If the former-Anglican and semi-Anglican followers of Bishop Duncan succeed in forming their own unified North American denomination, will it become a so-called 39th Province? Fr. Tobias Haller thinks not. Here’s why:
First, one would assume that to be a member of the Anglican Communion one needs to be in communion with the Church of England. That is determined, according to English Canon Law, jointly by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the two English Primates.
Second, to be listed on the schedule of Churches or Provinces that are part of the Anglican Consultative Council requires an affirmative vote of the Council and the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the already existing member Churches or Provinces.
Both of these seem unlikely. In the first case, the Archbishop of Canterbury has already indicated his not wanting to depart from the long tradition of geographical integrity that has formed a part of Anglicanism since the Reformation. (See Article 37 of the Articles of Religion.) His personal “nightmare” as he mentioned in a speech some years ago, is having St Mary’s Anglican Church across the street from St Joseph’s Episcopal Church — members of two different provinces of the Communion in the same location. (Previous rare exceptions on the basis of history, as in Europe, or because of cultural or linguistic differences, as in some Church of South India parishes functioning in the US, are anomalies — and more important, are engaged in a cordial and mutual relationship; not the antipathy and lack of communion we are seeing develop with Duncan et alia.) Archbishop Rowan has to date steadfastly refused to recognize any of the extant bishops of this constellation, though he is of course quite willing to meet with them to talk. But it seems unlikely he will back a second province for disaffected Anglicans in North America.
Secondly, it is very unlikely two-thirds of the Primates would want to see such a development, as it would open the door for similar adventures in their own Provinces.
Of course, there will be a parcel of Primates who will go ahead and recognize the New Duncanian Thing, whatever the ACC or Canterbury and York say about it. There have long been signals from the Global Southerners that they think they can do without Canterbury, and they may soon have to see what that is like.
What such a blend of partial recognition (by some Primates but not enough to change the Constitution) and nonrecognition (of and by Canterbury) will lead to remains to be seen. My prognostication is a temporary division in the Anglican Communion As We Know It, as some, but not all, of the Globally Southern and Their Friends in Other Places create some boundaries between themselves and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
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