The 39th province

On Stand Firm in Faith, I came across this interesting passage in an article by the Rev. David Roseberry of Christ Church, Plano, which left the Episcopal Church a few months ago for much the same reasons that the Virginia churches just departed. Bishop Martyn Minns had arranged for him to have breakfast in London with Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria to learn more about Akinola’s efforts to form a convocation of what he considers orthodox believers in the United States.

The phrase “39th province” refers to the notional jurisdiction that the Primates will create to provide an Anglican Communion home for American conservatives.

Roseberry writes:

“The CANA organization is without a clearly determined structure so far. There are early ideas now of ‘districts’, or clusters of congregations headed up by a regional bishop. CANA sees itself as one of the first building blocks of a new 39th Anglican Province that will lie within TEC boundaries.

I asked about the role of CANA in the formation of a 39th Province. He sees the need for a 39th Province but is unsure of the structure and form it should take. The primates will not (probably) be able to initiate such a structure soon, but if it gets a few hundred churches and a functioning college of bishops, the primates may bless it. But this is not something that will happen soon… not even before Lambeth. Whether or not Rowan or Lambeth will ever bless it remains to be seen, he feels.”

(I learned something about the Primate’s Meetings. It is not a legislative body. They probably can’t vote into existence the kind of entity that some have been promising. They may respond to a reality or a ‘fact on the ground’. But, in my opinion, it is doubtful that Akinola will see a 39th Province before he retires in 24 months.)”

Two points:

1. The leader of the conservative movement in the Communion thinks it is unlikely that a new American province will be created any time soon, and isn’t certain that the current Archbishop of Canterbury will ever bless such a development.

2. Roseberry, one of the key figures in the conservative movement within the United States, appears to be a bit behind the curve in his understanding of how the Communion governs itself. How could the rector of what we were regularly told was the largest Episcopal Church in the country not know that the Primates Meeting is not a legislative gathering? I think I will read future missives from his party about the true meaning of Anglicanism with a somewhat more critical eye.

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