Many various items and issues were discussed in the course of the meetings, but three stand out and bring into relief the process of reconciliation now underway.
First, the Group discussed the ongoing effort to evaluate and propose a united body of Canon Law for a future reunited Church. The 1993 Canons of the originally united Church are the basis for restoring an agreed body of Canons. Over the past year and a half, the Group has worked diligently to determine which Canons would best serve the needs of a reunited ecclesiastical structure. A proposed Constitution based on the original 1993 version has already been completed, and many of the Canons have been reviewed and accepted for future submission to the Synods of the Church. It is hoped that the entire Constitution and Canons will be completely reviewed and ready for future action before the end of this year. Of course, the Group’s role in this matter is only to propose. The Synods of the Churches must examine and accept by juridical process any proposed future changes.
Second, the Group reviewed action items already proposed and discussed at previous meetings. We hope to see a new joint website for news and information from the APA and ACA created soon. We continue to encourage joint events on the local level between parishes, deaneries, and Dioceses, and we encourage mutual participation in youth camps and other youth events. Wherever and whenever possible, we hope to witness an increase in mutual involvement and participation at every level of Church life. New ideas for promoting grass-roots shared ministry and friendship are forthcoming.
Third, the Group received a proposal for the creation of an Assembly of Bishops for the Traditional Anglican Church in the United States of America, a Continuing Church counterpart to the ‘Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America,’ in which the bishops would be in full sacramental communion with each other (communicatio in sacris) and bound by mutual love and commitment to working together as one body. In it, Dioceses and Provinces would remain autonomous and canonically self-determining. The bishops would consult with each, confer with one another, make decisions together, and speak with one voice to culture and society; they would be enabled to form, educate, and train clergy and laity together as one body. Evangelistic and missionary efforts, domestic and foreign, would not overlap but would be united and synchronised. Each Diocese or Province would pledge over time not to act in any major way without consultation and consensus with and through the others.
In the Assembly framework, no jurisdiction would lose its own territory or canonical authority. No Canons would have to be changed. No jurisdiction would be compelled institutionally to unite with another jurisdiction. Overlapping geographical jurisdictions would remain while a united Church could be forged. In the Assembly, bishops and jurisdictions would mutually recognise each other and agree together on which bishops and jurisdictions would or would not gain entrance into the body. The organisation of this Anglican Assembly would allow the jurisdictions to enter into full visible communion with each other and maintain agreed standards of discipline and mutual accountability while maintaining the jurisdictional independence of each participating body, an expansion and deepening of the current Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas.
All the APA and ACA bishops present at the Group meetings endorsed the creation of the Assembly. The proposal now moves to the Houses of Bishops of the founding jurisdictions for further consideration.
Please continue to pray for the members and the efforts of the Reconciliation Working Group.
God bless you! +Chad