Bishop David Anderson asked me to post this information clarifying the role of the AAC in the new province:
With the formation of Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which is a coming together of Anglican judicatories under an Archbishop, it leaves two of its sponsoring organizations in a here and there situation. Both the Forward In Faith-North America (FIFNA) and the American Anglican Council (AAC) are advocacy and affinity organizations that overlay actual ecclesial judicatories, and although both are presently headed by bishops, the bishops and the members are all embedded in separate actual church structures.
The AAC since its inception in 1996 has worked for reform and renewal in the church. At first it was limited to reform and renewal in the Episcopal Church once referred to as ECUSA, and now more recently as TEC, but since the theological troubles of the last five or so years the AAC has broadened its scope to the entire Anglican Communion, since these are finally Anglican Communion issues.
Presently a fair number of our AAC Board of Trustees, parish affiliates and general membership of individual lay and clergy are in still in TEC and will most likely remain in TEC for the foreseeable future. The ministry and work of the AAC is built to encompass their needs as well as those who are not a part of TEC. Recently the AAC created a specific “Episcopal Church Desk” to handle the issues that were specific to TEC, provide a direct channel for questions and issue to be raised, and to assist with planning for the AAC
having once again a presence at the Episcopal Church General Convention in Anaheim this summer. Additionally the Vice-President of the AAC, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, Diocesan Bishop of Springfield, will be the Bishop-liaison having chaplaincy to the “Episcopal Desk.”
The launch of the new Anglican Church in North America, an outgrowth of the Common Cause Partners Federation, has been positioned such that there is reasonable hope that Primates of the Anglican Communion, perhaps beginning with the GAFCON Primates’ Council, might begin to recognize the entity as a Province in the Anglican Communion. The Jerusalem gathering of GAFCON gave a call for such a new province to be formed, and the approval of a Provisional Constitution and Canons of the ACNA is seen as the beginning of this process.
Although the AAC is an original signatory to the Common Cause Partners document going back several years, it is in an unusual category because it is an advocacy organization that exercises a ministry of communication, education, ministry resource and parish advice and counsel and is not an ecclesial judicatory. Among the membership are bishops, priests, deacons and laity from a variety of Anglican affiliations, each of whom has an ecclesial home in an actual Anglican judicatory (parish, diocese, or denomination such
as the Reformed Episcopal Church). The AAC being a co-sponsor of the new hoped for province does not automatically change anyone within the AAC’s judicatory membership. In time as the ACNA expands and the Constitution and Canons move from provisional to permanent, parishes and dioceses from all over will have an opportunity to decide and enroll. The AAC as a ministry organization without an internal ecclesial structure does not obligate or move parishes or members into or out of TEC, into or out of Common Cause, or
into or out of the new ACNA. Bishop Beckwith and myself and the other bishops on the AAC Board of Trustees do not have our episcopal orders through the AAC but are and remain tied to the Anglican Provinces that hold our Letters. This means that some of our AAC bishops and members who are in TEC might well remain in TEC for the long term, and those who are in other judicatories might do the same, or might go through a time of dual membership with their sponsoring Province of the Communion and with ACNA as well. In any event, the AAC will keep its distinct and separate life as an advocacy organization working for the reform and renewal of the church, both in TEC and in the entire Anglican Communion.
Because some TEC bishops are hostile to members or congregations joining or remaining a part of the AAC because of our clear stand against the increasing heterodoxy of the Episcopal Church, a new type of membership is available, called “In Pectore,” which means in the heart. It will be an unpublished list of members who individually know that they are members, and we know that they are, but no one else but God knows that. This list will be treated as Top Sacred, realizing the danger that is present in TEC for the orthodox today in many dioceses.