In his address to convention last weekend, the Rt Rev Jack L. Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, described the “impaired communion” of an Anglican Church in North America that continues to wrestle over women’s ordination.
So where are we? Most ACNA bishops and dioceses are opposed to women priests, but as it presently stands, the ACNA Constitution says each diocese can decide if it will ordain women priests or not. We now need to work with other dioceses to amend the Constitution to remove this provision. As you know, women bishops are not permitted in any diocese, and no bishop wants to change that prohibition.
I would underscore that the recent Bishops’ statement declares that the ordination of women “is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and that “there is insufficient warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice.” Needless to say, the women priests and their supporters are very unhappy about that.
We are in a state of impaired communion because of this issue. The Task Force concluded that “both sides cannot be right.” At the conclave, I informed the College of Bishops that I will no longer give consent to the election of any bishop who intends to ordain female priests, nor will I attend the consecration of any such bishop-elect in the future. I have notified the Archbishop of my resignation from all the committees to which I had been assigned to signify that it is no longer possible to have “business as usual” in the College of Bishops due to the refusal of those who are in favor of women priests to at least adopt a moratorium on this divisive practice, for the sake of unity. Bishops who continue to ordain women priests in spite of the received tradition are signs of disunity and division.
Iker was commenting on a recent Task Force report received by the ACNA House of Bishops at a closed meeting in September. At the conclusion of that meeting, Archbishop Foley Beach wrote
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. …
… 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.
Read Iker’s complete address to Convention here.