The Anglican Dissenter Network

In the space of a few short years The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes became first The Anglican Communion Network and is now changing again. But to what? THE NACDP is still the legal name for the organization aka the ACN. The NACDP was an inelegant name, but it was descriptive. The network was indeed made up of dioceses and parishes that belonged to the Anglican Communion. ACN was shorter, sweeter, and gave the hint that this was somehow an official network of the Anglican Communion, just as say, the ACEN (Anglican Communion Environmental Network). NACDP/ ACN often tried to show that it was suggested by and approved of by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but to little effect.

In recent days, however, the Moderator of the Network has begun to distance the ACN from some of the "Instruments of Communion," in particular the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference. Since it is these sources that gave rise to the idea of having an Anglican Consultative Council and Primates Meetings (the other "instruments") this distancing is particularly important. Dr. Ephraim Radner thought enough of the Moderator's distancing comments to distance himself from the Network's new stance.

The Anglican Communion Network is undergoing another change: It is now working for the federation and embodiment of a new ecclesial entity that will include members of the actual and real Anglican Communion and Anglican-like ecclesial entities (The Traditional Anglican Communion, The Reformed Episcopal Chuch, etc). These "continuing" and breakaway churches are joining with the ACN folk in a new thing which the ACN Moderator suggests will replace The Episcopal Church as the Anglican entity of value in North America. ( I say it in this awkward way because I don't know if there will be any attempt to suggest that this entity will be part of the current-and-real Anglican Communion or part of some new-and-improved Anglican Communion.)

At the last ACN annual meeting, the Moderator's address included this video presentation of the hopes and dreams of the ACN/ CCP.

Note the video's contention, that The Episcopal Church is going to fade away, and that this new entity, formed from the federation of groups will merge and take its place. While the video is simplistic, its graphics are an astounding confirmation that the former role of the ACN as "inside" and the American Anglican Council and other groups as "outside" is collapsing into one movement, predicated on the failure of the ACN to move TEC. This movement is "outside."

The current name of this up and coming federation is The Common Cause Partnership (CCP). As it slips into place, with the Moderator of the ACN as the moderator of the CCP as well, a new entity is in the process of being born. What its name will be we do not know, but we can be sure it will be named with a great name befitting the usurpation it is proposing to enact.

But the name is already there for the picking: It is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the one characteristic held in common by all the groups making up the CCP is that they are dissenters – people who have refused to sit at the table.

Dave Walker has a fine cartoon example of the dissenters among the Primates in action.

This has been acted out in a variety of ways. The bishop members of the Network have on occasion absented themselves from meetings of the House of Bishops and from the reception of communion with others of that house. Archbishops to whom some in the CCP and ACN have expressed loyalty or oaths of obedience have refused to receive communion in a place where all Primates of the Anglican Communion have been seated. And, in less symbolic and more practical ways, the members of CCP have each separated themselves out from the Anglican Communion or one of its member churches over a variety of issues – divorce, ordination of women, the "direction" of the church, the lack of discipline, the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons, etc - and over basic principles having to do with the proper understanding of coherency in the faith via the bible and the 'undivided' church's witness.

This crowd of folk constitutes a community of dissenters. Assuming that the regular-and-real Anglican Communion continues and the CCP continue in the practice of dissent, not only with the Anglican Communion, but among themselves, it becomes apparent that the name for the continually transmogrifying ACN might well be The Anglican Dissenter Network. ADN would be what it realistically is: a group of people who consider themselves Anglican but are dissenters.

There is a long and honorable history for dissenters. They chew on the bone of their various contentions with great conviction and hold on. They are also convinced that it is raining on them in some particular way that makes their dissent all the more powerful as a witness.

Here is Dave Walker's cartoon "my hypochondria is keeping me awake" is, in all its Eeyore gloomy splendor, a fine example of them hypochondria-gloomy-"I am a martyr" blues. It is, it appears, how dissenters feel most of the time. It is not very contusive to a Gospel larger than suffering.

Still, dissenters have an important role to play, if for no other reasons than to tone down the sometimes triumphalism ways of the folk still at table. With an empty chair here and there the remaining guests have to think that maybe there is a better party elsewhere, or that perhaps there are new guests coming, or that perhaps one of the chairs is for Elijah, who might be in a really sour prophetic mood on arrival. Empty chairs are signs – signs of anticipation. One thing we know for sure: the chairs will be filled, and those who come will change the conversation every bit as much as the dissenters might have done, had they stayed.

Unlike Walt Kelly's comment in Pogo about trespassers, "trespassers will be not be missed, if they leave or if they stay," dissenters will be missed "if they leave or if they stay." If they leave we will miss them. If they stay we will miss knowing who might have filled their seats. Then again, we could simply bring in some new chairs.

Meanwhile, the ADN is more likely what the ACN will become, and not what it wishes to become- the true Anglican ecclesial presence in North America.


  1. My fear is that the person they hired to play the "bleak-and-windswept-landscape-and-oh-by-the-way-my-dog-died" piano background music might actually be a Network organist on Sundays. In which case they've shot themselves in the foot before they've even begun.


  2. The question is: Who left?

    It's up to The Episcopal Church to decide by September 30 whether it is walking apart or not (Windsor, Dramamine, Nottingham, Dar es Salaam). The question remains, who left?


  3. "The Episcopal Church is leaving Christianity"? That's harsher rhetoric than I thought they were up to.

    Before joining TEC, I spent a little time visiting a couple of the ACN, African-affiliated churches here in North Florida. They were faithful Christians and mean well. But one thing you see eventually is how fundamentally destructive it is to define yourself by your opposition to other people.

  4. All I could think of when I read this post is perhaps they could call themselves
    Contentious Common Cause Partnership.

  5. What makes the video astoundingly awful is that there is no evidence that the Episcopal Church will fade into nothingness at Robert Duncan's command.

    I just got back from a 20-city nationwide tour of the Episcopal Church. Everywhere I went I found faithful people united in worship of Jesus Christ. That big blue dot that is the Episcopal Church isn't going anywhere.

    Nor is it likely that all Duncan's little blue dots will coalesce into a big shiny new one, especially after people realize that he is simply not capable of leading them to the Promised Land. He supports women's ordination and a lot of those little blue dots will never accept it. How many times does he have to admit failure before the secessionists realize he hasn't delivered anything?

    After all this is done we're likely to have much the same thing as we have now; a big blue Episcopal dot and a bunch of little satellite dots constantly reacting to the big one.

    If the latest prattle out of Rwanda about white satanists is any indication, those little American dots are going to be very sorry about the company they keep.

  6. Well, BB, those who decline the invitation of our Lord himself by refusing to receive the Lord's Body and Blood at the common Table and literally walk out of the building pretty well answers your question.

  7. Seems to me that the TEC (nee ECUSA) left in 2003 when they raised the shibboleths of "inclusion" and "tolerance" over the ebenezer of eternal truth. Then to seal their dissent, collectively told ++Cantuar to take a hike in 2006.

    I agree with double-bee..
    Be Blessed...

  8. Oh please, not that tired, old shibboleth of "We didn't leave the Episcopal Church, they left us" again. My bishop (+Stanton) trots that out at every opportunity and no reasonable, mainstream Episcopalian falls for it.

    BB, catbird, et al. - please take some responsibility for yourselves and what you've done. Want to leave ? Fine. It's a free country. Just leave the silver and the door keys behind - they're not yours. Want to dissent ? OK. As Mark+ has said here, dissent has a fine tradition in the Church. But if you dismiss the AC Instruments of Communion themselves, then you're not "Anglican." No dishonor in that (e.g. the Methodists dissented w/o trying to claim they were the real CoE), but please tell the truth about who you are & what you're doing and stop trying to "spin" it...

  9. OK, let me ask this yet again. Why, if sexuality is not the "real issue" does nearly everyone who talks or writes about the fragmentation of the Anglican Communion point to the approval of the election of Bishop Robinson at GC 2003 as the pivotal event?

    Is one's view of homosexuality really the one and only litmus test for orthodoxy, even Christianity itself? Might as well throw out the Nicene and Apostles Creeds, then, and just say "We believe that homosexuality is a sin." or "We believe that homosexuality is not a sin." Sure would simplify inquirer's classes...

    The Episcopal Church will not disappear because there are many, as josh indiana said, "faithful people united in worship of Jesus Christ" in the church. There are millions of them, so I highly doubt that TEC is going away anytime soon, much less to make way for the "dissenters."

    Last question: How can you have Anglicanism without England?

  10. The Nutcase leaders either believe or at least profess the belief that TEC will simply vanish. We see it locally here in Chicago where parishioners from a Nutcase parish actually asked me, [I am a vestry person] if we had set things up so that when, not if, when we went out of business the building could be a museum!

    The funny part is we are growing! But those who think they know what God should think, if he but had all the facts, seem to actually assume they will inherit. The do not even begin to understand how arrogant that is. After all, they left, they are holy, and therefor God has no business letting us survive.


  11. babyblue The question remains no longer: the answer is the ones who walked away, who chose uniformity of opinion over unity in Christ, who refused to be in communion with those with whom they disagreed and who are now reaping the harvest of the seeds of schism they've been sowing since they failed to bring off the LAST great schism that was going to split the church over the ordination of women.

    It's like a marriage where there have been differences for years and finally one partner has had it -- and even though the other thinks what they have together is more important than what they disagree about the other one is packing his/her bags to leave. While packing, he/she says, "I'm taking the house, the silver, the linens, the books, the family name, the inlaws and the savings account and," slammging the suitcase shut and heading for the door, "by the way: you're leaving me."

    Can't have it both ways, baby. We're still coming to the table. If you're not there then ...

    ... you're the one who's left.

  12. Along with the silver & the door keys, I hope they leave behind the words "Episcopal"
    and "Anglican," since it becomes clearer by the day that they are neither.
    Can TEC do anything to prevent them from using our old, dear titles?
    Sigh. (Rage is brewing, but for tonight, sigh will do.)

  13. "But one thing you see eventually is how fundamentally destructive it is to define yourself by your opposition to other people." saddened

    My brother belongs to a Reformed Episcopal Church that has not grown since it left TEC 30 years ago. Saddened tapped it right on on the head. The Network, no matter what they call themselves, will never be anything more than what they are at the moment. They will not be able to grow because they can only define themselves by what they are not.

    The "we are more pious than you" stance may attract those in the who are at the combative stage in their lives, but it is nigh on to impossible to sustain that kind of ministry for longer than a generation.

  14. Whoever left, can we progressives shut the door, ignore the petulant squealing outside, and get on with doing our mission?

  15. Baby Blue - Did you really mean "Dramamine?"

    Dromantine, perhaps?


  16. muthah+ - I think the dissenters know that. That is why in their narrative TEC must at some point seek to exist (either they will be thrown out of the AC or wither away or both) and they then will be the one True Anglican province in America. It may take some time to get there, but that is their promised land.

  17. By once again echoing the refrain that the Episcopal Church "is walking apart" (from what? the Anglican Communion, orthodox Christianity, whatever?), Baby Blue is employing the familiar strategem of the supporters of a certain current U.S. political leader who shall be left nameless in this comment. Namely, if you say enough times that X is Y, maybe eventually people will begin to believe it.

    'Tain't so. The Episcopal Church isn't walking apart, it hasn't walked apart, it isn't going to walk apart, it's simply trying to be faithful to the Gospel. Those who are walking apart are those who have one foot or both feet out the door. X is no closer to being Y than it was when the Ahmansons, the Scaifes and their kith and kin started started throwing their money into fomenting religious discord and all this nonsense began.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. "(Windsor, DrOmaNTine, Nottingham, Dar es Salaam). The question remains, who left?"

    Apart from the obvious fact that Windsor is a report and not a place, it seems obvious that those that walked out of the Holy Sacrament at those places left.

    Probably for good, since dust and ashes does not seem to be their cup of tea ;=)

  20. Guess we'll see what happens after September 30. The Windsor Bishops seemed to be busy as well.


  21. Mark,

    No. Leaving the door open in the hopes that some of them will discover that calling legalism the gospel does not make it so and come back is part of our mission.


  22. I'm with Mark.

    They haven't learnt that in 400 years, but instead become increasingly sectarian, ever inventing new heresies in novel and startling combinations: PSA, Indo European Integrism, the Church as School to discipline the subjects of the State, identification of Presbytery/Government & c. being combined in the 20th century with Inerrantism, the Fundamentals, pre- post- Being There, and odds and ends from Romans and Byzantines…

    Indeed, the increasingly insist their peculiar Doctrines are the undiluted Tradition of the Church Catholic, regardless of the fact that they do not accept the Church as concept, and consequently deny the Christology of the Church (451), the Sacraments of the Church, and so on.

    What’s left I wonder? How can they be Church? How can they be Christian?

    Indeed, they try to coerce us into accepting their Heresies as true, their novelties as Tradition, calling us ugly names.

    How do you suggest they learn this once?

  23. Guess we'll see what happens after September 30.

    Yes, we will.

    Of course, GC2003 was originally going to cause us to get kicked out of the AC. Then it was all the various primates get-togethers and then GC2006 and then the Lambeth invitations. Now it's 9/30.

    bb and her friends remind me of the early Jehovah's Witnesses, who confidently predicted the end of the world several times and then, when the apocalypse failed to come about, just set new dates and carried on as if nothing had happened.

    And Trueanglican is right to point out the similarity between the political strategies of the Virginia Secessionists and the Connecticut Cowboy. It's no coincidence. Accordingly, I cannot help but wonder what is going to happen to the Falls Church Cananites in January 2009, when Republicans leave the capital by the tens of thousands.

  24. Scary: Duncan's wish that the Episcopal Church fade into nothingness expresses an extreme rhetoric of elimination.

    He wants not just to go his own way and do his own new thing; he also wishes the Episcopal Church were Not. As if its mere existence were intolerable.

  25. For those who are confused by the alphabet soup of the ever-changing list of dissenter organizations, they've created a helpful diagram.



OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.