Bishops Ackerman and P. Beckwith and the times that are coming.

When Bishop Ackerman announced his retirement some of us wondered if he was really going to retire from the scene or if he was stepping sideways so that he might continue working with the Anglican Communion Network dioceses, Forward in Faith and now the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) from a relatively secure venue in Springfield where he became an assisting bishop. We were soundly criticised for even suggesting that Bishop Ackerman might be taking up this new venue in order to continue working for the replacement of TEC with some new agency for Anglicanism in North America. After all, there was illness in the family and even his own health seemed in question. Now his role is becoming clearer.

ENS reported yesterday, "Two Episcopal Church bishops (Ackerman and P. Beckwith) , one active and one retired, are among the members of newly-announced committees of a proposed Anglican Church in North America, which is holding what it is calling its "inaugural provincial assembly" later this month."

Both bishops are working with ACNA from within The Episcopal Church and of course their free association with others is their business. The crossover between all this being their business and it being our business is that between acting as bishops within TEC and acting in ways that are uncanonical. That time will perhaps come when ACNA is inaugurated and begins to do those things at any church may do. Among those things are episcopal acts. Should either Bishop Ackerman or Beckwith join in the consecration of new bishops for ACNA, or confirm in ACNA parishes, the question of their continued presence and ministry in The Episcopal Church will be answered.

Bishop Ackerman serves on the ACNA Admissions Committee, as a representative from FIFNA. Bishop Beckwith serves on the Ecumenical Relations Committee. Whether or not they are part of The Episcopal Church, they are serving a new Church in formation, ACNA, which stands in such opposition to TEC that it considers us un-Christian and unworthy being called Anglican. ACNA has come to fix that, of course, replacing TEC if it can as THE Anglican church in north America, the one finally to be recognized by the rest of the Anglican Communion as the properly constituted Province of the Anglican Communion.

ACNA has a new logo and a new theme, "Reaching out with the Transforming Love of Jesus Christ." ACNA, "gathered A.D.2009," no longer talks of being the "a biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism in North America." (The old Anglican Communion Network slogan.)

ACNA is about to roll out its best case for being the true Anglican presence in North America. It will be recognized at its founding by a number of Provinces of the Anglican Communion, who will recognize it, and not TEC, as a Province.

How this will ultimately shake out is to some extend dependent on how well the existing leadership of the Anglican Communion can be clear about its own missionary focus and basis for common life. ACNA leaders and others have already begun to talk about the notion that a Canterbury focused Communion may not be at all necessary or useful. The creep towards a Communion with its home somewhere in Africa and its guidance provided by the Global South Primates is underway. ACNA may be that movement's first missionary province to achieve Provencal status. The GAFCON Primates may indeed return to the idea of an Alexandria office and a new Patriarchal shop.

Transforming will take many forms. It appears that Bishops Ackerman and Beckwith are themselves metamorphosing into to something other than TEC bishops. ACNA is transforming into a church, and is moving on from a federation of groups uniting to a church that is what it is.

The word "transforming" as used by the Network has always had hidden deep within it the signal that homosexuals could be transformed, turned into celibate or straight persons. Under the earlier call, "God changes lives for good," ACN was committed to transformative therapy. That language is no longer around much. ACN, a long time ago now, was interested in working for change within TEC as well as organizing outside (the inside / outside strategy). No longer. ACNA is forming up a new church and taking very dissatisfied current and former Episcopalian it can find. It will make the grand case for being pure and undefiled in the midst of TEC as a broken and defunct unChristian body.

I think it is time to get serious about several things:

(i) ACNA is going where it goes. There it is. They are not in communion with TEC, believe we are unChristian and are perfectly willing to take as many of TEC's members as they can attract.
(ii) The Archbishop of Canterbury, and indeed his predecessor, have bungled, interfered, crossed boundaries like mad and generally messed about in gardens not their own.
(iii) The Global South Primates and others are set on a course to subvert and otherwise dismantle the Canterbury based Anglican Communion. Oddly, the response by the Instruments of Communion is very muted.
(iv) we are seeing the emergence of a movement to a full blown world-wide Anglican entity that will claim to be the true voice of Anglicanism world wide and it will be a patriarchy.
(v) we don't have to go there. It is regressive and we don't need it.


  1. Wither thou goest? (Quo Vadis?) The legend says Peter turned back to remain with the Christians in Rome. Roman Christians went on to do great things. Likely, they would have done great things in any event.

    I any event, to avoid too much damage to this metaphor, elevate the status of those who leave, or for that matter those who stay, I think all the Christians will be alright.

  2. Fred Slimp16/6/09 7:27 PM

    You continually refer to an ecclesiastical entity headed by a patriarch as a "patriarchy;" that's erroneous. With your Orthodox contacts, you should know that such an entity is a "patriarchate," as in Moscow Patriarchate. Look up their website. Unless you intend a tendentious reference to government by males, the proper word is "patriarchate." Fred Slimp, Missoula, MT

  3. What these outfits also crave is attention. I'd give them as much attention as consistent with defence, but none more; when this FCA starts up in Britain I'll no doubt make a comment, but I'll make no more comment than it deserves and it will deserve very little.

  4. thanks, Mark - you have told the obvious truth. 'Bout time we all acknowledged it.

  5. I believe a patriarchate refers to a specific see, led by a patriarch (bishop). Mark refers to a "full blown world-wide Anglican entity" in point (iv). I'll also add that patriarchy is not a tendentious term if it is accurate.

    Mark, I think your prediction of a more formal, Global South-based Anglican entity is correct. So be it. But past schisms teach us that the older entity usually survives along with the new. Who knows which group will be viewed as the "official" Anglican entity by the larger Christian community? Probably both, if the Lutherans are any example.

  6. Your comment about the present archbishop of Canterbury (unlike his predecessor) is unbalanced and unfair. Rowan Williams has frequently outraged the American left, but he has been remarkably successful in letting the rightwingers trumpet themselves into wholly unorthodox and indefensible stances. ACNA may have the support of a handful of primates--far from a majority--but there's no evidence whatever that these primates speak for their churches (except possibly for those bishops whom they've created and who are dependent on their good favor).

    True Anglicanism will continue to muddle through as it has now for more than 450 years, or a millennium and a half if you add in the Celtic church. Faux "Anglicanism" will have about as much significance as the "Traditional Anglican Communion," which seems to consist of the Church of the Torres Strait pinched from Australia's Anglican Diocese of North Queensland and several handfuls of odds and ends around the rest of the world.

  7. Funny how they have turned North America in their new logo. The artist could have included the Yukon and Alaska and let the shield cover most of Mexico and Central America. Is this some ominous warning of their eventual plan to displace the two Anglican churches; the Anglican Church of Mexico and the Anglican Church of the Central American Region, as well?

  8. Oooo Dah-veed, nice catch!

  9. "The word "transforming" as used by the Network has always had hidden deep within it the signal that homosexuals could be transformed, turned into celibate or straight persons. Under the earlier call, "God changes lives for good," ACN was committed to transformative therapy. "

    A whole new church founded on homosexuality. It's there in the new logo. That seems to be the only issue that all of these disparate factions of evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics will be able to agree on, and that brings them together in the first place.

  10. Have Bishops Ackerman and Beckwith been deposed yet? Perhaps its time for a preemptive strike from the PB. Is that what you are alluding to about getting serious Mark?

  11. Do I understand you correctly, Fr. Mark, in saying that both bishops can still function as TEC bishops AND be members of ACNA, as long as they do not perform any routine episcopal acts (such as the ordination of other bishops or confirmations) for ACNA? A few inquiring minds here in the Dio. Of Springfield wonder if we still have a TEC bishop, at all!

    I can’t imagine a situation where the Latin ordinary of the local Catholic diocese announced his “membership” in an 'Old Catholic' Archdiocese-in-formation, with Rome and/or the American conference of Catholic bishops simply ignoring that action – episcopal acts not withstanding. Perhaps my Roman Catholic background/ethos leads me to misunderstand.

    Furthermore, Bishop Beckwith has said several times that 1. he will retire by the end of 2009 and 2. that he - personally – cannot remove this diocese from The Episcopal Church. Perhaps a repeat of Quincy’s actions is planned in Springfield? Regardless, Springfield's Synod in October ’09 should be “interesting”!

    'Jay' in the Diocese of Springfield

  12. Isn't the commonplace definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? So ACNA thinks letting one gender rule the universe is somehow going to work our for everyone this time? Patriarchate/Patriarchy--doesn't make much difference from where I sit (although I do like a scholarly point of precision)--they're retrograde either way. And that they're forming a "Christian" body whose origin and gathering point is the hatred and fear of a significant group of other humans. While there's clearly nothing anyone can do to prevent them from doing what they're doing (and maybe no one who has the right to, except for Canterbury--and no backbone there), the duty to witness and speak does make it important to keep calling them what they truly are, so keep it up, Mark.

    Meanwhile, it's interesting to think about the role post-colonial guilt has had in all this. Funny to think that this mess might be as much the fault of Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak as of Bob Duncan and Peter Akinola and Rowan Williams.

    Devon Miller-Duggan

  13. Shouldn't there be an asterisk in the logo, saying "No Queers Allowed"?

  14. I hope that these bishops, should they decide to leave, will decide to leave without a ruckus. Renouncing one's orders as Bishops Bane and MacBurney have would be a graceful way to exit.

  15. IT,

    Don't forget about "uppity" women. Somehow I get the feeling that ACNA will place place a moratorium on ordination of women (if they haven't already) so that it can be "studied" further.

  16. Re:women clerics. If all ACNA wants to do is study something to death, they might as well stay in TEC. The HoB is good at that.

    Fr. Mark I think your list a bit short. You missed:

    vi. Bishops Akerman and Beckwith have abandoned the communion of this church.


  17. David, you made me really look at that logo again. Did you notice the whole east coast --- including Pennsylvania and Virginia (two of the hotbeds of high orthodoxy) are covered up yet they show Central America clean down to Panama? How very interesting.


  18. Actually ... it looks like the big shield is distending out of the east coast of the United States. Significant?

  19. Having designed a few logos in younger days of playing with Macs & Desktop Publishing, that shield is hugely out of needed proportion. Nothing like an over-sized St. George's cross to scream of one's Anglicanism.

    Last night I had an idea and for a few minutes was playing with the backed-off globe in Google Earth, like I was an astronaut in the Int'l Space Station, trying to replicate that view of North Am. It is fictional. I could not manipulate that land mass into that particular viewpoint.


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.