Emerging Provinces of the Anglican Communion will be helped towards membership of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) under guidelines agreed at the Council's meeting in Panama City today, 15 October 1996. Following the guidelines will ensure new Provinces the opportunity to benefit from the advice of the ACC and the experience of other Provinces.
The resolution passed strengthens the Council's commitment to helping in the creation of new Provinces and urges those involved to consult the ACC's Secretary-General and other officers as early as possible. In that way, the new province will have access to the resources and experience of the ACC throughout the process of constructing its constitution.
The guidelines are not intended to be a legal requirement but a flexible aid. The Rev John Rees, of the ecclesiastical law firm Winckworth and Pemberton, pointed out, "In a number of instances in recent years, although the ACC has been ready and willing to offer advice and assistance to Provinces in process of formation, it has not in fact been consulted until the process has become so far advanced that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate any of its suggestions into the proposed constitutional documents."
Discussions on the guidelines threw up the need for a change to the ACC's own constitution. Membership of the ACC must be agreed not only by the Council itself but also by two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion. Since a Province can be a member of the Anglican Communion without being a member of the ACC, it was possible for a Primate to be asked whether or not he agreed to his own Province becoming a member of the ACC. The Council resolved to restrict consultation to the Primates of ACC member Provinces.