2/16/2009

Numbers, Banners and Speeches in ACNA land.

The work up for the new improved Anglican Church in North America proceeds apace. Three items of note:

(i) The departed and now Southern Cone Diocese of Fort Worth on its way to being the ACNA diocese of Fort Worth has posted a numerical estimate of Sunday Attendance in ACNA congregations, titled, .Membership figures for the new North American Anglican province
The numbers are fairly consistent with past readings, although toned down from the 100,000 touted in the past. I commented on the numbers game earlier and indicated that when it all came to a head I thought the ACNA crowd would mean something like 5 to 7 percent of The Episcopal Church totals. I still think that is about right. (These are also the numbers given by The Centrist.)

The new Average Sunday Attendance (if that is what the figure is) from ACNA is listed as 81,311. The report notes that 3,400 of the 81,311 are in Canada, so the US numbers are more like 78,000. Of that The Reformed Episcopal Church accounts for 13,000. That makes the number who were formerly members of The Episcopal Church more like 65,000. 65,000 represents about 8 percent of TEC's ASA. If that 65,000 represents half the numbers in ACNA from TEC the total is roughly 130,000 or about 6.5 percent of total TEC membership. If it is more like 1/3, the total ACNA numbers from TEC is about 195,000 or about nine percent. This of course assumes that all the ACNA numbers not from Canada or from the Reformed Episcopal Church are from TEC - no folk from other denominations. There are of course some... so the numbers I believe still come to about 5 -7 percent.

Numbers are one thing. Banners are another. Here is one of the several banners on the CANA website. It is titled, "The End of Neo-Colonialism."

There are two things of interest here, one is the name for the actual jpeg file is "end of common governance." The second is that the image is of bishops gathering and laying hands on someone, we presume a person being ordained a bishop. The bishops are all, or mostly, persons of color, no doubt Nigerian. The primatial cross of the Archbishop is there, so one assumes he is too. So far nothing about this spells the end of neo-colonialism. The colonial garb is there, the hierarchy of the western church is there. How is this the end of neo-colonialism.

Over on the Southern Cone Diocese of Fort Worth pages there is posted a link to Bishop Iker's address to the Mere Anglicanism Conference earlier in January. You can access it HERE. It is worth the read if only because it is a clear statement of one position among many in the realignment crowd. Readers of this blog know that Bishop Iker is not held in high esteem here for either his logic or his actions, but to give credit where it is due, this is a well done paper. He says near the end of his paper,

"The Diocese of Fort Worth believes that we have an ecclesial future in the new Province that has been denied us in TEC. This new provincial reality will mean the recognition of overlapping jurisdictions, under one College of Bishops, with affinity based networks, clusters and dioceses. With this comes for us the assurance of the continuation of a line of apostolic succession that upholds the historic, catholic position of an all male priesthood and episcopate. It means a freedom to hand on the apostolic tradition as we have received it, without addition or change."

The notion of a conciliar system of governance in which some ecclesial entities - dioceses, networks, etc - have women clergy and others don't - sounds very much like the situation in TEC so long as the Port Lucie agreement among bishops held. The idea that some dioceses might not ordain or recognize women in priestly orders and others would and that that would be OK into the future was never agreed to by General Convention and was never more than agreement among the bishops who gathered at Port Lucie for a meeting of the Bishops.
Bishop Iker is upset because that agreement no longer holds. I don't know what he thinks will hold in ACNA, but if it does hold it will because there is no redress from decisions made by the ACNA bishops in conference. Sounds very top-heavy to me.

So all things considered, it is a quiet time tonight in Anglican Land. The number tossing is about the same, the banners are as misleading as always, and the speeches are good to rare with hope in spite of experience to the contrary.





14 comments:

  1. That makes the number who were formerly members of The Episcopal Church more like 65,000.

    Almost all of the sponsoring groups have said that their numbers include congregations e.g of expatriate Nigerians that were never part of the Episcopal Church, and that they (the AMiA especially) have founded new congregations whose members are not primarily drawn from former Episcopalians.

    I think your estimate is too high.

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  2. Nom de Plume17/2/09 8:08 AM

    And 3400 in Canada is a very optimistic number, unless pets are included.

    The thing that strikes me about the snippet of Iker's paper is the "under one College of Bishops" bit. As you say, "Sounds very top-heavy to me." It is. In fact, it seems that they are attempting to go back to the 19th century and undo the level of power that was given to the lower clergy and the laity in development of synodical government.

    It seems in ACNA that laity and lower clergy exist primarily to provide income and a fig-leaf of legitimacy to the bishops who will really run the show.

    So, it really is about power: episcopal power in particular.

    And it isn't anything recognizably like Anglicanism to me.

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  3. I think it's a mistake for ECUSA to be blase about the ACNA (of which I am not part). (Of course, ECUSA took a similar attitude when its largest, most successful churches said they might have to leave, and then, in some cases, did, so I'm not surprised.) In my estimation, the ACNA is likely to grow at ECUSA's expense. Keep in mind, those ex-Episcopalians who have joined it did so in a time of confusion and unsettlement - never the best recruiting tool. That environment is receding, as the organization stabilizes and can now claim some level of recognition by the Anglican Communion, as well as unquestioned recognition and communio in sacris with the AC's largest provinces. Then, too, we will have GC09 very likely delivering a (better - "another") huge push to ECUSA's mainstream Anglicans.

    Your analysis, Mark, also leaves aside the tens of thousands who have been forced to leave for reasons of conscience and are not in ACNA or any other Anglican-affiliated denomination. I suspect this is a larger hole than 5%, or 9%, or whatever % you want to use to trivialize the situation, of ASA. I continue to be sickened that all sides of the Communion regard these faithful Christians - who innovated at nothing and took no schismatic action (to accept the terms of the progressive debate) against anyone - as acceptable casualties in the name of perpetuating the mirage of a "communion" which is obviously broken.

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  4. I think the issues regarding the numbers are two-fold. First, we may or may not accept the numbers themselved.

    That, however, is not often the issue raised. The second issue, more often addressed, is what these numbers represent in terms of folks dissatisfied and leaving the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. In that light, these numbers are less important than they appear, even if accurate.

    - It has been a tenet of AMiA for some time that they are growing with newly reached unchurched folks - and, so, not folks departing TEC or ACC.

    - Many of those in the churches under Kenyan oversight might have left TEC 30 years ago, but they can hardly be considered in numbers of recent losses. Almost all are new congregations that were never part of TEC, albeit some members and clergy were.

    - The same can be said of a significant number of the congregations under Ugandan oversight.

    - Since the REC departed the Episcopal Church almost 130 years ago, only a few of their members might be considered in current losses to TEC or ACC.

    - Notwithstanding that "The Episcopal Church congregations and members having been excluded from this count" of congregations in dioceses that have formed to leave TEC, it's becoming more and more clear that these numbers are not yet settled. Folks are still making up their minds in those areas.

    So, I agree with Simon that your estimate is high. Even to the extent we might trust the numbers somehow (and I'm not saying I do), they say much less about impact on TEC and ACC than proponents want to claim.

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  5. AMiA in particular has been very much in the "church planting" business and not in the sheep stealing - congregation poaching business. I doubt they can really fit into a Schofield / Iker/ Anderson/ Minns sort of church and that is one reason. For another, see Robin Jordan's essay in the viewpoints section of DV's site which comments on the CANA proposed structure and constitution.


    But it also is why I think you may be a bit generous in your estimate.

    Of course, there is an unknown factor -- how many of the 'new' folks in the 'planted' congregations are fallen away individuals whom AMiA recaptures? To the extent that is part of their missionary effort, I for one wish them well.

    FWIW
    jimB

    I suppose in the interest of full disclosure I should point out that Robin Jordan and I are friends across the devide. We could not differ more on matters of faith, but we recognize it in each other and respect each other I think. His essays on Dr. Virtue's site are notable precisely because they are not vicious or dishonest. You may want to skip the comments, but the essay is worth reading.

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  6. John-Julian, OJN17/2/09 12:14 PM

    And, if I recall the Port Lucie statement, it was not an "institutional" matter—it was a private and personal issue, i.e., any individual bishop among those present there would not be "required" to ordain women if it was contrary to his conscience.

    I think the assumption that from then on ANY bishop could refuse to ordain women was not part of its intention. I will check it, but I don't recall that it was meant to be a permanent condition or apply to bishops ordained thereafter.

    And, of course, as you point out, it had no canonical or constitutional implications.

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  7. Since the highpoint of ASA of the TEC in 2001 of 858,566, there has been a decline of 130,757 or 15.2%. Of this 130,000, how many have gone to the ACNA structures? I am not sure why the interest in this question, per se. One error of your analysis, the REC might have started over a century ago, but they have many members that have fled the TEC.

    There are many options and ACNA is not one of them in many parts of the country. The real tragedy is that many have gone nowhere and have been lost to the body of Christ.

    have a saying in medicine that all bleeding eventually stops. When will the Episcopal hemorrhage stop? There are certainly people out there that want the theology-lite message that is being preached from the pulpits. But one can hear that same message many other places. The average age is now over 60 (I am pretty sure I read this) and basically increases by one year each year meaning that very little new blood comes in. That jibes with my experience. The ones left at my parish are simply there because of inertia (and they are very old). The continued battles will be very bad for the TEC and actually good for the ACNA.

    I have finally heard a voice of reason from the liberal camp found in none other that EpiscopalLife Online. An amazingly civil proposition can be read here. Mark+, I would love to hear your analysis of this!

    "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

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  8. robroy: "I have finally heard a voice of reason from the liberal camp found in none other that EpiscopalLife Online."

    Why don't you have a look at your own 'conservative' blogs and see how that idea is going down! You guys don't want ANY relationship with TEC - you just want them to die. You don't even regard them as Christian; you just spend your whole time proclaiming to the world what 'heretics' they are. Even the Church of England after the break with Rome never officially regarded them as heretics - even with all of Rome's non-scriptural teachings. They still regarded them as fellow Christians; just ones they disagreed with. Your lot are so self-righteous you cannot even bring yourself to call TEC fellow Christians. The Episcopal Life idea would only work on that basis - so don't pretend you think it's a great idea.

    Anglican

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  9. Robroy,

    A basic rule of logic is that correlation does not imply causation. Else one could argue that rain causes cloudy skys.

    Which leads to the constant, deliberately false claim that one can use the correlation between TEC's refusal to become fundygelical and homophobic with memebership numbers. The fact is that TEC's membeship numbers roughly track with most other major American denominations. The one exception Roman numbers is about immegration, not conversion or success.

    What makes CANA/Network/GafCon numbers interesting is their claims that the orthodite are 'fleeing' to their holier place. If it is, there are not very many of them.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  10. Anglican - maybe you're the one that should look at the conservative blogs. On one of the major ones, I praised the idea, and I was not alone. Some, of course, don't like it, but isn't that OK - something about "not checking our brains at the door," or some such?

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  11. Robroy asked; "Of this 130,000, how many have gone to the ACNA structures?"

    Probably none. Most of them don't go any where or any longer...

    They're dead.

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  12. Phil: "Some, of course, don't like it..."

    Really...?! Mmm...a peruse of the blogs...

    "To suggest that there could be a shared, mutually respectful entity existing between the emerging ACNA and TEC is much the same as suggesting that the Christian Church could be in communion with Islam."

    "Do away with every one of the innovations introduced during the past forty some-odd years, and then maybe we can discuss it. Otherwise, forget it!"

    "The two theological positions CANNOT be reconciled. Those who have been allowed to take over TEC, etc. should not be given communion, much less put into leadership. They are infecting some sheep and scattering others to safer pastures."

    "Do we want to respect the heretics? Never! Do we want to continue in any sort of dialogue? NO!"

    "Institutionalist-Idolator-Enablers of soul-destroying heresy and apostasy. Shame on them."

    "There is no place of Christian integrity inside TEC. None."

    "WE WILL NEVER AGAIN AFFILIATE WITH ANY “BODY” THAT EVEN SUGGESTS THE PROPETY DOESN’T BELONG, IN TOTO, LOCK, STOCK AND BARREL, TO THE CONGREGATION!!!!"

    Anglican

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  13. Phil,
    You wrote about "the tens of thousands who have been forced to leave for reasons of conscience" When I read a sentence like that, I have to ask who did the forcing. The consciences of those who left? I would say yes. The Episcopal Church? Hardly. People decide to stay or go. Clearly there are many, including some of my friends, who decided that they could no longer belong to a church that had a partnered gay bishop. But there also others who either voted or would have voted not to confirm Gene Robinson's election who have stayed. In the parish where I serve, there are parishioners whose conviction is that the General Convention was wrong in consenting, but they do not see their disagreement with that action "forcing" them to leave. I have, I believe, honored their convictions, even though I do not share them, just as friends who served in the miltary have honored my pacifist convictions.

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  14. Yeah, Anglican, some don't like it. And, your comment contradicts that...how?

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