ACC Head Kelleran a Minority Voice

Episcopal News Service. July 28, 1978 [78213]

CANTERBURY, England -- The only woman participant at the Lambeth Conference had hoped for a more "representative" context of this Anglican gathering now under way at the University of Kent at Canterbury.

Marion Kelleran of Alexandria, Virginia, USA, is chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). She is not only the only woman, she is the first woman participant in the 111 year history of Lambeth conferences. However, economist Barbara Ward and World Council of Churches president, Dr. Cynthia Wedel are active consultants.

"I hoped we had outlived all-episcopal Lambeths," she said in an interview. In 1976 at Trinidad, the ACC urged a change from the traditional context of diocesan bishops. It suggested there be representative bishops as well as representative clergy and laity. A limit fo 250 was proposed.

"We had in mind the Anglican Congress at Toronto in 1963," she said. That was "representative" in her view and a smashing success. Out of it grew MRI: the doctrine of Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ.

The majority, however, preferred the former Lambeth style. Even though in the minority, Mrs. Kelleran commented, "I was deeply moved by the witness of African bishops of what it meant to them to be part of a world Church. "

The final decision, made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Donald Coggan, who calls the Lambeth Conference, was for a residential conference of all diocesan bishops with some assistant bishops chiefly from Africa.

Is she content with this all-male, all-episcopal membership? "It's a dilemna," Mrs. Kelleran replied. "Each Lambeth is --.holly independent. We are all here at the Archbishop's invitation, and I see no way of saying I'd prefer some - thing different."

Marion Kelleran represents another "first" because the ACC itself is brand new. This is the first Lambeth Conference attended by ACC participants.

Formulation of the ACC was proposed at the 1968 Lambeth Conference, but it actually came into being in 1971 with the approval of every Anglican church. Its role is to be an instrument of common action, to advise in church relationships, to develop Anglican policies, to promote education and, of course, to advise the Archbishop on such matters as the Lambeth Conference.

Marion Kelleran is not belligerent about the episcopal nature of the conference. But she hopes for changes "some day". "I share with Lady Jackson (economist Barbara Ward, who addressed the bishops recently) the belief that colonialism, imperialism and paternalism are gone, and that 80 percent of humanity seeks equality at every social and economic level. " In addition to her strong feelings about the exclusion of the laity, she questions whether the only spokesmen for the Church should be bishops.

In her role as "participant" at Lambeth, Mrs. Kelleran may sit with the bishops, speak and even vote, up to -- but not including -- the final decisions on resolutions. She is one of three women taking official part, but the others are consultants, not participants.

"I appreciate the honor paid to me as a part of this conference," she said, but took the occasion to point out that her own Church, the Episcopal Church in the United States, has paid her no heed. "I have never been invited to address or sit in with the House of Bishops or the General Convention. They pay no attention to the ACC."