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Province plan to be unveiled

26 November 2008

by Pat Ashworth

Getting together: the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council met this week in London, at the Anglican Communion office and Lambeth Palace. They are preparing for full meetings of their respective bodies next year LAMBETH PALACE

Getting together: the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council met this week in London, at the Angli...

THE Common Cause Partnership (CCP), a coalition of conservative Anglican groups in the United States and Canada, which have broken away from their national Churches, is to announce plans next week for a separate province.

The group will meet in the Evangelical Free Church in Wheaton, Illinois, next Wednesday to “release to the public” its draft constitution. Its moderator, the Rt Revd Bob Duncan, the deposed Bishop of Pitts­burgh, described it as “an im­portant concrete step towards the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America”.

The CCP represents about 100,000 Anglicans, 3000 of them in Canada. It comprises diverse groups that have left the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada: four US dioceses (San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy, and Fort Worth); associations such as the Nigerian-led Convocation of An­glicans in North America (CANA); and seceded congrega­tions and de­nom­ina­tions, such as the Reformed Episcopal Church.

A spokesman for one of the con­stituent bodies, the American An­glican Council, said the new Anglican Church in North America “will have all the necessary features to be recognised as a province”.

The new self-styled province will be defined by theology, not by geo­graphy. It will appeal to the other provinces for recognition, and is relying on the support of the Prim­ates who attended the Global An­glican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in the summer. The GAFCON movement made it clear in its declaration from Jerusalem that approval from Canterbury was not a prerequisite for future organisations.

It said: “We do not accept that An­glican identity is determined neces­sarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. . . we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America.”

Bishop Martyn Minns, leader of CANA, who is credited with drawing up the draft constitution, believes that “more than half the Anglican world will support us.” He told the Washington Times: “If [the Arch­bishop of Canterbury] recognises us, he will incur the wrath of the [Episcopal Church in the US] and if he does not, he will incur the wrath of other people.”

The Primates are scheduled to meet in Egypt in January, and the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica in May. Formal recognition as an Anglican province would need the assent of both.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz, has described the pro­posals as “dis­turbing”. He dismissed CCP’s de­term­ination to go ahead with or without Canterbury’s blessing as “quite simply not in keeping with Anglican tradi­tion”, and described cross-border interventions in Canada as more aggressive than ever.

Archbishop Hiltz commented to the Anglican Journal that conversa­tions with bishops at Lambeth did not bear out the “huge assumption that the views of GAFCON Primates accurately represented the views of millions in their dioceses. . . It has be­come more and more clear that those associated with GAFCON are not so committed to building bridges and keeping in conversation but rather to separation.”

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