The Anglican Church in North America certainly failed to earn the Church of England’s imprimatur in the General Synod Wednesday as lay member Lorna Ashworth’s resolution was adopted only after being amended beyond recognition. (See “A Shot Across the Bow.”) ACNA did not get nothing—The Episcopal Church would have preferred that the Ashworth proposal simply be voted down—but it got little more than a modicum of sympathy and the implied advice that it should seek Communion recognition in the standard fashion. The Ashworth ploy was a high-risk gamble that did not pay off. Matthew Davies’ excellent story for Episcopal News Service suggests that ACNA had invested heavily in the General Synod maneuver.
So, what was the reaction of ACNA to its failure in the General Synod? The story on the ACNA Web site carries the headline “General Synod Affirms Anglican Church in North America.” The subhead on that story immediately belies the headline: “General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, affirmed the Anglican Church in North America’s desire ‘to remain within the Anglican family.’” Well, this isn’t saying much, is it? ACNA wanted recognition; it got recognition that it wanted recognition.
The original, eviscerated Ashworth motion is never quoted in the ACNA story, lest readers recognize the chasm between what was asked and what was offered. Yet minor variations of “affirms our desire to remain within the Anglican family” are repeated in each of the first three paragraphs of the ACNA story. If said often enough, we are supposed to believe that such affirmation is of some real significance. In fact, ACNA is already a part, albeit a rather embarrassing part, of the “Anglican family.” It is, of course, not a part of the Anglican Communion, and, God willing, never will be.
In the second paragraph of the ACNA story, Archbishop Bob Duncan is quoted as saying, “It is very encouraging that the synod recognizes and affirms our desire to remain within the Anglican family.” He told The Washington Times reporter Julia Duin essentially the same thing. He then departed from his message (and the truth) by explaining to Duin, “They have basically said they favor overlapping provinces here.” (You can read The Washington Times story here.)
Anyone who thinks that what was passed by the Church of England’s General Synod represents a validation of the Anglican Church in North America and advances its aspiration to replace The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada as members of the Anglican Communion should read the Rev. Brian Lewis’s description of how the General Synod got from the originally proposed motion to the one that was finally adopted. You can find it on Mark Harris’s blog, Preludium. For readers up for a more sarcastic (and more amusing) view of what happened Wednesday in the General Synod, I recommend this post on GAFCON (God and Father Christian: Obscuring Nothing).
Predictably, Bob Duncan has done what he always does when he is delivered a defeat: he declares victory and moves on. It is anyone’s guess how long his followers will continue to fall for this. The wisdom of that great sage Phineas Taylor Barnum suggests that Duncan may have a long run.