July 24, 2010

Rules? What Rules?

There has been much confusion recently about the rules governing The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The ACC has been notable among Anglican bodies for actually having rules, a written Constitution (along with its Schedule of Membership) and Bylaws. I wrote about this in December after Secretary General Kenneth Kearon, in his letter sending the covenant draft to the provinces, referred to the “Articles of Association of the Anglican Consultative Council.” This was confusing to most of us who thought the AAC was governed by its Constitution and Bylaws. (See my posts “Communion Transparency” and “Communion Transparency, Take 2.”)

As I explained in “Communion Transparency, Take 2,” the ACC, which had been an unincorporated entity, was in the process of becoming a private limited company in England and Wales. In its new incarnation under English law, it would be governed by its Articles of Association. For the past few months, before the Articles received governmental approval—that seems to have happened on July 12, 2010—the ACC apparently has been operating under the Articles, which the Anglican Communion Office refused to make public. (Lewis Carroll had nothing on the ACC.) Questions about how the ACC is being run have recently been raised by the Anglican Communion Institute and the American Anglican Council. A related story by George Conger in The Church of England Newspaper did inspire confidence.

As is obvious from “Communion Transparency, Take 2,” ACC-13 seems to have approved a kind of blank check with regard to the contents of the Articles needed to incorporate the ACC, a fact that helps explain the anxiety about ACC rules expressed both from the right and from the left.

The Standing Committee—its members have wisely decided not to refer to the body as the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion”—is meeting now, and Anglican C0mmunion News Service has just reported on its first day of work. That story notes that the new Articles of Association are now in effect and govern the work of the ACC. (The article raises other issues I will skip over here.)

All the foregoing is context for what happened to me when I sat down to work at my computer today. Taking up Jim Naughton’s challenge, I had begun a few days ago to compare, provision-by-provision, the former rules of the ACC to the new rules. Today, I discovered that the Constitution and Bylaws of the ACC had been replaced at their accustomed place by the new Articles of Association. As best as I can tell, the old ACC rules have disappeared from the Anglican Communion Web site. This sent me into something of a panic, as, for a time, I thought I had lost the previously posted Constitution and Bylaws.

I had been perplexed by the fact that the Constitution and Bylaws that had been on the Web three days ago were, in fact, dated July 21, 2010. That was strange, since I assumed they had not been changed recently. An emergency telephone call to my friend Dr. Joan Gundersen brought me two previous copies of the material. At first, all three documents seemed to be the same, though they were formatted differently. Then I discovered that they differed in the wording of section 3a of the Constitution. The most recently published version reflected the change passed by ACC-12 in 2002 and discussed in “Communion Transparency, Take 2.” Neither of Dr. Gundersen’s documents showed this change. One was dated March 18, 2005, but was copied from the Anglican Communion Web site in 2009. The other was dated February 18, 2005, and was likely copied before March 18, 2005. Since amendments to the ACC Constitution must be ratified by two-thirds of the provinces to take effect, who knows when the change to section 3a actually took effect! Perhaps that happened a few days ago, perhaps years ago. I suspect that someone was updating a document long outdated just before it was to be superseded. There is clearly another Communion transparency problem here, likely one resulting from inattention or incompetence. (Readers are free to compare the three versions of the Constitution and Bylaws of the ACC I have provided to see if they find additional substantive differences. I suspect there are others.)

Cover page: “The Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council”In any case, my paranoia led me to think that the disappearance of the old regulations for the ACC was evidence of a deliberate attempt to discourage the kind of comparison of old rules to new that I had already begun. My paranoia was hardly abated when I discovered that the version of the Articles of Association now posted on the Anglican Communion Web site—you can view the document here, in case it changes soon, as it likely will—is not a searchable, text-based, PDF file (and is therefore difficult to work with). Interestingly, the corresponding document that was posted on the Web July 19, 2010, included several administrative pages from Companies House and was searchable. The version on the Anglican Communion site now omits six largely useless administrative pages from Companies House and is prefixed by a cover page that declares that what follows is “The Constitution of The Anglican Consultative Council.”

Do Rowan Williams, Kenneth Kearon, and the rest of the Lambeth crew really think that no one is paying attention or cares how they do their jobs?

No Anglican Covenant

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  1. We agree completely -- which may surprise you. :-)

    The new articles clearly assume the despicable covenant. Dr. Williams has for sometime been referring to "the Anglican Church (my emphasis.) He means it and his model is curial. He seems determined to forge it with whatever tactics are needed including some that are in my view way less than honorable.


    It is time for us to wander off and invite other provinces to join us in a new communion. The church can go burn white smoke or whatever when Dr. Williams becomes "his holiness."


  2. How can we think that this kind of bait and switch and lack of transparency is not sinister? If there is no motivation to hide, then why not more transparency about what is actually going on?

    Will our representatives on the ACC clarify the situation for us? Many questions.


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