Friday, November 11, 2011

Choices Facing Anglican Mission Clergy and Congregations (Part 1)

By Robin G. Jordan

Anglican Mission clergy and congregations disconcerted by the revelations regarding the proposal for the restructuring of the Anglican Mission and the machinations behind the establishment of the existing structure and the abolition of the doctrinal norms and formularies of the Solemn Declaration may be weighing their options. One option is to withdraw from the Anglican Mission and affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America.

In making this decision they need to consider the problem areas and shortcomings of the ACNA. If they do choose that option, their best course would be to affiliate with the ACNA as a group, not individually. In this way they could preserve the commitment to Scripture and the classic formularies that characterized the early Anglican Mission, as well as to maintain existing relationships and to support and assist each other.

New works in the Anglican Mission are dependent upon funding from the national office. Unlike self-supporting congregations leaving the Anglican Mission for them would entail the loss of this funding. This would force some new works to remain in the new structure even though they are not happy with that structure and the ultra-Catholic doctrinal stance that will in all likelihood accompany it. For those who may not yet realize it, the 2007 Rwandan canons in effect did away with the Solemn Declaration, establishing Roman Catholic doctrine as Rwandan doctrine and Rwandan doctrine as Anglican Mission doctrine.

Canon Donlon’s aim appears to be to put the Anglican Mission on what may be described as an ultra-Catholic footing and to strengthen that footing. Bishop Murphy may belatedly realize that the doctrinal and structural changes will cost the Anglican Mission clergy and congregations and weaken the organization. But for the moment he appears to be supporting Donlon’s proposed restructuring of the Anglican Mission.

Those considering the option of affiliation with the ACNA would do well to establish their own organization with Scripture and the classic formularies as its doctrinal base. In this way they could help new works also leave the Anglican Mission. They would have a degree of leverage with the ACNA and could serve as a counter-balance to certain trends in the ACNA. They might seek a new protocol with the ACNA, in which the ACNA makes doctrinal and structural concessions to the former Anglican Mission clergy and congregations.

The ACNA is only a few steps behind the Anglican Mission. A founding entity of the ACNA is Forward in Faith North America, which has a similar agenda to Canon Donlon’s. It may not be coincidental that Donlon has given addresses to the FIFNA Assembly.

The ACNA shows a decided leaning toward prelacy. This stems in part from the need for certainty that for some people authoritative leadership meets and in part from the prevalence of the Anglo-Catholic view of bishops as a superior order to clergy and laity, vested by God with supreme authority over the church as successors to the apostles.

The doctrine and structure of the ACNA shows the influence of the 1983 Roman Catholic canons and 2007 Rwandan canons. The Provincial Assembly is modeled upon the Anglican Mission Winter Conference.

A high regard for constitutionalism and the rule of law does not characterize the ACNA leadership. The College of Bishops and the Archbishop’s Cabinet has been usurping the functions of the Provincial Council and its Executive Committee. The present Archbishop and Primate of the ACNA has arrogated to his office powers that the ACNA constitution and canons do not give to that office nor recognize as inherent in it.

Anglican Mission clergy and congregations opting to affiliate with the ACNA would be decidedly better off if they negotiated with the ACNA as a cluster of churches rather than as individual clergy and congregations. ACNA clergy and congregations committed to Scripture, the classic formularies, and the Great Commission might chose to join them, swelling their ranks and establishing the nucleus for a sub-province in the ACNA that truly embodies the tenets of Anglican orthodoxy laid out in The Jerusalem Declaration.

Related articles:
Joel Martin: Donlon Vs. Cranmer
The Anglican Mission Has More than One Option
The Rev. Dr. Kevin Donlon (AMiA) Responds to the Washington Statement
Further Revelations Related to Emerging Developments Affecting the Anglican Mission
A Proposal for the Revision of Canon 6
Rumors of Anglican Mission – Anglican Church of Rwanda Split Point to Other Serious Problems

More articles with links are listed at the end of the preceding article.

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