Saturday, June 09, 2012
The ACNA-PEARUSA Partnership: Nothing to Celebrate
By Robin G. Jordan
The College of Bishops’ unanimous approval of the ACNA-PEARUSA Protocol at its Ridgecrest meeting this past week came as no surprise. The ACNA stands to benefit from the agreement the most. Compare the provisions of Section 4 of the Protocol with the provisions of the 2009 AMiA-ACNA Protocol.
2012 ACNA-PEARUSA Protocol:
“The Bishops of MD shall be elected and consecrated according to Title III, Canon 23, sections 3 and 4 of the Canons of PEAR with the General Assembly of the MD substituting for that of the Diocese. Consultation between the Primates of the Provinces as to candidates for election will take place prior to the election. The episcopal nominees selected from the General Assembly will meet with the ACNA College of Bishops who, after hearing testimony of faith and call to the office, will be given opportunity to declare their consent to the nominations. After this, the nominees will be considered by the PEAR House of Bishops for election. Duly elected MD bishops shall be seated in the ACNA College of Bishops upon consecration.”
2009 AMiA-ACNA Protocol:
“The Bishops of the Anglican Mission in the Americas are elected and consecrated in the Anglican Church of Rwanda. The names of the newly consecrated bishops are brought to the Council of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America to be welcomed and seated.”
Under the provisions of 2012 ACNA-PEARUSA the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and its College of Bishops must approve all nominations for the episcopate of the PEAR Missionary District in North America. Only nominees approved by the ACNA Archbishop and College of Bishops may be considered by the PEAR House of Bishops for election. Furthermore the nominees must come from the General Assembly of the Missionary District, in other words, they must be clergy of the Missionary District. A nominee cannot, for example, be a conservative evangelical rector or senior minister in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, a diocese of the Church of England, or even a diocese of the Anglican Church of Rwanda itself.
The provisions of Article 3, Section 5 of the proposed PEARUSA Canonical Charter for Ministry are even more troubling:
“Each regional network is overseen by a bishop. Ordinarily, candidates for the office of bishop will be proposed from among the presbyters within the regional network. The Network Assembly will propose two candidates for bishop to the PEARUSA College of Bishops. The PEARUSA College of Bishops, if they are in agreement, will recommend the two candidates to the House of Bishops of Rwanda for election. The House of Bishops of Rwanda will then elect one candidate as bishop. In the initial formation of a new network, or in a subsequent episcopal vacancy, the Archbishop of the Province of Rwanda, or his designate, will serve as bishop pro tempore for the network until the House of Bishops elects the network’s bishop. It is the responsibility of the Provincial House of Bishops to determine whether and how PEARUSA bishops are seated among them. With the consent of the College of Bishops, Regional Networks may nominate presbyters to serve as Missionary Bishops in an assisting or specialized capacity within the Regional Network. Such nominations should follow the same procedure outlined in this Section.”
Bishops play an important role in establishing and maintaining the theological climate of a diocese, the prevailing theological influence that characterizes the diocese, its clergy, and its congregations. Bishops decide who goes to seminary and where they go, who is ordained, who is licensed, and who becomes the rector of a parish in the diocese or the vicar of a mission in the diocese. They also decide who serves on key boards, commissions, committees, and taskforces.
In the 19th century the election or appointment of Anglo-Catholic bishops contributed to the spread of Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. In the 20th and 21st centuries the election or appointment of liberal bishops likewise contributed to the spread of liberalism in these provinces. The GAFCON Theological Resource Group in The Way, the Truth, and the Life identifies Anglo-Catholicism and liberalism as the two major challenges to the rule of the plain sense of Scripture and the classic formularies in the Anglican Church in the last two centuries. Anglo-Catholicism is well represented in the ACNA. While we tend to equate the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church USA with liberalism, liberalism also persists in the ACNA albeit in a milder form than in the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church USA.
The architect of the 2008 PEAR canons was Canon Kevin Donlan, an AMiA priest. Donlan, a former Roman Catholic, drew heavily upon the Roman Catholic Church’s 1983 Code of Canon Law in preparing the 2008 PEAR canons. The mode of choosing missionary bishops in 2008 PEAR canons was strongly influenced by that code. Donlan was also one of the architects of the ACNA constitution and canons; he championed the second mode of choosing bishops in the ACNA governing documents, which the ACNA canons promotes as the preferred mode. It is modeled upon that of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. It suffers from a serious drawback. It permits a party or group within an ecclesial body to dominate its episcopate and control the episcopal selection process. The choice of episcopal nominators in a diocese is limited to members of the party or group dominating the episcopal college or individuals acceptable to that party or group.
Under the provisions of the AMiA Canonical Charter for Ministry the Council of Missionary Bishops nominated candidates for the consideration of the PEAR House of Bishops. The approval of the Primatial Vicar was required for each nomination. Under the provisions of the proposed PEARUSA Canonical Charter for Ministry the Network Assembly of a Regional Network nominates candidates. These candidates must in turn be approved by the PEARUSA College of Bishops. This means two bodies of bishops—the PEARUSA College of Bishops and the ACNA College of Bishops—must approve a candidate before his name is presented to the PEAR House of Bishops for its consideration. This not only limits the authority of the PEAR House of Bishops but it gives whatever party or group that dominates the PEARUSA and ACNA episcopates the deciding voice and vote in who may become a PEARUSA bishop. There will be tremendous pressure upon the PEAR House of Bishops to elect one of the nominees in order to maintain the illusion of close relations between PEAR and the ACNA.
Conservative evangelicals in PEARUSA should be greatly troubled by the provisions of the protocol and the proposed charter. In partnering with the Anglican Church in North America PEARUSA has sealed the fate of traditional Anglican evangelicalism in North America: it has no future here.
An Appraisal of the Proposed PEARUSA Charter
An Appraisal of the ACNA-PEARUSA Protocol
Proposed PEARUSA Charter and ACNA-PEARUSA Protocol
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:41 PM