The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) is pleased to announce its leading role in the inaugural meeting of the Anglican Communion Schools Network (ACSN), held on October 12, 2023. The ACSN is a new international initiative proposed by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) to enhance Anglican identity and serve Anglican schools worldwide. NAES Executive Director, the Rev. David A. Madison, D.Min., will serve on the ACSN steering committee.
First meeting via Zoom, this new network will connect Anglican school associations across the globe and will foster a greater understanding of the shared mission and identity of Anglican schools. The steering committee, chaired by the Rt. Rev. Kay Goldsworthy, Archbishop of Perth, will act as conveners for the group. In addition to Madison, the committee comprises the Rev. Peter Laurence of the Anglican Church of Australia; the Rev. Nigel Genders of the Church of England; Peter Kwok of the province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui; and the Rev. Jaques Pretorius of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
Initially representing seventeen of the forty-two autonomous provinces of the Anglican Communion—of which The Episcopal Church covers the United States—the ACSN is tasked with creating opportunities for Anglican school leaders around the globe to collaborate and share resources in support of a common Anglican identity. The network will also encourage provinces, dioceses, and parishes to support local school ministry. “I am excited to join my colleagues from England, Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, and beyond in serving as the conveners for the inaugural gathering,” writes Madison. “This network will grant us an opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of the group as we each work towards serving our member schools at the highest level.”
During the first meeting, attending representatives were offered presentations from NAES and Anglican Schools Australia, an association with which NAES has longstanding ties, outlining how member schools of each association express their respective Episcopal and Anglican identities. Attendees then broke into small groups to discuss the purpose of the ACSN and how it can support the work of schools across the Communion. Leaders of the ACSN will reconvene in November to discuss next steps and how the network is called to serve those who serve Anglican schools.
The new ACSN was first envisioned in 2019 during the seventeenth meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, a gathering of more than 110 ACC members from around the world held in Hong Kong. In addition to affirming several goals encouraging support for Anglican colleges, universities, and schools, resolution A17:01 called for “the establishment of the emerging Network of Anglican Schools across the Communion.” That resolution also calls upon Anglican institutions of learning to affirm their Anglican identities, and upon parishes and dioceses to take an active role in that work.
What is the Anglican Consultative Council?
The Anglican Consultative Council is a group comprising bishops, other clergy, and laypersons that meets every two to three years in various parts of the world. Founded in 1968, the council’s functions include facilitating the cooperative work of the churches and provinces of the Anglican Communion, coordinating common action and the exchange of information between them, advising on the organization and structures of the Communion, and developing common policies with respect to the world mission of the Communion, including on ecumenical matters.
What is the Anglican Communion?
The Anglican Communion is a worldwide fellowship of 42+ member churches, including The Episcopal Church. All Anglican churches trace their roots back to the Church of England, but are autonomous and have their own unique traditions and practices. NAES represents schools affiliated with The Episcopal Church, the Anglican province established in the United States—for that reason, the terms “Anglican identity” and “Episcopal identity” can be used interchangeably in the context of this article.
The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) is an independently incorporated, voluntary membership organization that supports, serves, and advocates for the vital work and ministry of those who serve approximately 800 Episcopal schools and early childhood education programs throughout the Episcopal Church, as well as school establishment efforts. Chartered in 1965, with historic roots dating to the 1930s, NAES is the only pre-collegiate educational association that is both national in scope and Episcopal in character. The Association advances Episcopal education and strengthens Episcopal schools through essential services, resources, conferences, and networking opportunities on Episcopal school identity, leadership, and governance, and on the spiritual and professional development of school leaders.