Central African and South African Bishops speak out against Anglican Church of North American (ACNA) domination

Now listen here, I'm in charge of Africa!
'Archbishop' Robert Duncan of ACNA makes his position clear to Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports: Some good news at last of courageous action on the part of the Bishops of the Central African Anglican Province.

This follows on last week’s meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), the second all Africa Bishops’ Conference*.

A widely leaked letter from the Provinces of Central Africa and South Africa has bravely resisted the schismatic tendencies encouraged at the Conference by breakaway Anglican groups in the United States for a disassociation with the official American Episcopal Church (TEC).

The letter reads: ‘We are mindful that the Anglican Communion is under severe strain because of certain actions taken by the Episcopal Church (TEC)…we are therefore sympathetic to the deep hurt and pain and indeed anger that some Province in Africa have expressed … [but] we do not support ACNA’s
(the Anglican Church of North America, a schismatic breakaway grouping in dubious relationship with some Provinces) position for legitimacy through the elimination of TEC.’

‘The majority of African Provinces at this Conference
(the Conference was dominated numerically by Nigeria and Uganda) are being ambushed … we have come to the Conference to share ideas on critical issues in the development of our continent and provide spiritual leadership for our people … CAPA must not be sued as a pawn in battles it is not party to.’

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that the Central African Bishops have stood up to what was an underlying intimidatory environment in Entebbe where dissident American factions sought to export their North American wars and fight them in proxy form on African soil.

The letter represents a significant and bold step that could at last result in a re-emergence of some common sense where the Anglican tradition of dialogue between Provinces reasserts itself in the whole Anglican Communion. This is a welcome development.

The Central and South African letter appeals for traditional communion and conversation amongst Anglicans. This instead of the exported mutual anathematising that has been characteristic of the so-called Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).

Unmistakably the ACNA agenda is for the breakup of the Anglican Communion and the surreptitious gathering up of African Provinces under their (the ACNA’s)effective oversight and control. This is neither an attractive nor a Christian project and it is certainly not Anglican.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION says: Thank God some Africans have at last had the courage to stand up to what is effectively a new imperialism conducted by opportunist and schismatic Americans.

*For a general overview of the Conference see an article by Jan Butter, Anglican Communion Office, Director of Communications: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2010/8/29/ACNS4729

The full text of the letter thanks to: Episcopal Café and The Lead

See: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/anglican_communion/an_end_to_the_myth_of_a_monoli.html#more

We are gathered here for the All Africa Bishops Conference, Entebbe, Uganda 23 -29 August 2010; at a critical time in the life of the Anglican Church in Africa and the wider Anglican Communion. We hold dear the gift of the Anglican Communion and its Institutions with the Archbishop of Canterbury as our head. We seek to preserve its traditions.

We are grateful to God for the theme of this Conference: Securing the Future: Unlocking our Potential (Hebrew 12: 1-2). The purpose of which is to be pro-active in addressing the ills that beset Africa such as poverty, wars, bad governance, HIV and AIDS, and, environmental issues. The focus of this Conference is therefore about making the Anglican Church in Africa relevant in this context.

We are mindful that the Anglican Communion is under severe strain because of certain actions taken by the Episcopal Church, TEC by their ordination of openly gay bishops.

TEC’s recent action of consecrating an openly lesbian person as a bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles against a moratorium in the Communion of consecrating openly gay bishops reflected a gross insensitivity to the feelings of the rest of the Communion.

We are therefore sympathetic to the deep hurt and pain and indeed anger that some Provinces in Africa have expressed. Notwithstanding, the impression being created at the Conference that all Provinces in Africa are of one mind to abandon our relationship with TEC is wrong. Painful as the action is it should not become the presenting issue to lead to the break- up of our legacy and this gift of God- the world wide Anglican Communion.

We recognize that all the Provinces and dioceses in Africa do not condone TEC’s action. However, Provinces differ in their relationships with TEC in light of their actions. Some Provinces continue to value their historical partnerships with TEC and its organs. To discard these relationships would be tantamount to abandoning our call of the gospel to struggle with each other’s failure as we journey with Christ in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation as we were passionately reminded by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, of the virtue of tolerance and to live with our rich diversity.

In pursuit of its objective to form a new “province” in North America, ACNA has been successful in bringing together most of the splinter groups within the Anglican tradition.

We recognize that the common factor that holds all the coalition partners of ACNA is TEC. We do not support ACNA’s position for legitimacy through the elimination of TEC.

Three of the Instruments of Unity have already stated their position on the matter and we believe they represent the mind of the vast majority of the Communion including CAPA.

The majority of the African Provinces at this Conference are being ambushed by an agenda that is contrary to the beliefs and practices of our various Provinces. We have come to this Conference to share ideas on critical issues in the development of our continent and provide spiritual and moral leadership for our people.

Any thought of abandoning our Communion with any member of the body will hurt; for when one part of the body is injured the whole suffers. CAPA must not be used as a pawn in battles it is not party too. CAPA as you all know is not an organ of the Anglican Communion but a fellowship of Provinces of Africa. Therefore, issues of doctrine are better addressed as it has always been by individual provinces.


Want to have your say?

Comment below or visit

our companion blogsite: http://anglican-information.blogspot.com


Incompatible with the Covenant 4

An early shrine with the locally popular dedication 'To Our Lady of the Vacant Spaces', Deception Island. This is a possible site for the new Cathedral, construction of which has yet to begin.


Incompatible with the Covenant ~ One ~ Two ~ Three ~ Four

Briefing Paper for the Primate of the Province of Antarctica, Archbishop of Deception

Prepared by PB

Private and Confidential


The adoption of the Covenant will mean that 'bonds of affection' will be replaced by covenanted bonds.

The Covenant is one part of more extensive change in the Communion in which power will be reallocated and the existing structures of the Communion will continue to be reformed. It is far from clear what the new arrangement will look like - nor what the place of the True South Churches will be in the new dispensation.

My brief was to examine what 'incompatible with the Covenant' (§§ 4.2.6, 4.2.7) might mean in the context of (a) possible adoption of the Anglican Covenant, (b) revised Anglican structures and (c) the shared conviction of the Church of the Antarctic that
the Church of England is (a) complicit in church blessings of same-sex marriage and (b) dishonest in that the highest levels of the Church deliberately fail to acknowledge and/or regulate the reality on the ground. (previously reported here)

1) The quality of Covenanted Communion

(The Introduction is not considered in this paper because of its uncertain status. See reflections here.)

a) as verb
To covenant is a matter of 'affirmations and commitments' (Preamble). It is to be moving 'into a more fully developed communion life' (§2.1.2) in which we are called to 'pursue all things that make for peace and build up our common life' (§3.1.1; see also, §4.1.1). It is done cheerfully (Declaration).

The basic consequence of signing is:
In adopting the Covenant for itself, each Church recognises in the preceding sections a statement of faith, mission and interdependence of life which is consistent with its own life and with the doctrine and practice of the Christian faith as it has received them. It recognises these elements as foundational for the life of the Anglican Communion and therefore for the relationships among the covenanting Churches. (§4.1.2)
b) our present communion
Communion lies in: membership of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under one God (§1.1.1). Within that wide ocean, Anglicans to share a particular current of common historic inheritance in the articulation and expression of faith and church order (§1.1.2-1.1.8). [And/Or] our unity lies in our 'participation in Baptism and Eucharist' (§3.1.1).

Communion is purposeful: we are a communion in order to declare and enact God's sovereignty and redemption (§2.1.1). Thankful for what we have received we are also repentant at our falling-short (§2.1.2-3). We are a missionary church engaged with Christ in 'establishing Christ's reign.' (§2.1.4) - and ecumenical in both senses (§2.1.5).

Communion is a fact: we are 'a world-wide family of interdependent churches' (§2.1.4), a 'Communion of Churches' (§3.1.2; also §4.1.1).

c) the means of communion
Communion is retained and enacted through the Instruments of Communion, mutual loyalty and the wise advice of bishops in council (§§3.1.2, 3.1.4). Bishops locally embody unity, facing towards both the global and the local church, exercising that episcopacy personally, collegially within the eucharistic community (§3.1.3).

In particular: the Instruments of Communion are important in assisting our 'discernment, articulation and exercise of our shared faith and common life and mission.' Indeed, 'Each Instrument may initiate and commend a process of discernment and a direction for the Communion and its Churches.' (§3.1.4)

Our communion together is complex and multi-layered and the Instruments 'express' 'co-operative service in the life of the communion.' (§3.1.4).

d) our present differences
We are drawn from “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev 7.9) (Preamble; 2.1.1) and each Church is autonomous (§§3.1.2, 3.2.1, 4.1.3).

Covenanting together and being a member of the Instruments of Communion are not inherently the same (§4.1.5, 4.3.1).

e) disCovenanting
Any signatory may leave voluntarily, but there may be consequences (§4.3).

2) The commitments of Covenanting
Approximately half of the Covenant text expresses the commitments which signatories accept as they sign.

a) commitment to continue as at present
§1.2.1 - §1.2.6 commits each Church to continue its faithful existence with a proper balance of tradition and renewal, conservatism and prophecy, similarly §2.2.1 - §2.2.5 commits each Church to continue its evangelization and mission.

§3.2.2 restates the continuing nub of the problem. Churches, as now, commit themselves:
to respect the constitutional autonomy of all of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, while upholding our mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ, and the responsibility of each to the Communion as a whole.
b) commitment to change
Signatories commit themselves to remain in communion 'in accordance with existing canonical disciplines' [meaning and implication uncertain to me] towards ecumenical unity, whilst also seeking what is new within Christian truth (§§2.1.7, 2.1.8).

The manner in which autonomy and mutual responsibility are to be expressed (§§3.2.3-3.2.7) is the core of the Covenant. Some statements reiterate existing presuppositions (even if honoured in the breach) whilst others are new.

Differences should be explored with shared 'prayer, study and debate' marked by 'openness' and 'patience' and innovations tested by 'shared discernment' (§3.2.3). The goal is to find 'a shared mind' which will be based on received faith and canon law and which will be found through 'wide consultation' with other Churches and with the Instruments of Communion [as though the Instruments were additional to and distinct from the Churches] (§3.2.4).

On anything potentially threatening to the unity of the Communion Churches are to act with 'diligence, care and caution' (§3.2.5). Where such circumspection fails and conflict ensues Churches are to engaged in structured mediation (§3.2.6). At all times the goal is the 'highest degree of communion possible.' (§3.2.7).

Finally, the biggest changes are outlined in §4.2 on maintaining the Covenant and resolving disputes.

§4.2.1 replaces the 'bonds of affection' with the bonds of the covenant-contract. [The relationship with membership of the ACC as constitutional membership of the Communion is not addressed here.]

In §4.2.2 responsibility for monitoring the working of the Covenant (and thus the Communion) is accorded to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (SCAC), described as 'responsible to' the ACC and Primates' Meeting, which may draw on other assistance as it requires.

§4.2.3 refers churches back to §3.2. When goodwill and mediation fail and a 'shared mind' has not been attained the matter is referred back to the SCAC. It shall also seek agreement, seeking help for elsewhere as appropriate and, if it wishes, seeking advice from the ACC and Primates' Meeting.

§4.2.5 enables the SCAC to request a deferral of a contested action (or, presumably, decision). However,
If a Church declines to defer such action, the Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which may specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument until the completion of the process set out below.
By §4.2.6 The SCAC, on advice from the ACC and Primates' Meeting, may declare that an action or decision 'is or would be "incompatible with the Covenant".' (inverted commas in original) [note: it is not the Church that is declared incompatible].

Thereafter (§4.2.7) 'relational consequences' may follow. The SCAC may recommend certain consequences either to Churches or to Instruments of Communion [apparently not to both groups]. It is up to those Churches or Instruments of Communion to take such action as they see fit.

§4.2.8 & §4.2.9 are procedural clauses. §4.2.8 limits who on the SCAC may adjudge incompatibility with the Covenant [of questionable legality] and §4.2.9 sets up an office in each Church responsible for Covenant matters [under Archdeacon Penguin in our case].

3) Critique of Covenanted Communion
The author has made extensive and sustain criticisms of the Covenant and its predecessors (see here) Re-reading has not altered his views but has, if anything, suggested further layers of difficulty.

However the key question for this briefing paper is:
What would constitute 'incompatible with the Covenant'?
This narrower question has no easy answer. No specific grounds for incompatibility are spelled out in the Covenant itself. Probable incompatibility would arise where:
  • A Church refuses to defer a controversial action (§4.2.5)
  • A Church has not respected the constitutional autonomy of another Church in the Communion (§3.2.2) [The offended Church does not appear to be limited to those Churches which have themselves signed the Covenant.]
  • A Church has acted secretly and without proper prayer and reflection (§3.2.3), recklessly, precipitately or in a manner careless of its impact on others (§3.2.5) and/or without wide consultation (§3.2.4).
  • A Church refuses to engage in mediation (§3.2.6)
Incompatibility is determined when the SCAC, on advice from the ACC and Primates' Meeting, says there is incompatibility.

Therefore the issue dissolves into one of politics: if there is a sufficient majority (and no special majorities have been suggested in public) than an action or decision may be judged incompatible with the Covenant - and that may or may not be followed by action depending on the consequent decisions of Instruments of Communion and other member Churches.

Conversely, by §4.2.5, action against a Church may be taken before there has been a formal finding of incompatibility. Recent actions (here 'recent developments in the Communion') against TEC and possibly other Churches by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the General Secretary suggest that the SCAC do not need to assent to, or even be consulted on, such action.

The presence of the Covenant will in some ways compound the political process:
  • The Covenant is largely procedural - procedures used to sustain unity can be (will be) the procedures used to challenge and disrupt unity.
  • Clarifying (albeit insufficiently) some of the process by which sanctions may be applied to errant or offending churches also identifies the locations where those decisions are made. The politics to control those locations will be intensified. The resilience of the Communion stemming from its distributed centres of power and authority is reduced to the extent that decision making is centralised: mechanisms intended to unify the Communion will make it easier to split the Communion.
  • Conversely the autonomy of member churches means (as is the case now) that some Churches may decide to implement recommended sanctions and others not. The likely consequences are (a) that the Instruments of Communion, not Churches, are much more likely to be asked to impose sanctions, or (b) that the threshold for applying sanctions is almost complete unanimity of member Churches and thus almost unattainable, or (c) autonomous Churches make their own different decisions and the covenanted communion crumbles.
The Covenant is generalised and key concepts are vague. This is deliberate and necessary in order that the Covenant be accepted by as many Churches as possible. However it opens the door to considerable refinement and elaboration once the Covenant is adopted. This will mean, first, that the direction of travel will be towards ever more law-like governance of the Communion and second that those asked to draw up such statements will be disproportionately influential.

Most fundamentally, what does 'a shared mind' mean? Who decides what's shared? By what mechanism is a shared mind determined - by a majority vote of the Primates, by three-quarters of the ACC, by the Archbishop of Canterbury and General Secretary acting in concert? In the context of disagreement and self-evident lack of shared mind this question is pivotal.

Finally, the Covenant is almost wholly focused on retaining unity by tipping the balance of relationships between Provinces towards greater central co-ordination. In so doing it vindicates the charge of those who accuse the Anglican Church of making unity a greater value than truth or justice. Serious, Communion-splitting disputes, invariably entail the promotion of (perceived) truth over unity. The Covenant may enable the Communion to take retrospective action against participants in the current dispute; it will not protect it against the next one.

What is 'incompatible with the Covenant' is (a) what key people say is incompatible or (b) what a sufficient vote says is incompatible.

It is not the Covenant alone but the combination of the Covenant with the strengthened SCAC and the (so far unspecified) future changes to the ACC's committee structure (reported here: 'General Secretary's Report') which is critical.

  1. That Archdeacon Penguin, in his capacity as Covenant Link Penguin, keep a careful record of all reported statements and formal documents which detail, explain, modulate or clarify the meaning of words, concepts and procedures of the Covenant - they will steadily accumulate into persuasive case law.
  2. That the Province of Antarctica adopt a political approach to the Church of England's apparent lack of honesty concerning same-sex relationships within the Church.
  3. That more of our Penguins be trained and enabled to participate in the decision making nodes of the Anglican Communion and its regional bodies with a clear mission of implementing the decisions and programme of the Province of Antarctica. We will need more lawyers.
It is time that the voice of the True South Anglican Church is heard all the way from Deception to Lambeth Palace.


Donations to the Archbishop's Appeal to build and endow a beautiful Cathedral on Deception Island may be made through PayPenguin or by cash or fishing vouchers. We are very grateful to our ecumenical partners for their offers of help and other suggestions.

The Cathedral will be dedicated to Saints Jude and Thomas More.


Incompatible with the Covenant ~ One ~ Two ~ Three ~ Four


The exercise of power

Design Indaba, Capetown

I am pleased to see the new openness - see Day 1 and following - of the SCAC. It must have felt like this while looking through a peep-hole at the priest celebrating mass in mediaeval churches.

It is clear that power in the Anglican Communion is now located in the Standing Committee - but it is not so clear that power is being exercised there.

Given that the account of the SCAC meeting was designed to obscure as much as it revealed there is little evident between the lines. Watch out for Jan Butter, the new Director of Communications. His skill in obfuscation is highly honed and he can expect a job anywhere in the Anglican Church - and a good few other organizations as well.

But it is possible to read some things between the lines. This can only be speculative - though what else is the blogosphere for - but it seems to me that (1) there is insufficient clarity about the purpose and function of the committee, (2) there is confusion between representation and executive functions, and (3) much power is exercised elsewhere.

A mini ACC?
The ACC was intended and is constructed as a consultative body (hence its name), not as a parliament. Its Standing Committee looks and feels like the ACC in minature rather than a body whose members were chosen because of their executive capabilities.

For example, much like an ACC meeting, a large amount of time was given to presentations of work done by various ministries and networks. It wasn't clear whether this was because the presentations raised particular policy questions or required key decisions. Maybe they did and it just wasn't reported. But if not, what were the presentations for? This is not a new group of people and members can surely be kept informed of what's happening by email / paper. There may well be reasons for calling officers in to address issues face-to-face. But a programme of presentations per se is a distraction technique. It keeps people informed of action based on decisions taken previously and elsewhere.

There was also no sense that this aggregation of agencies were working to, or could be measured against, a single plan. How is the SCAC supposed to be an executive without a clear framework to measure both progress and direction of travel?

Exercising power in the SCAC
The key question is: at what level of significance are members of the SCAC required to assent to (and thus have the power to veto) policy decisions in relation to the Communion's ministries, networks and other initiatives? Do they have to positively assent to new groups, or can they stop those once created? If they don't make decisions beforehand they do not exercise power.

The most obvious point which showed the SCAC's lack of power, and also their annoyance with that fact, was the exclusion of TEC from some of the Anglican agencies:

Recent developments in the Communion

There was an opportunity for members of the Committee to express their views and ask questions about the decision to remove or alter the status of members from one province serving on the Anglican Communion’s ecumenical dialogues and IASCUFO. The Archbishop of Canterbury and Secretary General Kenneth Kearon explained the rationale behind this decision. In particular the Committee was assured that the Archbishop had not acted unilaterally but with the support of the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion; that they had acted within their powers; and that the action had not been punitive in intention. Rather it had been taken—following the breaking of the agreed moratoria—in response to the needs of the Communion in respect to ecumenical dialogues and faith and order bodies. Committee members were told that other Provinces were under consideration. (Day 1)

The Committee are told in terms that they may express views and ask questions. Great, so can I, even if I can't ask questions in person. And I would not be reassured by the assertion that the decision had not been taken unilaterally but by two people. President and Chief Executive acting together can hardly be construed as action by two people who come to the same conclusion by independent routes. The Committee are effectively being told, in the last line, to keep off the grass - they will be informed but neither consulted nor given a veto.

And just what are powers by which the President and Chief Executive acted - what is their source, where are they set out, how far do they extend, how may the exercise of those powers be scrutinised, evaluated?

(Presumably the statement of an absence of a punitive intention is intended to convey both that the action was nicer than had its motivation been otherwise, and that the perception of being punished is of no concern to those who took the decision.)

The most explicit attempt to exercise power was the attempt by Dato Stephen Isaacs to exclude TEC from the ACC by, in effect, a private member's motion (Day 2 and Day 4). (Mark Harris exploded, accusing the SCAC of 'usurping powers not its own' here.)

On Day 2 the proposal was defeated, on Day 4 it was revisited. Phillip Aspinall asserted that the SCAC did not have the power to make such a decision (though this did not, apparently, stop them voting on it).
It was also stated that the Standing Committee did not have all the powers of the ACC, especially when it came to the Membership Schedule.
Nonetheless the ACC membership was in fact the most noticeable omission for the agenda. Resolution 14.37 of the last ACC asked the Standing Committee to consider the entry of the Spanish Episcopal Church and the Lusitanian Church (which, incidentally, opposes the Covenant), and to review relationships with all extra-Provincial jurisdictions with the ACC (ACNA?). This has the potential to significantly reshape the ACC. You would have thought that there would have been a passing reference - or perhaps there was, but it was just omitted from the public record.

The SCAC may not have the power to decide membership but it clearly has the power to do everything up to the point of decision.

If the SCAC remains a mini-ACC, more deliberative than decisive, then it will not exercise the powers nominally located with it. Executive power still has to be exercised - and on present evidence it looks as though it will be exercised by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General in concert.

Perhaps the most significant discussion (on Day 2) was sparked by Kenneth Kearon's report.
He concluded by noting that the credibility of the Primates' Meeting and the ACC was being openly questioned by some and this criticism was increasingly focused on the Standing Committee itself.
'By some?' By ex-members of the SCAC itself, perhaps; by leaders of the Global South, by Archbishop Orombi here? I doubt that the blogosphere alone would be sufficient to perturb the Committee (it certainly shouldn't).

'Credibility' is an interesting term - presumably not in the sense that the SCAC can't be believed but in the sense that its survivability is in question. I would think 'legitimacy' was a more accurate word.

The recorded responses to the questioning of their credibility were revealing. First, from the ACC Chair James Tengatenga: reaffirm the representative and elected nature of the ACC. Second, from the ACC Vice-Chair Elizabeth Paver: renew trust in the ACC through greater openness and better communications. Both miss the point. It is entirely possible to be a representative body and lose legitimacy. Better PR is important but legitimacy depends on substance, not presentation.

One key aspect of legitimacy in a representative body is the continuing relationship between those elected and their constituency. Presumably the constituency of ACC members is their electorate - the governing bodies of each province (I'm guessing). However the new constitution has been brought in over several years by private conversations between ACC representatives and (to judge by the CofE's actions and the secrecy which surrounded it) a very few of the most senior leaders and advisers in each province. There is a proper place for confidentiality in any organization. But on a matter as basic as the rules by which the organization works such secrecy seems wholly inappropriate. It has broken or evaded the presumed relationship between elector and elected. No wonder questions of credibility and legitimacy are raised.

Second, we do not live in harmonious times. And, in all probability, never will. In such a setting official communications quite properly seek to be a studiously neutral in respect of the contentious issues and contending parties. The consequence is that official publicity is always, necessarily, bland and neutered. It cannot address exactly those issues that its audience wants addressing because those issues are the substance of the dispute.

Credibility and legitimacy will only be restored by both building a relationship between ACC members and their sponsoring provinces in a way which is much more extensive than it is at present (at least in the CofE). Each delegate should be explaining and selling both the Communion and the participation of all Orders in its governance. There should be an active education programme reaching into the parishes. Official publicity can never restore faith in a body once undermined.

But the fact is that some people will only trust the ACC if it abjures homosexuality and damns those who refuse. Others will only trust the ACC if it accepts homosexuals as full people before God. But a representative body (in full or in miniature) merely brings together in one room such incompatible views. Therefore it is highly unlikely it can ever be an effective executive.

The next big change

Archbishop Rowan Williams questioned whether the ACC's committee structure was appropriate for this new century. He said questions needed asking about whether revised Instrument structures were required to better foster the relationship-building parts of the Communion's life, "so when it comes to looking at the complex questions of the Communion we have a better foundation upon which to build."

Later in the meeting, the Committee asked a small group of Standing Committee members to prepare a proposal for ACC-15 on undertaking a strategic review and planning process relating to ACC membership and meetings and Standing Committee structure and operation.

Now this is going to be fun. On past evidence most of the discussion will happen underwater - invisible to all but the most practiced Anglican divers. ACC 15 will see an outline and a limited version may be made public, but no-one in the swim will want the whole matter debated in public.

Perhaps this is a real power of the SCAC. Not the executive power which Williams, Kearon and the ACO seem determined to retain, but considerable influence on shaping the questions and the course of debate.

There is just one hint of hope, however, expressed as 'continuing indaba'. If this is to be the future of the Communion - carry on talking - and structures are reshaped to support and foster continued conversation then there may be hope for good things from and for the Communion.

What are the odds?


A couple of covenant comments

Jonathan Clatworthy
A (very) brief lull in the weather has allowed me to put my head out of the hut and look around.

I was delighted to see Jonathan Clatworthy's article in the Guardian No covenant please, we're Anglican and subsequent coverage. The comments (I gave up after a while) didn't seem to add much depth to debate.

I was also intrigued to read Stephen Noll's paper Communion Governance: A revised Anglican Covenant (.pdf). He says,
Events of the past twelve years since the 1998 Lambeth Conference have made it increasingly clear that the Anglican Communion, lacking coherent doctrine or effective discipline, cannot continue in its present form. The idea of an Anglican Communion Covenant as a remedy for the present lawlessness (politely termed “ecclesial deficit” by the Windsor Continuation Group) ... (p2)
Since 1998, and to some degree before then, the Communion has come to be conceived as a single entity lacking central governance. But it was never intended to be such - it grew as a federation of Churches each of which had, and safeguarded, its own coherent doctrine and effective discipline - accepting the differences in both from one province to another. That it was 'lawless' was not a criticism, merely a statement of the obvious. Each member had plenary jurisdiction and law; the Communion never had jurisdiction.

Nonetheless the mood changed. The federal structure (in the shape of the Eames Commission) sought an answer to the dissatisfaction of some by creating a tighter, more unitary structure - and the covenant mechanism can only move in that centralising direction. The SCAC reinforced it. The Anglican Communion is now thought of as a single body which ought to have the apparatus of a single body to make the idea real.

Noll would also disentangle the Archbishop of Canterbury from the Church of England (p.6). As I thought (here) the relationship between the two will inevitably have to be rethought as the Communion changes.

But the most significant fact is that Noll is offering an alternative covenant to the Global South. That is, the mechanism designed to bring us all together, apart from TEC and the Canadians, obviously, is equally available to every one else. Just write your own covenant and persuade as many people as possible to sign up. The one with the most signatures wins.

Noll commends his proposal to the Global South. There is good reason to think that many will applaud it. But 'One thing I have learned in the Anglican world: theologians may propose, but bishops will dispose.' (p. 9). Or, being translated, it's all a matter of power.

I haven't had time to look though the SCAC's Memorandum and Articles. In principle I think its a perfectly logical and sensible idea to constitute the ACC as a charitable company - not least because of the personal liability carried by the individual trustees of an unincorporated association. The costs are such that, should the Communion go bust, individuals could have been wholly impoverished.

But too much was left unsaid by Canon Rees in his, somewhat artificial, Q&A session put out by ACNS.

I'm not going to duplicate the comments raised by Thinking Anglicans on Rees' attitude to equalities legislation - though I would point you to an old article by Riazat Butt Is the Church of England above the law? (Which has a much nicer picture of her than the one the Guardian usually uses.)

As to why be a charity - the obvious answer is that international bodies need to be something and governed by some law located somewhere. So why not? But as to the tax benefits - this only applies to donors who pay tax in the UK. Would it not have been more profitable to set up under US law, on the grounds that more money comes from the US than any other single country? Or would that have been a little inept politically?

When asked whether the changes have been made following due process, he says

'It’s good to see that there are Anglicans out there who care that things are being done properly.'

Which I think is a bit unnecessary. He doesn't then explain the long secrecy which shrouded the implementation of the new constitution.

But to say that the suggestion that the new Constitution gives the SCAC more powers is 'very wide of the mark' is disingenuous. It may very well be that the committee will be very careful of their relations with the ABC and Primates' meeting - but the fact remains that power is explicitly concentrated in the Standing Committee. It has, for example, all the assets and liabilities of the ACC (Resolution 3.d, 2005) and has, by law, plenary responsibility for the charity. Perhaps this is not such a big change as commentators from outside the ACC, catching up with alterations planned since 1999, may like to think - but it is significant executive power.


Confidential memo leaked

Look-out Peak, facing north

The Anglican Province of the Antarctic
The only Anglican Church which circles the world

From the Office of the Primate

~ Confidential - for internal use only - not for publication ~

The Anglican Province of the Antarctic strongly supports the proposal to have eight representatives of the Primates Meeting on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.
  • This will give Primates their proper weight in the councils of the Communion (almost half the votes).
  • As voting for Primates' representation is by region this will mean each primatial member is chosen by 4 or 5 people (if equally distributed). If we can persuade Australia into the south-east Asia group then it should be a simple matter to ensure Antarctic membership on the SCAC.
  • Any group of trustees requires the strength and resilience given by the appropriate skill-set of its membership. It is therefore appropriate and important for the governance of the Communion to ensure that the sagacity, stability, experience, piety, learning and vision of the Primates should predominate. It will also help to have the ability to deliver provincial assent to decisions. As the proverb says, the leaders of the most important ships should be able to see from the highest icebergs.
membership of the SCAC will also enable the Province of the Antarctic to play its proper role in the leadership of the Communion. Once on the SCAC (and assuming membership rises to 19) it will only be necessary to convince 9 other people to back our campaign to declare the Church of England incompatible with the Communion.

(I'm assuming a simple majority is all that is required. If, as seems possible, what is really required is to persuade Kenneth Kearon, then our task may be more difficult.)

1) To date it would seem as though the SCAC may act as though the Covenant is already in place and, on the other hand, could act in ways which ignored the Covenant once it was in place. As realpolitik is much more important that formal agreements the Province of the Antarctic should be as close as possible to the actual locations of power.

2) It is unfortunate that the Primates have already lost two-fifths of their representation on the SCAC. We are not a group of people inclined to walk off the stage for trivial reasons. However eight primatial members will enable us to absorb such resignations more easily giving the body greater organizational resilience.

3) The suggestion, in some quarters, that this will give me a summer and winter holiday in the north, travel costs paid, is cynical and strongly deprecated.

4) Similarly, the view that this is a second best solution, compensation for those who lost the battle for the Primates' Meeting to govern the working of the Covenant , is a canard that should be squashed immediately.


A personal note: I apologise for the lack of memos recently caused by the prevailing weather and consequent white-outs. It is not easy to see when future breaks in the weather will occur but, after all, it is mid-winter.


Central African Province on collision course with Anglican Communion?

Hastings Kamuzu Banda - First President Ngwazi of Malawi


Anglican Communion matters: Bishop James Tengatenga of the Diocese of South Malawi, fresh from his six month sabbatical study leave in the United States, has been attending the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council of which he is the Chair. This 15 member Committee, meeting in London 24th -28th July, is now in uncharted and controversial waters as it takes on a wider executive role in the Anglican Communion. It has been much engrossed with its own future as well as wrestling with the resignation of three ‘Global South’ Archbishop representatives including Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda.

Tengatenga is now in an awkward position in that the acting Dean of the Central African Province, the Rt Rev’d Albert Chama has recently endorsed the schismatic sections of the Global South movement on the part of the Central African Province. This places him, the Province and James Tengatenga on a potential collision course.

In the meantime the priests and people of the Diocese of South Malawi await the administrations of their bishop whose long absence is causing disquiet.

Malawi, Diocese of Upper Shire: The award of an honour to one of Malawi’s longest serving and most venerable priests has been greeted with pleasure. In a wise and welcome move Bishop Brighton Malasa of Upper Shire Diocese has recognised one of his senior priests with an announcement that the Rev’d John Mandambwe is to be made Canon of the Cathedral.

Fr Mandambwe, a resident of Malindi and who is now in his eighties, has served as a priest under six bishops. A onetime soldier in the Second World War King’s Africa Rifles, his exceptional and long service to the Anglican Church in Malawi and the diocese of Upper Shire has finally been recognised with this well-deserved honour.

Zimbabwe, Diocese of Harare: No change, reports continue to arrive of intimidation of loyal Anglicans by the police on behalf of the Nolbert Kunonga faction and the barring of church premises. Roy Bennett, politician and MDC treasurer who was recently acquitted of trumped up treason charges that led to his arrest, has rightly assessed the current situation. A ‘military junta’, said Bennett, now rules Zimbabwe, with 86 year old President Robert Mugabe little more than a figurehead. ‘I honestly believe that Robert Mugabe … half the things that are going on he has no idea about’ he is quoted as saying in a recent BBC interview.

ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes the increasing similarities in Zimbabwe with the regime of Malawi’s President Hastings Banda from 1966 – 1993. Banda started well as the Ngwazi ‘chief of chiefs’ President, a hero of the people, but in later life his regime descended into one of tyranny and intimidation. He purportedly died aged 99 or 101 years of age. In terms of potential inheritance Robert Mugabe’s mother lived until she was 92.

It seems that longevity in these cases accompanies dictators whilst
life expectancy in Zimbabwe (once one of the most prosperous of African countries) is now 34 for women and 37 for men, the lowest in the world.

Want to have your say?

Comment below or visit our companion blogsite: