Phil Ashey: Whither the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion?

When asked by the American Anglican Council for the minutes of this December meeting, Anglican Communion Office officials told us that they were not yet available as they needed to be approved at next week’s meeting. For now, we are left to guess why Janet Trisk, a white priest and lawyer, was chosen to replace a black laywoman on the SCAC if their intent was to promote diversity. Are we to understand that there was really no other qualified lay representative from Africa who could replace Ms.Walaza? And was there not even another qualified clergy representative from Africa who could take her place until such a lay representative could be found? (See the ACC roster here) Is it merely a coincidence that Janet Trisk played a major role at ACC-14 in delaying and bottling up Section 4 of the Anglican Covenant, as documented on video by Anglican TV and live-blogged on Stand Firm in Faith by AAC Communications Officer Robert Lundy, and that her participation on the SCAC will almost certainly further the agenda of those who would weaken an already-weakened Anglican Covenant?

And what about those new “proposed bylaws” of the SCAC – can we have a look at them? Again, in the words of Mr. Butter from the Anglican Communion Office (ACO):

Asked if copies of the proposed new bylaws were available for review, the ACO responded that “discussions about the Articles are still ongoing between the legal advisor and the Charity Commission, so they are not yet available.”

Is it any wonder that the majority of the Anglicans in the Global South, and the GAFCON Primates, have concluded that the ACC, the SCAC and its unpublished bylaws are simply a tool for the West to continue to exercise colonial hegemony over the rest of the Anglican Communion?

Read it all.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury, Instruments of Unity, Windsor Report / Process

16 comments on “Phil Ashey: Whither the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion?

  1. art says:

    [blockquote]An aide to a senior African primate said the general mood among the Gafcon primates was weariness with the machinations of the ACC. They are so disillusioned with the Communion structures that they have “now taken a hands-off approach and are willing to let them just hang themselves,”[/blockquote]
    Sadder and sadder … We shall have to double our prayer effort for the meeting later this month if any light, truth and authentic [i]koinonia[/i] is to be the outcome.

  2. Jill Woodliff says:

    [blockquote]The appointment of Canon Trisk was made under the terms of the company’s articles which are currently being registered with the Charity Commission. These articles emphasise the need to achieve balance not only between orders, but also between gender and region,” he said[/blockquote]Interesting how secular civil regulations are being used to determine ecclesiastical representatives. Maybe I’m becoming cynical, but I suspect the disgruntlement of [url=http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=92476]Rev Hugh Rayment-Pickard[/url], [url=http://changingattitude-england.blogspot.com/2010/05/church-of-england-endemic-culture-of.html]Rev Colin Coward[/url], and [url=http://www2.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/uploadpdfs/sermon/June 13 NH St Albans.pdf]Rev Nick Holtam[/url] with the ecclesiastical exemption to employment and equality legislation is part of the same pattern of seeking state/civil regulations to preempt ecclesiastical discretion.

  3. Stephen Noll says:

    [blockquote]When asked by the American Anglican Council for the minutes of this December meeting, Anglican Communion Office officials told us that they were not yet available as they needed to be approved at next week’s meeting.[/blockquote]

    You might want to ask the ACO whether [b]ANY[/b] minutes of any previous meetings of the Standing Committee – or the ACC – are available. Usually only “resolutions” are published. But such resolutions can be quite selective. Further, no glimpse of any discussion is included, so that all resolutions appear to be unanimous. Was there any debate at the SC in December about the proposed revisions to Section 4 of the Covenant. Consensus is a fine biblical principle, but false consensus is a bugaboo that haunts many of the decisions of Anglican bodies.

    I do see a need to approve minutes for accuracy. However, what happens when a body meets very three years like the ACC. Does that mean that even if minutes were posted, they would be three years stale? Surely in the era of internet communication, approval could be done electronically. In most organizations I know, preliminary minutes are circulated, often well in advance, and then are amended and added to the record at the next sitting. Sometimes the amendments can reveal where the membership differs from the recorder, who is often a company bureaucrat. Are such amendments recorded somewhere in the deep archives of the ACO?

    The same cloak of secrecy applies to the Primates’ Meeting. Usually the Meeting issues in a Communique. Fine and good. But since the Primates are a political organ of the Communion, there are constitutional and organizational issues that need to see the light of day. Take the composition of the “Primates’ Standing Committee.” I recently asked Abp. Orombi how this Committee was constituted, and he said that the Primates had divided up representation by geographic region. OK, that’s obvious, but was this a formal decision that will always be the case? Was there any discussion of a “Virginia plan” by numbers versus a “New Jersey plan” of representation by region (Africa dwarfs all the other regions)? And do we really know whether and when the “Primates Standing Committee” actually meets? Apart from the meeting in October 2004 to receive the Windsor Report, I do not know of any official meeting of this Committee. I get the sense they meet over lunch or in a hotel room after regular sessions of the larger Meeting, probably at the instigation of Communion bureaucrats. Do they ever communicate by plenary emails, or only with written communications from the Secretary General?

    One of the curious features of Anglican Communion governance is that the ACC (and now the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion”) often pull rank on the other Instruments on the basis that “we have a constitution” established in UK law. Hence Rowan Williams said he could not remove Katherine Schori because of the ACC Constitution. Meanwhile the Lambeth Conference itself is run by indaba methods and the Primates seem to run by tea party methods (“we decided over lunch to divide the world into five regions”).

    Let me be fair in dishing out blame. The Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans seems to have inherited the same DNA from the wider Communion. There is no record of the minutes of their meetings as well.

    Might I suggest that the Anglican Communion organ seek to operate like an old boys club long after the day that old boys clubs have been banned from secular society?

  4. Athanasius Returns says:

    [blockquote] Is it any wonder that the majority of the Anglicans in the Global South, and the GAFCON Primates, have concluded that the ACC, the SCAC and its unpublished bylaws are simply a tool for the West to continue to exercise colonial hegemony over the rest of the Anglican Communion?[/blockquote]

    The West has now completed its LAWLESS power grab for complete control of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Problem is that the West has with its heresies, absolute relativism, placing of humans on the throne in substitution of God, abuse of power, lack of care for and attention to the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and its general meanness destroyed the Communion. At this point, folks, there are two fragmented communions, west/heretical and south/Gospel.

    Am content with my situation as priest with the latter.

  5. LumenChristie says:

    Can I put a thought into the mix, here?

    The Standing Committee is claiming that they must adhere/conform to the requirements of the Charity Commission of England.

    Is this actually legally appropriate for an entity that purports to be in charge of an [i][b]international[/b][/i] entity that could — in fact [i]should[/i] hold its meetings in other countries as well? The membership is international, not English; its purpose is international, not English; why should its charter be specifically subject to English law? The ACC has been attached to Lambeth, but needn’t be. Perhaps it would be too little too late to try to challenge this now — but

    Just askin’.

  6. AnglicanFirst says:

    “But since the Primates are a political organ of the Communion, there are constitutional and organizational issues that need to see the light of day.”

    If we consider the Primates to be just to be “a political organ of the Communion” then we have a problem.

    In fact, that is the major problem with Ms Schori of ECUSA. She is a political creature who is the political product of the highly politicized and infrequent, every three years, meetings of ECUSA’s General Convention.

    Her theological qualifications are still a matter of general conjecture and controversy as are the theological qualifications of the delegates to ECUSA’s General Convention.

    When it comes to episcopal leadership, especially at the level of the Primates, shouldn’t we expect that the Primates will make their decisions while seeking the ‘true voice’ of the Holy Spirit?

    If we don’t have this expectation, as Anglicans, then we are truly in bad shape.

  7. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks to Dr. Noll for his typically insightful and incisive #3. Great point about the surprising unavailability of full minutes for past ACC meetings. This confirms what Fr. Ashey eloquently said, i.e., it’s high time for the AC’s leaders to come out of the shadows into the light and step out of the back rooms where decisions are still being covertly made behind closed doors by western elites that continue to act in colonialistic and manipulative ways.

    No wonder increasing numbers of GS leaders (and not just the FCA leaders either) have lost all trust in the official AC leadership. Nor is it any wonder that so many of us in the Global North as well who are on the conservative side of this dispute, even such pro-AC folks as the ACI and CP leaders, are getting more and more frustrated with the faithless AC leaders who keep proving themselves unworthy of trust.

    As I noted on another related thread, for the ABoC’s office to declare compliance with the bylaws of the ACC (specifically here, bylaw 7) merely “discretionary,” is utterly astouding and downright reprehensible. It immediately recalls the equally outrageous and reprehensible act of the ABoC when he unilaterally and shockingly declared the Primates deadline that they imposed on TEC in Reb., 2005 in Tanzania to be merely a “guideline.”

    Such organizational anarchy and chaos recalls the lawless days under the Judges in ancient Israel, when because there was no king (and no democracy either), “[i]every man did what was right in his own eyes[/i]” (Judges 21:25).

    The tear in the fabric of the AC just continues to get worse and worse, because the official leaders of the AC keep proving themselves untrustworthy. Once trust has been broken as badly as it has in the AC, the only way to restore trust is for there to be genuine repentance and a strenuous effort to maintain open, honest communication with as much transparency and verifiability as possible. Unfortunately, the ACO and even the ABoC are doing the exact opposite.

    David Handy+

  8. New Reformation Advocate says:

    BTW, I want to commend Fr. Phil Ashey for the restrained, self-controlled tone of his piece. Given his personal experience with the sheer perfidy of some leaders in the ACC who denied him a spot at the ACC-14 meeting in Jamaica, and how he’s had a chance to watch the underhanded ways in which the liberal cabal that runs the ACC works, I found his complaint about this latest outrage to be calm and understated, not at all shrill or tainted by personal grievances. There’s an undertone of anger, naturally, but it’s fully justified and not at all aggravated by unresolved feelings and unforgiveness.

    Well done, Phil!

    David Handy+

  9. New Reformation Advocate says:

    One last comment and I’m done for the day here. When the discredited Standing Committee meets later this month, I wonder how many, if any, of the remaining orthodox representatives will choose to protest the presence of such obviously illegitimate members as +Ian Douglas and Canon Trisk and demand that they either be excluded or they will walk out and resign themselves??

    David Handy+

  10. Br. Michael says:

    Kind of mirrors TEC’s respect and treatment of its canons.

  11. Jill Woodliff says:

    Perhaps even more pertinent than minutes of meetings are budget reports. One can’t help but wonder what else is deemed ‘discretionary.’

  12. AnglicanFirst says:

    An addendum to my comment (#6.).

    One of the difficult questions raised by ‘doubters’ and skeptics of the Church Catholic has to with the historical record of the early church which paints an unpleasant picture of its all too human politics.

    This permits these doubters/skeptics to question/attack Holy Scripture, the Nicene Creed, etc. because of the ‘pall of human fallibility’ of that historical record.

    We mere mortals, by our all too human fallibility, become an impediment to the Holy Spirit when we choose to pursue narrow personal goals rather than spread the Gospel and ‘grow’ the Church.

    We do this at our own risk.

  13. PhilAshey says:

    #3 Thank you Dr. Noll for your questions which are exactly on point– where are ANY minutes of the meetings, including the december meeting? Why haven’t they been released, especially in light of the relative ease in our internet age for minutes to be reviewed and corrected.
    And as for your suggestion that this is a standard of good governance which should be observed by the GAFCON-FCA Primates Council as well– point well taken. The orthodox should be setting the standard.

    #8 And thank you David for your gracious comments!

  14. art says:

    David Handy #7:
    [blockquote]No wonder increasing numbers of GS leaders (and not just the FCA leaders either) have lost all trust in the official AC leadership. Nor is it any wonder that so many of us in the Global North as well who are on the conservative side of this dispute, even such pro-AC folks as the ACI and CP leaders, are getting more and more frustrated with the faithless AC leaders who keep proving themselves unworthy of trust.[/blockquote]
    Exactly the position of myself and others whom I know in Australasia – which I have allowed to be expressed in a few, more recent comments here and elsewhere. All of which raises in me the question: is this scheduled meeting of ACSC a real Rubicon moment? Insignificant in itself, as was that mere stream, but the final tipping point for the real movements of History, when enough really is ENOUGH!!! And furthermore: does the ABC really – REALLY – see this for what it truly might be/is?!

    Just so, our need for more prayers …

  15. Larry Morse says:

    When is enough enough? In fact, never. When are you going to face THIS? You all know this to be true. Larry

  16. art says:

    “When?” When a wee stream is crossed – according to those who can read history with discernment. However, as you may be implying, “Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.” (Butterfield)