The Anglican Diocese of Chile, which is currently part of the Province of the Anglican Church of South America, should become a Province in its own right, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has decided. Before the change can be made formally, the ACC’s constitution requires the assent of two thirds of Anglican Primates. David White, the Chief Operating Officer at the Anglican Communion Office, told the Standing Committee members that a quarter of Primates had responded positively so far, and more notifications are expected in the coming weeks.
Chile’s journey towards becoming the 40th Province of the Anglican Communion began in response to significant growth of the Anglican Church in the country. It has the support of its existing province, whose bishops affirmed the election of new bishops to serve the new Province, should the move go ahead.
In July, Samuel Morrison was consecrated as Bishop of the new Diocese of Valparaíso and Enrique Lago for the new Diocese of Concepción. The current assistant bishop of Chile, Abelino Apeleo, will lead the new Diocese of Temuco and the current diocesan bishop, Héctor Zavala, will lead the new Diocese of Santiago and serve as Primate of the new Anglican Province.
A working party from the Standing Committee visited Chile in August to assess whether the diocese was ready to become a Province. They adopted guidelines approved by a number of ACC meetings on provincial status, including the impact on mission of the new and existing provinces, financial stability, and organisational sustainability.
Members of the working party unanimously recommended Provincial status for the diocese; and their recommendation was enthusiastically supported by the Standing Committee.
The diocese, known as Iglesia Anglicana de Chile (IACH) – the Anglican Church of Chile – “clearly takes very seriously the need to develop church leaders with strong biblical and theological knowledge and good formation for ministry”, the working group said in their report. “We believe that IACH has developed appropriate training for ordination and for laity. We welcome the commitment that we have heard describe to develop more teaching around understanding the Anglican Communion and Anglican identity.”
They add: “IACH has convinced us of its strong sense of belonging to the Anglican Communion and that it wants this to be maintained and developed. We very much welcome its vision of the Anglican Church as a focus for unity and its desire to understand differences and remain in Communion despite these.”
Following the discussion on Chile, the Standing Committee discussed new draft procedures for the consideration of new Provinces of the Anglican Communion. The new procedures were prepared by a working party led by Margaret Swinson, the ACC’s Vice-Chair, with the support of legal advisor Canon John Rees.
Currently, the process for recognising new provinces follows a series of resolutions passed at different meetings of the ACC. In light of an expected increase in the number of applications for provincial status, the Standing Committee have endorsed a new composite procedure, which will be discussed at the next meeting of the ACC, when it gathers in Hong Kong next April.