Thursday, February 25, 2016

Together Under One Roof: Envisioning the New Province

By Robin G. Jordan

How could a second alternative North American Anglican province differ from the Anglican Church in North America? Here are nine ways that I envision the new province might be different from the ACNA. They are in no particular order.

1. The new province would embody in its formularies a degree of comprehensiveness consistent with the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. It would give a central place to the Holy Bible and the Anglican Formularies in the doctrine and worship of the province and would genuinely affirm the Jerusalem Declaration.

2. The new province would have a conventional syndodical form of ecclesiastical governance with a general synod and its standing committee serving as the principal governing body of the province. The general synod would consist of the bishops of the province and clergy and lay representatives from each missional community and congregation. The general synod’s standing committee would be elected by the general synod and would be accountable to the general synod and subject to its direction and supervision. It would perform such functions and exercise such authority as the general synod would assign to it.

3. The new province would make election by the judicatory its primary method of choosing bishops. It would permit election by a provincial episcopal selection committee for those occasions when a judicatory could not agree on a new bishop or when a judicatory failed to choose a new bishop within a specified period of time. The election of new bishops would be confirmed by vote of the general synod or by vote of the standing committees of the synods of several judicatories between sessions of the general synod.

Initially bishops would be elected by the general synod. As the new province grows and judicatories are formed, the election of their bishops would devolve to the judicatories.

4. The new province would limit the terms of its bishops, requiring a vote of a judicatory’s synod to extend the term of a bishop. It would limit the powers and prerogatives of its bishops to those expressly conveyed to them by its governing documents. Bishops, like other members of the clergy, would be bound by the provisions of the new province’s governing documents. How much discretion they could exercise and under what circumstances would be delineated in the same documents.

5. The bishops of the new province would not form a separate chamber in the general synod but would sit with the clergy and lay representatives in the general synod. When a vote is taken by orders, the bishops would vote with the other clergy.

6. The new province would have moderator or presiding bishop who would be elected by the general synod. The powers and prerogatives of this provincial officer would be limited to those expressly conveyed to him by its governing documents. The moderator or presiding bishop would have no metropolitical authority.

7. The new province would seek to reach and engage a much broader segment of North America’s unchurched population than the Anglican Church in North America. It would start new missional communities and congregations in small towns and rural areas as well as in cities and their suburbs. It would make substantial use of locally-trained licensed ministers in its evangelistic outreach and church planting strategy. A typical missional community or congregation would gather around God’s Word on Sunday or at another convenient time and then it would go back into the community to serve Christ. A major focus would be building bridges with the community and reaching and engaging the unchurched population in the community.

8. The new province’s Prayer Book would be based upon the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It would incorporate a number of the better features of the 1552 Prayer Book and more recent Anglican services books. The postures in the rubrics would be suggestions only. It would include a number of alternative forms of morning and evening worship that could be used in place of the services of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Holy Communion. It would also include guidelines for the development of local liturgies. The service of Baptism would be revised to reflect the biblical teaching that regeneration does not automatically or invariably accompany water baptism. The service of Baptism would include a rite for the admission of catechumens modeled upon that of the Church of South India.

9. The new province would have its own catechism which would reflect the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the Anglican Formularies, including the two Books of Homilies.

How else might a second alternative North American Anglican province differ from the ACNA? What are your thoughts?

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