February 4, 2021
The ELS is today announcing a pan-Anglican initiative, which is to be undertaken jointly by the Ecclesiastical Law Society and the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University.
The ELS is establishing a number of virtual reading groups, to run between February and September 2021. Each reading group will study the Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion in the context of the law of particular provinces or national churches from across the Communion. The groups will be for the edification of the participants, to strengthen Anglican bonds, and to provide the opportunity for a voyage into ecclesiology. During this time of heavily restricted travel, this project offers a way to strengthen worldwide inter-Anglican ties. The reading groups will conclude by submitting their findings, namely, brief notes where and how each principle is to be found articulated in the canon law of individual Anglican provinces.
For the second part of the project, from September 2021 the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University will convene a drafting group to propose revisions to the Principles. Our ELS groups will therefore provide essential input to a task of considerable significance.
What are the Principles?
In 2003, the Primates of the Anglican Communion recognised that ‘the unwritten law common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion and expressed as shared principles of canon law may be understood to constitute a fifth instrument of unity in the Communion; and requested a statement of principles which may be added to and developed.’ Accordingly, in 2008 the Anglican Communion Office published The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion. In 2009, the Anglican Consultative Council commended ‘the Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion for study in every Province.’ (Resolution 14.20).
This new project is offered in response to that commendation for study. The joint project is overseen by a steering group comprising Professor Mark Hill QC, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Law Society; Professor Norman Doe, Director of the Centre for Law and Religion; the Revd Stephen Coleman, Assistant Director of the Centre for Law and Religion; and the Revd Russell Dewhurst, Chairman of the Communications Committee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society.
How can I get involved?
We are looking for members of the ELS and others to be involved in this project in one of two ways.
• You can get involved by joining a reading group. The groups will take slightly different forms, but we expect an average of an hour on Zoom per week over perhaps 16 weeks. The groups will discuss whether, and where, each Principle can be found in the law of their particular Province or National Church. As noted above, the groups are requested to produce their findings, so do bear in mind that some ‘homework’ will be required from participants. As a rough guide, group members may be asked to spend up to an hour preparing research on a particular Principle before some of the meetings.
• We would also welcome contact from those willing to convene a group for an Anglican province or national church which does not yet have a convenor. Notes on how to do this, and support through the project, will be available from the Revd Russell Dewhurst, Chair of the ELS Communications Committee.
We currently have convenors for the following provinces: England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA.
If you would like to get involved, please contact Russell Dewhurst by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are keen to welcome as broad a range of ELS members as possible into these groups. We may however have to limit the numbers who can participate.