Conservative Anglican leaders and former Episcopalians, meeting April 14-16 in London, have said they recognize a proposed entity composed of disaffected Anglicans in North America.
The announcement came in an April 16 communiqué from the GAFCON/FCA Primates' Council that was created at the controversial Global Anglican Future Conference. That meeting was held in Jerusalem during June 2008, one month prior to the 2008 Lambeth Conference of bishops. (Many of the bishops attending GAFCON chose to boycott the Lambeth Conference.)
FCA stands for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which the April 16 communiqué described as "a movement for defending and promoting the biblical gospel of the risen Christ," but which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has called "problematic in all sorts of ways."
The new North American entity, which its leaders are calling the Anglican Church in North America, wasproposed in December 2008 for Anglicans who have decided they no longer want to be a part of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada for theological reasons. ACNA membership includes several self-identified Anglican organizations, known collectively as the Common Cause Partnership.
(St. Vincent's Cathedral is in the Diocese of Fort Worth and is one of the properties now held by former Episcopalians who aligned with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has filed a lawsuit for return of St. Vincent's and some 50 other churches and properties.)
"The FCA Primates' Council recognizes the Anglican Church in North America as genuinely Anglican and recommends that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA," the communiqué said. "Though many provinces are in impaired or broken communion with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, our fellowship with faithful Anglicans in North America remains steadfast."
During a press conference at the early February meeting of Anglican primates, Williams acknowledged "some of the enormous difficulties around parallel jurisdictions" and underscored that the entity is "not a new province -- it's a coalition that has drafted a constitution. What its institutional relationship is with the communion is very unclear."
The primates' communiqué issued at the end of their February meeting acknowledged that "there is no consensus among us about how this new entity should be regarded," and asked Williams to "establish at the earliest opportunity a professionally mediated conversation at which all the significant parties could be gathered."
A statement from Lambeth Palace made shortly after the new entity was announced noted that "there are clear guidelines set out in the Anglican Consultative Council Reports, notably ACC 10 in 1996 (resolution 12), detailing the steps necessary for the amendments of existing provincial constitutions and the creation of new provinces. Once begun, any of these processes will take years to complete."
Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Argentina-based Province of the Southern Cone has offered oversight to parishes and dioceses breaking away from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Venables has previously told ENS that there is a realization among the supporters of the new North American entity that they need to be patient if they wish to seek official recognition by the councils of the Anglican Communion. Such recognition would need the endorsement of two-thirds of the primates before being presented to the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion's main legislative body, for consideration.
The April 16 communiqué said that the FCA "is committed to pursue our common mission through the establishment of regional chapters and networks of Anglicans who will strengthen and support each other" and acknowledged the development of a soon-to-be-launched U.K. branch and the establishment of an advisory board.
Attending the meeting were archbishops Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania, Henry Orombi of Uganda, Justice Akrofi of West Africa; along with the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia).
The archbishops were joined by deposed bishops Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and Jack Iker of Fort Worth, as well as several former Episcopal priests who have since been consecrated as bishops in other Anglican provinces but deployed in the U.S. to work with congregations that have left the Episcopal Church.
The full text of the GAFCON communiqué is available here.