Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper.

The Rev. Canon Janet Trisk of South Africa

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Observance of the Anglican Consultative Council’s bylaws are discretionary, a spokesman for the organization tells The Church of England Newspaper, when they are inconsistent with its political agenda.

ACC spokesman Jan Butter told CEN the future membership rules of the organization which seek to promote gender parity take precedence over its existing rules.

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s press spokesman tells The Church of England Newspaper, the ACC staff’s views are not the final word on the matter, as the appointment of Bishop Ian Douglas and Canon Janet Trisk to the ACC Standing Committee are under legal review.

Weakened by charges of mismanagement following ACC-14 in Jamaica, the credibility and moral integrity of the ACC Standing Committee is now being questioned over the propriety of seating two members whom critics charge are ineligible to serve.

The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) reported on July 2 that two new members of the Standing Committee would attend its July 23-27 London meeting.  Bishop Paul Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and bishop of Dhaka would attend the meeting in place of the President Bishop of the Middle East, Dr. Mouneer Anis of Egypt, who resigned in protest in February.

ACNS also reported that the Rev. Canon Janet Trisk, rector of the parish of St. David, Prestbury, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, had been elected at the December Standing Committee meeting to replace resigned lay member, Ms. Nomfundo Walaza of South Africa.

However, the ACC’s bylaws forbid this appointment as Bylaw 7 states that a lay person must replace Ms. Walaza.  When vacancies occur, “the Standing Committee itself shall have power to appoint a member of the Council of the same order as the representative who filled the vacant place,” the bylaws state.

Asked how the appointment could be made in light of the prohibition contained in the constitution, Mr. Butter told CEN the ACC was in the process of adopting new articles of incorporation as it moves from being an “unincorporated charity to becoming a limited company.”

“The appointment of Canon Trisk was made under the terms of the company’s articles which are currently being registered with the Charity Commission.  These articles emphasise the need to achieve balance not only between orders, but also between gender and region,” he said, adding the Standing Committee “in December came to the view that balance could best be achieved by appointing Canon Trisk.”

Asked if copies of the proposed new bylaws were available for review, the ACC responded that “discussions about the Articles are still ongoing between the legal advisor and the Charity Commission, so they are not yet available.”

Canon lawyer Mark McCall of the Anglican Communion Institute noted this “explanation does not pass muster.  Whatever aspirations they may have concerning selections of new members, the standing committee, like the ACC itself, is required to operate within the scope of the constitution and bylaws that are in effect.”

“They cannot ignore existing rules and anticipate new provisions that may come into effect at some future point.   This is in effect a concession that the appointment was ultra vires,” or unlawful, he said.

ACNS also reported that the African member of the Primates Standing Committee, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda and his alternate, Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa had resigned as well.  A spokesman for the Archbishop of Uganda has confirmed to CEN he had resigned.

Last month the ACI voiced its objections to the continuation of Bishop Ian Douglas on the Standing Committee, noting that his consecration as Bishop of Connecticut required that he relinquish his clergy seat on the ACC, and his place on the Standing Committee.

An aide to a senior African primate said the general mood among the Gafcon primates was weariness with the machinations of the ACC.  They are so disillusioned with the Communion structures that they have “now taken a hands-off approach and are willing to let them just hang themselves,” CEN was told.

The appointment in the name of diversity of Canon Trisk, a white South African priest and lawyer, to replace a black African lay woman was greeted with amusement by other overseas leaders queried by CEN.  At ACC-14 Canon Trisk urged delay in adopting section 4 of the Anglican Covenant, and when that was defeated put forward the amendment to bottle up section four of the Covenant in committee that was successfully carried.

The ACI also noted Canon Trisk does not meet the “recommended criteria” for appointment to the Standing Committee adopted at ACC-6 in 1984.  New members of the Standing Committee should be able to attend two further ACC meetings—Canon Trisk has already attended two and is able to attend only one more under the current rules, and provinces that have never been represented on the Standing Committee should be given preference for vacancies.  Canon Trisk replaces a fellow South African.

“Are we to understand that there was no lay representative and that Canon Trisk was the only clergy representative available to serve from Africa?” Mr. McCall asked, adding the ACC’s “explanation does nothing to satisfy those concerned that the Standing Committee is unwilling to operate within its legal requirements.”

A spokesman for Dr. Rowan Williams told CEN the archbishop was “aware of these membership issues. The Secretary General has referred them to the legal advisor who will report to the Standing Committee,” she said.

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