When the Diocese of Fort Worth voted Nov. 15 to become the fourth American diocese to leave The Episcopal Church, the leadership of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) scheduled a constitutional convention in the Chicago area Dec. 3 to form a new North American Anglican province. The event will be followed by “a province-by-province visitation and appeal for recognition of the separate ecclesiastical structure in North America.”

Significant details about the plan were revealed in a short AnglicanTV internet video clip containing remarks delivered by Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and Bishop Bill Murdoch, a missionary bishop to the U.S. consecrated by the Anglican Church of Kenya.

The board of trustees for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) met Nov. 7-12 at Christ Church, Vero Beach, Fla., according to information published on the parish website. The ARDF board contains a number of primates who have been sympathetic to the objectives of the Common Cause Partnership. Collectively they refer to themselves as the “Primates Council.” During the meeting at Christ Church, some of those primates present agreed to recognize the new province if the leadership of the CCP would “set aside territorial issues and ego struggles” and sign the so-called Jerusalem Declaration drafted during the Global Anglican Future Conference in the Middle East in June.

The Common Cause Partnership consists of the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.

The unilateral creation of a new province just two months before the start of a scheduled primates’ meeting leaves Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams with seemingly little room to maneuver. After the House of Bishops deposed Bishop Duncan in September, the Most Rev. Ian Ernest, Archbishop of the Indian Ocean and president of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, wrote to Bishop Duncan, noting in part: “we continue to recognize you as a bishop in good standing in the Anglican Communion. Your commitment to orthodox Christian doctrine grounded in the Holy Scriptures is after all the mark of your identity as a true believer in the Anglican tradition. Your grace, patience and forbearance in the face of opposition to your holy calling is an example to us all.”

The CAPA primates represent more than a third of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces when their like-minded primates among the so-called Global South provinces are included.

Steve Waring

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