LONDON – The legislative body of the Church of England, the General Synod, will be asked to decide whether it wants to be in communion with the newly founded Anglican Church of North America.
A Private Members Motion (PMM) was tabled last Friday by lay member Lorna Ashworth calling for recognition of ACNA, which unites into a single church some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes that have severed ties with The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada over their liberal shift.
The PMM invites the Synod to "express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America."
Because the PMM received 126 members' signatures at the York General Synod, the business committee of the Church of England's General Synod will have to set a date for a debate when it meets in September.
The Bishops of Winchester, Ely, Europe, Rochester and Blackburn have all expressed public support for the PMM, as well as the Suffragan Bishops of Willesden, Beverley and Burnley.
In commenting on the PMM, Ashworth said, "This motion is about wanting to stand in solidarity with our orthodox Anglican brothers and sisters in North America. This indicates that a substantial number of synod members want to declare their common faith and common fellowship with them."
The Rev. Paul Perkin, a member of the General Synod and chair of the steering committee of the orthodox Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, said the issue of expressing solidarity with ACNA had assumed "further urgency" following TEC's rejection this week of the Communion-wide moratorium on consecrating bishops in same-sex relationships.
The PMM, he said, "therefore needs to be considered by the Synod at the earliest opportunity, namely in the February sessions in 2010."
ACNA, which was officially established last month, is led by Archbishop Bob Duncan, the former Bishop of Pittsburgh in TEC who was deposed by TEC's presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, in 2008. In England, ACNA has received the backing of the Bishops of Chester, Chichester, Rochester, Lewes and Winchester, as well as from the Church of England Evangelical Council and Anglican Mainstream.