After discussion in three business sessions, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) voted June 22 to change its constitution to include the 37 Primates as ex officio members, thereby increasing the membership from 78 to 115.
Originally introduced at Monday's session, the action included a provision to attempt to ensure balance for clergy and lay members. Under the new configuration, laity representation would no longer be the majority of the ACC, one of the four "instruments of unity" within the Anglican Communion. (A detailed ENS report will follow.)
Today's vote, on the third day of business, followed issues raised in Tuesday's address from ACC Chairman John Paterson, bishop of Auckland, and consideration of budgetary reports -- including a 2005 balance sheet reflecting some $2.6 million or 1.3 million pounds sterling -- in annual expenses and revenue.
Chairman cites changes
"We are in fact experiencing changes in the inter-relationships of the Instruments of Unity as we speak," Paterson said in his address, commenting on the balance between the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, the ACC, and the Primates' Meeting.
The ACC is the principal consultative body of the Anglican Communion and its 77 million members in 164 countries.
Elected chairman three years ago, Paterson said, "They have been eventful years, they have been difficult years, and now more than ever before, the Anglican Communion needs the solidarity and the sound common sense which the Anglican Consultative Council offers, to be brought to bear in its affairs."
He spoke frankly about the future. "This full meeting of the Council will have to devise a way of dealing with the various recommendations about our own membership, about the frequency and timing of meetings of the Standing Committee to coincide with meetings of the Primates, about the ex officio membership of the Primates' Standing Committee on the ACC and our own Standing Committee and therefore trustees," he stated.
"Further, the recommendations about the Anglican Communion Office require urgent consideration, and of course all these matters have significant budgetary implications, as do the recent recommendations from the Primates' Meeting."
He added, "The ACC needs to take care lest such enhanced responsibility on the part of one of the Instruments of Unity move from the art of gentle persuasion to what has been called 'institutional coercion'."
He referred to the current situation with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada whose members are attending as observers as both voluntarily withdrew from active membership for this meeting as requested by the February Primates meeting.
"A body which exists by means of a constitution agreed to by all the member churches of the Anglican Communion, and that is required by that constitution to be 'consultative' cannot consult fully or properly if all of its members are not sitting at the same table. It is surely not for one Instrument of Unity to disempower another?"
Paterson expressed his wish for the Anglican Communion to stay together. "The ACC gives voice and hope and strength and dignity to those 80 million or more Anglicans who say they belong to us, and look to us to represent them, but who are not themselves primates, archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons or ACC members.," he said.
"Many Anglicans know what it is to have been colonized, and have no wish to repeat that experience in a new colonizing of the mind and heart. Let ACC-13 declare to our watching and rather anxious church that our Communion is indeed a living Communion, that God lives, that God loves, and that we can continue to worship and serve God from our many different perspectives, while still proudly calling ourselves 'Anglicans'."
Paterson praised the work of new ACC Secretary General Kenneth Kearon, and offered thanks for the work of Kearon's predecessor, the Rev. Canon John Peterson, who retired last year. Paterson also cited improved working conditions for the ACC staff, now located at St. Andrew's House in London.
Paterson noted the importance of the contributions of the Compass Rose Society and its ongoing fundraising initiatives. "The Compass Rose Society is particularly active in the United States of America, in Hong Kong and in Canada," he explained. "The Compass Rose Society has worked hard to establish an Endowment Fund for the work of the Communion, at a time when the cohesiveness and commonality of the Communion itself has been called into question, and thus their work has been made much more difficult."
For complete text of Paterson's address, see http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/39/75/acns3993.cfm.
Citing the weakness of the American dollar against the English sterling pound, resulting in a 17 percent depreciation over two years, plus the extra expenses of funding three meetings of the Lambeth Commission and the renovations of new quarters, Paterson presented the report of the Financial and Administration Committee .
The General Reserve, he said, dipped to 44,010 pounds sterling as of December 31, 2004.
However, not all the news was bad. "In the last two years, when the unity and cohesiveness of the Communion has been anxious, every member church has made its contribution," he reported. "There is no church that has withheld its grant."
As for this year, "We are doing okay halfway through 2005." This has been helped by outside funding from such sources as the UN Advisory Council and Trinity Church, Wall Street in Manhattan. He also thanked the Compass Rose Society "for assistance in funding the core budget."
The budget projections for 2006-2008 will be presented in later business sessions.
The report of the International Anglican Family Network opened Tuesday morning's business session. Presenter Dr. Sally Thompson called the Family Network "very important in that it sets out to help families and has stories of hope. Hope helps more of us learn."
She described the Family Network Newsletter, issued three times a year throughout the Anglican Communion with a particular theme. Recent topics include Women and Poverty, Education and the Family, Families at the Frontiers of Faiths, Children and Work, and Women and Family.
"The Anglican Family Newsletter is found in the most unlikely places throughout the communion," Thompson noted.
She hopes to follow up a 2003 conference in Nairobi on Violence and the Family with a gathering in either in Africa or Asia. Her other goals are increasing international contacts and seeking more financial resources.
In answer to questions from the ACC members, Thompson agreed with the importance of working closely with the Mothers Union. "The field is so big, we need all of us," she said. "Input from the Mothers Union is important. Likewise the Family Network helps the Mothers Union."
The report concluded with the unanimous approval of a resolution: "the ACC receives the report of the IAFN and thanks the members of the Network for their ongoing contribution to the life of the Anglican Communion."
Greetings to York, from Methodists
ACC adopted a resolution "That this council notes with pleasure the news of the appointment of the Bishop of Birmingham, Dr. John Sentamu, as Archbishop of York, and offers its prayers and good wishes for a fruitful and happy ministry."
The Rev. Will Morrey, president of the Conference of the Methodist Church (Britain) presented the Ecumenical greeting by sharing the covenant work going on between the Methodists and the Church of England.
"We are not called to simply implement an Anglican-Methodist covenant, but what it means to live it," Morrey said. "Only by looking to God and beyond ourselves can we hope that our covenant commitment will bring about what God wants us to achieve. We find a very rich sense of our sharing together to see what God is saying to us from our different perspectives."