New American Province looms: CEN 12.05.08 p 1. December 4, 2008Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON, Secession, The Episcopal Church.
The Third Province movement in North America will be the topic of a special meeting at Lambeth Palace today (Dec 5). The Archbishop of Canterbury is scheduled to meet with the Gafcon primates’ council and will be briefed on plans to form a province for traditionalist Anglicans in the United States and Canada.
On Nov 11, Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi told The Church of England Newspaper that a meeting had been tentatively set with Dr. Rowan Williams in London for Dec 5. He said the timeline under which the Gafcon primates were working was that on Dec 3 the leaders of the Common Cause Partnership would gather in Wheaton, Illinois to endorse a draft constitution for the emerging province.
The Gafcon archbishops: Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, [Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda] Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania, Henry Orombi of Uganda, Justice Akrofi of West Africa would then meet on Dec 4 in London to receive and endorse the agreement and bring it to Dr. Williams the following day.
Speaking to the congregation of Truro Parish in Fairfax, Virginia on Nov 30, Bishop Martyn Minns publicly confirmed the proposed timeline adding that the Gafcon primates were also planning on briefing the primates standing committee the day before the start of the Jan 31-Feb 6 Alexandria Primates meeting-however, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will likely miss the pre-conference session as she is scheduled to attend the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council meeting from Jan 29-31.
A Lambeth Palace spokespersontold CEN that Dr Williams would meet Archbishops Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone and Henry Orombi of Uganda at the Old Palace in Canterbury today. The meeting had been set “at their request” the spokesperson said. However, she declined to describe the proposed agenda.
A senior member of the Gafcon leadership team said it would be a mistake to assume they were waiting upon Dr. Williams’ word before work began on the Third Province. He told CEN the Gafcon primates would not adopt a confrontational approach over the Third Province and would be happy for Dr. Williams to sign on to the plan. However, he noted that under the existing legal structures of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Williams’ endorsement was not a prerequisite for their creation of the new Common Cause province in North America.
Membership in the Anglican Consultative Council determines membership in the Anglican Communion. Article 3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council vests the authority to make members with the primates: “With the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the council may alter or add to the schedule” of members.
While it is technically possible for a vote on a third province to come before the primates’ meeting in Alexandria, and then be forwarded to ACC-14 in May for action, it is unlikely as the necessary constitutional work in forming a CCP-based North American province will not be completed.
Final approval within North America could take up to two years as the synods of the four breakaway Episcopal dioceses: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth will have to endorse the constitution over two meetings of their convention, while the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and the Kenyan and Uganda overseen churches in North America and other CCP members must ratify the constitution and amend their own governing documents so as to bring its terms into force.
Should the primates agree to the creation of a Third Province at their 2011 meeting, the matter would be brought before ACC-15 in 2012. While special meetings of the ACC and the primates can be called on the initiative of their standing committees, no such meeting has ever been called, and the current political climate within the Anglican Communion does not favor expedited action.
The status of the members of the Third Province within the Anglican Communion during the interval between Dec 3, 2008 and final approval by the ACC, would likely be under dispute. However, under custom established in the case of the Church of South India and existing church canons the status of the individual churches would be determined by its relationship to one of the existing primates of the Anglican Communion. The four breakaway US dioceses, the Anglican Network in Canada, and the African-overseen parishes and jurisdictions would continue in their present form as de facto members of the Communion—while ecclesial entities such as the Reformed Episcopal Church would be outside the Communion.
While in the 20th century, many came to assume that Anglicanism was cotemporaneous with the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the governing constitutions and canons of a number of provinces affect their link to the Communion through fealty to the Book of Common Prayer, or to shared doctrine. The “muddiness” of Anglicanism ecclesiastical structures, the Gafcon senior source tells the CEN, prevents decisive or speedy action in resolving the disputes.