THE ORDERS of priests in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) have been recognised by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
They will be recognised under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967, which gives the Archbishops authority to determine whether the orders of any Church are “recognised and accepted” by the Church of England.
The decision follows work by the Faith and Order Commission, in consultation with the Council for Christian Unity (CCU), on whether ACNA meets the criteria by which the C of E recognises the ministry
of those whose orders are of Churches “within the historic episcopate and with whom the Church of England is not in communion”.
A statement from the CCU said that, when a person ordained in ACNA wished to minister in the C of E, “the first questions to be considered are those of whether the person concerned is suitable for ministry in the Church of England and if so, whether any further training is necessary. Where those questions are resolved satisfactorily, the Archbishop of the relevant Province can decide to give the minister permission to officiate in the Church of England without being ordained in the Church of England, either permanently or for a specified period.”
A spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church in the United States said that it was “an internal process of the Church of England to deal with licensing clergy from church bodies which are not part of the Anglican Communion”.
Other Churches whose Orders the Church of England recognises although it is not in communion with them include the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.
ACNA was established in 2008, by priests who disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church in the US (News, 12 December 2008). It is not officially part of the Anglican Communion; nor is it in communion with Canterbury; but it is recognised by seven Primates who represent millions in the Global South.
In 2014, Archbishop Welby said that he could not “enforce reconciliation” but that “we must take the steps necessary to bring about renewed and reconciled relationships, and we are seeking to encourage that” (News, 24 October 2014). He invited the ACNA Archbishop, Dr Foley Beach, to the Primates’ Meeting in 2015 (News, 18 September 2015).