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Clarifying the Role of the AAC in the New Province

Friday, December 5, 2008 • 3:04 pm


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.


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Comments:

As one of the people that had expressed confusion about this, I’m glad Bishop Anderson has posted this here.  I hope this will put a rest to the notion that the AAC has given up on the Insiders because Outside is “All the Rage”. 

As for the last paragraph, I can’t help but start singing “Secret Anglican Man”.  grin

[1] Posted by AndrewA on 12-05-2008 at 05:16 PM • top

“...This list will be treated as Top Sacred, realizing the danger…”

Perhaps sacred in the meaning of set apart.  I’m assuming that it will be secret too.

wink

[2] Posted by tired on 12-05-2008 at 05:28 PM • top

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.

Oh my.  That is the way the Vatican consecrated Eastern European and Russian Bishops behind the iron curtain; secretly, with no published list of names.

To see the Episcopal Church treated—and rightly so!—like a cold war communist dictatorship breaks my heart.

[3] Posted by The Pilgrim on 12-05-2008 at 05:34 PM • top

The President and CEO of the AAC is a Bishop in a New Province severing from TEC. It is confusing therefore what role the AAC seeks to have inside a TEC they are severed from. Nevertheless this report from the President of the AAC minimally suggests that an explanation is needed. Could there also be a similar effort from the ACN, which likewise is sponsoring the New Province? What does the ACN now mean to be, in the light of the movement into a New Province? The ACN lists Bishops from TEC dioceses. Are these a part of the New Province now, or are they meant to have some liason role, consistent with what is being intimated for +Peter Beckwith and the AAC? Thanks.

[4] Posted by zebra on 12-05-2008 at 05:35 PM • top

It seems to me that since the AAC was never truly joined to TEC, they cannot either be severed from it.  As +Anderson frames it, they’re an advocacy group that once contained only TEC members, recently contained TEC and non-TEC members, and may continue to contain both categories.  I would assume that they see their role in TEC will continue to be “a ministry of communication, education, ministry resource and parish advice and counsel.” 

I concur that the place of the ACN now seems a bit murkier, but I suppose that will shake out soon enough.  Perhaps some members will simply terminate their membership.

[5] Posted by Connecticutian on 12-05-2008 at 05:47 PM • top

#5—AAC: whose CEO is a Bishop in a New Province severed from TEC. It would be good to know what the ACN now is as well. ‘Terminating’ would require a better sense of what the ACN now is in the light of the New Province. Your conclusion may be true. Grace and peace.

[6] Posted by zebra on 12-05-2008 at 05:51 PM • top

The Primates Council has released a statement…which should shed some light on the future of Anglicanism North America.

[7] Posted by Theodora on 12-05-2008 at 05:59 PM • top

From THE Primates Council:
We welcome the news of the North American Anglican Province in formation. We fully support this development with our prayer and blessing, since it demonstrates the determination of these faithful Christians to remain authentic Anglicans.

North American Anglicans have been tragically divided since 2003 when activities condemned by the clear teaching of Scripture and the vast majority of the Anglican Communion were publicly endorsed. This has left many Anglicans without a proper spiritual home. The steps taken to form the new Province are a necessary initiative. A new Province will draw together in unity many of those who wish to remain faithful to the teaching of God’s Word, and also create the highest level of fellowship possible with the wider Anglican Communion.

Furthermore, it releases the energy of many Anglican Christians to be involved in mission, free from the difficulties of remaining in fellowship with those who have so clearly disregarded the Word of God.

6th December, 2008 AD
GAFCON Communications Office, Sydney

[8] Posted by Theodora on 12-05-2008 at 06:05 PM • top

#6 - I understand, but the CEO could actually be you or me; he happens to be a bishop but without any episcopal authority over AAC members (unless they happen to also be in his jurisdiction).  He was not a bishop when he became CEO, I believe.

Re: ACN, I was never really clear on exactly what it was, but I’m a member because it was the best lifeboat option for me and the parish I belong(ed) to.  Speaking only for myself (no inside info or rumor implied), once the ACNA entity is final rather than provisional, it may be time to dissolve ACN as a body, and let AAC carry on its work among TEC via +Beckwith for those who insist on working through a bishop. wink

It wouldn’t surprise me to see AAC become the conduit for disaffected TEC members to migrate to ACNA; an ‘underground railroad’ of sorts.  While I understand you might frown upon that, and I don’t advocate that, it wouldn’t pain me, either.

[9] Posted by Connecticutian on 12-05-2008 at 06:14 PM • top

Connecticutian, the underground railroad analogy is a good one, and very accurate.

[10] Posted by Going Home on 12-05-2008 at 06:21 PM • top

This clarification is certainly helpful.  But then what does this mean: ‘AAC being a co-sponsor of the new hoped for province’. 

Maybe, like in the UN case with some NGAs, the AAC and similarly situated organizations should have requested something like ‘observer’ status & been granted such.

To 815 the signing this document is tantamount to treason.  Care for those who remain behind in TEC could have called for a bit more sensitivity by the powers that be in the AAC.

Peace,

[11] Posted by miserable sinner on 12-05-2008 at 06:22 PM • top

Rev. Prof Seitz:

Always a pleasure to see you blogging here with us members of the hoi polloi.

But, are relations between the ACI and the FedCons really so strained that you couldn’t have a quick call or private email exchange with +Anderson, Ashley+, or the AAC Communications Director to clear up your concerns & questions?  ACC email listings here I’m sure we’d all love to hear anything you would be willing to share from such an exchange. 

You are the President of the ACI after all. And c’mon, if +Anderson has time to communicate with Greg today, certainly he can’t be that busy. grin

Peace,

[12] Posted by miserable sinner on 12-05-2008 at 06:37 PM • top

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.

Is there a public list of AAC members anyway?

[13] Posted by Regressive Neanderthal on 12-05-2008 at 06:58 PM • top

13, Individual members, no.  But parishes, chapters, dioceses and ministry affiliates are listed on the AAC web site: http://www.americananglican.org/affiliates/

[14] Posted by Ralinda on 12-05-2008 at 07:46 PM • top

The President and CEO of the AAC is a Bishop in a New Province severing from TEC. It is confusing therefore what role the AAC seeks to have inside a TEC they are severed from.

AAC is not a diocese.  It has no obligation to be “Either TEC or Not”.  It is a ministry.  The International Red Cross is based in Geneva, yet it is active throughout the world.  The Daughters of the King contains Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, etc.

You are the President of the ACI after all. And c’mon, if +Anderson has time to communicate with Greg today, certainly he can’t be that busy.

Miserable Sinner, Bishop Anderson had time to communicate with me today, and I’m a nobody as far as all of this is concerned.  I was the one who suggested he send this to Greg. 

It wouldn’t surprise me to see AAC become the conduit for disaffected TEC members to migrate to ACNA; an ‘underground railroad’ of sorts.

No, not at all.  Being in AAC does not make you a member of ACNA.  There is no need for an “underground railroad” to secretly transfer memberships.  The point of the secret membership thing is for people in TEC wishing to stay in TEC who are operating in an environment where it is feared that public membership could result hostile responses.

The AAC still sees itself as an advocacy, fellowship and education organization.  Note that they are planning on having a visible presence at GenCon2009.

Furthermore, the AAC is NOT one of the “networks, dioceses or clusters” that will have voice and vote in the ACNA, in spite of my previously uninformed speculations.

The AAC is not and will not be a part of the ACNA.  The AAC is not nor has ever been a part of TEC.  The AAC is. 

I’m just wonder if the secret members get a free decoder ring.  grin

[15] Posted by AndrewA on 12-05-2008 at 08:33 PM • top

Meanwhile back at the ranch, it would be interesting to see what Seitz and Beckwith plan on doing about..
http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/18385/#309666

12. Susan Russell wrote:

What our Presiding Bishop makes clear is that after a decade of being blackmailed by the vocal minority who have insisted that they would leave if the LGBT baptized were fully included in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church, we are now free to get on with the work of incarnating God’s justice and living God’s love.

We will be looking for more and more diocesan conventions to pass resolutions affirming the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments of the church as we move toward our General Convention next summer in Anaheim. And once in Anaheim we will be looking for the Nat’l Episcopal Church to take some further steps forward on LGBT inclusion.

Lots to rejoice and be glad in this morning!

[16] Posted by AndrewA on 12-05-2008 at 10:18 PM • top

It would seem that some people are more interested in what province the AAC’s “CEO” is in then working together with them to counter the real threat.

[17] Posted by AndrewA on 12-05-2008 at 10:21 PM • top

No, not at all.  Being in AAC does not make you a member of ACNA.  There is no need for an “underground railroad” to secretly transfer memberships. 

Understood, I didn’t mean it that way, specifically WRT the secret membership.  I simply mean that an advocacy group that straddles both jurisdictions would be well-positioned to help disaffected TEC-ers discern their future in either body, and find their way and place in ACNA if that seems like their calling.  Much of that type of discussion and facilitation would be done “underground” in the sense that it would be discreet and quiet to avoid interference from any punitive-minded ecclesiastical authorities.

(Again, I don’t claim that this is AAC’s purpose or goal, just that it seems to me like a good fit.)

[18] Posted by Connecticutian on 12-05-2008 at 11:08 PM • top

Is he serious?  “Double secret” membership?  Seems neither useful nor Christian.

[19] Posted by DavidH on 12-06-2008 at 10:59 AM • top

BTW, I hope we will see a similar statement from the ACN, after consultation between all the current and former TEC dioceses that have made up the ACN.

If the ACN sees itself as still having a role within TEC, it would be a good idea for them to follow AAC’s example and appoint a bishop stil within TEC as the chief of their TEC branch.  Also, in my humble opinion, once Bishop Duncan’s role as the head of the ACNA is confirmed, he should step down from his role as moderator of ACN in order that he may give his full attention to the new church.  Another bishop, perhaps outside of TEC (Iker or Anderson, maybe?) or still in TEC (Love or Beckwith, perhaps) could take the reigns of moderator.

[20] Posted by AndrewA on 12-07-2008 at 09:48 AM • top

More from the AAC can be seen at
http://northernplainsanglicans.blogspot.com/2008/12/very-encouraging-word-to-episcopalians.html

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members and friends of AAC, in TEC, Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! With the formation of the Anglican Church in North America, a “Province in Formation,” many of you are asking, understandably, and with some concern, “What is to become of us who choose to remain in TEC?” What about those of us who are stuck in a heterodox Episcopal church? What about those of us who have had to affiliate for the moment with anothersort of church because there is no orthodox Anglican church in the ACNA within driving distance? Is our only option to stay where we are, in the furnace, and make our stand and our witness like Daniel’s friends?

First, on behalf of the AAC, let me assure you that we are here, just as we have been since our beginnings, to serve you. We understand the conscientious reasons why you have chosen to remain in TEC. We honor your decision. We pray for you. More than that, we stand with you, with resources to help you make your stand in Christ.

Secondly, we believe God has a strategy that involves more than just standing in the furnace and waiting for the fire to consume you. Look at Daniel and his friends, who faced a system and authority more idolatrous and lawless than TEC. They did not conform to the culture they were in,but instead they resolved to witness to it:
- by drawing a firm line in conformity with God’s word and not eating at the King’s table (Daniel 1:8),
- by learning as much as they could about Babylonian culture (Daniel1:3-4, 17),
- by being more excellent (“ten times better”) than anyone else in the kingdom (Daniel 1:18-20);
- by being consistent throughout many changes of leadership (Daniel1:21);
- by addressing hostile authorities directly, and with wisdom and tact (Daniel 2:14-16);
- by avoiding isolation, taking counsel and praying together (Daniel2:17-18);
- by asking God for discernment (Daniel 2:19);
- by resisting peer pressure, malicious accusations, the temptation to compromise, an unpredictable king, and even a delaying God (Daniel 3:1-18)

By following this strategy, God blessed them in the furnace, brought them out, and used their faithfulness to move unbelieving authorities to proclaim throughout the whole kingdom the uniqueness and sovereignty of our God, “for no other God can save in this way.” (Daniel 3:28-29)

[21] Posted by AndrewA on 12-07-2008 at 10:07 AM • top

AndrewA states:
Miserable Sinner, Bishop Anderson had time to communicate with me today, and I’m a nobody as far as all of this is concerned.  I was the one who suggested he send this to Greg. 

Thank you for your fine participation here and throwing yourself into the fray of late.  But you might want to review the role of smileys.  BTW, don’t grad students have better things to do in early December? grin
(see a smiley!)

Just another nobody and hoping none of us take ourselves too seriously while discussing such serious matters,

[22] Posted by miserable sinner on 12-07-2008 at 07:43 PM • top

BTW, don’t grad students have better things to do in early December?

What could possibly be more important then putting off my final paper?

[23] Posted by AndrewA on 12-07-2008 at 08:23 PM • top

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