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Tuesday, 11 March 2014 00:00

The Religious Community

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According to TITLE E CANON 10 of the 2011 ACoM Manual pages 94 - 95; A Religious Community is a society of Christians in communion with the worldwide Anglican Communion, who voluntarily commit themselves for life or for a term of years to holding their possessions in common or in trust, to a celibate life in community and obedience to their Rule and Constitution.

Within the Anglican Church of Melanesia a Body known as "The Life Advisory Council" that keep an eye on the day to day function of the communities.

The membership of the Religious Life Advisory Council shall be as follows:

1. The Archbishop of Melanesia as Chairperson;

2. The Mission Secretary of the Melanesian Board of Mission as Deputy Chair;

3. The most senior Brother or Sister, living in Solomon Islands or Vanuatu, of the four Religious Communities represented in the Anglican Church of Melanesia at the time of the establishment of this Council, namely the Melanesian Brotherhood, the Society of St. Francis, the Community of the Sisters of the Church and the Community of the Sisters of Melanesia;

4. One other Brother or Sister (who shall have made a full commitment to his or her Religious Community) elected by each of the Religious Communities;

5. Two persons who are not members of Religious Communities who shall be chosen by the Archbishop;

6. The most senior Brother or Sister, plus one other Brother or Sister (who shall have made a full commitment to his or her Religious Community) of any new Religious Community which may hereafter be given the status of a Religious Community within the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

7. The Council shall elect one of its members to be the Secretary of the Council.

The duties and responsibilities of the Religious Life Advisory Council shall be as follows:-

1. To provide a forum where the Religious Communities can meet to discuss any matters of mutual concern;

2. To advise the Anglican Church of Melanesia on all matters pertaining to Religious Communities, and especially to advise on matters concerning the establishment and recognition of new Religious Communities wishing to establish themselves in the Anglican Church of Melanesia;

3. To elect members of Religious Communities to various Committees, Boards and Councils of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, when this is required under the Canons of this Church;

4. To organize any occasion within the Anglican Church of Melanesia which requires the joint co-operation of the Religious Communities (e.g. Religious Life Sunday).

5. To advise the Archbishop of Melanesia on the pastoral care of any Brother or Sister who may be living under the promises of the Religious Life but who may not be members of any Religious Community.

1. The Council shall meet annually, but may meet at any other time should the need to do so arise.

2. Meetings may be called by the Archbishop or, in his absence and after consultation with the Archbishop, by the Deputy Chair), or by any two persons representing at least two Religious Communities.

3. The Council may make reports to the General Synod or the Provincial Council, but it is not required to do so.

To be officially recognized, a Religious Community must have at least four (4) professed and/or full members within the Province and must be approved by the Council of Bishops on the advice of the Religious Life Advisory Council PROVIDED HOWEVER that if any particular Religious Community which is already established at the time of the enactment of this Canon later ceases to have four professed and/or full members within the Province, no action shall be taken to withdraw recognition of that Religious Community, unless the Council of Bishops, acting on the advice of the Religious Life Advisory Council, so agrees.

Each Community shall have a Bishop Visitor, Father or Protector who need not necessarily be the Bishop of the Diocese in which the Community is established. If, however, the Bishop Visitor, Father or Protector is not the Bishop of the Diocese in which the Chief House of the Community is situated, he shall not accept election without the consent of the Bishop of the Diocese. He shall be the guardian of the Constitution of the Community and shall serve as a peacemaker and one who settles arguments in matters which the Community or its members cannot agree.

Any person under vows in a Religious Community, having exhausted the normal processes of the Community, may petition the Bishop Visitor or Protector for dispensation from those vows. In the event the petitioner is not satisfied with the ruling of the Bishop Visitor or Protector on such petition, he may file a petition with the Archbishop who shall ask the Religious Life Advisory Council to review the petition and decide thereon and make recommendations to the Archbishop who shall have the highest dispensing power for Religious Communities and his ruling on the petition shall be final.

A Religious Community may establish a centre or house in a Diocese only with the permission of the Bishop of the Diocese. The Constitution of every Religious Community shall make provision for the lawful ownership and administration of the worldly possessions of the Community and in the event of dissolution of the Community, or should it otherwise cease to exist, to provide for the disposal of all its belongings according to the laws governing charitable institutions within the boundaries of the Church of the Province of Melanesia. As from the date of the enactment of this Canon, any Community wishing to establish itself within the Anglican Church of Melanesia shall submit its Constitution to the Religious Life Advisory Council for perusal, pursuant to the requirement in paragraph 5 above.

It is recognized that a Religious Community is not a Parish, Mission, Congregation or other Institution of the Diocese within which it is established.

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