the report, released earlier this year (the report can be downloaded from the previous link):
The Task Force was not commissioned to resolve the issue, but was asked to develop
resources to help the bishops in future conversation on this topic.
• Therefore the report does not answer the questions of what the College is to do, but it is
a study presented to the College to help the College in our discussions.
• The report does not change our current practice regarding women’s orders as stated in
our Constitution. Our current practice allows each diocese to determine whether it
will ordain women as deacons or priests.
• The report will now be sent to the GAFCON Primates for their input and guidance for
• The College of Bishops will now be studying the whole report, and we will meet in
special session later in the year to discuss how we move forward together.
The report’s conclusion:
Over the course of our study, we have found that no single argument, either way, that clearly settles this controversy to the satisfaction of all. Anglicans on both sides hold their opinion with a sincere wish to serve God and uphold the gospel.
The obligation for those engaged in this discussion, as it continues, is not simply to consider individual needs and opinions, or to defer to the judgments of the society around us, but to consider this decision in the context of Scripture and the implications it will have for the future of the Church.
It is our prayer that the work produced by the Task Force will provide our bishops and province with the grounds for a respectful and informed understanding of why we come to differing conclusions about ordination of women. Too often, fruitful discussion of this controversy is impeded by misunderstanding and ill-founded assumptions about why someone may hold a particular theological position. Any hope of making progress toward a common mind must begin with mutual understanding and respect. We offer our work to the College of Bishops in this spirit.
The Task Force (listed at previous link):
The Rt. Rev. David Hicks, Chair The REC Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
The Rt. Rev. Kevin Allen, The Diocese of Cascadia
Mrs. Katherine Atwood, The Diocese of Ft. Worth
The Rev. Dr. Leslie Fairfield, The Diocese in New England & Trinity School for Ministry (Ret.)
The Rev. Canon Mary Hays, The Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rev. Tobias Karlowicz, The Diocese of Quincy
The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees, The Diocese of San Joaquin
Photo from ACNA website.