New Province should be recognized, says Winchester Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt
By David W. Virtue in London
When Synod members sit down to debate a resolution recognizing the Anglican Church of North America tomorrow they will not be requesting a formal process of acceptance, it will be about fellowship and communion for the sake of the gospel, says Lorna Ashworth, lay delegate to Synod who has put forward the motion as a lay Anglican delegate.
“In proposing this motion, my desire is that the members of Synod would have the opportunity to express their own view on the consequences of the behavior of those in authority in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada,” said Ashworth.
“Most lay members, like myself, have little understanding of the technical ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of canon law with it uses and misuses. What is clear however is the shocking, unjust treatment of historical/biblical Anglicans as they seek to continue living out their faith within these provinces.
“Doctrinal innovations have been imposed on these churches leaving bishops, clergy and lay people uncertain as to where they belong in the Anglican family.
“As a result, they have come together with the support of many other Anglican provinces to form ACNA.
“It is humbling for us in the Church of England that they could have joined any other church, but have, at great cost, sought to remain within the Anglican Communion.
“I hope that this upcoming debate will be a contribution to the listening process as we hear the experience of those who are maintaining historical/biblical Anglicanism.”
Defending why the Church of England Synod should recognize the new North American Anglican province, Bishop David Anderson (CANA) and president of the American Anglican Council (AAC) said ACNA is made up of individual, clergy, bishops and dioceses that have come out of TEC and Canada to form this new body and which traces its spiritual lineage back to colonial churches which in turn traces to the Church of England and the Bishop of London. “We have fond and warm feelings for the Church of England, the mother church.”
Anderson reeled off a series of statistics justifying why ACNA should be recognized by Synod.
“The Anglican Church of North America has grown to the size that we are larger than 12 Anglican provinces worldwide; larger than Wales and Scotland, Jerusalem and Japan, Southeast Asia, the Southern Cone and six other provinces.”
The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Rev Michael Scott-Joynt said he had been engaged as a friend with the minority in The Episcopal Church at least since 2001 when he first agreed to speak up about the situation in The Episcopal Church.”I have spoken. I put my name on Ashworth’s motion. My sense of where we are going is an opportunity for Synod to recognize the good and godly life of the ACNA and the way in which God seems to be using it at present. There is space for more than one expression of Anglicanism in North America and I don’t see what I see as an attack on TEC or the Canadian Anglican Church. I believe Synod should be positive of the ACNA and to celebrate its presence and intentions and stand with it through its future.”
The Rev. Phil Ashey, Chief Operating Officer for the AAC and secretary of the ACNA said that a declaration of communion is the planting of 1000 churches as an expression of missional
“We have exciting stories to tell. We are quite happy not to have the formal processes sown up, we just have a desire for communion with great encouragement from the C of E. and entering into a partnership. We share the same fundamentals of the faith and Christology unlike the leadership of the Episcopal Church who have denied doctrines of Jesus Christ, His uniqueness and resurrection. We can offer an Anglican partner with whom they can engage seriously in a serious ecumenical engagement. We believe it will provide fruit for the Kingdom.”
Asked by Anglican-TV blogger if he was in favor of the motion what happens next, the bishop replied that a vote of any kind of a motion or amended doesn’t immediately affect anything. “It is a statement of where the Synod is prepared to lead. Structural questions remain. Any formal sense or communion with the C of E is not for general synod to decide. There are legal hurdled, two archbishops and the Anglican Consultative Council. The point to bring before the Synod is the existence and good and godly life to gain the synod’s affirmation. I think it is very important for the future.”
A question rating Rowan Williams’ leadership, Ashey said he thought the ABC has faced one of the most difficult crises in the Anglican Communion. He has faced questions of trust and whether words can be trusted by The Episcopal Church. He has done his best to make the instruments of communion work. It would be fair to say in today’s communion if we are going to be viable to our ecumenical partners in Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches we must recover the primacy of bishops and primates themselves in ordering the doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and not just a committee.”
“We need to know how to understand and work with and interpret what the Episcopal Church is saying and doing. It is a learning curve for all of us. We need to see where the trajectory is going. TEC’s words don’t mean exactly what they mean in plain English. Certainly that was the case with Frank Griswold (former Presiding Bishop) It is a process of…a learning curve and hopefully Dr. Williams is successful in keeping the Anglican Communion together,” said Anderson.
“Our belief is that the ACNA is very much Anglican. People can either be in communion or see Anglicanism as a way of worshipping and living.”
The Bishop of Winchester said he had talked with Dr. Williams both privately and after the Lambeth Conference and he told him that he thought the communion was effectively divided and he should recognize that act and publicly say so. Scott-Joynt described Dr. Williams as “remarkably courageous” with the painful task and costly leadership of keeping it together. “This motion is not an attack on TEC and Canada. We are engaged in affirming it as critical friends.”
Asked if Bob Duncan was an Anglican bishop, Scott-Joynt said he regarded him as a Episcopal colleague as much now as he did in 2001. “He has worshipped and confirmed with me in my diocese and stayed with me. I would do the same again and so would my diocese.”