Best wishes and a rebuke as ACNA ordains “Missionary Bishop” for Europe

by Rosalind Hughes

Following through on GAFCON’s recent announcement of a Missionary Bishop to offer alternative oversight in provinces deemed to be insufficiently orthodox, the ACNA ordained Canon Andy Lines on Friday at Wheaton, IL.

Writing for ACNA, the Rev. Canon Phil Ashley maintained,

Canon Andy Lines’ consecration will not be irregular or invalid.  His Holy Orders in the Province of South America have been duly and lawfully transferred to, and likewise received by, the ACNA. He will be consecrated by acting primates, archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion. His consecration will fall within the historical tradition of faithful Bishops who have created order in the Church during times of crisis. These are times when faith and doctrine have been threatened by others’ failure to guard against false teaching—or worse, have actively promoted such false teaching.

GAFCON was particularly exercised over the Scottish Episcopal Church’s recent decision to move towards marriage equality in that province.

According to Christian Today, the Bishops of Blackburn, Birkenhead, and Maidstone in the Church of England have offered their support and prayers for the ordination, with the Rt Rev. Rod Thomas stating,

‘I therefore welcome the steps that GAFCON (the global fellowship of orthodox Anglicans) is taking to support those who are seeking to stand firm by the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexual relationships, and wish to assure Canon Andy Lines of my prayers as he becomes a missionary bishop.’

But the Most Rev. Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, wrote an open letter to his bishops, decrying in measured tones the attendance of two of their number at the ordination service.

Whilst I appreciate the courtesy of my Episcopal colleagues in seeking my advice, I regret very much that they have decided to act contrary to it.  The consecration in the ACNA is not on any view an act in communion with the Anglican Communion and its member churches, particularly the Provinces of the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church and existing jurisdictions in Europe.  Whilst any individual and any diocese may form a view as to whether continued communion is consistent with the Fundamental Declarations, it is for the General Synod of our Church alone to determine such a question.

Our Consecration of Bishops Canon 1966 mandates the permissible manner of consecration of bishops.  It binds all of us as bishops in the Church. It provides expressly for the circumstances of a bishop consecrated to serve in Australia being consecrated in a Church in communion with the Anglican Church of Australia in accordance with s6 of the Constitution and stipulates the manner of that consecration.  It does not appear to provide expressly as to the current circumstances.

In a photo caption, Christian Today wrote that, “Andy Lines has been told by the Archbishop of Canterbury his authority will not be recognised by the Church of England.”

Read more at Christian Today, and find Archbishop Freier’s open letter here.

Photo via GAFCON.org

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

But property in the CofE is not analogous to the circumstances in TEC. Bishops/Dioceses in the CofE have no analogy in law to TEC, canonically or civilly. You can study which parishes and how they might seek to leave in the CofE, but the matter would be altogether different than TEC in the nature of the case.

So, for example, given the state-jurisdictional legal context, IL, SC and TX have made rulings about the character of property law that has favored what you apprarently call 'pilfering' and they decided the word rightly applied to TEC not the Dioceses!

But none of this will have any corresponding reality in the CofE.

If one decides to create an entirely different form of anglicanism in England/UK/Europe, property claims will only be relevant where the lwa favors them, if at all.

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dave thomas
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dave thomas

It may seem at the moment that they aren't focusing on property pilfering, but rest assured that the focus will shift relatively quickly now that they have put in place a "bishop" for Europe. The actions of the ACNA over the past few years provides valuable insight to the GAFCON playbook for church growth, and property pilfering is indeed a top priority.

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Professor Christopher Seitz
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Professor Christopher Seitz

Mr Bonetti

"One big advantage"?

Establishment is both a road-block and a straight-jacket, when it comes to developments like this. The CofE will have to face a species of anglicanism that heretofore could not exist, and now can, in a form that in places like the US (once) thrived...it would be one thing to look down on it like -- meegods -- methodist enthusiasts inside England, but in our gloablised world we now have anglicanism as it exists in the majority of the AC to be plopped down in Britain. Of course measured by US developments one can wonder about property legalities within the CofE and ability to depart, etc. Scottish conservatives are a different category given historical independence of some of their parishes. But on its face the leaders of this movement don't seem to be focusing on that--what you call property pilfering--but rather on an AC presence within Britain, independent of the CofE.

As for LGBT missionary bishops to Uganda, why not? I doubt Anglican Ugandans would care very much, as it would only verify the cleavage conservatives already know exists tout court.

We are truly facing into circumstances without obvious historical analogy. English Methodism is apposite partially, but it had no global Anglican support system. It did not attempt to take properties, and in the US it vastly overshadowed what would become PECUSA and then TEC.

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Eric Bonetti
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I am sorely tempted to conclude that it is time to send an openly LGBT missionary bishop to, I dunno, Uganda.

Meanwhile, the CoE has one big advantage, which is that it will be much more difficult for the GAFCON crowd to try to pilfer church assets, given the role of parliament and the monarchy in the CoE

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Professor Christopher Seitz
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Professor Christopher Seitz

Things are unravelling. The number of provinces represented likely means further international division and entrenchment. +Welby is now facing a situation in which, by stating his view in this way, his remarks might equally pertain to those fellow bishops and archbishops involved. Or, does the ABC limit this "authority will not be recognised" comment only to the CofE context, as the CT remarks implies? If the latter only, those involved said specifically they did not wish to operate in the CofE or SEC. So we are entering difficult waters. There could be in effect a separate anglican body within England and elsewhere, linked to other anglican provinces, but not wishing to be CofE. Matters spun out of control differently in NA, where there is no church by law established.

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