December 27, 2009

Communion Transparency, Take 2

Dr. Joan Gundersen has offered insight into the apparent changes that have occurred in the rules governing the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). (See “Communion Transparency.”) In particular, she has pointed out that the ACC decided to change its legal status at its 2005 meeting. I don’t know what kind of entity the ACC had been within the British legal system, but it has now become (or is becoming—there’s that transparency issue again) a charitable company. Also, I don’t really understand the significance of the change, but I think it is a response to modifications of British law and to concerns about liability. In any case, the resolution below (#3) was passed in by ACC-13:
Constitutional Change (ACC to be a charitable company)
The Anglican Consultative Council:
  1. notes and approves the draft memorandum and articles proposed by the Standing Committee in order to reconstitute the work of the Council within the framework of a limited liability company as requested by ACC 11 and ACC 12
  2. authorises the Standing Committee to make such final amendments to the documentation as may be needed in the light of this Council’s discussions and the views of the Primates Meeting, and in accordance with legal advice and any further comments received from the Charity Commissioners
  3. requests the Standing Committee to establish such a body with charitable status in accordance with the such approved draft Memorandum and Articles as amended as a result of any such views, advice or comments
  4. resolves to transfer to the new charitable company all the Council’s assets and liabilities in due course and to wind up the affairs of the existing legal entity once the new arrangements are in
The ACC-11 resolution referred to above apparently is the following, from the ACC’s 1999 meeting (see item d):
Resolution 6: Constitutional Amendments
  1. That the amendments to the constitution set out in the constitutional documents be adopted and referred to the provinces for ratification in accordance with article 10.
  2. That the amendments to the bylaws set out in the constitutional documents be adopted with immediate effect.
  3. Resolved that the Guidelines for ACC Meetings set out in the constitutional documents be adopted with immediate effect.
  4. That the Standing Committee consider, and if it thinks fit, adopt an appropriate legal structure for the ongoing work of the council within the framework of a limited company in accordance with legal advice and any directions of the charity commissioners for England and Wales, but so far as possible in all other respects in accordance with the existing constitutional arrangements.
It is less clear what ACC-12 resolution or resolutions are referred to in the ACC-13 resolution. Perhaps it is this one:
Resolution 41: ACC Constitution
This Anglican Consultative Council:
  1. asks that the Standing Committee appoint a committee to review the Constitution and By-Laws of the ACC, and to report to the Standing Committee;
  2. asks that the Standing Committee circulate such proposals for amendment to the members of ACC in advance of ACC-13.
In any case, another ACC-12 resolution is interesting, as it suggests that, no matter how implemented, the Standing Committee, not the ACC itself, was destined to be the body adding new ACC members:

Resolution 37: Future Alterations to the Schedule of Membership

This Anglican Consultative Council:
Resolves to amend the Constitution as follows: In the third line of clause 3 (a) delete the word “Council”, and insert the words “Standing Committee”.
So it appears likely that the “Articles of Association of the Anglican Consultative Council” referred to by Canon Kenneth Kearon in his letter to the provinces refers to a new but undisclosed governing document of the ACC required by its new legal status. Does this mean that the ACC constitution is no longer in effect? Did the Standing Committee take advantage of the latitude granted it by Resolution 3 of ACC-13 to transfer additional powers from the ACC to itself? What are the rules for the ACC now? In an organization with a tradition of acting transparently and respecting the least of those affected by its actions, we would not have to ask such questions. This is the Anglican Communion, however.

No Anglican Covenant

1 comment:

  1. Like Tobias responding to your previous post, I also mourn the end of the Anglican Communion, or at least the Anglican-Communion-as-we-have-known-it. I also agree with you that writing new articles of incorporation for the Anglican Consultative Council us an activity that should have involved some transparency, and perhaps Communion-wide representation, the focus on English corporate law notwithstanding. We have discovered all too often recently (as in our recent church litigation) that what gets written into articles of incorporation can direct events for some time to come.

    (NB: the verification word is "mootall;" and this all may already be moot if those articles of incorporation make big, hidden changes.)


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