Friday, June 17, 2005

ACC Meeting in Nottingham

The Anglican Consultative Council will be meeting in Nottingham beginning Sunday, June 19. As I've previously mentioned, the Episcopal Church was asked by the Primates to "voluntarily withdraw" from the Council. The Executive Council of TEC decided to honor this request, although our delegation will be present to listen and answer questions.

There seems to be some confusion regarding the authority of the ACC. Consider this recent news report from the Episcopal News Service, specifically the following line;

...The ACC is made up of bishops, clergy and lay representatives -- numbering some 75 in all -- and is the only body with legislative authority to act on the report recommendations.
Legislative authority? When did this happen?

The Lambeth Conference Resolution of 1968, which established the ACC, spells out the duties of this body. They are to advise, share information, develop (but not legislate) policy, encourage, guide and review.

To suggest that this body has the power to legislate assumes that there is some structure in place by which the members of the Anglican Communion would be bound by their decisions. This would deny the autonomy of each member, and would redefine the nature of the Communion. Rather than being a loose federation of voluntary members, we would become a legal entity, with the assumption of sharing a common code of canon law.

That is not what currently exists, regardless of what some conservative Anglicans may claim. The Episcopal Church has never been bound by any resolution from any source other than General Convention. The ACC, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates, and the Archbishop of Canterbury may make statements or pass resolutions, but their authority within the Episcopal Church has always been that of recommendations.

If the Anglican Communion decides to restructure itself, and redefine the hierarchy of authority, that may be a discussion whose time has come. But to suddenly declare such a restructuring as a fait accompli would be the best way that I know of to derail the attempts of many faithful Anglicans to move us in the direction of healing and reconciliation.

I recommend that you consider Christopher's thoughts, Praying with Nottingham. Let us pray for the Church.


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