Primates of the Anglican Communion should not be allowed to become ex-officio members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Council of General Synod (CoGS) voted during its fall meeting Nov. 17-20.
CoGS, the Anglican Church of Canada’s governing body between General Synods, passed a resolution stating that CoGS “not give approval” to an ACC resolution passed during a meeting in Nottingham, England, last June, which would allow the 38 primates, or national bishops, to join the ACC. The ACC resolution requires a two-thirds majority vote from member churches of the Anglican Communion.
CoGS also urged the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, to convene an “ACC relationship steering committee” as recommended by the delegates and presenters to the ACC meeting. The committee would aid the primate in developing a strategic plan “to enhance the continuing participation of the Anglican Church of Canada as a province within the Anglican Communion.” It would also assist in the development of a “listening process” on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex blessings.
“Let us not allow ourselves to be bullied into not attending again,” said Bishop Sue Moxley, suffragan bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, in a briefing to CoGS. She was one of three Canadian delegates who attended the ACC as an observer.
Earlier in February, the primates’ meeting had asked both Canadian and American churches “voluntarily withdraw” from the ACC; both churches decided to send their delegates to “attend but not participate” in the meeting.
Bishop Moxley added that on hindsight, the ACC delegates should not have left the room when crucial votes such as the inclusion of the primates and the censure on the North American churches were taken during the meeting. “We are members and we created this strange dynamic. We weren’t thinking fast enough when that first closed-door session came up,” she said.
“We were excluded and placed in the margins,” said Canon Allen Box, the Canadian clergy delegate. He saw some non-delegates sending text messages to coach members on the floor on what to say on matters pertaining to the North American churches. “That was very painful to see and it made me quite angry,” said Mr. Box.
Lay delegate Suzanne Lawson said that although it was difficult not to participate in the meeting, she still saw how “we were supported quietly” and in the “most awkward of situations” by the leadership of the ACC and that it had “made us feel valued.”
Archbishop Andrew Hutchison agreed, citing that without the intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, tougher sanctions against the North American churches would have been imposed. The ACC had decided to endorse a request from primates that Canada and the United States withdraw from the Council at least until the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and had asked them to “voluntarily withdraw” from two important council committees – the standing committee and the inter-Anglican finance and administration committee.
“It was the Archbishop of Canterbury who said … ‘if you do that, the communion is toast,'” said Archbishop Hutchison.