“Canon Law begins from that basic affirmation of equity which is the fact of membership in the Body of Christ – a status deeper and stronger than any civil contract or philosophical argument. And it seeks clarity about who may do what and who is answerable to whom, because every Christian has to know how to work out their responsibility to God within the context of the various relationships and obligations they are involved in.” Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams
The Anglican Communion as a whole, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, does not have a centralised canon law of its own. Each of the autonomous Member Churches, however, does have a canonical system.
Some, such as the Church of England have an ancient, highly developed canon law while others, such as the Episcopal Church in the United States have more recently developed canonical systems originally based on the English canon law.
In 2002 a network of Anglican Communion Legal Advisors was established by the Anglican Consultative Council at its meeting in Hong Kong. The following year, the Primates 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.”
In response, the Anglican Communion Legal Advisors Network prepared a document, The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion. It identified the following common principles:
- Order in the Church
- The Anglican Communion
- Ecclesiastical Government
- Doctrine and Liturgy
- The Rites of the Church
- Church Property
- Ecumenical Relations.
FROM The Anglican Communion Website: https://www.anglicancommunion.org/structures/canon-law.aspx
EXCERPT FROM The Constitution and Canons
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES
- The Church of this island hitherto known as “The Church of England in Jamaica,” shall, in future, be styled “the Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies” traditionally called “the Jamaica Church,” and shall continue to be in full communion with the See of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion throughout the world.
- We receive, as heretofore, the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments as the Rule of Faith.
- We re-affirm that we accept the Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the Ordinal as a true and scriptural standard of our worship, faith, doctrine and order.
- We desire, by means of our Canonical connection with the Provincial Synod, that our union with the other Dioceses of the Church of the Province of the West Indies should be increased and strengthened.
- Irrespective of all legal obligations this Synod declares it to be the duty of all persons claiming membership in the Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies to submit voluntarily to all rules and regulations of Church Order and discipline, passed and declared heretofore by the authority of the Synod of the Church of England in Jamaica as amended from time by the Synodical authority.
(Adopted on 20th February 1964)
ACCESS THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE:
The Constitution and Canons of The Church in Jamaica
& the Cayman Islands in The Province of the West Indies