The June 7 consecration of Andy Lines as an ACNA missionary bishop for the United Kingdom and Europe continues to make waves, not least in Australia. Four Australian bishops have asked their primate, the Most Rev. Philip Freier, to request a judgement from the Appellate Tribunal the (church’s court of appeal) on whether the three bishops who took part in the consecration violated the Australian church’s constitution.
The letter of complaint is signed by Bishops Andrew Curnow (Bendigo), Kay Goldsworthy (Gippsland, recently elected Archbishop of Perth), Bill Ray (North Queensland), and John Stead (Willochra).
“Archbishop Glen Davies and Bishop Richard Condie participated in the consecration of a bishop for Europe in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), a church that is not a member of the Anglican Communion and is not in communion with the Anglican Church of Australia,” they wrote.
“We believe that this action raises fundamental questions of ecclesiology in respect of the Anglican Church of Australia. Failure to have the questions which arise from the actions of the Archbishop of Sydney, the Bishop of Tasmania, and the Bishop of North West Australia properly determined will mean that our fellowship in the college of Bishops will be gravely impaired,” the letter said.
Archbishop Freier wrote to his colleagues before the consecration, asking that they not participate.
Tensions about the participation of Australians in the Lines consecration will affect sessions of the Australian General Synod, meeting Sept. 4-8 in Maroochydore, Queensland.
Child protection will be one of the most pressing issues under consideration, and is casting a long shadow. A Royal Commission drew attention to serious failures, in particular in the Diocese of Newcastle.
The consecration is unlikely to be directly debated on the floor of the synod. It does, however, raise issues for relationships within the House of Bishops.
There are precedents for irregular consecrations within Anglicanism. Not least of these is Sydney’s long-standing support of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (formerly the Church of England in South Africa), which has included participation in consecrations.