Anglican Province of America and Anglican Church in America meet for intensive conversations
Creation sought for an Assembly of Bishops for the TAC in the US

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org

Two Reconciliation Working Groups – one from the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the other from the Anglican Province of America (APA) – met at Saint Barnabas Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, recently for what was described as “intensive conversations” about continuing the movement towards unity since the formation in 2006 of the Federation of Anglican Provinces or Jurisdictions in North and South America which brought together (for the first time) many of the disparate Anglo-Catholic groups.

This group has since evolved into the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA) comprised of six Continuing Anglican jurisdictions that have been at loggerheads since they split from The Episcopal Church in 1976 over women’s ordination and issues surrounding the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

The three APA representatives and five ACA representatives celebrated the Holy Eucharist together and undertook seven hours of intensive conversations. A second meeting of the Group involved the Presiding Bishops of both Churches and was held on January 29th (a day later) in Perimeter, Dunwoody. The Group says they will meet again before the concurrent APA and ACA national Synods to be held in October 2014 in Belleville, Illinois.

The group was challenged in three areas.

First, the Group discussed the ongoing effort to evaluate and propose a united body of Canon Law for a future reunited Church. The 1993 Canons of the originally united Church are the basis for restoring an agreed body of Canons. Over the past year and a half, the Group has worked to determine which Canons would best serve the needs of a reunited ecclesiastical structure.

A proposed Constitution based on the original 1993 version has already been completed, and many of the Canons have been reviewed and accepted for future submission to the Synods of the Church. The group hopes that the entire Constitution and Canons will be completely reviewed and ready for future action before the end of this year. The Group recognizes that these are proposals only and that the Synods of the Churches must examine and accept by juridical process any proposed future changes.

Second, the Group hopes to see a new joint website for news and information from the APA and ACA. . “We continue to encourage joint events on the local level between parishes, deaneries, and Dioceses, and we encourage mutual participation in youth camps and other youth events. Wherever and whenever possible, we hope to witness an increase in mutual involvement and participation at every level of Church life.”

Third, the Group received a proposal for the creation of an Assembly of Bishops for the Traditional Anglican Church in the United States of America, a Continuing Church counterpart to the “Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America,” in which the bishops would be in full sacramental communion with each other (communicatio in sacris) and bound by mutual love and commitment to working together as one body.

It was recognized that Dioceses and Provinces would remain autonomous and canonically self-determining. The bishops would consult and confer with one another, make decisions together, and speak with one voice to culture and society. They would be enabled to form, educate, and train clergy and laity together as one body. Evangelistic and missionary efforts, domestic and foreign, would not overlap but would be united and synchronized. Each Diocese or Province would pledge over time not to act in any major way without consultation and consensus with and through the others.

It was agreed that in the Assembly framework, no jurisdiction would lose its own territory or canonical authority. No Canons would have to be changed. No jurisdiction would be compelled institutionally to unite with another jurisdiction. Overlapping geographical jurisdictions would remain while a united Church could be forged. In the Assembly, bishops and jurisdictions would mutually recognize each other and agree together on which bishops and jurisdictions would or would not gain entrance into the body.

The organization of this Anglican Assembly would allow the jurisdictions to enter into full visible communion with each other and maintain agreed standards of discipline and mutual accountability while maintaining the jurisdictional independence of each participating body, an expansion and deepening of the current Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas.

All the APA and ACA bishops present at the Group meetings endorsed the creation of the Assembly. The proposal now moves to the Houses of Bishops of the founding jurisdictions for further consideration.

Not since 1976, when several thousand clergy and laity dissented from The Episcopal Church over the ordination of women and a doctrinally controversial Book of Common Prayer and adopted a theological statement called the Affirmation of St. Louis in response to those actions, has the troubled Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen seen this much cooperation.

Now all that is changing.

In 2006, the formation of the Federation of Anglican Provinces or Jurisdictions in North and South America brought together many of the disparate Anglo-Catholic groups. During the process of ratifying the new church’s constitution, disputes developed which split its dioceses into two American churches and a separate Canadian church.

Those early fractures in the movement now show signs of healing, aided and abetted by a global Anglican realignment that is seeing orthodox and revisionist provinces at irreconcilable loggerheads.

Today, the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA) is comprised of six jurisdictions that communicate and cooperate with one another, and are in communion with one another as traditional, orthodox Anglicans, for the spread of the Gospel. The jurisdictions in FACA are the Anglican Church in America (ACA), the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), the Anglican Province in America (APA), the Diocese of the Holy Cross, the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), and the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), totaling more than 400 parishes. FACA is a ministry partner of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), with seat and voice vote.

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