Monday, February 15, 2016


Today, February 15, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, used his presidential address to the General Synod of the Church of England, in London, to describe the primates' gathering of last month which he is now calling a gathering and a meeting ( ).

He included a paragraph that is bad news for the independent Anglican Church in North America, the independent "Diocese of South Carolina" and the myriad of other "Anglican" splinter groups in the U.S. and elsewhere:

As you know, it was described as a Primates' Gathering and Meeting, as the Meeting proper could only include those provinces which are recognized as institutionally part of the Anglican Communion (as distinct from churches which have an Anglican tradition and identity). To be part of the institution of the Anglican Communion a province must be in communion with the See of Canterbury. That was upheld as it had been understood previously at the Lambeth Conference of 1930, and was often repeated, most recently in the Eames Report 3.32). And also a province has to be on the schedule of Provinces held by the ACC [Anglican Consultative Council] and supported by two thirds of the Primates in one way or another. There is no clear process or precedent for a new Province to join, except as an agreed spin-off from a previous Province.

Thus, the archbishop listed four requirements for a province to be in the Anglican Communion: 1-in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, 2-member of the Anglican Consultative Council, 3-"support" of two-thirds of the thirty-eight Anglican primates "in one way or another," or, 4-as a spin-off of an existing province (e.g., Philippines from the US Episcopal Church). 

# 1 is self-explanatory. Historically the archbishop has refused to recognize bishops consecrated irregularly, e.g. Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers in 2000; Robert Duncan in 2009; Foley Beach in 2014; and those who leave Anglican provinces, e.g. Mark Lawrence in 2012. 

# 2 would make it extremely unlikely for a province competing with the Episcopal Church to gain admission to the ACC. The ACC is set up in a three tier system. The top tier of provinces gets three representatives each, the middle two each, and the bottom one each. England, Canada, Australia, and the US. are all in the top tier. Only three equatorial African provinces are there. GAFCON and Global South do not control the ACC.

# 3. The meaning of this is uncertain. The archbishop did not explain what he meant by this or from where this idea came. Anyway, two-thirds of the primates would be 26. Neither Global South nor GAFCON has that many primates.

# 4. From time to time, a province is created by geographical division from an existing province.

Too, the archbishop said there is no clear process or precedent for a new province to join the AC.

Using the criteria laid out by Archbishop Welby there is virtually no chance the ACNA will get recognized as a legitimate province of the Anglican Communion. However, as I have said before, Welby set up a process in last month's meeting in which the majority of primates can set the agenda of a meeting and make decisions by majority vote, decisions that can be backed up by sanctions ("consequences"). It is possible that a future primates' meeting could vote in ACNA. This is possible, but most improbable given the enormous emphasis the archbishop is putting on the present Anglican Communion "walking together." Even on the extremely remote chance the primates should vote in a new province that was overlapping geographically of TEC, it would be virtually impossible to get that new province into the ACC.

It should be recalled that the Canterbury Communiqué of last month required that the ACNA would have to seek admission to AC from the ACC and recommended against such. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury's statement of today nails the lid on the coffin of ACNA's chance of getting into the AC.

What does this mean for the independent diocese of South Carolina? The diocesan leaders' claim that DSC is an extra-provincial diocese of the Anglican Communion is absurd. If there is virtually no chance ACNA will be admitted to AC, there is much less chance that DSC would ever be recognized by the AC in any legitimate capacity. The Global South primates can "recognize" DSC and provide all the "oversight" they want. This is meaningless in the Anglican Communion. 

As it has been since day one, the independent diocese of South Carolina has no identity. It is in fact its own little independent church controlled by an authoritarian system. It is not the Episcopal Church diocese. It is not in the Anglican Communion. It is all but certain that it will never be in the Anglican Communion.

The delegates who attend next month's DSC convention ought to take a good hard look at where they have been, where they are, and where they are going. As of now, they have no discernible future. If they think otherwise, they should read the Archbishop of Canterbury's speech of today to the ruling body of the Church of England.