Members of several self-identified Anglican organizations were due to announce on the evening of December 3 the formation of what they are calling a new Anglican province in North America.
Leaders of the Common Cause Partnership have said they will release the draft constitution of what they called "an emerging Anglican Church in North America" during a worship service at Wheaton Evangelical Free Church in the suburban Chicago community of Wheaton, Illinois at 7:30 p.m. CST.
The release said that the leaders would also "formally subscribe" to the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and affirm GAFCON's Statement on the Global Anglican Future (both available here) during the service. The release added that "all Anglicans in attendance" will be able to "individually subscribe to the Declaration and affirm the Statement."
"The public release of our draft constitution is an important concrete step toward the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America," former Episcopal Church Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan said in a news release issued prior to the event.
"We will not predict what will or will not come out of this meeting, but simply continue to be clear that the Episcopal Church, along with the Anglican Church of Canada and La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, comprise the official, recognized presence of the Anglican Communion in North America," the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, said in a statement emailed prior to the official release of the documents. "And we reiterate what has been true of Anglicanism for centuries: that there is room within The Episcopal Church for people with different views, and we regret that some have felt the need to depart from the diversity of our common life in Christ."
It is not clear how many of the leaders, or primates, of the Anglican Communion's provinces will recognize the province and what force that recognition will have.
The Common Cause leaders plan to hold a media briefing at 5:30 p.m. CST. A live feed of that event and the later worship service is due to be available.
The GAFCON documents were released after more than 1,000 conservative Anglicans, including 291 bishops, met June 22-29, 2008 in Jerusalem. They outlined the group's beliefs and plans to bring what it said was needed reform to the Anglican Communion.
The actions in Wheaton are the latest in a more than two-year-old effort to create an alternative province in North America for those Anglicans who disagree with the theological and biblical interpretation stances of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. In September 2006 leaders of many of the global south provinces of the Anglican Communion declared that they were "convinced that the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA."
They said they would develop such a proposal "in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion." It was not clear which instruments were meant. The Anglican Communion's so-called instruments of communion are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates Meeting.
The latter group, meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in February 2007, stopped short of echoing the global south call. However, in its communiquÃ© the leaders of the Anglican Communion's provinces said they would set up a "pastoral council" to negotiate with the Episcopal Church over those congregations and dioceses that felt alienated from the denomination's leadership. That council, which was also to "facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion," has not yet been established.
In late September 2007, Duncan, who was later chosen as moderator of Common Cause Partnership, gathered 51 bishops (including 13 active or former Episcopal Church diocesan bishops) and led them in declaring that that they would spend the next 15 months developing "an Anglican union," which they anticipate will be recognized by some Anglican Communion Primates and provinces.
The December 3 announcement comes just less than 15 months later and about three months after Duncan was deposed for his role in leading the majority of member of the Diocese of Pittsburgh into the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The new province would be based on theological commonality rather than the geographical proximity that generally shapes the rest of the provinces in the Anglican Communion. Presumably it would include the former members of the Episcopal dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin who chose to realign with the Southern Cone. That province in November 2007 invited into the province "on an emergency and pastoral basis" Episcopal Church dioceses "taking appropriate action to separate from The Episcopal Church."
The Common Cause Partnership's members include the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (also known as the Anglican Communion Network), the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and bishops and congregations linked with Kenya, Uganda, and South America's Southern Cone.
Common Cause has variously stated that together the groups represent more than 100,000 Anglican Christians either worshiping each Sunday in the United States and Canada, or simply claiming membership.