Until now the wider worldwide Anglican Communion, outside of England, has been represented by just one of the 16 members of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury.
But under changes to the Standing Orders of the General Synod formally approved today, there will now be five representatives of other churches of the Anglican Communion – one each from Africa; the Americas; Middle East and Asia; Oceania and Europe.
The new rules will also ensure the inclusion of laity and clergy as well as bishops; a balance of men and women and that at least half of the five will be of Global Majority Heritage.
All diocesan bishops of the Church of England, including the archbishops, are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen following a nomination by the Crown Nominations Commission for the see.
Under the changes the Canterbury CNC will now have 17 voting members, with the number of representatives from the Diocese of Canterbury reducing from six to three.
Meanwhile the appointment process for the Bishop of Dover, the suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Canterbury, will be carried out by a CNC rather than being appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as in the past.
The changes were agreed in principle through a series of motions passed at Synod and Saturday. New standing orders were then drafted and were approved in a further vote today.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: "From the richest to the poorest nations, the Anglican Communion spans a hugely diverse tapestry of societies, cultures and human experience.
“Anglicans worldwide have a profound and historic relationship with the See of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has the great privilege of serving as a focus of unity for Anglican churches across the globe.
“It is only right that this international family of churches is given a voice in the process of selecting the ‘first among equals’ of the bishops of our global communion.
“That is why I am pleased that General Synod has voted to increase the representation of Anglicans from around the Communion in the process of choosing future Archbishops of Canterbury.
“This small but important step will ensure that the Crown Nominations Commission for the See of Canterbury has balanced and diverse representation from the entire Anglican Communion.
“I also want to thank the Diocese of Canterbury for giving up three seats on the Canterbury CNC to enable this change.
“I pray that this significant step will bind us more closely together as disciples of Jesus Christ, called to share his good news with a world in need.”
The motions earlier approved were:
- That this Synod request that the necessary amendments be moved to the Standing Orders to reduce from six to three the number of members elected by the Diocese of Canterbury to the Crown Nominations Commission for consideration of a vacancy in the see of Canterbury.
- That this Synod request that the necessary amendments be moved to the Standing Orders to increase from one to five the number of representatives of other churches of the Anglican Communion who are members of the Crown Nominations Commission for consideration of a vacancy in the see of Canterbury.
- That this Synod request that the necessary amendments be moved to the Standing Orders to provide that one such representative is to be chosen by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Consultative Council from each of the five regions of the Anglican Communion (the Europe region to include the provinces of the British Isles other than England).
- That this Synod request that the necessary amendments be moved to the Standing Orders to provide that of those so chosen, at least one must be a primate, one a deacon or priest and one a lay person who is an actual communicant, and that at least half rounded down shall be male and at least half rounded down shall be female, and that a majority of them must be of Global Majority Heritage.
- That this Synod request that the necessary amendments be moved to the Standing Orders to provide for vacancies in the see of Dover to be considered by the Crown Nominations Commission as if it were a diocesan see.
The votes of the whole synod were counted as follows:
- 254 in favour, 46 against, 25 abstained.