FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2010 No: 6009 Church of England Newspaper
By Toby Cohen
SUPPORTERS OF the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) have been divided
by a proposed amendment to a motion which would have allowed General Synod
to give its support to the Americans next week.
Lay member Lorna Ashworth will move: "That this Synod express the desire
that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North
However, the House of Bishops has put forward the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt
Rev Mike Hill, to propose an amendment that will instead ask Synod to
recognise and affirm the desire of ACNA to remain in the Communion, and
invite the Archbishops to report back to the Synod in 2011.
Many supporters of ACNA hope the amendment will fail. The Bishop of
Blackburn, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, said: "I am hoping for a sign of early
support for ACNA, not a report coming back to Synod by the end of 2011!"
The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, said: "Lorna Ashworth's motion
is entirely satisfactory.
"All it is expressing is a desire to be in communion, and what on earth is
wrong with that? It seems to me that the House of Bishops' motion is just
needlessly undermining, delaying and prevaricating."
Other supporters of ACNA have been persuaded by the amendment.
The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said: "My name is
on the original motion of Lorna Ashworth's, and I'm happy that it was and
is, but I realise that it is more practical to ask the Synod to do something
that it really is in a position to do.
"It is not in fact the role of the Church of England to make these kind of
decisions, nor is it for Synod to make these kind of decisions. Therefore,
to enable the archbishops and the bishops and others to vote positively,
there needs to be an amendment like that which the Bishop of Bristol will be
"It does two things. It brings the motion in line with the constitutional
role and the canonical realities as to who actually makes these decisions.
At the same time it is a clear and positive affirmation of the character and
intentions and standpoint of the ACNA."
The move threatens to provoke tensions over the power balance between
bishops and Synod. Bishop Benn said: "The archbishops and the bishops are
the servants of the Church and the servants of the Synod, and it seems to me
that this puts the discretion for what will and will not be done back in the
hands of the archbishops, and actually it is entirely proper for the General
Synod to express the mind of the Church."
The vice chair of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings, said: "It would be
good if Bishop Michael's amendment were added to Lorna Ashworth's motion
rather than supplanting it, because it seems to me we want it all.
"I think it is appropriate that the archbishops should be exploring it. I
hope they do so expeditiously.
"The passage of time which is needed to explore all the intricacies is
tolerable provided that there has been a clear expression of intent - that
we recognise that ACNA is composed of people who have been Anglicans, who
are Anglicans and want to remain Anglicans.
I think it would be very unfortunate if Synod were not able to express its
mind on the giving of what is in effect moral support."
hat tip: Fr. Dick Kim