8/05/2009

CANA and its Chaplains.

The CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America) states that "The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (http://www.canaconvocation.org/) currently consists of more than 85 congregations and 179 clergy in 25 states. At its recent council meeting CANA ordained three chaplains for the armed forces. Bishp Minns remarked, "The fact that we have gone from one chaplain two years ago to more than 40 today is a true blessing." Indeed.

Assuming the 179 clergy includes the 40 who are chaplains, it means that one out of every 5 clergy is a chaplain. That is an extraordinary number, much higher a percentage than in most denominations. The ordinations were spoken of as "an ordination ceremony for three new chaplains." The ordinations were to the priesthood, but the vocational specificity was of specifically noted.

CANA has a bishop supervisor for those in the chaplaincy, just as does The Episcopal Church. The website for CANA Chaplaincies lists the following as the bishops in charge of this work:
"Bishop Martyn Minns provides Episcopal oversight of all chaplains functioning within CANA, administrative responsibilities for the Deanery have been delegated to Bishop Dave Bena. A Deanery staff, functioning separately from the CANA home office, is under the leadership of the Right Reverend Derek LS Jones." So it is Jones, to Bena to Minns. But why is Bishop Jones so low on the pecking order?

Bishop Minns was ordained bishop in Nigeria, Bishop Bena was ordained bishop in The Episcopal Church and later resigned. Both are at least members of episcopal synods of churches in the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Derek L.S. Jones is a bishop "seated in the House of Bishops for the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC). His Episcopal authority is limited to only those functions directed by Bishop Dave Bena, Suffragan to Bishop Minns. Bishop Jones is given oversight of vocational Chaplains in CANA. In this role, he will receive, endorse and manage ordained CANA clergy serving as chaplains in the military, VA, hospitals, industry, etc. He also has a primary responsibility to oversee the training, education, and ordination process for Chaplain Candidates." See HERE.

It would appear that Chaplain Candidates are trained separately for ordination. They are guided in this process by a bishop part of a church not recognized as part of the Anglican Communion. The Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) is a splinter group of Anglican minded Christians headed by "The Archbishop/Patriarch’s Council"
consisting of five Archbishops. Beginning in 1995 CEEC had bishops in apostolic orders - the first episcopal ordinations being conferred by one Old Catholic, one whose chief consecrator was a Bishop of The International Free Catholic Communion, and one Antioch Orthodox bishop. None of them Anglican. Bishop Jones is not listed on the CEEC web pages as far as I could ascertain. He is not a bishop in orders in any part of the Anglican Communion and limited in his activities in CANA.

Now, lest there be any question, I am NOT impugning the qualifications, abilities, faith or commitment of any of those 40 persons who are chaplains working within CANA.

CANA itself, however, has hit on a unique and particularly defensible way to increase the clergy rolls without having to pay new salaries. CANA has a foot in the door with the Military Chaplaincy, both providing a large number of chaplains and claiming to be Anglican chaplains, and able thereby to provide "Episcopal" services. The whole thing is a great strategy for encouraging a more conservative form of Anglican / Episcopal church life.

The Rev. David Summerville wrote a piece, "
Among military chaplains, fundamentalism is taking hold."

It is well worth the read. In it he says, " We must come to terms with our need to be persistent in finding qualified people in our ranks to fill chaplain quotas. Churches that fail to fill their allotted quotas end up having them filled by fundamentalists. We need to direct our good candidates to our Episcopal endorsing office headed by Bishop George Packard. We should be recruiting them at every diocesan convention, and have a strong presence at the General Convention as well. We should be advertising and making contacts with people."

It is not accurate to simply call CANA and other realignment groups "fundamentalist," but they do share some of the same concerns for a return to fundamentals (as they see it) and a good eye for opportunities to make their claim to be present, caring and worthy of loyalty from members of the Armed Forces. They are stepping up and filling in and they will attract Episcopal Church members by being on the spot.

How then are we to address this? Summerville is right to say we need more chaplains. We need more Episcopal Chaplains who are not fundamentalists and able to present Good News in ways that will reach those who do not find fundamentalism part of their religious training or life.



9 comments:

  1. Episcopalians, except for certain sections of the officer class, haven't been part of the armed forces, certainly not as enlisted personnel, since the end of the draft over 35 years ago.
    You don't need chaplains. The armed forces' chaplains are becoming more fundamentalist because only the poor/relatively uneducated have been joining the ranks for over 35 years.
    You fought against the draft-now only the poor and working class serve-and you're overwhelmingly not poor/working class.
    Unless you'd like to join up to try and convert them, or at least direct them socio-politically, you're probably wasting your time.
    The fact that so many of your clergy are now female and/or gay wouldn't help you as chaplains, either.

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  2. Brad... and I suppose CANA is just full of people who are "poor /relatively uneducated, etc..."

    You have not the faintest idea what I fought for or against. I am, oddly enough, for the draft precisely because if it is applied without favor it fills the military with a cross section of the citizens, a good number of whom will know a rotten war when they see it, and who will not forget who screwed them.

    You are fast using up your time here.

    I gather you are not part of The Episcopal Church. Buzz off.

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  3. If their web pages are up-to-date they only have 21 military chaplains (plus one in the pipeline). Another 6 are VA, Hospital, or Hospice chaplains. Three are fire or law enforcement chaplains (one of whom is also a hospice chaplain). One university chaplain, two prison chaplains (one of whom doubles as a hospital chaplain), three community chaplains (one who doubles as a hospital chaplain).

    So by my count 33 chaplains. All three listed as having just joined are on the pages already (though two are listed as transfer which probably means they are already military chaplains and are coming from another denomination that does not have an ordination recognized by CANA).

    Brad, women can be US military chaplains.

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  4. Brad,

    As a veteran of military service, enlisted, a college graduate, and parents who were (to put it mildly) upper class, I find your characterization offensive. I enlisted to serve my country. I served with folks from all ranges of socio-economic class, race, religion, etc etc. In fact, my service with "those folks" was my greatest life lesson in how being from a certain class didn't make me more likely to shoot well, march well, or anything else. You're right that troops prefer straight male chaplains. And that Episcopalians were hard to find. As to fundamentalism, I went to both Protestant and RC services and they were both "fundamentalist" in the sense that theological nuance isn't much appreciated as you ponder your death by IED. So, whatever political point you wanted to make.. you didn't and you need to reconsider and re-research your opinions of our fine soldiers, sailors, airman and marines.

    trooper. USA 1985-1990

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  5. Mark,

    I'm surprised you have been unaware of Brad - or "Sad Brad," as MadPriest calls him - up til now.

    He claims to be an atheist and behaves like a lonely, bored 14 year old showing off his cleverness to himself. The general response has been to simply zap any comments from him in moderation. He quickly tires of having no audience and does, indeed, buzz off.

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  6. PS - I personally believe he is a reboot of the jackass formerly known as Fred Preuss, who disappeared after being moderated out, about the same time Brad here appeared.

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  7. Brad, get a clue.

    Over half the military age males in the US aren't even eligible to enter the US military because of its standards. Three branches of the military are basically recruiting for the top 20% of the 18-25 male bracket. Even the Army is only open to the top 40%.

    My last unit on active duty was overwhelmingly working- and middle-class. And that was many years ago, standards are higher now (except for the Army).

    FrMichael

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  8. Additionally, chaplains are officers, and there are enlisted Episcopalians; I know both them and TEC chaplains who serve them. Additionally, women have been allowed to stand at the altar both inside and outside the military for sometime now...I know a female USAF chaplain who loves her job.

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  9. Having worked for some time with the Office of the Bishop of the Armed Forces and Federal Chaplaincies (although there is no canonical responsibility, Bishop Packard and his predecessors have been advocates in the House of Bishops and at 815 for health care chaplains as well), as I recall there something under 150 Episcopal chaplains on active duty. There are also Episcopal chaplains serving Reserve and Guard units, but that number doesn't come to mind. Again, there are Episcopal health care chaplains in VA centers, both full time and on contract. There are also a small number of Episcopal chaplains serving in Federal corrections and law enforcement organizations.

    Bishop Packard has made a point of serving not only the chaplains in the military, but also all the other Episcopalians. He has also to the best of his ability supported the roughly 300 health care chaplains and the "first responder" chaplains (police and fire) who, as I said, are responsible to our diocesan bishops but appreciate his support and advocacy for our work.

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