Fr. Dale Matson
In our liturgy yesterday we included the Archbishop of Canterbury in our “Prayers of the people” just as we have done for decades. As we did this, a recent article came to mind where ++Justin Welby stated that the ACNA is not in the Anglican Communion. http://anglicanink.com/article/canterbury-buries-instruments-unity.
“The ACNA is a “fellow member of the church of Christ in the world,” but added the “ACNA is a separate church. It is not part of the Anglican Communion.” I am not certain any longer what the process would be for ACNA to become a member of the Anglican Communion since the instruments of unity no longer seems to be functioning. A bishop can no longer be not invited to the Lambeth Conference if Lambeth is no longer scheduled to occur. I don't question the Archbishop’s right to make the statement and his accuracy. He has provided candor and clarity. This was something lacking in his predecessor.
When ACNA was first formed in June of 2009, I believe most of us hoped that we would be recognized by Canterbury as being a member province of the Anglican Communion. The fact that the primates that represented the majority of the Anglican Communion already recognized the ACNA was comforting and reassuring.
Much has happened since that time including the decisions made at the TEC General Convention of 2012. I began to wonder if we really wanted to become a part of Canterbury. This was now a Canterbury that condoned provinces where the leadership advocated unscriptural sexual relationships, a different missiology and a diminished Christology. In fact the leadership of these provinces were advocating a different gospel. I saw the Church of England apparently heading in the same direction partly because it had additional pressure to conform to societal pressure as the Established Church.
As I reread the final statement from GAFCON 2008 it included the following: “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship”. http://gafcon.org/news/gafcon_final_statement/
When the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) was formed, it seems to me now that it became a reconstituted form of Anglicanism. The ACNA had not been formed yet but is now a member of the FCA. We are the first fruits of the realignment called the FCA. So it seems to me that some FCA members have a dual citizenship (Canterbury and FCA) and some FCA members are not dual citizens, for example the ACNA.
This brings me back to this past Sunday and our “Prayers of the people”. As I listened to our prayers of the people, which included ++Justin Welby as ABC, I thought “Why are we including someone who does not see us as part of the Anglican Communion?” Since GAFCON formed the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in 2008 we have been a part of that. I am not saying we shouldn’t pray for ++Justin Welby but should we be including him as a part of our “chain of command” so to speak? In terms of prayers, shouldn't we be praying for the head of FCA Rev Eliud Wabukala.
The ACNA parishioners are members of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. Our clergy orders are valid. ++Justin Welby’s statement confirms that we are formally separate from Canterbury Anglicanism (other than the historical roots). This is reconciliation for me. Being a member of FCA is a great place to be and it represents my understanding of orthodox Anglicanism. ++Justin Welby thank you for the clarification.