6/01/2009

Hesitations in ACNA Land

The Anglican Church in North America is about meet in Texas, June 22-25, formally adopt a Constitution and Canons and install its first Archbishop and Primate, Robert Duncan.

Supposedly twenty-eight dioceses or diocese-like entities will come together to form this new church. ACNA will be called a Province, but it is unclear what it is a province OF. It is not a Province of the Anglican Communion. It will be a church and no doubt accorded church status by various other churches including churches in the Anglican Communion.


As yet we do not know what these twenty-eight dioceses/ entities are called, which are area and which are network entities, what sort of overlap there is among various entities, etc. The number 28 has been announced by ACNA. But numbers are just numbers. We know the sources for the episcopal leadership, but beyond that there has been very little said about merging various source ecclesial structures or building new dioceses out of existing congregations in particular areas. The Diocese of Western Anglicans and the Diocese of Cascadia seem to be entities of this sort.

Two expressions of hesitation about the whole thing have arisen in the past few days.

David Virtue has posted a letter from the head of the Anglican Catholic Church, in an article titled, "Anglican Catholic Church Primate Declines Invitation to attend ACNA Provincial Assembly."

From the Primate's letter: "In summary, then, we see in the ACNA the fundamental alterations in traditional Anglican faith, worship, order, and practice that led to the formation of our own Continuing Church in 1978. We would be glad to establish conversations with your ecclesial body in hopes that you may, having freed yourselves of the Episcopal Church, continue further on the same path by decisively breaking from a corrupt Anglican Communion and by returning to the central tradition of Christendom in all matters, including the male character of Holy Orders, the evil of abortion, and the indissolubility of sacramental marriage. We recommend to your prayerful attention the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which we firmly believe provides a sound basis for a renewed and fulfilled Anglicanism on our continent."

The Affirmation of Saint Louis has now re-entered the conversation as a determining agreement (can anyone say covenant?).

The Anglican Catholic Church was not part of the ACNA group, but the presence of the ACC Primate would have added more to the festivities as will the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of America if he comes. Be sure that there will be representatives of some of the non-Anglican Communion Anglican churches in the mix at picture taking time.

On a more immediate front Bishop John Rodgers of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) has written a brief arguing FOR the adoption of the Constitution and Canons by those gathered in Texas. His essay appears on the Common Cause Partnership web pages as "The ACNA Constitution - An Evangelical View The fact that Bishop Rodgers must make a plea for the constitution of ACNA is of some interest.

He says, "I am aware that there are several concerns articulated by various individuals concerning the Proposed Constitution and most particularly by Evangelicals concerning language about the Historic Episcopate being integral or inherent to the nature of the Church."

Evangelicals (and I suppose this means in part the Reformed Episcopal Church) in the ACNA community of churches seem to have some reservations about either the fact of bishops or their particular role in governance in ACNA.

So there is gnawing at the bone going on from both ends - some Anglican Catholic mutterings about those women, and some evangelical muttering about those bishops.

I doubt that these hesitations will bring things to a stand still. But, regarding the second of the hesitations, Bishop Rodgers warns, "If we do not agree with the Proposed Constitution at this founding Assembly then no Church is formed at this point." There will be a train to catch in Texas, whether it is as widely inclusive as it promises to be is unclear. Perhaps there will be separate coaches. Who knows who will get tickets to ride. And who knows where the train is headed?

13 comments:

  1. The only thing other than tape and glue holding this coalition of the mutually despising together is their intense opposition to gays in church leadership.
    Without us, they will be at each other's throats.

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  2. Without us, they will be at each other's throats. Counterlight

    But wait, there must be a mistake, surely they are aware it´s GAY PRIDE MONTH, President Obama said so...perhaps they ought postpone their enthronement activities...I think FATHERS DAY would be the perfect day for the big do´ns in Bedford, former TEC diocese of Ft Worth (of course they better screen them papi´s real close/well and ask them female priests to take their collars off and be quiet as Churchmice).

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  3. Deacon Charlie Perrin2/6/09 11:36 AM

    If one reads Bishop Paul Marshall's very good book "One, Holy, and Apostolic" wich is about Samuel Seabury, the beginning of TEC (and the General Convention)and the work that resulted in the BCP of 1789, one will see that nothing really ever changes. Many of the battles going on in ACNA are not very much different than those that went on after the Revolution. Many of the issues from those days were not solved, they were merely submerged.

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  4. Besides gays in church leadership, I would add a woman Presiding Bishop. For many I think that was the last straw.

    Counterlight's last sentence in right on. I look at the diversity and doubt that the group will ever agree on worship, polity, women priests, catholic vs. evangelical etc. etc.

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  5. I think we all know where it is headed. The ACC's primate pointed to it, albeit with different intent. One need only look past the Deceleration of St. Louis to the almost immediate and ever ongoing fractional dividing combining and re-fractioning among its children.

    I know I keep saying this but one cannot build unity on a negative. Be it 'No Girls Allowed' for the "Continuim," or the angry negatives of the CANA crowd it simply wont work. Once the admission card is 'adequate holiness' there is never a final definition.

    So we do know where they are heading -- schism on schism.

    What is so sad is they chose the destination.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  6. "I know I keep saying this but one cannot build unity on a negative"

    Even if the negative is the denial of the authority of the pope? Isn't that the premise upon which Anglicanism was built?
    George

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  7. George..nope. That may be the reformation speaking and the monarchy, but Anglicanism is both much more ancient and much more modern.

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  8. Elizabeth's comment, I look at the diversity and doubt that the group will ever agree on worship, polity, women priests, catholic vs. evangelical etc. etc., posits nothing more than a 'little tent' which is what they were after the whole time, isn't it?

    God forbid they would ever have to deal with the 'less special' of God's creation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think the ACNA is exciting! I don't see them as a bunch of disparate negative people, but rather a community of Christians tired of the bitter poisoned Koolaid of liberalism.

    The movement is about moving on from old battles and being the Church in a positive way. That's attractive.

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  10. I guess I'm not clear why this makes any difference to anyone in TEC. They left. So what? Who cares? Why even talk about it?

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  11. As Counterlight and Elizabeth said, a group predicated upon various and sundry complaints (which, of course, are not shared by all in said group) is going to have a hard time coming up with a confessional document to bind themselves together.

    Add to this poisonous brew the seduction of power and money - and make no mistake, much of this is in play here - and it becomes clear to me that this "group" will devolve into a variety of warring factions. We already see some of this.

    Their center cannot hold.

    In the meantime, given their departure, isn't it time for TEC to start treating the victims in this war - our LGBT brothers and sisters - with a bit more Christian love and openness than we have in the past? We don't have to use the excuse of keeping the conservatives in the tent any longer. And since I've mentioned their covenant document, a word about the one that continues to bounce around the Anglican Communion: documents that are written by committee devolve into lowest-common-denominator agreements. Shouldn't our aim be to embrace each other even as we live together in the discomfort of disagreements until the Spirit brings us to common ground? But wait...that requires all parties wanting to embrace each other. It doesn't feel like we're there yet, does it?

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  12. Mark, I think I have pointed this out to you previously on your earlier mentions of the name. To wit, I am not an admirer of John Rodgers, who bears responsibility for launching a great deal of mischief in the Episcopal Church, but I do know how to spell his name, which has remained Rodgers from his days at Virginia Seminary to his founding of Trinity School for Ministry to his becoming a "bishop" of the "Anglican" Mission in America, courtesy of African and Asian bishops who should have known better.

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  13. trueanglican....got it. Thanks. (sigh).

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