ACNA launches Task Force on women’s ministry
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.”