The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) has been approved as one of 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which is comprised of 12 church organizations that have broken with the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church over theological differences on issues such as human sexuality.
The ACNA will hold its first provincial assembly from June 22 to 25 in St. Vincent's Cathedral, Bedford, Texas. Delegates to this assembly will be selected by the 28 constituent dioceses and dioceses-in-formation. A draft constitution and a comprehensive set of canons (church bylaws) will also be presented for ratification at the assembly.
"It is a great encouragement to see the fruit of many years' work," said Bishop Robert Duncan, archbishop-elect of the Anglican Church in North America. "Today, 23 dioceses and five dioceses-in-formation joined together to reconstitute an orthodox, biblical, missionary and united church in North America."
Bishop Don Harvey, moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, said "ANiC will consider this as the province to which we now belong…. For a period of time, I would imagine we'll have two lines of authority, our prime authority would be the Anglican Church of North America, but I would still be a member of the house of bishops of the Southern Cone (of America) in an honorary capacity until such time as we feel we can cut the cord as it were."
Bishop Harvey said that the number of people in ANiC parishes, about 3,500, could have qualified for two dioceses. "But we thought it was much simpler for us at this stage in our own formation to keep as one diocese for Canada," he said. "I would say formation into more dioceses will come in the next year or two," he predicted.
ANiC will contribute 10 per cent of funds from its national office to the ACNA, said Bishop Harvey. ANiC prescribes a practice of tithing that expects parishioners to contribute 10 per cent of their income to their local church, and local churches to give 10 per cent to ANiC.
Created in December 2008, ACNA has not been recognized as a province within the Anglican Communion, but it was recognized by seven conservative primates as an "emergent province" in a statement issued earlier this month by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) primates' council. The council is a product of GAFCON, a large gathering of conservative Anglicans held in Jerusalem in 2008. Many of the bishops who attended later chose to boycott the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade meeting of the world's Anglican bishops, because of deep divisions over the place of homosexual people within the church.
But Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church in Canada, said, "At this point, it is a conversation among the GAFCON primates…. They want to create a new province in North America. They want to create it along the lines of theology and orthodoxy," he said, noting that this "in itself is a departure from the normal ways in which provinces are created in the Anglican Communion." Provinces are usually based in a geographic region.
Archbishop Hiltz noted that the approach to creating this new province is also unusual. "They are quite public in saying, with or without the Archbishop of Canterbury's blessing, they are going ahead. They haven't followed the normal processes through the Anglican Consultative Council, the only body in the whole Anglican Communion that can create a province."
The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is meeting in Jamaica in May, and Archbishop Hiltz said the question of the new province will probably be raised. But, he said, "My sense is that it is not likely to get a whole pile of attention there because they simply haven't followed the due processes that the ACC has in place for creating a province."