More on the proposed province

During the week more information has emerged about the plans of the proposed new Anglican Province for North America being urged by those who disagree with the direction of the existing Anglican provinces on that continent. The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the leadership of GAFCON that he will neither support or block its formation. Also there are now some independent numbers about the size of the potential province.

The Church of England newspaper is carrying a story by George Conger that, in the meeting earlier this week with five of the primates who serve on the Global Anglican Futures Convention (GAFCON) steering committee, the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to either censure or endorse the efforts underway in North America.

Thinking Anglicans has an excellent roundup of the news regarding the proposed province, including links to Conger’s article and additional reporting by the Church Times.

Simon Sarmiento, has also posted on Thinking Anglicans an evaluation of just how many people and congregations might be expected to be part of the proposed province.

According to his research, the claim of 700 congregations being involved is a number composed primarily of congregations of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) and other congregations in the United States associated with Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. The total that Simon works up is 644 rather than the 700 claimed in news releases.

Peter Foley, recently returned from studying at St. Deniol’s library and a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona has posted a commentary on the whole situation here (pdf at link).

He suggests that looking back into the history of Anglicanism in the seventeenth century, and the schism attempted then, we can see the probable end of the Common Cause Partnership:

“What happened to this little seventeenth-century band is already programmed into the structure of the Common Cause Partnership. The original schismatics disagreed amongst themselves about liturgical matters. They broke into Usagers who wanted to go back to an older form of communion service (mixing water and wine) and those that wanted to stick with the traditional Anglican liturgy who were known as Non-Usagers. Eventually they made up and the Usagers agreed to drop almost all their newfangled ideas. Well, most of them did, because after that there were extreme Usagers, moderate Non-Usagers (the combined group) and extreme Non-Usagers. By the end of the eighteenth century it becomes hard to track what the dwindling and disparate communities were up to and they were pretty much gone in England by 1800.

At the moment the Common Cause Partnership is unified in its opposition to the existing North American Anglican provinces and all they appear to stand for. But beneath the surface the Common Cause Partnership is programmed to split up. Its proposed canons make it very easy for congregations to leave and to take property with them. On the other hand the Reformed Episcopal Church has been around in one form or another since the nineteenth century, so it has proven itself to have sticking power.”

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