I cannot get excited by the current ACC meeting in Auckland. While touted for us Kiwis as a once in a life time event (literally true: it has never previously happened here in my nearly 53 years and unlikely will happen again in the next 47 years, should the Lord tarry), the question we could ask is what kind of "event" is it?
Again, trying hard to be positive, it is an event in which people meet (cf. ++Tutu's definition of Anglicanism) and those meetings are important for those who meet. But who are those who meet? As best I can tell they are (1) the actual ACC members (2) a more or less equivalent number of jet setting Anglican functionaries, bureaucrats, network co-ordinators, commission chairs and what have you. In other words, a set of people who like leaving their own country to meet with people of other countries, and via the regularity of global Anglican meetings get to know each other well and thus look forward to the next meeting. In sum: everyone gathering for this meeting will have a great time (and, I can assure you, dear reader, that the hospitality shown them in Auckland will be extraordinary). No one will go away unhappy.
But our question in the hard-headed atmosphere of Anglicanland blogging is whether the event merits the excitement of observers such as you and me. Will it achieve anything through its decision-making? There is a question to ponder.
What is ACC's role in the life of the Communion? Does it, for instance, exercise some kind of decisive governmental role in our affairs? If it does, is that governmental role exercised as a representative body of Anglicans across the world? (See now, also, comment below from Bosco Peters).
These questions are just a little hard to answer with enthusiasm.
My particular beef with the ACC is that a most unfortunate myth surrounds it that it is the only "representative" body among the Instruments of Unity because it is the only one of those bodies which involves priests/deacons and laity (as well as bishops).
Strictly speaking this is true. But are the "reps" sent to the body "representative"?
From an ACANZP perspective I have little confidence that our "reps" have the ability to represent conservative clergy and laity in our church. They are fine individuals and quite transparent in the convictions they express in the synodical life of our church. But those convictions are not conservative. Yet conservatism in our church is about 40% of our life (I reckon).
Now sending three reps to ACC is what it is, a process where the diversity of our church attempts to be captured by three people. It doesn't work. I suggest we need about six people to do that with some sense of adequacy. ACC polity doesn't allow us to send six so we have what we have. Incidentally, it happens that between the bishops choosing their rep, the clergy their rep and the laity their rep that we are represented by three men.
So I do not buy the myth of ACC's representativeness. Frankly, I think gathering the bishops at Lambeth does that much better. At least conservative dioceses with conservative bishops get to send their bishop to that event.