This note from the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America's State of the Church address:
"It is also a privilege to welcome Fr. Thomas Seville, CR, of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England here as participant and observer, in partial response to the action of the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2010 regarding consideration of an appropriate form of recognition or relationship with the Anglican Church in North America."
Participant and observer....sounds like more than just an exploratory visit. What in the world is the Church of England proposing to do "regarding consideration of an appropriate form of recognition or relationship with the ACNA"?
I presume the Archbishop of Canterbury, not in communion with ACNA as yet, knows that the Archbishop of ACNA is not the Archbishop of a Province of anything, much less a Province of the Anglican Communion. So it must be that in sending Fr. Seville over to participate and observe, the CofE is feeding the optimistic fires of ACNA's Archbishop for recognition.
The ACNA Archbishop makes a great deal of the fact that he is recognized as having primatial status in various settings,
"we continue to be seen as “gospel partners” and bearers of “authentic Anglicanism” (South-South Encounter IV) by most of the world’s Anglicans. The GAFCON Provinces accord our Province status as the North American Province and I am seated as a Primate in the Primates Council. I was privileged to be present at Archbishop Ian Earnest’s invitation at the All Africa Bishops Conference (of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa) last August in Entebbe and was accorded a seat there for public and state events as one of the archbishops of the provinces."
I have heard from other sources that the accolades given the Archbishop of ACNA and his entourage has not been all that great even at CAPA's All Africa Bishops Conference. But never mind, that is not the point. The point is ACNA's Archbishop is mightily pleased that he is seated as a Primate.
As yet, however, he is not a Primate in the Anglican Communion. It can be argued that since ACNA is not (in spite of its own press) part of the Anglican Communion, that he is not even an Archbishop, Primate, Presiding Bishop, Moderator, etc, at all. The missing link is that the only link the present Archbishop of ACNA has to the Anglican line of bishops is that he was made a bishop in The Episcopal Church. He was deposed from that office and ministry in The Episcopal Church, a matter mostly honored round and about the Communion. (See for example the state of the deposed Bishop of Harare.) ACNA's Archbishop is now without an Anglican home, unless you can call the temporary "protection" of The Province of the Southern Cone and the cobbling together of a synod of deposed bishops, together with bishops of various alternate, non Anglican Communion Anglican bodies an "Anglican home. " So he wants a home and has found it in GAFCON and various international meetings where he and his fellow ACNA bishops are outsiders with agendas that are marginal to CAPA or even GAFCON interests. They are not South, they are not African (and there are many sorts of Africans and African Anglicans), they are not Global South. They are American and without a provincial home.
What the CofE presence does is give ACNA just one more speck of encouragement that they are real Anglicans, a "Province in formation."
I have no idea if the CofE or the ABC has any idea just how ACNA will use the presence of a representative of the Faith and Order Commission of the Cof E at the ACNA meeting. But it is clear that ACNA knows how to use it. They use it to suggest that they are being taken seriously, that they are loved, or at least liked. Which of course reminds me of this odd bit of past glory.
Too bad it has to be this way. The record of other activities in ACNA and their continued apparent good health warrants attention and often honor. But this does not.
I have heard nothing of the CofE sending anyone from Faith and Order to ask The Episcopal Church what it thinks of ACNA in its midst. One day, when the CofE finds its own Anglican Church in England, Scotland and Wales (ACESW) claiming to be the Province of record in the Islands off the coast of Europe, they will understand.