Anglican Consultative Council Digest

May 11, 2009

Much happens each day during the Anglican Consultative Council's (ACC) 14th meeting. In addition to Episcopal Life Media's regular coverage, here's some of what else went on May 12, the final day of the gathering, which began on May 2.

Council asks Primates Meeting to include ACC standing committee members
ACC members asked the Primates Meeting to include an equal number of non-primatial members of the ACC Standing Committee as non-voting members. The primates, or leaders of the Anglican Communion’s provinces, meet every one to two years to discuss communion-wide matters.

The six members of the Primates Standing Committee have voice and vote on the majority of matters that come before the ACC.

Five of the primatial members have attended most or all of the Kingston ACC meeting. Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda did not come to Jamaica and has not attended any of the three standing committee meetings held since his election in February 2007.

"We've heard a lot in this meeting about how the instruments of communion need to understand one another. They can only really understand one another if they are members of one another's meetings," Welsh Archbishop Barry Morgan, a standing committee member, told the council. The inclusion of the ACC members is meant to "create greater understanding" between the ACC and the primates, he added.

The ACC cannot compel the primates to act on the resolution. "I know that the primates might not look at the request too favorably," Morgan said.

The conversation about the resolution stressed that the ACC was not asking for its standing committee members to have a vote in the Primates Meeting. In fact, the primates rarely conduct formal votes during their meetings.

Two churches' request for extra-provincial membership gets ACC attention
A request from the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain and the Lusitanian Church for full membership to the ACC was sent to the ACC/Primates Standing Committee for action.

The original resolution asked the ACC to admit the churches to the list, or schedule, of ACC member provinces included in the council's constitution. Anthony Fitchett, lay representative of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and chair of the council's resolutions committee, reminded the ACC that two-thirds of the leaders, or primates, of the communion's provinces must approve such a request for full membership.

The ACC has full members, but the communion also includes in its general membership five "extra-provincial churches," such as Bermuda and the Falkland Islands, listed here.

The council also asked the Standing Committee to review the relationship of all the extra-provincial jurisdictions with the ACC.

Korean reunification efforts get ACC endorsement
ACC members said, via a resolution from the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, that they "lament that the political situation in the Korean peninsula and the surrounding nations has worsened in recent months" and commended the humanitarian efforts of the Anglican Church of Korea "for the relief of the starving population of North Korea and expresses its gratitude for the international co-operation demonstrated in this project."

The resolution urged continuation of the initiatives from the Towards Peace in Korea (TOPIK) conference, held November 14-20, 2007 in Paju, South Korea. That conference's communiqué is available here.

Council watches world's trouble spots
The ACC passed a resolution "remembering people in places of conflict everywhere" and specifically named:

* Pakistan, "where blasphemy laws allow persecution under law of Christians, and encourage religious extremism";

* Philippines, "where killings and disappearances of church workers and others working in the civil society have occurred";

* Sri Lanka, "where a humanitarian crisis threatens hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians on the north eastern coastal belt of Sri Lanka";

* Sudan, "where its peoples desperately seek an end to conflict, suffering and death";

* Zimbabwe, "where previous government policies have created intolerable conditions that have destroyed the infrastructure of the country"; and

* Other places, including Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Madagascar, Nepal and Nigeria.

The ACC commends "the efforts and witness of the churches in all these areas" and encouraged Anglicans to support "prayerfully and practically fellow Christians and all who live in situations of conflict, hostility and injustice." The council also urged Anglican provinces to pursue with governments and other parties "the end of these and all other conflicts and injustices."

Council asks for consideration of how to encourage relief and development work
The council passed a resolution asking the Anglican Communion Office to investigate how relief and development efforts in congregations, dioceses, provinces and other communion groups could be encouraged and strengthened. The final resolution was much shorter than the original draft, which engendered debate about the best way to encourage such work without duplicating the work of existing agencies or causing confusion among Anglicans who might participate or contribute to such work.

ACC gives round of thanks and greetings
In a round of courtesy resolutions, the council thanked Diocese of Auckland Bishop John Paterson for "his gentle and steady hand as chair, vice chair and member of the ACC since 1990," and George Koshy, lay representative of the Church of South India, as vice chair and member of ACC since 1990.

The council thanked newly consecrated Welsh Diocese of St. Asaph Bishop Gregory Cameron for his past service as director of Anglican Communion ecumenical affairs and deputy secretary general since 2004.

The host Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands drew the council's thanks for its "exceptionally warm welcome and generous hospitality." And the ACC thanked communion office staff and volunteers, as well as the staff of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, where the meeting was held.

The council sent its greetings to ecumenical dialogue partners and "to all faithful Christians," wishing to "assure them of our prayers for their work and witness, and for the unity of the Church."

ACC background
The 40-year-old ACC is the communion's most representative decision-making body and includes bishops, clergy and laity. While it has no jurisdiction over the provinces of the communion, it makes policy, approves the Anglican Communion Office's budget and encourages the communion's members to engage together in mission and ministry. The Anglican Communion is made up of around 77 million members in 44 regional and national churches around the globe in 164 countries.

Previous ENS coverage of the ACC meeting is available here.

Video clips from the meeting may be viewed here.