ACNA And The Ordination Of Women, FIFNA And The Diocese of Fort Worth Respond

Meeting in Canada in September, the Anglican Church in North America’s (ACNA) College of Bishops issued a response to ACNA’s five year study on the ordination of women.

The following statement unanimously agrees that there is “insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province.” However, it also acknowledges “that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.”


In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within our Constitution and Canons and, because we are a conciliar Church, would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.


Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.


As a College of Bishops, we confess that our Province has failed to affirm adequately the ministry of all Christians as the basic agents of the work of the Gospel. We have not effectively discipled and equipped all Christians, male and especially female, lay and ordained, to fulfill their callings and ministries in the work of God’s kingdom. We repent of this and commit to work earnestly toward a far greater release of the whole Church to her God-given mission.

Having met in Conclave to pray, worship, study, talk, and listen well to one another, we commit to move forward in unity to carry on the good witness and work that God has given us to do in North America (Ephesians 4:1-6; John 17). We invite and urge all members of the Province to engage with us in this endeavor to grow in understanding the mission and ministry of all God’s people.

Adopted Unanimously by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America.

The Church of Our Lord, Victoria, BC, Canada

Beloved in Christ,

As the Council of Forward in Faith, North America we have discussed with the six FiF NA bishops who have just returned from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where they met in Conclave, the implications of the Message from the College of Bishops…

We give thanks that one of our FiF NA bishops served on the Task Force, and that one of our bishops served on the four-man team which produced the Statement. We also acknowledge that the Statement was unanimously endorsed, but that this endorsement does not imply that Traditionalist Bishops have reached any conclusion other than the one that has been articulated for 2000 years.

By now we are certain that everyone has read both the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America and also the Task Force Report, and that with these in mind, have evaluated the Statement from the College of Bishops. This Conclave was designed and reported to be the very first time that serious theological conversation has occurred regarding the nature of Holy Orders as an innovation (the ordination of women) in the Episcopal Church in 1976. 

Since the formation of ACNA, we have endeavored to study and discuss the Three-Fold Ministry as a Received reality and mystery, and then to study and discuss the reality of who may be ordained, based on their sex, their marital status, and their moral character among other considerations. 

We must add that Forward in Faith North America is comprised of numerous Anglican jurisdictions, with the ACNA representing the largest percentage of membership. We note that, with the exception of the Episcopal Church, none of our other jurisdictions ordain women. Forward in Faith is comprised of numerous jurisdictions, all of whom have signed our Declaration which maintains all elements of the Historic Faith. 

The Conclave in Canada was not only monumental in light of the fact that a Study had not been conducted before in terms of prayerful, theological debate among Bishops, but it also was an opportunity to understand the biblical, hermeneutical and theological positions held by individual members of the College of Bishops. This active process consumed all of our bishops’ time, and, unlike other bodies in the past, did not want to create a desire for division among the College. It was clear, in the case of the ordination of women, that women cannot be bishops, (stated also in the Constitution and Canons) and that the ordination of women is a several decades old innovation without support in either Apostolic or Catholic Faith and Order or Scripture.

The first paragraph of the released document clearly references the agreed upon Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America, adopted at the time of the formation of an Anglican Body that would emphasize the fact that Dioceses own their own property and that litigation would not be a course of action for ACNA. Moreover, it is clear that in a Conciliar model of ecclesiology, Constitutions and Canons may be changed by utilizing the appropriate measures provided in the Constitution and Canons for that purpose. In all matters, Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, both universal in nature, rank above local Constitutions and Canons which can be changed. In a Magisterial form of ecclesiology, numerous pronouncements, may from time to time be made.

In the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, we see clearly that the Conciliar mode is often a longer process, but engages the entire Church. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that while Scripture and Tradition are superior to the Constitution and Canons of a Province, the ACNA came into being with an intent to protect Traditionalists who had become persecuted in the Episcopal Church.

The final paragraph is quite clear in indicating that for a variety of reasons historic lay ministries have not been encouraged to the extent that ordained ministries have, and we must seek to effect that change. We must form more monastic communities for men and women - convents, monasteries, friaries, and draw upon models such as “Little Gidding,” Third Orders and Oblates, to place before the Church ministries that have shaped countless generations.

According to our bishops, “Every fiber of our being was poured into these three days, and numerous hours before the Conclave were spent in rereading the Constitution and Canons, the Task Force Report, and also the recommended books listed in the Bibliography, including a book written by Bp. John Rogers as a Study for the then Anglican Mission in the Americas. Forward in Faith, in fact, mailed a copy of the “Rogers Study” to all members of the College of Bishops. We all understand how exhausting this process can be, but we do so in order that the Church may be united in her resolve to Speak, Teach, and Propagate the Truth in Love to a broken world.”

Nonetheless, we recognize that numerous questions have and will arise regarding our concerns. Although we recognize that there were no advance promises that the matter of Women’s Ordination would be resolved at this Conclave, and that all advance information clearly stated that this would be the first opportunity for the ACNA College of Bishops to discuss the Report of the Task Force, we are disappointed.

We wonder if this would not have been an excellent opportunity for those Bishops who ordain women to recognize that this action continues to cause division. We wonder if it would not have been possible for those bishops to announce a moratorium on the ordination of women, rather than continuing to contribute to the potential of an Ecumenical crisis. We wonder if those bishops would recognize that female clergy cannot function in most of the Dioceses of the ACNA and in the vast majority of Christian churches throughout the world. In that regard, they have intentionally or unintentionally effected a state of impaired Communion, whereby not all Clergy are in Communion with one another. We further recognize that many Forward in Faith Bishops are put in an awkward position regarding their ability to participate in the consecration of Bishops who fully intend to contribute to disunity by virtue of their willingness to ordain women.

We wish to thank our Forward in Faith Bishops for representing us, but also for participating as fully as possible in articulating the tenets of the Catholic Faith. In that regard, they modeled what it means to be Conservative (conserving the Faith once delivered), Traditional (maintaining 2,000 years of Holy Tradition), and Orthodox (boldly proclaiming unbroken Truth - coupled with orthopraxis, right practice). 

In this, Forward in Faith continues to be a voice for those who maintain that which has been believed in all places, at all times, by all people, with Evangelical Zeal, Catholic Faith, and Apostolic Order.

In Christ,

The Council of Forward in Faith

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the strong name of our Risen Lord. I write you on behalf of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, which met on Monday, September 18, 2017, to review and discuss with our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, the recent College of Bishops Statement on the Ordination of Women.

FIRST, we express our deepest gratitude to Bishop Iker who, in the 25th year of his episcopate, has steadfastly, resolutely, and without wavering, witnessed to the catholic Faith in all circumstances. We reaffirm our support of his apostolic ministry within our diocese, to the wider Anglican Communion, and before our Ecumenical partners in the Gospel.

SECOND, concerning the Statement on the Ordination of Women, we recognize the Statement was unanimously agreed to by the College of Bishops and we receive it as a statement of fact, representing a specific point in time in the life of the ACNA, not a statement of ideal. We are thankful for the clarity the Statement provides in articulating that the practice is both an “innovation” and lacks sufficient “scriptural warrant” to make it “standard practice” in the Province. We also acknowledge that a change in the status quo would require a change in the Constitutions and Canons. Accordingly, we commend to you the Forward in Faith North America Council Statement of September 18, 2017, and, in particular, we would draw your attention to Paragraph 6. We find the FIFNA Statement consonant with our thoughts, hopes, and concerns in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

THIRD and finally, as this letter is crafted on the Feast of Theodore of Tarsus, whose episcopacy was begun during a time of division and dissension in the English Church and who, surely mindful of our Lord’s words that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” engaged his task in his time, willingly and obediently, and finally achieving the unity of the same through his persistent efforts; therefore, aware of our own calling in our own time, we invite you to pray constantly with the Standing Committee and the Bishop, for wisdom and discernment to know and to do our part, toward the health and welfare of our own Communion, and the reunion of the whole Church.

“May they all be one, even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me.” John 17:20-21. 

Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

In Christ,

Fr. Christopher Culpepper

President, Standing Committee.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.