SAN ANTONIO, TX – The growing trend of legal cases that involve Christians and religious freedom makes Christian involvement in the law more important than ever. The Christian Legal Society (CLS) networks these lawyers together from every denomination, and it meets once a year to help bring resources and fellowship to every member. This year, the CLS came together in San Antonio, TX from October 28-30. The gathering included both workshops on various legal issues affecting Christian communities in the United States and lectures from speakers like Lee Strobel, James K.A. Smith, and others. The CLS was founded in 1961 and remains a fellowship of Christians dedicated to serving Jesus Christ through the practice and study of law, the defense of religious freedom and life, and the provision of legal aid to the needy. The American Anglican Council’s Anglican Legal Society (ALS) joined the CLS in San Antonio, taking one afternoon to meet under the leadership of Canon Phil Ashey. 

The Anglican Legal Society has had a close partnership with the CLS and has benefited from the relationships formed between their members. The ALS’s focus is on those issues affecting the Global Anglican Communion and the clergy and congregations of the Anglican Church in North America. In addition to networking Anglican lawyers who share a special interest in the legal challenges facing the Church and its mission in today’s culture, the ALS also involves chancellors of ACNA dioceses and local congregations who are committed to developing and applying canon law to help better govern the Church. Members meet regularly to discuss these challenges; share ideas, resources, and best practices; and support and pray for one another. 

The Anglican Legal Society has grown from 35 members in 2019 to 218 members today. This year’s annual meeting focused on learning from experts in religious freedom on how to assist our local congregations adopt best practices and governing documents that will stand against secular assaults on religious freedom of expression and association. Nineteen individuals joined the meeting online through Zoom while seventeen members attended in person from around North America. Ryan Tucker and Ali Kilmartin, both from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), were the first speakers of the day and presented some of the cases ADF is currently defending that are at the forefront of the current struggle for religious liberty. Jeff Mateer from the First Liberty Institute spoke about the current state of the church in the face of these legal and social pressures to conform to the anti-Christian worldview currently being promoted in both public and private organizations. Prior to the ALS meeting, members of the Governance Task Force met to make proposed changes to the ACNA Constitution and Canons.  These proposed changes were reviewed during the ALS meeting for input from those attending.

The Anglican Legal Society continues to embrace the American Anglican Council’s mission to be “always reforming the church” by equipping Anglican leaders to face the legal pressures of our day, develop the next generation of Anglican lawyers in the field, and produce good and godly canonical structures for the betterment of our province. If you would like to be involved in the ALS, please email The Rev. Cn. Phil Ashey at pashey@americananglican.org.

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