New Anglican province comes into being in US

by
11 December 2008

by Pat Ashworth

His flock: Bishop Bob Duncan with those who attended the first worship gathering of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), at the Wheaton Evangelical Free Church, Illinois, on Wednesday of last week AP

His flock: Bishop Bob Duncan with those who attended the first worship gathering of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), at the Wheaton Evange...

THE NEW Anglican province in North America proposed by a coali­tion of conservative Anglican groups in the United States and Canada published its draft constitu­tion and canons in Wheaton, Illi­nois, last week (News, 28 November).

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), formed by the Common Cause Partnership, says it has 700 congregations and about 100,000 members. It “will seek to represent orthodox North Amer­icans in the councils of the Anglican Communion”. It will have an Arch­bishop — initially the Rt Revd Bob Duncan, former Bishop of Pitts­burgh, and the Moderator of Com­mon Cause.

At a press conference on Wednes­day of last week in Wheaton, Bishop Duncan told the gathering: “The Lord is displacing the Episco­pal Church.”

In the new provincial structure, congregations and clergy are related together “in a diocese, cluster, or network, whether regional or affinity-based, united by a bishop”. These are defined in the canons as consisting of a minimum of 12 congregations with an Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) of at least 50 each, and a collective ASA of at least 1000. They choose which bishop they want to be under: “A duly ordained male presbyter of at least 35 years of age.”

The canons do not curtail the free­dom of member groups to con­tinue ordaining women as deacons or priests if that has been their practice. Bishop Duncan told the press conference: “Scripture is unclear” on the subject.

Regarding property, the canons stipulate that all congregational property “owned by each member congregation now and in the future is and shall be solely and exclusively owned by each member congrega­tion, and shall not be subject to any trust interest or any other claim of ownership”.

The leadership of the Common Cause Partnership declared in a press release that it had “begun forming the new Church in response to a request from the Primates . . . of the Global Anglican Future Con­ference [GAFCON] in Jerusalem last summer”. Those Archbishops — of Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone — said after a council meeting in London last week that North Ameri­can Anglicans had been “tragically divided since 2003”.

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Lambeth Palace responded to the announced by stating that there were “clear guidelines” for new provinces. A legislative process to form a new province, which would be under­taken by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), would take years, and had not yet begun. Bishop Duncan’s spokesman, the Revd Peter Frank, told The New York Times: “This is not being put on hold while we wait for a committee in England to tell us which form to fill out.”

The Rt Revd Martyn Minns, a bishop for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, told the paper: “One of the questions a number of the Primates are asking is, why do we still need to be opera­ting under the rules of an English charity, which is what the ACC does? Why is England still considered the centre of the universe?”

At the time of going to press, there had been no official response from the Epicopal Church in the US. But the Revd Charles Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said before the new Church was announced: “We will not predict what will or will not come out of this meeting, but simply continue to be clear that the Episcopal Church, along with the Anglican Church of Canada and La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, com­prise the official, recognised presence of the Anglican Commu­nion in North America.”

He went on: “We reiterate what has been true of Anglicanism for centuries: that there is room within the Episcopal Church for people with different views.”

Dr Williams met the five GAFCON Primates last Friday, at their request. They made no com­ment after the meeting, and have issued no statement.

Members of the Group

SOME members of the new Church began breaking away before the present crisis. One ACNA partner, the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), split from the Episcopal Church in the United States as long ago as 1873. The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), affiliated to Rwanda, was, in 2000, already moving towards establishing a separate province, after the irregular consecrations of Bishop John Rodgers and Bishop Chuck Murphy in Singapore. The AMiA had 23 parishes in 2000. Now it says it has 140, including 12 in Canada (who are members of the Anglican Coalition in Canada, its subsidiary).

Eleven founding entities of ACNA are listed, although only six of these are ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Of the six, the Convocation of Angli­cans in North America (CANA), has 68 congregations under the oversight of Nigeria. The Missionary Convocation of Uganda has 51, and the Mission­ary Convocation of Kenya 36.

In addition, there are the 170 congregations estimated to be linked with the Missionary Convocation of Southern Cone; 19 in Canada; an esti­mated 55 from Pittsburgh; 45 from Fort Worth; 20 from Quincy; and 30 from San Joaquin. Numbers of individuals are almost impossible to con­firm. Last week, the cathedral parish of St Paul’s, Peoria, voted by 181 to 35 to stay in the Episcopal Church.

The Reformed Episcopal Church, a full member of the new province, with 135 congregations, including seven in Canada, is not part of the Anglican Communion. The 11 founding entities have their own affiliations, and those of the AMiA, for example, demonstrate just how complex is the whole Anglican picture in the US. The AMiA is part of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA); the Federation is a member of Common Cause, but not of ACNA.

The AMiA’s bedfellows also include the Anglican Church in America, which declares itself not part of the Episcopal Church in the United States, nor the “Canterbury-based Anglican Communion”, and says: “Please note the in in our name. There is no connection whatever be­tween us and a body calling itself ‘The Anglican Church of America’ (TACA), which espouses doctrinal positions and moral views we do not share.”

Another founding entity is the American Anglican Council (AAC), a lobby group. It claims 330 affiliated churches among the 700 overall, and 80,000 individual members.

It has announced an additional membership list, “In Pectore”, “an unpublished list of members who individually know they are members, and we know that they are, but no one else but God knows that.”

Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA) is the remaining one of the nine US founding entities, but is not an ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It has 75 affiliated or associated congregations listed in the Common Cause data­base, but most are still part of the Episcopal Church.

 

Dr Williams met the five GAFCON Primates last Friday, at their request. They made no com­ment after the meeting, and have issued no statement.

Members of the Group

SOME members of the new Church began breaking away before the present crisis. One ACNA partner, the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), split from the Episcopal Church in the United States as long ago as 1873. The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), affiliated to Rwanda, was, in 2000, already moving towards establishing a separate province, after the irregular consecrations of Bishop John Rodgers and Bishop Chuck Murphy in Singapore. The AMiA had 23 parishes in 2000. Now it says it has 140, including 12 in Canada (who are members of the Anglican Coalition in Canada, its subsidiary).

Eleven founding entities of ACNA are listed, although only six of these are ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Of the six, the Convocation of Angli­cans in North America (CANA), has 68 congregations under the oversight of Nigeria. The Missionary Convocation of Uganda has 51, and the Mission­ary Convocation of Kenya 36.

In addition, there are the 170 congregations estimated to be linked with the Missionary Convocation of Southern Cone; 19 in Canada; an esti­mated 55 from Pittsburgh; 45 from Fort Worth; 20 from Quincy; and 30 from San Joaquin. Numbers of individuals are almost impossible to con­firm. Last week, the cathedral parish of St Paul’s, Peoria, voted by 181 to 35 to stay in the Episcopal Church.

The Reformed Episcopal Church, a full member of the new province, with 135 congregations, including seven in Canada, is not part of the Anglican Communion. The 11 founding entities have their own affiliations, and those of the AMiA, for example, demonstrate just how complex is the whole Anglican picture in the US. The AMiA is part of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA); the Federation is a member of Common Cause, but not of ACNA.

The AMiA’s bedfellows also include the Anglican Church in America, which declares itself not part of the Episcopal Church in the United States, nor the “Canterbury-based Anglican Communion”, and says: “Please note the in in our name. There is no connection whatever be­tween us and a body calling itself ‘The Anglican Church of America’ (TACA), which espouses doctrinal positions and moral views we do not share.”

Another founding entity is the American Anglican Council (AAC), a lobby group. It claims 330 affiliated churches among the 700 overall, and 80,000 individual members.

It has announced an additional membership list, “In Pectore”, “an unpublished list of members who individually know they are members, and we know that they are, but no one else but God knows that.”

Forward in Faith North America (FiFNA) is the remaining one of the nine US founding entities, but is not an ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It has 75 affiliated or associated congregations listed in the Common Cause data­base, but most are still part of the Episcopal Church.

 

Leader and other Comment

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