The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council met on 27 April in Hong Kong to deal with its regular business and to prepare for the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17), which began the following day (Sunday 28 April). Fifteen members were present with Archbishop of Hong Kong, Paul Kwong, Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, chairing the meeting.
After a number of formalities, members of the Standing Committee considered the question of youth membership on the Consultative Council. A resolution at ACC-16 requested a change in the constitution to allow one youth to attend as a full member from each of the five regions of the Communion.
In September 2018, the Standing Committee went further than the original resolution and agreed to include two youth members to ACC for each region of the Communion. They stipulated that the appointed members must be over the age of 18 and under the age of 35 at the time of the one or two meetings for which they would be appointed.
At this meeting, the committee approved the change to take effect immediately. Eight youth members from five regions across the Anglican Communion will attend ACC-17 as full voting members including being eligible for the standing committee.
A report from the Inter-Anglican Finance and Administration Committee was presented and discussed. The committee is awaiting final audited figures for the last financial year.
Considerable time was taken in discussing requests for two potential new Anglican Communion provinces. One would cover the area of the Diocese of Egypt. Currently part of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Diocese covers most of the North Africa and also the Horn of Africa. The other would give provincial status to the Anglican Church of Ceylon, which currently operates as an extra-provincial area under the Metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Standing Committee agreed to set up two different exploration committees to look into the circumstances of each of these requests as part of the Council’s guidelines for recognising new provinces. As there is a degree of urgency, the two committees have been asked to report back to the Standing Committee as soon as possible.
Another item of business concerned the Anglican Centre in Rome. In 2018, the Centre’s Governors initiated a governance review which produced a number of recommendations. One of them was that the Centre’s primary identification within the Anglican Communion should be with the Anglican Consultative Council rather than with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Standing Committee welcomed the recommendation. If the Trustees of the Anglican Centre in Rome approve the changes recommended by the review, including structural changes around the composition of the Board of Governors, two new Governors representing the ACC would be appointed.
The Committee also received a proposal to authorise a new official Anglican Communion Church Planting Network that would work alongside the Season of Intentional Discipleship coordinating group initiated at ACC-16. It noted that church planting – the establishment of new Christian communities – is extensive within the Anglican Communion.
The network would have an online platform that according to their instituting document would enable the Church to tell “stories of grassroots experience; sharing news, ideas, theological and liturgical material, and information about church planting models of mission, ministry and good practice with a view to improving ministry and practice in their own context; providing information and briefings to the Instruments of Communion; and supporting one another in prayer and in practical ways to strengthen loving service and friendships in Christ’s name.”
The founding members of the Church Planting Network are Archbishop Tito Zavala, Primate of the new Anglican Church of Chile, who will serve as Chair; and Bishop Ric Thorpe, an assistant bishop in the Church of England’s Diocese of London, who will serve as Vice Chair. Bishop Ric is leading the Diocese of London’s efforts to open 100 new worshipping communities by 2020. The Standing Committee heard that the new network would have representation from across the Anglican Communion.
The Standing Committee received an update on plans for ACC-17 and considered some agenda items. Thanks was offered to two members – Bishop Eraste Bigirimana of Burundi and Louisa Mojela of South Africa – as they have completed their term as members. Elections to replace them, and another casual vacancy, will be take place later this week during the Anglican Consultative Council meeting.
The Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong (centre), with two members of the ACC Standing Committee who are stepping down at the conclusion of their term of office