In responding to Do you live in the U.S. or Canada?, one commenter claimed the relationship between the Sydney Anglican Diocese and “independent” evangelical churches established in other diocese by (with only one exception) Sydney trained clergy is “essentially informal”. Perhaps that’s what those in the pews have been told, and it’s undoubtedly what Sydney would like the Bishops of those dioceses in which the plants have been made to believe.
But it’s not true.
In fact Sydney’s own documentation proves it’s very, very untrue.
A couple of years ago Sydney passed the Affilliated Associations Ordinance 2005 - “An Ordinance to provide for the affiliation of non-Anglican churches with the Anglican Church of Australia in the Diocese of Sydney". Whilst not exactly thrilling reading, it’s a fine example of how well the powerbrokers and their lawyers can draft a document when the circumstances require a little legalese.
Among the many privileges granted to affiliated churches are the right to attend synod (but not to vote), a general licence for Anglican clergy holding a position with one of these non-Anglican churches (and an open ticket back into the diocese when they’ve finished their time “planting”). As well as money: affiliated churches can participate in the Sydney Anglican Diocese Superannuation scheme, long-service leave is exchanged under a reciprocal agreement, and the churches and their staff are covered by Sydney’s insurance policies. Not to mention access to “administrative, secretarial and accountancy services provided by the Sydney Diocesan Secretariat”.
And the icing on the cake? These specifically non-Anglican churches are authorized under clause 9 of the attached schedule to “make reference to being affiliated with the Anglican Church of Australia in this Diocese”
A quick search of Standing Committee records shows 3 churches were affiliated under this ordinance on 11 December 2006 - The Point Community Church, Lakes Evangelical Church, and Albury Bible Fellowship. Doubtless there’s more to be found: nobody need look very far; on 28 January of this year in a curiously brief two-liner the Southern Cross website announced "The Lakes Evangelical Church and Maitland Evangelical Church are now affiliated with the Sydney Diocese, under the Affiliated Churches Ordinance 2005."
If these connections between Sydney and it’s satellites don’t qualify as a formal and close relationship, what does? Perhaps one written on parchment in blood?