Monday, June 30, 2008

Reorganizing the Anglican Consutative Council

The Episcopal Church, USA claims to have a unique polity being, at the same time, democratic and hierarchical. They claim that the laity as well as bishops, priests, and deacons should have a say in the governance of the Church and I agree that the laity should have a voice in the governance of the Church. I do not believe that the voice of the laity should be as strong when it comes to the teaching of the Church (other than to object when the clergy go astray) but that's another post.

Anyway, TECUSA claims that the only really authoritative voice in the Anglican Communion is the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) because it is composed of laity as well as clergy.

The problem is that the ACC is not representative of the Anglican Communion as a whole. It's membership was determined in the 60s based on wealth and on perceived influence. Today, the whole picture of membership in the Anglican Communion has changed. Whereas in the 60s, the average Anglican was a white european person living in either England, Australia, or North America, today the average Anglican is a poor black woman living in Africa. We need to update the structure of the ACC to account for this.

Therefore I propose the following. First, we split the ACC into two houses (like the USA's General Convention). The first house will be composed of bishops, priests, deacons, and laity appointed by their provinces by what ever means the province chooses. That is the way it is done today, but that we change the apportionment of delegates from a constitutionally fixed number to a number based on Average Sunday Attendance (ASA). Thus, the largest provinces in terms of ASA will get the largest voice in matters that pertain to communion governance. To start with, I suggest that you get one member for every 800,000 ASA or portion thereof. Thus, TECUSA will have two members. Nigeria (with 18 million members and, with the assumption of 30% ASA, 5.4 million ASA) will get 7 or 8 members. Uganda (8 million members, 2.4 million ASA) will get 3 or 4 members.

The second house will be composed of the Primates of the Anglican Communion and will serve to either ratify or veto the resolutions of the ACC delegates. For matters that pertain purely to governance (budgets, province membership, etc) it will take 2/3 majority of the primates to veto a proposal of the delegates. For matters pertaining to the faith or practice of the Church (e.g. can homosexual unions be blessed), it will take only a simple majority of the Primates to veto the delegates.

Surely TECUSA cannot object to this proposal as it makes the ACC a much more democratic institution and mirrors our own General Convention and our the republican structure of our own government.

Phil Snyder

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