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.