From Christian News Release Service
A MOTHER-OF-THREE children from Eastbourne is officially to ask the Church of England’s Parliament (General Synod) to support Anglicans in the USA and Canada who are unwilling to conform to what they perceive to be their churches’ reaction of historic Anglican teaching and practice.
Lorna Ashworth, aged 39, a lay-woman who has been representing the Chichester Diocese on General Synod since 2005, has tabled a Private Members Motion (PMM) – similar to a Backbenchers-motion in the House of Commons – and has gained 126 signatures in support, including, unusually, eight bishops, plus the prolocutors of both Houses of Clergy of Canterbury and York, and three elected members of the Archbishops’ Council.
Lorna, who was born in Canada and moved to England some 14 years ago, has maintained a close interest in the pressures faced by orthodox Anglicans in North America. She will lead a debate on the afternoon of Wednesday 10 February (General Synod meets 8-12 February), and will call for a vote on the following motion: “That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America”.
She said: “It is my desire to give Synod an opportunity to hear about the unfair treatment of people who have continued to maintain the Anglican faith in doctrine, practice and worship, and to express their continuing fellowship with them as loyal Anglicans.”
In the view of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) and many of their own continuing members, the leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) have continued to reject historic teaching in relation to the Authority of Scripture, the Unique Lordship of Jesus Christ and the Biblical teaching on marriage.
Mrs Ashworth who attends All Saints’ Church in Eastbourne, said: “In my presentation I hope to give key examples how faithful Anglicans have been unable to accept developments in TEC's /ACoC’s agenda. They are not being allowed to dissent on the grounds of faith or conscience. Most Anglicans worldwide hold firm to the historic/orthodox doctrine and practice. Such Anglicans in North America would be grateful for a clear lead from the General Synod, over which the Archbishop of Canterbury presides.”
Mrs Ashworth said: “In the USA alone, an estimated $30 million has been spent on property litigation, and 491 clergy inhibited or deposed across the spectrum of church traditions. This includes the deposition of Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, Bishop Henry Scriven and former British theologian Dr James Packer, and of the personal difficulties caused by the bringing of legal proceedings against lay people.
“Our leaders, such as Dr Rowan Williams, have done what they can through the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant process. This debate is not about those processes, nor is it a debate on their official position in the structures of the Anglican Communion. This debate is about fairness. It is about fairness in making and implementing decisions in church life. My case is that loyal Anglicans in the United States, and my own native Canada, have been treated unfairly in the current debates in those churches.”
Synod members will be given examples of how orthodox churches have been treated and at a special fringe meeting hosted by the Bishops of Winchester, Exeter and Blackburn on February 9, members will be able to quiz senior members of the ACNA: Bishop Don Harvey, recently appointed as Dean of the Province, Mrs Cynthia Brust of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Revd Dr Tory Baucom, Rector of Truro Church, Fairfax, and Dr Michael Howell, director of Forward in Faith in North America.
To date, it is believed that 12 bishops and 404 clergy in The Episcopal Church and six bishops and 69 clergy in Canada have been removed from office by their liberal diocese or have had to resign over issues of conscience. Lawsuits between individual clergy and Bishops/diocese and congregations and bishops/diocese are increasing monthly in the US and Canada and seriously damaging the Christian witness of the Church.
The back-bench Synod member concluded: “This debate is not intended to knock TEC or ACoC. There remain many good and Godly people, clergy and lay, in TEC and ACoC who love their church and love their Lord – they too need our support. Like most of us they do not like controversy or division in the Body of Christ and simply wish to find grace to live out the faith they profess.
“In asking Synod to express a desire to be in communion with ACNA, there is therefore no suggestion that we should not remain in communion with TEC or ACoC, nor am I suggesting that everyone in ACNA is a paragon of perfection. Rather, it is a recognition that there is a considerable and growing body of faithful Anglicans representing a wide range of church traditions, many of whom have been hurt, who are now members of ACNA.
“At present 742 congregations are affiliated with ACNA. They would be grateful to know that they are in full communion with the Church of England as the Windsor/Covenant process works through. In some cases it might also help parishes to retain the property they have built and paid for!”
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