11/17/2009

ACNA habits of church attendance and Archbishop's habits of dissing TEC: revised.

This week the Anglican Church in North America put out a notice about the ordination of three new bishops for the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). The press release noted,

"ANiC is under the Episcopal authority of Bishop Harvey and is a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America which unites over 100,000 faithful Anglicans from across this continent. It now numbers 733 parishes and eight forming congregations in North America with more than 3500 in church on an average Sunday."

I had assumed "3500" was a typo for "35,000" the percentage present on a Sunday is similar to that of the Episcopal Church (don't know about the Anglican Church in Canada). The numbers seem to have gone up a bit again, reaching the 100,000 spoken of prior to the formation of ACNA.

IT HAS BEEN POINTED OUT in two comments on this blog that the press release now reads, "ANiC is under the Episcopal authority of Bishop Harvey and is a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America which unites over 100,000 faithful Anglicans from across this continent. ANiC now numbers 33 parishes and eight forming congregations in North America with more than 3500 in church on an average Sunday." I believe, but cannot show that this is a correction. I have no reason to have produced the first press release with other numbers and believe I simply copied and lifted the quote directly.

At any event the revised standard numbers - that the 3500 is a reference only to the ANiC - means that my comments concerning the size of ACNA needed revision.

Revised comment: ACNA , at 100,000 persons is about 1/20th the size of The Episcopal Church. Given that a fair number of the 733 parishes were never part of TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada, and that their communicants likewise were never part of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, this would place the numbers of people who have left TEC or the ACiC for the ACNA or any of its subsidiary parts at well below 5%, probably more like 4%.


There are no doubt a number of people why have simply wandered off from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. That's one of the problems of a bridge church, people wander in, they wander out.

It seems more and more likely that the effect of all the miseries of the past few years will be that some 4 or 5 percent of TEC people will leave for ACNA. The notion that somehow ACNA represents a better form of Anglicanism and will be therefore immediately attractive to TEC members past or present is not at all certain.

The National Post in Canada interviewed the Archbishop. According to the NP, Duncan
"...says it is the national churches in Canada and the United States -- the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church USA -- that are the real schismatics, trading in the Bible and orthodoxy for a trendy form of Christianity that is trying to be popular instead of faithful.

Those institutions have "turned so far to the left" they are now on the road to virtual oblivion, he said, pointing to such innovations as the blessing of same-sex marriage.

"They'll become irrelevancies," he said during an interview with the National Post. "People who are looking for a saviour who can save. They are really looking for how they can shape their lives and what they can trust in. And what the [national churches] are offering is Jesus Lite. Folks don't need a Jesus Lite."

... Archbishop Duncan, who is based in Pittsburgh, said in the end it will be the conservatives that will win.

"People will turn to what's true," he said while attending an ACNA synod in St. Catharines. "And we'll have the souls and they'll get the stuff. We'll get the future, they'll get the past. I'd rather have the souls and the future."

He believes that what is going on in Anglicanism right now is nothing short of a new Reformation, similar to what Luther kicked off in Germany 500 years ago. For the Anglican Church worldwide, he said, it will be mean a complete shift in orientation away from Canterbury, the historical spiritual home of Anglicanism, to Africa, the faith's new spiritual home.

"In the year 2000, the Archbishop of Canterbury was the second most important Christian leader in the world. In a short space of time that office has utterly been diminished. It shows that the British model of Anglicanism has failed."

He fully expects either a new "Canterbury" to emerge in Africa, or that the old seat of Anglicanism will remain where it is, but future archbishops will come from the Global South -- and be black and brown."

Aside from the usual arrogance of the two second flip of the finger..."what the (Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada) are offering is Jesus Lite," his most telling remarks had to do with the turn from Canterbury (the one in England with the Archbishop of Canterbury as Primate and "focus of unity" for Anglicans) to Canterbury with archbishops being appointed from the Global South or a new Canterbury - seat of the Communion's chief Archbishop - located somewhere in Africa.

The first is a fantasia. The Church of England will continue to appoint its Archbishop of Canterbury by a means most Anglicans find odd to say the least. Disestablishment might bring more democratic processes into play but that is a far cry from archbishops being chosen from the Global South.

The second is the dream field of the rigorous Global South. There may in fact be a new Anglicanism, one related to the Church of England's Anglicanism in only the most superficial ways. If the Archbishop of ACNA and his 100,000 want to go there, welcome to it.

Meanwhile the 95% will continue, having neither sworn on to "Jesus Lite" or to the fantasies of the Global South and their American counterparts.



26 comments:

  1. Dear Father Mark,
    You are too kind in your estimates of ACNA's numbers. The schismatics have taken less than one percent of Episcopal parishes or parishoners. There numbers are truly tiny. Most of the folks in ACNA were never Episcopalians or Anglicans to begin with, but came from the Reformed Episcopal Church or AMiA. This is not really a schism. It is a 'microschism.' The masters of the microschism are good at getting our attention, but their message of exclusion and bigotry is not bringing in many converts.
    Scott

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  2. Habits? We have new nuns in ACNA and ANiC?

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  3. +Duncan's comments are not new, one has only to review the CAPA "Road to Lambeth", co-authored by "Ugandan" (actually Trinty Ambridge)Stephen Nolls to see the blueprint or to read the briefs submitted by the CANA attys in the Va. cases. For the GS, nothing less will do then a GS led communion or 2 communions. The line in the sand was never Windsor compliance, or the Lambeth Quadrilateral, it was the 39 Articles, with a new catechism and GS determined benchmarks for orthodoxy. The difficult part is for those of the 100,000 who were promised something else: 1. "orthodoxy" 2. A Canterbury led communion 3. the buildings they have always worshiped in and finally, 4. Yankee style democracy [vs. GS/Duncan's episcopal appointments and a GS magisterium]. +Duncan and ACNA are not going to be able to deliver them all. The 100,000 may find the reality of their GS/ACNA kingdoms not quite the Kingdom of God they bargained for. EmilyH

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  4. "Jesus Lite" is the Jeezus that people imagine blesses capitalism, the one who welcomes the money-changers back into the Temple, the one who smiles upon greed and exploitation, the one who likes a "winner" and hates "losers." Jesus Lite is the one who tells us that our prosperity is a sign of God's favor, and not simply a trophy in the great game of King of the Mountain. That's the "trendy" Jesus, Our Lord of the Motivational Speakers, the Chamber of Commerce, and K Street. That's the golden calf who tells us that we can have our cake and eat it too.

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  5. The tone of Duncan's little tirade just shows how small a person he really is. When I consider how low the man has sunk, I can no longer get angry at his comments...I actually feel sorry for him.

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  6. TEC and the Anglican Church in Canada are far from following a "Jesus Lite". We follow a Jesus who demands of us the integrity to sit with, worship with and work and walk with people we may not like, even people we may hate or who revolt us. A very demanding Jesus, indeed, and a very biblical Jesus in deed.

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  7. Time will tell. If it is of God, it will flourish. If not, it will wither and die. Clearly, whatever TEC is selling (and other denominations for that matter) is not working. We have too many people in our pews unmotivated by their faith to go forth in witness. Whether it's "Jesus Lite," "Jesus Less Filling," or simply bad leadership, we are not very good at growing His Kingdom right now. Perhaps this split will allow both sides to get back to what they think is important and allow God to decide which, if either, is closer to Him.

    JB

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  8. You know, I'd agree in a heartbeat that TEC is trying to offer Jesus Light.

    The problem is that Jesus Light isn't the low-calorie version of Jesus (Great taste! Less filling!), it's the blinding, all-consuming, world changing version that subsumes the wants of the individual (money, prestige, power, control) underneath the needs of the many (food, shelter, safety, love, love, love).

    Please note I said that TEC is *trying* to offer Jesus Light. I think the individual human beings in TEC are as much afraid of the Light taking away their money, prestige, power, and most importantly, control, as any other human being out there.

    And that's freakin' terrifying, giving up control of your self, and admitting that yeah, you have absolutely no control over the future of your Church.

    Suck it up and deal.

    We need to release our strangle-grip on the future and demographic trends and statistical models and planning committees, and hand our future over to God's keeping.

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  9. I have to leave a comment just so as to utilize the verification word: 'dishear'.

    Dis here comment from +-+Duncan just goes to show how people can dishear the Gospel.

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  10. I say, Be careful what you wish for, Bp Duncan-- I suspect it won't be quite as easy to be under the yoke of the GS and Pope Akinola.

    As for the usual concerns over the death of TEC,remember that the only growing denomination in the US is NONE. Catholics and Baptists are leaving too.

    On the other hand, based on the Episcopal churches we have attended lately, there is much vibrant activity and commitment to be found, tons of kids, and deep engagement--by people of all ages.

    So let it be, and let them go. They are only getting attention because they keep snapping at the heels of TEC--defining themselves by what they are NOT, rather than by what they ARE. Let them be quiet and come back and make an affirmative case for themselves. And then we'll see.

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  11. So much for the "My Buddy Rowan" spin of a couple of weeks back. Can't the man at least try to act consistently?

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  12. But meanwhile, I get requests from disgruntled parishioners wanting to have their membership transferred to the 'Anglican' church up the street (AMiA/ACNA). My policy is to move them to inactive status and inform the church that I cannot transfer them out to a church that is not part of the AC no matter how much they say they are. Definitely brings up my blood pressure.

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  13. Didn't Jesus himself say, "My yoke is easy and my burden is Lite"?

    :-)

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  14. Mark Twain said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
    I don't much trust in statistics, but I do think they may provide some evidence that in the US, and perhaps other places as well, a consumerist approach to religion is on the rise. Denominational membership is not growing, but there seems to be growth among independent churches, churches where you are not burdened with being associated with people you don't know and with whom you may diagree.

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  15. New York Times Nov 5, 2009 interview with Duncan

    Q."Bishop Schori heads the Episcopal Church in this country, and you opposed her election in 2006?
    A.She was the least qualified, the least experienced, of the candidates, but I hoped that what she would bring if she were elected was the kind of grace that women often bring. She turned out to be far harder, far less willing to bend or compromise, than any of the men.

    Q. What was your childhood like?
    A. My family knew a lot of turmoil, and there were a lot of things that happened in the house that were very unhappy. My mother was emotionally disturbed. She was a very difficult person. There were times when I was not sure I’d wake up in the morning because of her violence.

    Q. And your father?
    A. He just died last week.

    Q. I’m sorry. Were you close to him?
    A. Again, not greatly close to him. I tried to be a faithful son. He didn’t know how to handle my mother."

    Just for the record, what is driving him?

    FMS+

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  16. I believe the 3500 figure is not a typo, but a reference to the ASA of the ANiC. Here is an account of the numbers in that group http://www.anglicanessentials.ca/wordpress/index.php/2009/11/12/anic-synod-thursday-morning/
    The quote from Bp Harvey is very convoluted and I can undertand why you read it another way to me
    ANiC is one of two ACNA groups in Canada.
    Scott raises a good point as to whether ACNA is bringing in converts. Conversion growth rather than transfer growth would be a good statistic to have for both ACNA and TEC.

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  17. Take a look at the press release again. 3500 is ANiC's ASA, not a typo for ACNA's.

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. John Sandeman and Alan Stewart.

    My first reaction is that you are are right. However, when I looked at the quote from the press release as I posted it, I believe I lifted this directly from the press release and that it was later corrected. What I posted was I believe what was first presented, ""ANiC is under the Episcopal authority of Bishop Harvey and is a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America which unites over 100,000 faithful Anglicans from across this continent. It now numbers 733 parishes and eight forming congregations in North America with more than 3500 in church on an average Sunday."

    The press release now reads, "ANiC is under the Episcopal authority of Bishop Harvey and is a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America which unites over 100,000 faithful Anglicans from across this continent. ANiC now numbers 33 parishes and eight forming congregations in North America with more than 3500 in church on an average Sunday."

    I believe this corrects the problem in the press release.

    In the light of that I am correcting my entry as well.

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  20. In a short space of time that office has utterly been diminished.

    The statement doesn't make sense. "Utterly" means completely. Or do I dishear His Grace?

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  21. Two observations:

    First, I thought Light was what Jesus was all about.

    Second, 90% of all statistics are inaccurate; I have a chart demonstrating that, somewhere.

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  22. Having just re-read the corrected version and the number of 3,500, I am surprised. ANiC looks really top heavy with purple. If nothing else it does appear that ANiC is taking a pro-active position in evangelizing Canada for its denomination and appointing [i.e consecrating bishops] for the domestic mission. We are not talking here about serving current dissenters, we are talking about creating the tools to create converts and an active commitment to invest time and talent in Canada as mission territory. I would assume that the most logical first target will be Canada's already Anglican population,...though deluded by Anglican Church of Canada heresy. What then will be the next?, churched Calvinists seeking a more liturgical and apostolic tradition? It would seem that the unchurched would be the most difficult challenge and the message that ANiC/ACNA may not be all that attractive for this group. If numbers matter, and numbers fast, it just makes sense to shop locally.

    ACNA needs to look legitimate even if not. [For example, number of congregations...Our local has 12-14 members,... steady for 4 years.] I suspect the strategy is to acquire as many as possible and as quickly as possible so that the Communion will have to recognize its validity as a fait accompli regardless of HOW it accomplished the deed. My question is: Will ACNA be honest with its prospective members or will it tell them what they want to hear (e.g. Venables/Schofield to San Joaquin about their security in their relationship to Canterbury) to acquire them? My problem with ACNA has never been with its claim to hold theological views that other members of TEC or the ACC might not share and so-holding be true to their Anglican faith, my problem has been with the methods and strategies employed by their leaders to accomplish their goals. "Dissing" TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada is part of that. For Duncan's crowd, the end now seems to somehow justify the means and I can't go there. EmilyH

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  23. Revised comment: ACNA , at 100,000 persons is about 1/20th the size of The Episcopal Church. Given that a fair number of the 733 parishes were never part of TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada, and that their communicants likewise were never part of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, this would place the numbers of people who have left TEC or the ACiC for the ACNA or any of its subsidiary parts at well below 5%, probably more like 4%. -- With all due respect, how do we even begin to know this? Caminante gives the example of how most of our churches operate. People leave and begin attending other churches, and rectors simply move them to inactive status to protect numbers, delegates to convention, or whatever (and in places like VA, CA, and others, people are counted as members of both ACNA and TEC even though they only attend one or the other). So we get a heavily bloated figure of 2.2 million members, and ACNA no doubts gets an inflated number from those whom they count as members but who did not make the switch. Perhaps we should simply look at the number of people coming to Eucharist each week for a fairer perspective both of ourselves and others and the impact for the Kingdom that each is having.

    JB

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  24. Growth throughout Christianity has stalled or is declining. I don't see a lot of young people in the ACNA so once their membership has stabilized I don't hold out much hope they will grow. The TEC, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, LCMS, Southern Baptists and others are in numerical decline or have fewer active participants, some for a long time. The Roman Catholic Church is nearly moribund in Europe, Quebec, large parts of South America and Australia/NZ. To broaden what JB says: people aren't buying what any mainstream/institutional Christianity is selling right now - liberal or conservative.

    This goes farther beyond the TEC or ACNA. It's a larger social trend that I haven't seen any major liturgical church address successfully.

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  25. As far as I know, no one in the ACNA crowd asked individuals in the pews privately if they no longer wanted to be Episcopalians. It's usually a "majority rules" vote at some parish meeting that has swept these parishes first to the Cone then to ACNA.

    When I realized where my former parish was headed, I switched to a parish that remained in the TEC. The drive isn't far, and I'm at peace that I did the right thing. Some of my friends who stayed behind still consider themselves Episcopalians. Confusing at best.

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  26. Then again, Betsy, I know few or any people in the pews who were asked if they minded having their church convert wholesale to advocacy of a bizarre and un-Christian definition of marriage. By the way, it seems speaking of "majority rules" in a negative sense should be carefully considered by anyone willing to have doctrine re-defined triennially according to the whims of General Convention.

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