Monday, June 25, 2012

A Conservative Evangelical View of the Anglican Church in North America—Part 4



By Robin G. Jordan

In this fourth and final article in my article series, “A Conservative Evangelical View of the Anglican Church in North America” I examine two other barriers to conservative evangelical participation in the ACNA—the provisions of the ACNA governing documents relating to property and finances. I also look at provisions of the ACNA model diocesan constitution that if they are adopted as worded in that document also raise a barrier to conservative evangelical participation.

Article XII of the constitution of the Anglican Church in North America permits a diocese or other grouping to hold the property of a local congregation in trust or other wise to lay claim to a local congregation’s property: “Where property is held in a different manner by any diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved.”

Canon I.6.6 of the canons of the ACNA reiterates the provisions of Article XII of the ACNA constitution word for word with one addition, “… neither may any Diocese assert any such claim over the property of any of its congregations without the express written consent of the congregation.” This addition amounts to an amendment to Article XII. It modifies Article XII, going beyond the scope of the article’s existing provisions. It should have been included in the constitution. It is one of a number of examples of where the Governance Task Force and the Provincial Committee have sought to change the provisions of the constitution without formally amending it. It permits a diocese or other group to assert a claim over the property of a local congregation if the local congregation consents to the claim in writing. Otherwise, Title I.6.6 is superfluous. There is no need to reiterate the provisions of the constitution in the canons.

The first sentence of Article XI of the ACNA model diocesan constitution states:

“All congregation property, real and personal, owned or held by or on behalf of a congregation which is a member of this Diocese is and shall be solely and exclusively owned by the congregation, free of any trust or other claim in favor of the Diocese or the Province.”

The second sentence of Article XI of the ACNA model diocesan constitution states:

“The provisions of Article XIII of the constitution of the ACNA are incorporated herein.”

This includes the provision, “Where property is held in a different manner by any diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved...,” which contradicts the first sentence of Article XI of the ACNA model diocesan constitution. There is no need to include this reference to Article XI of the ACNA constitution unless the intent was to deliberately modify the first sentence of Article XI of the ACNA model diocesan constitution. If that was the case, the modifying provisions should have been stated in full.

Article XIII of the ACNA constitution states, “Each member diocese… or any group of dioceses organized into a distinct jurisdiction agrees to share the cost of operating the Province as provided by canon.” The provisions of this article bind the dioceses and the groups of dioceses forming the ACNA to support the cost of its operation.

Canon I.9.1 of the ACNA canons establishes the biblical tithe as the minimum standard of giving to support the mission of the church, and directs tithing to be taught and encouraged at every level in the church. The guidelines for completion of the application form for recognition as an ACNA diocese give some idea of the level of giving the Governance Task Force and the Provincial Council would like to see at the local congregational and diocesan levels: “Congregations moving into new groupings are encouraged to give ten percent of local income to the new grouping, while each new grouping is encouraged to give ten percent of group income to the support of the cost of operating the Province.”

Canon I.9.2 directs the Executive Committee, with the Finance, Budget, and Stewardship Committee’s assistance, to develop the program and the budget of the church based on the dioceses’ commitments and other revenues. It further directs the Executive Committee to present the program and the budget annually to the Provincial Council for its adoption. The Finance, Budget, and Stewardship Committee is a rather pretension title for a finance committee. The choice of language in Canon I.9.2—“adoption” rather than “consideration” does not suggest that the Council has much leeway. There is nothing to suggest that the Council can make changes in the program and the budget. As Canon I.9.2 is presently worded, the Council appears to have no choice but approve the program and the budget.

Canon I.9.2 directs the Finance, Budget, and Stewardship Committee to consult with any diocese that is unable to meet the requested support of the church. It does not say anything about the nature of these consultations or where they might lead. Under the provisions of Article XIV a diocese or a group of dioceses organized into a distinct jurisdiction may be removed from membership in the ACNA after the Executive Committee has warned the diocese or the group of dioceses, and two-thirds of the members present and voting of the Provincial Council, which must include at least a majority in two of the three orders of bishops, clergy and laity, has agreed to its removal from membership. Canon I. 9.2 does not preclude the use of these provisions against a diocese or group of dioceses that do not meet their financial obligation to the ACNA.

Under the present constitution and canons of the Anglican Church in North America the diocese determines the extent that a local congregation is protected from seizure of its property. The ACNA governing documents do not prohibit dioceses from taking such action, only the province. Conservative evangelicals who join the Anglican Church in North America must not only check their beliefs and values at the door but they must also support bishops and rectors who do not share their views and whose views may conflict with their own. They are expected fund the establishment of churches that do not proclaim the New Testament gospel as they understand it. They are also expected to fund the training of clergy at institutions that do not teach what they believe and value. They are faced with a situation not far different from that which conservatives face in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, and the Episcopal Church in the USA.

The reduction or elimination of the barriers identified in this article series would require the repeal and replacement of the constitution and canons of the Anglican Church in North America and the revision of the ACNA model diocesan constitution and canons. A number of these barriers affect other conservative groups beside conservative evangelicals. It would be in the best interest of these groups to support a major rewriting of the ACNA governing documents along with a redrafting of the ACNA model diocesan governing documents. In a future article I will consider what steps conservative evangelicals and other conservative groups might take to bring about these much-needed reforms in the ACNA.

Related:
A Conservative Evangelical View of the Anglican Church in North America—Part 1
A Conservative Evangelical View of the Anglican Church in North America—Part 2
A Conservative Evangelical View of the Anglican Church in North America—Part 3

3 comments:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Anglo-catholicism in a postmodern sense are the peek of their misguided destruction. Summed in the form of asking Rome for a place in their church. In the traditional sense, and its use; anglo-Catholic means the term Catholic isn't worth it. At the same time, is anything better then the secularized, socialist Episcopal Church? And why do many think converting to Catholicism is the only viable option?

Robin G. Jordan said...

Or so the Roman Catholic media would have you believe, Mcgranor. The growing number of Roman Catholics who lapse from the faith or become Protestants, evangelical Protestants, mind you, not liberal mainline Episcopalians, largely goes unreported. Or is attributed to inadequate catechization. I was involved in an evangelical Protestant church that included a sizable number of former Roman Catholics in its congregation. Among the main reasons that they gave for leaving the Roman Catholic Church was that they found no real spiritual life in that church. My father's family are Irish Roman Catholics and I also lived in south Louisiana for a good part of my life. The Roman Catholic Church has a strong presence in south Louisiana. I am well-acquainted with the Roman Catholic Church, with its seamy side as well as the side that it prefers to show to the public. I don't know what those poor folks who are converting to Roman Catholicism hope to find in the Roman Catholic Church. It is not the safe haven that they think that it is.

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