Thursday, March 22, 2007

Simple, Synodical and There

Jim Naughton over at Daily Episcopalian poses a challenge:

I don't know whether it is fair to pose a challenge that I won't be responding to myself, but here goes.

Archbishop Rowan Williams clearly does not believe that the Anglican Communion's current governance is sufficient to the task before it. Most of the regular visitors to this blog clearly aren't willing to embrace the primate-dominated covenant that he is backing. Can you come up with something that responds to his desire for mutual accountability, greater catholicity and a more coherent ecumenical witness without inhibiting member Churches from responding to the will of God as they perceive it?

Here is what I wrote back, with an additional thought or too.
Yes. The solution is simple. Use the existing structure of the Anglican Consultative Council more frequently to do what they are constitutionally designed to do: consult with one another.

In order for this to work, the constitution of the ACC has to be left alone, it ain't broken, it's just underutilized; keep the Primates out as voting members; keep the membership of the ACC as it is so that every Province has an equal voice regardless of size; have the ACC meet two to three times a year.

Maybe, and this is a very large maybe, one could make the Primates Meeting a kind an Upper House, not like the US Senate but more like the House of Lords, so that some legislation must pass both houses, but most of the real work happens in the ACC.

It's simple, it's synodical and it's there.
Now that I think about it, I don't particularly like the Primates Meeting as an upper house. A simpler solution would be for the ACC to invite the Primates and the ACC to meet concurrently from time time to time. If the ACC meets say, two to times a year (and they could move about the Anglican Communion as they do so) they could periodically set aside one of those meetings to be concurrent with a Primates gig.

Moving the body from once every two to three years to bi- or tri-annually would be a reach but it would increase their capacity for work. Of course, there is always tele- and video-conferencing.

Here is what the ACC says about it's own mission and purpose:
The role of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is to facilitate the co-operative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion, exchange information between the Provinces and churches, and help to co-ordinate common action. It advises on the organisation and structures of the Communion, and seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church, including ecumenical matters. The ACC membership includes from one to three persons from each province. Where there are three members, there is a bishop, a priest and a lay person. Where fewer members are appointed, preference is given to lay membership.
What more do we need? And how could a new structure improve on this? I can't see how.

As simple as this is, I doubt that many of the radical reasserters buy into this: their whole work to date has been to build up the Primates at the expense of the existing ACC because they do not trust any synodical process that includes laity, or members elected by other synods & conventions. The emphasis on the laity in the ACC is at odds with the clericalism present in the recent documents from the Primates.

Again, the point of the ACC is to consult with one another as members in Communion, not to become a world wide denomination.

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