Frequently Asked Questions
About the AAC, the Anglican Communion, and The Episcopal Church
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FAQs ABOUT THE AAC
How many members does the AAC have?
The AAC’s membership includes individual members as well as whole parishes, ministries, chapters and dioceses. The AAC has approximately 330 affiliate parishes in almost 40 states, with a growing segment (currently about 15%) representing Anglican churches affiliated with overseas dioceses; 39 affiliate ministries; over 20 chapters; and three affiliated Episcopal dioceses. Through its individual and parish membership, the AAC represents an estimated 80,000 individuals.
Is the AAC part of The Episcopal Church? (Why doesn’t the AAC LEAVE the Episcopal Church?)
The AAC is not part of The Episcopal Church and therefore cannot “leave” it. Although the AAC works with individual churches, priests and laity within parts of The Episcopal Church, the AAC is entirely separate from any ecclesial body – it has never been under the auspices or authority of The Episcopal Church. The AAC opposes the direction of the national Episcopal Church leadership, which we believe has rejected biblical Christianity and is following a path that does not conform to historic, orthodox Anglicanism.
Is the AAC a “church”?
No. The AAC is an organization centered primarily on advocacy, communications, counsel and advice (legal and otherwise), and education. We do not carry out ordinations or consecrations, and although our advocacy impacts the work of the Church, we do not have any official voice or vote in either The Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion.
What is the AAC’s position on women’s ordination?
The AAC has individual members and affiliate congregations/ministries with differing views on women’s ordination, and we respect these differing opinions. This issue has been studied and debated within the Anglican Communion, and, based on Scriptural evidence, was deemed an issue upon which Christians might have legitimate differences within the bonds of the Anglican Communion. (This conclusion is unlike that made by the Communion on sexuality issues.)
What is the AAC’s position on abortion?
The AAC’s Covenant of Faith (“A Place to Stand”) states our position on the sanctity of life: “All human life is a sacred gift from God and is to be protected and defended from conception to natural death. We will uphold the sanctity of life and bring the grace and compassion of Christ to those who face the realities of previous abortion, unwanted pregnancy, and end-of-life illness.”
How are the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) and the AAC related? (How is the AAC difference from/similar to the Network?)
The ACN, whose formal title is the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, was established in 2004, eight years after establishment of the AAC. The AAC served as the ACN’s secretariat until mid-2005, but the two organizations have been entirely separate since that time.
Composed of U.S. dioceses and parishes, the ACN was incorporated under the constitution of The Episcopal Church (TEC), whereas the AAC works flexibly in the Americas with those still in TEC as well as with those who have disaffiliated from TEC. The ACN does not provide for individual lay membership, as it is strictly an ecclesial body, whereas the AAC is an advocacy- and communications-focused organization encouraging and equipping individual, congregational and ministry affiliates. The AAC and ACN work in complementary ways to uphold biblical orthodoxy and to work for Anglican realignment in North America. Both are also connected through membership in Common Cause Partners (see above).
Does the AAC use the 1928 or 1979 Book of Common Prayer?
Since the AAC is not a church, we do not advocate a particular Prayer Book. Some of our members use the 1928 Prayer Book, some the 1979, and some the missal.
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FAQs ABOUT THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION & U.S. EPISCOPAL CHURCH
What is the Anglican Communion?
The Anglican Communion is a worldwide communion of 38 Anglican provinces with approximately 77 million baptized members.
What is The Episcopal Church (TEC)?
TEC is the new name for what was formerly known as the Episcopal Church USA, or ECUSA; the name was officially changed by General Convention 2006. TEC is currently the U.S. province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
How many churches have left The Episcopal Church (TEC)?
This number is difficult to pinpoint and depends on how the churches are counted; there is no official count or list at this time due to the inherent difficulty in obtaining an accurate and useful figure. Since 2000, an estimated 200 churches have left The Episcopal Church—at least 100 of those since General Convention 2003. These churches have either fully disassociated from TEC, or experienced a congregational split that resulted in a newly formed Anglican church and a (usually small) remnant of the original Episcopal church still loyal to TEC. In addition, hundreds of individual Episcopalians are leaving their Episcopal churches every week, many of them forming and/or joining churches affiliated with overseas Anglican dioceses or other Anglican-tradition organizations that adhere to historic, orthodox Anglicanism.
How many dioceses have left The Episcopal Church (TEC)?
1 diocese has left TEC. The Diocese of San Joaquin, California, under the leadership of Bishop John-David Schofield voted to leave TEC and realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South American in December of 2007. Two other Dioceses, Forth-Worth and Pittsburgh, are scheduled to take a deciding vote in the fall of 2008 to decide if they will realign or not.
Seven dioceses in 2006 requested “alternative primatial oversight,” indicating their rejection of the direction of the Church and of the authority of the newly elected Presiding Bishop, but their action does not constitute a withdrawal of membership in TEC. Their action represents a desire to remain connected with the Anglican Communion. *Note: An eighth diocese, Dallas, requested an “alternative primatial relationship” from the Archbishop of Canterbury but later withdrew its appeal (though still indicated its rejection of the trajectory of the church and of its new Presiding Bishop).
What is meant by “orthodoxy”?
“Orthodoxy” refers to doctrine, teaching and practice consistent with Scripture and traditions of the Christian Church (based on the four Councils of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon; the 39 Articles of Religion; the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral; and the 1888 Lambeth Conference).
What is “revisionism”?
Revisionism, also known as “Progressive Christianity,” seeks to change theological, doctrinal and moral essentials of orthodox Christianity. This version of Christianity offers a “new gospel.” Revisionists often reject the authority of Scripture and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation.
What is the “crisis” in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion?
The Episcopal Church (and a few other parts of the Anglican Communion, including the Anglican Church in Canada) faces an extreme crisis of belief centered on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Savior and the authority of Scripture. This crisis has resulted in conflicts over specific behavior and practices that are informed by Scripture, including issues concerning human sexuality and marriage, though these issues are in reality symptoms of the deeper issues.
What is Lambeth 1.10?
Lambeth 1.10 was a “resolution on human sexuality” passed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference; it has since been upheld by each of the other three instruments of Anglican unity as the Communion’s mind on human sexuality. The resolution upholds, among other things:
-marriage defined as “between a man and a woman in a lifelong union”
-abstinence for those who are not called to marriage
-homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture”
-rejection of “legitimising or blessing of same sex unions” and of ordination of “those involved in same gender unions”
-recognition of the need to “minister pastorally and sensitively” to all, including those who practice homosexuality
Lambeth 1.10 (Full Text)
What are the Lambeth Commission and the Windsor Report?
The Lambeth Commission was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury to examine the life of the Communion. The Windsor Report 2004 was developed by the Lambeth Commission; the report outlines the state of the Anglican Communion and how to address issues threatening to divide the worldwide Church.
Windsor Report (PDF download)
Lambeth Commission Web site
Isn’t this issue of homosexuality just like women’s ordination and civil rights, and one day the church will just change and learn to accept it?
Issues of sexuality are not justice or civil rights issues; rather sexuality is a theological and doctrinal issue addressed and settled by plain reading of Scripture. Homosexuality is condemned in Scripture as sinful regardless of the context. (There is no provision for “committed partnerships” or same-sex unions.) The Church is called to lovingly lead sinners toward repentance and transformation (if they are willing) rather than embrace sinful behavior. In addition, the Anglican Communion has stated clearly that the questions surrounding the ordination of women are not considered “essentials of faith,” and, therefore, differing views on the issue of women’s ordination are accepted within the Communion. In other words, the Communion has “agreed to disagree.” The Anglican Communion has expressed its mind on issues of sexuality, however, and upholds Scripture and historic teaching on sexuality.
Where can I find a list of how bishops have voted?
Some key decisions made by the House of Bishops are recorded:
In many cases, however, bishops vote by voice, and therefore no record of their vote exists. (An example of an unrecorded voice vote in the House of Bishops is the 2003 vote on Resolution C051 on Blessings of Same-Sex Unions.) Additionally, the election of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is conducted by secret ballot, so votes of individual bishops are not recorded. In these cases, the only indication of how a particular bishop voted is his/her own word if he/she chooses to reveal that information.
What is via media?
Traditionally, the term via media has been used to describe the middle way between the Reformed/Protestant expression of faith and Roman Catholicism. With the rise of revisionism, via media has been re-interpreted as the middle of extremes between conservative and liberal theology—it is described as the “moderate position,” even though its proponents are actually departing from the most basic tenets of historic and biblical Christianity, thereby rendering it a new tool of revisionism. Groups such as Via Media USA have formed to promote this redefined via media concept.
What are the “Common Cause Partners” and who are they?
Founded in June 2004, Common Cause Partners is an alliance of churches and ministries in the orthodox Anglican tradition in North America. The alliance represents over 200,000 Anglican Christians and includes the following groups:
American Anglican Council (AAC)
Anglican Coalition in Canada (ACiC)
Anglican Communion Network (ACN)
Anglican Mission in America (AMiA): missionary outreach to the U.S., sanctioned jointly by the Anglican Archbishops of South East Asia and Rwanda
Anglican Network in Canada (ANC)
Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA): the Anglican missionary effort in the U.S., sponsored by the Anglican Province of Nigeria
Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA)
Federation of Anglican Churches in North America (FACA)
Reformed Episcopal Church (REC): est. in 1873 when it broke off from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.; is in fellowship with the Free Church of England and Anglican Province of America
What is Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO)?
APO means pastoral care and oversight that would normally be offered by one’s own provincial Archbishop or Presiding Bishop, but sought in another Primate or Archbishop in the Anglican Communion. The term emerged at the conclusion of the 2006 General Convention of The Episcopal Church as several orthodox dioceses dissatisfied with the direction of the Church, but desiring to maintain ties to the Anglican Communion, made requests for some type of APO arrangement. Most dioceses made the request primarily in response to the election of the new Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, whose theological views are in direct contrast to biblical Christian teaching. Obtaining APO would mean that the alternative archbishop would carry out ordinations, consecrations, pastoral visits, etc., and the Archbishop or Presiding Bishop of that region would be, for all practical purposes, absent from that diocese.
What are inhibitions and depositions in the Episcopal Church?
In the canons of The Episcopal Church, an “inhibition” refers to written, authoritative instructions from a bishop that a priest or deacon is to cease from exercising functions of ordained ministry. A “deposition” goes further than an inhibition, referring to the removal of the privileges of ordained ministry; also known as “defrocking.” In some cases, a deposition may be issued six months after an inhibition. Both depositions and inhibitions have been abused by Episcopal bishops in an apparent attempt to “control” orthodox clergy who are speaking out or seeking to affiliate with the AAC and/or Anglican Communion Network.
What is Adequate Episcopal Oversight (AEO)?
In their statement of October 2003, the Anglican Primates expressed "particular concern for those who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice" of provinces or dioceses that contravene the teaching of the Communion. As part of this concern, the Primates as a whole called “on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.” Oversightprovided solely by, and potentially manipulated by, offending authorities cannot be deemed acceptable. “Adequate” oversight must be determined by those who are seeking it.
What is Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO), and does the AAC support it?
In March 2004, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church approved a plan for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as a means to meet the pastoral needs of “dissenting” churches not wishing to receive oversight from the bishop of their diocese. DEPO does not adequately address structural relief (alternative jurisdiction) for faithful Episcopalians in hostile dioceses; the plan is viable only where it is unnecessary—that is, in the few dioceses where bishops would grant AEO. DEPO in no way fulfills the call of the Primates for adequate provision for Episcopal oversight.
What are the four “Instruments of Anglican Unity” and what are their purposes?
The four instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion, and each of their roles, are the:
- Archbishop of Canterbury (unique focus of unity; calls the Lambeth Conference; chairs the Primates’ meetings; President of the ACC)
- Lambeth Conference (gathering of the bishops of the Communion; meets once every 10 years)
- Primates (Archbishops of each province; meet regularly)
- Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) (includes one to three persons from every province; an advisory council which seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church)
The Anglican Communion understands itself to be a family formed by mutual responsibility and interdependence chiefly enabled through these four instruments. The four instruments are modeled on the early Church’s “conciliar structure” – a model upheld by both Scripture and tradition in which the Church met in councils to consider and resolve theological and doctrinal issues. Today, they are also responsible for articulating and upholding the mind of the Church on matters of doctrine and theology.
What is meant by the “Global South”?
In the Anglican Communion, “Global South” is the term used to refer to those provinces and dioceses near or south of the equator, particularly those in Africa, southern Asia, and Latin America. These Anglicans, representing approximately 70% of the Anglican Communion, meet together regularly; a majority of Global South leaders are deeply evangelical and are outspoken critics of the theological crisis in The Episcopal Church.
What is CAPA?
CAPA, or Council for Anglican Provinces of Africa, is an organization of 12 African provinces and the Diocese of Egypt—representing over 40 million Anglicans. CAPA is the largest and fastest growing segment of the Anglican Communion.
What is the significance of the February 2005 Primates’ Communiqué?
Meeting in Northern Ireland in late February 2005, the Primates of the Anglican Communion issued a closing communiqué that upheld the Communion’s traditional teaching on Scriptural authority and human sexuality (Lambeth 1.10); asked the U.S. and Canadian representatives to voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) until Lambeth 2008; called for the appointment of a Panel of Reference (see below); and called the North American churches to set out their thinking behind their actions at the upcoming June 2005 ACC meeting. The communiqué was a strong commitment by the worldwide Anglican Communion to reaffirm the apostolic faith and hold accountable those provinces which have abandoned traditional Christian teaching and practice. The statement makes clear that the two churches must choose between repentance marked by compliance with the Windsor Report, or face separation from the rest of the Communion.
What is the Panel of Reference?
Called for by the 2005 Primates’ Communique, the panel was to be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury “as a matter of urgency” to “supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions” made for “groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces.” This panel was called for to protect orthodox parishes and dioceses during the current crisis period and to reinforce the Primates’ October 2003 call for AEO (see above). The panel’s effectiveness has been seriously questioned, especially in light of the panel’s dismissal of the Connecticut Six case at the end of May 2006, as well as the inadequate report on the Diocese of New Westminster released in October 2006.
What does it mean to be “in communion” with one another? What is meant by “broken communion”?
Members of the Anglican Communion (38 provinces) are united by a common faith, doctrine, tradition and order. Broken, or impaired, communion indicates that one or more of the constituent members has breached the bonds of communion. Of the 38 provinces in the Anglican Communion, 22 have declared that they are in a state of broken, or impaired, communion with all or part of The Episcopal Church due to its actions.
What is GAFCON and what happened there?
GAFCON, which stands for the Global Anglican Future Conference, was an initiative pushed by several Global South Primates that called for a conference of orthodox Anglicans in Jerusalem in June, 2008. While there, bishop, clergy, and lay representives discussed the crisis of faith in the Anglican Communion and a possible way forward. On the conference's final day, the delegation of 1,400 ratified the "Jerusalem Decleration." This document outlined principals of orthodox Anglicanism and also called for a Primatial Council to be formed of those Primates that agreed with the Jerusalem Decleration. The document also called for a new province in North America to be formed from the Common Cause Partnership.
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