ACNA launches Task Force on women’s min­istry

The Church of England - - NEWS - By Ge­orge Conger

THE COL­LEGE of Bish­ops of the Angli­can Church in North Amer­ica (ACNA) has agreed to launch a Task Force ex­am­in­ing the ques­tion of the Holy Or­ders of women clergy.

Meet­ing last week in Or­lando, the ACNA bish­ops set down a five-part pro­to­col study­ing the ques­tion of women clergy in con­junc­tion with the is­sues of Prayer Book re­form, the cre­ation of a Cat­e­chism for the church, and a re­view of its ec­cle­sial struc­tures.

In or­der­ing their pri­or­i­ties, the bish­ops de­cided to be­gin with a study of Scrip­ture and church tra­di­tions and then move to the cre­ation of church poli­cies. One bishop told The Church of Eng­land News­pa­per the ACNA bish­ops wanted to ground their ac­tions in doc­trine, rather than find a doc­trine to sup­port their ac­tions.

The elec­tion and trans­la­tion of five bish­ops were ap­proved by the Col­lege of Bish­ops, while time was also spent seek­ing to heal the hurts caused by the break-up of the Angli­can Mis­sion in Amer­ica last year.

The ACNA cur­rently per­mits dio­ce­ses to or­dain women to the di­a­conate and priest­hood, but not to the epis­co­pate. How­ever, For­ward in Faith and the An­glo-Catholic Dio­cese of San Joaquin have urged the province to re­view its “two in­tegri­ties” struc­ture.

The bish­ops an­nounced they had ap­pointed a task force to study the doc­trine of Holy Or­ders – not lim­it­ing their work to the ques­tion of women clergy – and would be­gin with the Bi­ble and then move to a study of doc­trine and tra­di­tion.

At Phase 4 “the Task Force will dis­cuss the ar­gu­ments, pro and con, re­lated to the or­di­na­tion of women, con­sid­er­ing the rel­e­vant Scrip­tural texts and his­tor­i­cal ar­gu­ments, and re­view­ing stud­ies con­ducted within and with­out the Angli­can tra­di­tion.”

The Col­lege of Bish­ops said that be­fore fi­nal ac­tion is taken, their rec­om­men­da­tions will be passed to the the­o­log­i­cal com­mis­sion of the Fel­low­ship of Con­fess­ing Angli­cans. The con­ser­va­tive re­form move­ment within the Angli­can Com­mu­nion is di­vided on the ques­tion of women clergy with Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda strongly in favour, while Sin­ga­pore, Syd­ney and the An­glo-Catholic prov­inces of Africa are op­posed.

A report on over­lap­ping dio­ce­ses and epis­co­pal ju­ris­dic­tions was also pre­sented to the Col­lege. A com­mu­niqué from the meet­ing stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into con­form­ity “with his­toric Angli­can prac­tice. The goal of the work is to or­ga­nize each re­gion for the long-term sus­tain­abil­ity of the move­ment in rec­og­niz­able, godly Angli­can Church struc­tures.”

The bish­ops re­ceived a map show­ing the lo­ca­tion of each of their 951 con­gre­ga­tions, which en­abled the bish­ops to iden­tify “11 re­gions of over­lap­ping mis­sion work among the var­i­ous ju­ris­dic­tions of the Province.”

While no dio­cese or group was slated for elim­i­na­tion, the bish­ops’ com­mu­niqué stated the chal­lenge of over­lap­ping ju­ris­dic­tions “will re­sult in en­hanced col­lab­o­ra­tion, re­spon­sive struc­tures and min­istry over­sight, with bet­ter shar­ing of re­sources, clearer com­mu­ni­ca­tion and more pro­found unity in the mis­sion that we share.”

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