THE Archbishops of Canterbury and York have suggested that the Church of England and the Anglican Communion should be in “open-ended engagement” with the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).
Their suggestions are contained in a report that will be debated by the General Synod next month. It follows a resolution by the Synod two years ago, which said that the C of E recognised ACNA’s desire to remain in the “Anglican family”, but that it was not ready to be in full communion with the group, which is made up of those who have left the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church of Canada. ACNA includes groups such as the Anglican Mission to the Americas.
In the new report, the Archbishops refer to the distress suffered by Anglicans over these divisions: “That distress, in which we share, is a continuing element in the present situation and is likely to remain so for some considerable time.
“Wounds are still fresh. Those who follow developments in North America from some distance have a responsibility not to say or do anything which will inflame an already difficult situation.”
They say, however: “We would, therefore, encourage an open-ended engagement with ACNA on the part of the Church of England and the Communion, while recognising that the outcome is unlikely to be clear for some time yet.”
The issue of clerics from ACNA who seek to exercise their ministry in the UK would still have to be dealt with on a “case-by-case basis”, they say.
The Archbishop of ACNA, the Most Revd Robert Duncan, welcomed the statement. “We are encouraged by the desire of the Church of England to continue to embrace the Anglican Church in North America and remain in solidarity with us as we proclaim the gospel message and truth as revealed in scripture in the way it has always been understood in Anglican formularies.”
The American Anglican Council, a network of conservative Anglicans, also welcomed the paper as a “positive” step forward.
Read the full report