Frequently Asked Questions
No. The AAC is an independent nonprofit organization centered primarily on advocacy, education, counsel and advice (legal and otherwise), and education. We do not carry out ordinations or consecrations and are considered a non-ecclesial body that comes alongside dioceses and provinces to aid in strengthening biblical orthodoxy across ecclesial lines.
The American Anglican Council, which began in 1996, played an important role in helping to found the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The ACNA officially began December 3, 2008, at the culmination of a three-day meeting of the Common Cause Council, a leadership assembly that included three representatives from each of the nine Common Cause Partners Federation members. The council unanimously adopted a provisional constitution and nine initial canons that governed the church until a Provincial Assembly met June 22 – 25, 2009 in Bedford, Texas. That meeting amended and provided final ratification of the constitution and canons and installed the ACNA’s first Archbishop, Bob Duncan of the Pittsburgh diocese. The current Archbishop is the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach. Several Anglican provinces have recognized the Anglican Church in North America and are in full communion with them. These include:
- The Anglican Church of Nigeria
- The Anglican Church of Kenya
- The Church of Uganda
- The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America
- Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda
- The Anglican Church of Tanzania
- The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
- Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
- The Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Anglican Communion is a worldwide communion of 41 Anglican provinces with approximately 80 million baptized members. It is the fourth largest Christian denomination. The traditional origins of Anglican doctrines are summarised in the Thirty-nine Articles (1571). The Archbishop of Canterbury (currently Justin Welby) in England has acted, in the past, as a focus of unity and is traditionally recognized as primus inter pares (“first among equals”) but does not exercise authority in Anglican provinces outside of the Church of England. In recent decades, as Canterbury has embraced more progressive doctrines considered heretical by most Christians, the focus of unity has become a common pursuit of biblical orthodoxy and adherence to the Scriptures and Anglican tradition as expressed through the historical Anglican formularies. Due to their historical link to English Reformation (Ecclesia Anglicana means “English Church”), some of the member churches are known as “Anglican”, such as the Anglican Church in North America. Others, for example the Scottish Episcopal Church, have names which do not include the word “Anglican”. The Anglican Communion has recently begun to operate along theological lines, divided mainly into orthodox partnerships (GAFCON and the Global South) and liberal churches.
The four instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion, and each of their roles, are the:
- Archbishop of Canterbury (unique focus of unity; calls the Lambeth Conference; chairs the Primates’ meetings; President of the ACC)
- Lambeth Conference (gathering of the bishops of the Communion; meets once every 10 years)
- Primates (Archbishops of each province)
- Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) (includes one to three persons from every province; an advisory council which seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church)
GAFCON, which stands for the Global Anglican Future Conference, was an initiative led by several Global South Primates that called for a conference of orthodox Anglicans in Jerusalem in June, 2008. While there, bishop, clergy and lay representatives discussed the crisis of faith in the Anglican Communion and a possible way forward. On the conference’s final day, the delegation of 1,400 ratified the Jerusalem Declaration. This document outlined principals of orthodox Anglicanism and also called for a Primatial Council to be formed of those Primates that agreed with the Jerusalem Declaration. The document also called for a new province in North America to be formed from the Common Cause Partnership. In 2013 and 2018 the second and third GAFCON events were held. GAFCON currently represents the vast majority of practicing Anglicans.
Orthodoxy, in regards to the Anglican Church, refers to doctrine, teaching and practice consistent with Scripture, the theology of the Christian Church (based primarily on the first four Ecumenical Councils of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon), and the traditional Anglican formularies (the 39 Articles of Religion; the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral; the 1888 Lambeth Conference; the Jerusalem Document).
Liberalism, in regards to Anglicanism, is also known as revisionism or “Progressive Christianity.” It seeks to change theological, doctrinal and moral essentials of orthodox Anglicanism. This version of Christianity offers a “new gospel” based on humanist principles. Revisionists often reject the authority of Scripture and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation, and they often support the practice and promotion of sexually immoral practices and lifestyles.
The AAC has individual members and affiliate congregations/ministries with differing views on women’s ordination, and we respect these differing opinions. We also partner with provinces around the Global Anglican Communion, including the ACNA, who also have differing views. The AAC is committed to finding continued common ground in our work with all Anglican provinces, despite differing views on such issues, towards a more conciliar approach to Anglicanism worldwide.
The AAC supports the orthodox Christian view on marriage and sexuality and stands in line with most of the Christian denominations throughout the world. The issues of sexuality, which have divided the Church, are not justice or civil rights issues; rather sexuality is a theological and doctrinal issue addressed and settled by the plain reading of Scripture and the traditional interpretation of Scripture by the Church. We believe that holy matrimony unites one man and one woman in the sight of God, as has been the Church’s belief across denominational lines for centuries. In addition, both Jesus and Paul clearly teach this. We also believe that homosexuality is condemned in Scripture as sinful regardless of context (there being no provision for “committed partnerships” or same-sex unions). The Church is called to lovingly lead people toward repentance and transformation (if they are willing) rather than embrace sinful patterns behavior.
In addition, the Anglican Communion has stated clearly that the questions surrounding the ordination of women are not considered “essentials of faith” and do not bear on the issues of sexual immorality now dividing the Church and endangering people’s souls and bodies. Therefore, differing views on women’s ordination are accepted within the Communion and the two issues should not be confused.
Lambeth 1.10 was a “resolution on human sexuality” passed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference; it has since been upheld by each of the other three instruments of Anglican unity as the Communion’s mind on human sexuality. The resolution upholds, among other things:
- marriage defined as “between a man and a woman in a lifelong union”
- abstinence for those who are not called to marriage
- homosexual practice as “incompatible with Scripture”
- rejection of “legitimising or blessing of same sex unions” and of ordination of “those involved in same gender unions”
- recognition of the need to “minister pastorally and sensitively” to all, including those who practice homosexuality