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The Anglican Consultative Council


An Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) was formed following a resolution of the 1968 Lambeth Conference which discerned the need for more frequent and more representative contact between the churches than was possible through a once-a-decade conference of bishops. The constitution of the Council was accepted by the general synods or conventions of all the member churches of the Anglican Communion. The Council came into being in October 1969 with Bishop John Howe of Scotland as its first Secretary General.


Early in the 20th century, Lambeth Conferences arranged for a continuation committee to be appointed, known as the Lambeth Consultation Body, to help the Archbishop of Canterbury deal with any matters he referred to it. The committee was without staff or budget of its own and because of the difficulty and cost of international travel seldom met. Lambeth 1958 tried to remedy the situation by providing for a full-time secretary who would serve both the Lambeth Consultative Body and a new inter-Anglican agency, the Advisory Council on Missionary Strategy. This led to the appointment of Stephen Bayne, Bishop of Olympia, USA to serve as the first Executive officer of the Anglican Communion (1960-64) with offices in London.

Through tireless travel, speaking and writing, Bishop Bayne was able to strengthen communications among the Provinces and to develop a new vision of Anglicanism in the modern world. This came to a vivid expression in the Anglican Congress held in Toronto in 1963.

Bishop Bayne was succeeded by Ralph Dean, Bishop of Cariboo, Canada (1964-69) and then by Bishop John Howe of Scotland (1969-82). With the formation of the ACC Bishop Howe's title was changed to Secretary General. The Reverend Canon Samuel Van Culin, USA, became Secretary General in 1983.

The Role of the ACC

At its inception the Council was given eight terms of reference and it responsibilities include:

            * Sharing information and coordinating common action

            * Developing agreed policies and initiatives for world mission

            * Developing and maintaining ecumenical relations

            * Promoting research and inquiry

            * Creating networks of key persons involved with social concerns

            * Advising member churches on constitutional matters

The Council does not have legislative powers. Each self-governing church draws on advice and information from the ACC and makes decisions in the light of local needs and culture.

The core budget of ACC is supported by all member churches of the Anglican Communion according to their membership and means.


Each member church of the Anglican Communion, according to size, is represented by up to three members - one bishop, a member of the clergy, and a lay person. The Council has powers to co-opt up to six members. Two of these are women and two are young persons. The united churches of South India, North India, and Pakistan are full members. Membership currently totals 61.


The ACC meets every two or three years (a Standing Committee meets annually) and its present policy is to meet in different parts of the world. There have been 7 meetings of the council, in Limuru, Kenya (1971); Dublin, Republic of Ireland (1973)l Trinidad (1976); London, Ontario, Canada (1979); Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England (1981); Badagry, Nigeria (1984); Singapore (1987). Some of its chief activities are as follows:

Partners in Mission

The Anglican Congress in Toronto, 1963, said that the resources of each church for mission need to be shared. The congress coined the term MRI-Mutual Responsibility and Inter-Dependence in the Body of Christ. The second meeting of the ACC at Dublin sought to develop this further through Partnership in Mission. As a result, from time to time member churches invite other churches to be their partners in mission. They call a consultation attended by representatives of their partner churches. At the consultation they clarify their thinking about their mission task and identify priorities. Partnership in Mission is based on the principle that every church can be both a giver and a receiver to the enrichment of the whole mission of the church. Consultations often result in new insights as problems are shared. They also help the churches of the Anglican Communion to share their resources in the most effective way.

Inter-Church Conversations

The Anglican Communion has important continuing dialogues with the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran Churches. The ACC is responsible for this work on behalf of Anglicans.  It has been set the task of coordinating the response of member churches of the Anglican Communion to recently completed ecumenical dialogues; Anglican-Roman Catholic, Anglican-Orthodox, Anglican-Lutheran and Anglican-Reformed, and Anglican-Oriental Orthodox. It is also encouraging Anglican churches to study and respond to the document, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry , a product of many years of work involving all major Christian traditions, through the Faith and Order Communion of the World Council of Churches.

Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission

This commission, consisting of fifteen members, clerical and lay, from twelve churches, met for the first time in 1981. Its first report, For the Sake of the Kingdom , has been prepared for the Lambeth Conference of 1988. It is a study of the relationship between the church and the Kingdom of God and of the impact of different cultures on theology.

The Anglican Center in Rome

This Center was set up in 1966 following the historic visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to meet Pope Paul VI. It aims to help Roman Catholic Church leaders and seminarians to develop a better understanding of Anglicanism. It serves as a base for ecumenical contact and maintains a unique resource library in Rome. Through seminars it helps Anglicans to a better understanding of the Roman Catholic Church.


The ACC encourages and facilitated the work of a number of informal, international networks, composed of provincial specialists in Ecumenical Relations, Peace and Justice issues, Family questions, Mission, Development, Communications, Publishing and Youth Work. They share information and increase collaboration in their various fields of specialization and often called upon to give advice or undertake research of behalf of the Anglican Communion. The networks are funded by the participants themselves and by grants outside the regular budget of the ACC. Several of the networks have prepared study books for the agenda of the 1988 Lambeth Conference.

Primates and Provinces

Primates meet together every two or three years and represent another important links of partnership in the period between Lambeth Conferences. In their own countries primates are titled variously as Archbishop, Presiding Bishop, Primus or Metropolitan and by similar terms in other languages. Each is the head of an independent branch of Province of the Anglican Communion. It has been helpful to consult regularly about responsibilities peculiar to their office and about matters of concern to the whole Communion. Primates Meetings have taken place in Ely, England, 1979; Washington, USA, 1981; Limuru, Kenya, 1983, Toronto, Canada, 1986, Oporto, Portugal, 2000, Kanuga, North Carolina, USA, 2001 and Canterbury, England, 2002.

It is sometimes confusing to learn that the dioceses of larger Provinces, such as Canada, Australia and the USA often are organized regionally with internal 'Provinces,' each of which is also under the leadership of an 'archbishop' or, in the USA, a 'president.'

There are occasional inter-provincial Anglican meetings, not always restricted to bishops, in larger geographical regions, such as Africa, Southeast Asia or Latin America. Such regional bodies may either bring together existing Provinces for common planning or represent stage in the formation of new Provinces.

(Taken from "Who Are the Anglicans?"  -  Charles Henry Long, Editor)


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