The Anglican Church in North America is packing in the Chaplains - Military Chaplains, that is. They come from various parts of the spectrum of Christian belief. George Conger reports that
"The number of ACNA chaplains has almost doubled over the past year Bishop Jones told The Church of England Newspaper, with many coming from other Protestant denominations. “For many” of the new chaplains, the Anglican option for ministry in the United States was blocked because “the only option for them was the Episcopal Church."
Two items to note here: The Bishop Jones in question is Derek Jones, whose ordination as bishop is odd indeed. He joined ACNA in 2010. Read Conger on him HERE. The protestant chaplains wanted "the Anglican option" but somehow were blocked from doing so in the past because "the only option for them was the Episcopal Church." Now, just out of curiosity, just why were they not able to do so through TEC? Perhaps the next paragraph tells us:
"With the creation of the ACNA “these chaplains realized an orthodox option was now available and began making applications,” he noted, adding that the “training and education” of the those from outside the Anglican tradition takes from six months to a year."
So, had they gone into TEC the process would have taken longer. They would have had to, say, join a congregation, be approved by bishop and standing committee for ordination, undergone training and education that might well have taken more than a year. Had they gone through TEC the process of changing denomination and becoming Anglican would have taken longer, if they were accepted at all. These already existing chaplains were simply brought into ACNA, and is six to twelve months ordained as Anglican chaplains.
This is a great way to increase ACNA's clergy rolls while not having to spend much on their training and not having to spend a dime on their support (it all coming from the military).
Then there are some who come from TEC. Supposedly there are many more, but ACNA suggests caution:
"A number of chaplains have also come from the Episcopal Church he said, and “there are many chaplains with the Episcopal Church who have inquired about transferring, but we have encouraged them to hang tight” for now.
The reception process for Episcopal priests depends on the individual’s circumstances, Bishop Jones said, and is based on their “home diocese, current maturity within rank, grade, and seniority structures, and the chaplain’s ability to ‘weather the storm’ should they become identified as wanting to move to an orthodox communion.”
What is this about? Perhaps it is the fear that should it be known that Chaplain X was thinking about leaving TEC for ACNA they might be deposed, which at the very least looks odd on a resume and or application. Or perhaps it has something to do with the oddities of Church pensions. Who knows. But all of this is odd indeed.
Ah, but then Conger reports,
"He (Bishop Jones) added that he had advised a number of Episcopal clergy “to be patient so that they may remain supportive of their bishop, many of whom are under the crosshairs [of the national church hierarchy]” for their traditionalist views."
So that is it: the supposed problem is that the chaplains who want to cross over might be in trouble, and more some of their bishops are "under the corsshairs ... for their traditionalist views."
The wonders of paranoia are amazing to watch. Bishop Jones has amazingly poor Anglican credentials. He is training clergy to be Anglican Chaplains, a process that seems to take only six months to a year to complete. He came in out of a church called the "Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches," not exactly a church with a solid grounding in Anglican polity or theology.
This is a mess. ACNA could have done better. It doesn't need to jack up its clergy numbers. It for sure doesn't need Bishop Jones. And the paranoid notion that there are traditionalist bishops who are in the cross hairs of TEC who would be made to suffer if their clergy chaplains went over to ACNA is just a little strange.