When Bishop Ackerman announced his retirement some of us wondered if he was really going to retire from the scene or if he was stepping sideways so that he might continue working with the Anglican Communion Network dioceses, Forward in Faith and now the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) from a relatively secure venue in Springfield where he became an assisting bishop. We were soundly criticised for even suggesting that Bishop Ackerman might be taking up this new venue in order to continue working for the replacement of TEC with some new agency for Anglicanism in North America. After all, there was illness in the family and even his own health seemed in question. Now his role is becoming clearer.
ENS reported yesterday, "Two Episcopal Church bishops (Ackerman and P. Beckwith) , one active and one retired, are among the members of newly-announced committees of a proposed Anglican Church in North America, which is holding what it is calling its "inaugural provincial assembly" later this month."
Both bishops are working with ACNA from within The Episcopal Church and of course their free association with others is their business. The crossover between all this being their business and it being our business is that between acting as bishops within TEC and acting in ways that are uncanonical. That time will perhaps come when ACNA is inaugurated and begins to do those things at any church may do. Among those things are episcopal acts. Should either Bishop Ackerman or Beckwith join in the consecration of new bishops for ACNA, or confirm in ACNA parishes, the question of their continued presence and ministry in The Episcopal Church will be answered.
Bishop Ackerman serves on the ACNA Admissions Committee, as a representative from FIFNA. Bishop Beckwith serves on the Ecumenical Relations Committee. Whether or not they are part of The Episcopal Church, they are serving a new Church in formation, ACNA, which stands in such opposition to TEC that it considers us un-Christian and unworthy being called Anglican. ACNA has come to fix that, of course, replacing TEC if it can as THE Anglican church in north America, the one finally to be recognized by the rest of the Anglican Communion as the properly constituted Province of the Anglican Communion.
ACNA has a new logo and a new theme, "Reaching out with the Transforming Love of Jesus Christ." ACNA, "gathered A.D.2009," no longer talks of being the "a biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism in North America." (The old Anglican Communion Network slogan.)
ACNA is about to roll out its best case for being the true Anglican presence in North America. It will be recognized at its founding by a number of Provinces of the Anglican Communion, who will recognize it, and not TEC, as a Province.
How this will ultimately shake out is to some extend dependent on how well the existing leadership of the Anglican Communion can be clear about its own missionary focus and basis for common life. ACNA leaders and others have already begun to talk about the notion that a Canterbury focused Communion may not be at all necessary or useful. The creep towards a Communion with its home somewhere in Africa and its guidance provided by the Global South Primates is underway. ACNA may be that movement's first missionary province to achieve Provencal status. The GAFCON Primates may indeed return to the idea of an Alexandria office and a new Patriarchal shop.
Transforming will take many forms. It appears that Bishops Ackerman and Beckwith are themselves metamorphosing into to something other than TEC bishops. ACNA is transforming into a church, and is moving on from a federation of groups uniting to a church that is what it is.
The word "transforming" as used by the Network has always had hidden deep within it the signal that homosexuals could be transformed, turned into celibate or straight persons. Under the earlier call, "God changes lives for good," ACN was committed to transformative therapy. That language is no longer around much. ACN, a long time ago now, was interested in working for change within TEC as well as organizing outside (the inside / outside strategy). No longer. ACNA is forming up a new church and taking very dissatisfied current and former Episcopalian it can find. It will make the grand case for being pure and undefiled in the midst of TEC as a broken and defunct unChristian body.
I think it is time to get serious about several things:
(i) ACNA is going where it goes. There it is. They are not in communion with TEC, believe we are unChristian and are perfectly willing to take as many of TEC's members as they can attract.
(ii) The Archbishop of Canterbury, and indeed his predecessor, have bungled, interfered, crossed boundaries like mad and generally messed about in gardens not their own.
(iii) The Global South Primates and others are set on a course to subvert and otherwise dismantle the Canterbury based Anglican Communion. Oddly, the response by the Instruments of Communion is very muted.
(iv) we are seeing the emergence of a movement to a full blown world-wide Anglican entity that will claim to be the true voice of Anglicanism world wide and it will be a patriarchy.
(v) we don't have to go there. It is regressive and we don't need it.