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Canadian Anglican Archbishop Wants new ABC-elect to nix ACNA

Canadian Anglican Archbishop Wants new ABC-elect to nix ACNA
Welby makes no commitment to Hiltz that he won't meet with emerging Anglican provincial leaders in North America

By David W. Virtue
December 22, 2012

The leader of the Anglican Church of Canada had a "just say no" message to the new Archbishop of Canterbury-elect Justin Welby in discussions on the Anglican Church in North America when the two men met recently.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is petrified that the new evangelical archbishop will recognize Archbishop Bob Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America as an emerging province thus diluting the influence of both the ACoC and The Episcopal Church USA. He and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori both maintain their jurisdictions are the sole legitimate expressions of Anglicanism in North America.

Following legal actions by the ultra-liberal Diocese of New Westminster on sexuality, two new Anglican groups formed in Canada. They are the Anglican Coalition in Canada (ACiC) and the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). The ANiC is a constituent member of the ACNA.

While saying he was feeling "very optimistic about his leadership," Hiltz is worried that the evangelical leader of the Anglican Communion, who clearly has more in common theologically with Duncan than he does with Hiltz or Katharine Jefferts Schori, will give full recognition to the ACNA thus deepening an already dislocated Anglicanism. A formal statement by the Anglican Communion as to who is an Anglican means fidelity to the doctrines and disciplines set forth in the Book of Common Prayer something Archbishop Duncan and his HOB have had no difficulty endorsing or adhering to. The same cannot be said for either the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada that have caused a crisis with aberrant actions on human sexuality.

The ACNA is composed of Anglicans who have left the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church in the U.S. ACNA describes itself as "an emerging Province in the global Anglican Communion," though it is not formally recognized by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The ACNA is recognized by the FCA/GAFCON and Archbishop Duncan sits on the Primates Council of GAFCON that includes the largest Anglican provinces in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

Any formal recognition of the ACNA, however, would have to come from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), not the ABC. That would not necessarily stop the new ABC from having informal talks with Duncan who met recently with the Pope in Rome. If the Pontiff of one billion souls has no difficulty pressing the flesh with Duncan, what is to stop Welby from doing the same.

Hiltz's visit to Welby is reminiscent of a visit TEC Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold once made to Archbishop George Carey on the occasion of the formation of the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA) in 2000. Fearful that Carey might recognize the AMIA, Griswold jumped on a plane and flew to London and confronted Carey demanding that he not recognize the emerging Anglican group. Carey obliged, but, years later, he said he regretted that action as TEC grew more openly hostile to orthodoxy in faith and morals.

However Welby has given no hint as to how he would proceed with the ACNA, leaving Hiltz to opine that he, Welby, would have an "extensive ministry of reconciliation". Hiltz told the Anglican Journal that, "[what] I get is a sense that he wants to be personally pro-active to build relations," without saying whom he would build them with. Reconciliation with what and whom remains an open question.

Hiltz said he requested that if bodies of the Church of England are to meet with representatives of ACNA, "in fairness, they should also meet with us to get a better picture." Welby was "very appreciative" of the place of the Anglican Church of Canada in the Communion and the contributions it has been able to make, added Hiltz.

Clearly Welby is too smart to give his hand away, leaving Hiltz to wonder what plans Welby has for North American Anglicanism.

The two met at Auckland Castle, the official residence of the bishop of Durham, in County Durham, England. The discussion included plans by the Episcopal diocese of Jerusalem to launch a financial appeal that has the potential to be a Communion-wide campaign.

On Mar. 21, 2013, Hiltz will be part of a group of church leaders across the Anglican Communion who will attend the new archbishop's enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral.

Welby, 56, was an executive in the oil industry for 11 years before he pursued a degree in theology in 1989. Welby began his ecclesiastical career at Holy Trinity Brompton in London coming under the influence of the evangelically driven ALPHA. He was ordained a deacon in 1992 and spent 15 years in the diocese of Coventry as curate and rector of various parishes. In 2007, he was installed a dean of Liverpool Cathedral and three years later became the bishop of Durham.


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