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Women and Authority in the ACNA. Don't They Already Have It?

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by jinc1019, Apr 29, 2018.

  1. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Hello All,

    I've long been interested in Anglicanism, but until relatively recently, I haven't lived in a place in which a regularly operating ACNA parish exists, and I never felt comfortable with the Episcopal Church, for a variety of reasons most of you could probably guess.

    As I've spent some more time recently investigating the ACNA, one thing struck me as rather surprising: Although the ACNA still doesn't allow the ordination of women to the office of Bishop, it does appear to give governing authority to women in the church. I found this very surprising given all the controversy surrounding women's ordination, so I'm wondering if I'm missing something.

    According to ACNA's Constitution, lay people are elected to serve in the ACNA's Assembly and its Provincial Council, the two bodies required to change the ACNA's Constitution. As far as I can tell, there are no prohibitions on women serving in the Assembly or in the Council, which means they already have the authority to vote on things like ordination standards, amending the Constitution, worship practices, and basically everything else, including the denomination's position on women ordination, the definition of marriage, etc.

    I was also surprised to see the ACNA's College of Bishops doesn't appear to have any authority over the Assembly/Provincial Council. This has led me to wonder: If women are serving alongside clergy in the Assembly and Council to make theological, governing decisions, aren't they already serving in governing roles and exercising authority over men in the church? Isn't that the primary objection many in the ACNA have to the concept of ordaining women to the Episcopate?

    What am I missing? Why is everyone in the ACNA OK with this but not OK with women serving as Elders or Bishops?
     
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  2. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Women elders (i.e. priests) ARE permitted in the ACNA, although women are not permitted to be bishops. They are also permitted to serve on governing boards and in other leadership positions, which might be said to allow them a certain authority over men, I realize.

    "What you are missing" is that the more conservative Anglican churches have opposed women as priests and bishops but not 1) women speaking in church or 2)women holding (any) positions of authority. Those objections are not heard among Anglicans, although they are big issues with some other denominations.
     
  3. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    I guess what I find most confusing is that if you're going to allow women to vote on theological matters at the highest level of the church, alongside bishops, what's the difference between doing that and allowing them to be bishops? Seems like they have equal authority to bishops since bishops only get one vote in the Assembly/Council, just like lay members.
     
  4. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Bishops have considerably more authority than other church members, but I acknowledge that, in some sense, anyone on a governing council in the church has oversight over the affairs of the church.

    However, the main difficulty I see here is that you are looking at the bishops as mere administrators, like the leaders of non-episcopal churches. We are looking at them primarily as spiritual leaders, protectors of the faith, guardians of the sacraments, supervisors of the clergy, etc.

    Incidentally, the bishops and the laity vote separately in church conventions where some of the most important decisions are made for the church, and it requires a majority in each body for passage of those proposals, as is also the case in the US Congress.

    **Bear in mind that I am trying to answer with a number of different churches in mind, and there are some variances between them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  5. everbecoming2007

    everbecoming2007 Well-Known Member

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    I hope I'm not derailing the thread by asking whether Continuing Anglican bodies are also governed in this way?
     
  6. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Hi Albion,

    Your reply here is what I thought was the case as well, but once I read Constitution and ACNA's website, I don't think that view is correct. (See here: Anglican Church in North America)

    According to ACNA's Constitution, the bishops don't have "considerably more authority" than lay members on the Provincial Council or the Assembly. The Council, which is half lay members, is where reforms originate. The Assembly, which is larger, "ratifies" those reforms. The bishops don't vote separately; they vote as members in the Council and Assembly, right alongside lay people.

    I think you, like myself previously, are assuming the College of Bishops, which is composed only of bishops, has authority to pass/approve/deny canons, Constitution changes, etc. I don't think it does. The Constitution says pretty clearly that the Council and Assembly make all those decisions, and both the Council and the Assembly are half lay members. I don't see anything prohibiting those lay members from being women, either, and it looks like everyone gets one vote.
     
  7. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    I have no idea.
     
  8. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Even if a governing council has one type of authority, wouldn't bishops exercise others (such as giving or withholding licences for ministry)?

    I admit I have no idea how ACNA does things, but I would think it unlikely that lay people are involved in that sort of process?
     
  9. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Hi, everbecoming. Voting by Orders? Yes, they do.
     
  10. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    You're focusing on the voting mechanism; I was speaking more generally there.

    If so, ACNA would be an exception to the usual Anglican system, and I wouldn't be completely surprised since that church has, from the start, wanted to modernize or make "more user-friendly" some of the things traditionally associated with the church. Strictly speaking, there aren't any dioceses either, as I get it, but they have "networks" in ACNA instead. And ACNA is officially a "convergence" church, which I find unnecessary and peculiar, but it is another example of those people thinking that they are reaching out in some way.

    Oh no. I didn't say that. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  11. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Got it. Thanks for clarifying. I had another Anglican elsewhere (someone in the ACNA who has attended the meetings) essentially say that although the Constitution may provide for the Council originating rules, guidelines, etc., in reality, the College of Bishops is leading the church and everyone else is just following their lead. According to another person, the rules mentioned above are there to stop bishops who might pull the church toward liberalism. Given the denomination's history, that probably makes sense. Thanks for your thoughts and insights, as always!
     
  12. mark46

    mark46 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    IMHO, the very strong authority of bishops is central to all Anglican bodies. Occasionally there are issues with the power of primates (or even if they have any at all).
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018
  13. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

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    ACNA has long had issues with consolidating as a singular church. It is, at best, a confederation. Entities such as REC, CANA, and MDAS hold a particular sway and will threaten boycott, hold-out, or secession as the case suits them. Really, any diocese in ACNA is largely independent. That is how an aberration like C4SO remains within the body alongside the majority of moderate dioceses and the conservatives (who I will not presume to enumerate). But they, if perhaps no one else, have come to embody ++Rowan Williams ideas for a way forward more than anyone else on the cusp of the communion.
     
  14. Kemet

    Kemet New Member

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    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
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