ACNA and other "Anglican" Chaplains...not an Army, but a crowd.

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) pages include a news item, " An Army of Anglican Chaplains" about the growing number of ACNA / Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and Reformed Episcopal Church chaplains.  The article is clear that chaplaincies under the supervision of the ACNA Bishop for Chaplaincies covers not only military chaplains but others as well - in hospitals and other settings where endorsement by a denomination is necessary, and others where it is not. In this ACNA is somewhat paralleling The Episcopal Church's Suffragan Bishop for Federal Ministries. But ACNA's chaplaincy program seems to reach into areas where denominational endorsement is not necessary. "

Anglican Church chaplains hold posts in the armed services, in hospitals, with police, fire and other emergency responders and in a number of other settings, said Bishop Jones.  “Chaplaincy is its own distinct call with its own distinct set of ministry obligations and opportunities,” he continued."

"According to Bishop Jones, it is hard to keep up with interest in Anglican chaplaincy, particularly among ministers coming from other traditions.  By his count, about half of the Anglican Church’s chaplains have come from other Christian groups.  Bishop Jones believes this trend is driven by the “unique convergence in the chaplain of the three historical streams of worship, sacramental and liturgical, evangelical, and charismatic.”  Anglicanism brings these streams together into a whole."

ACNA then is claiming that this 100 strong "Army of Chaplains" is not about the armed forces, is not necessarily about Anglicans related to ACNA or CANA or REC, but rather an effort to bring under one umbrella a wide array of people who find "Anglicanism" to be a title worth having on the door. "Anglican Chaplain," has a nice ring.  The photo accompanying the article, however, like the title, certainly stresses the military chaplaincy.  CANA's website also makes the point - this is really about military chaplaincy - by its use of an Oliver North speech to an NRA group on Veterans. 

So, ACNA has an "army of Anglican Chaplains," over a hundred in number.

One interesting note: the ACNA news item states, "According to Bishop Jones, it is hard to keep up with interest in Anglican chaplaincy, particularly among ministers coming from other traditions.  By his count, about half of the Anglican Church’s chaplains have come from other Christian groups.  Bishop Jones believes this trend is driven by the “unique convergence in the chaplain of the three historical streams of worship, sacramental and liturgical, evangelical, and charismatic.”  Anglicanism brings these streams together into a whole."

It starts getting confusing at this point:
Not all ACNA / CANA / REC Chaplains are "federal" chaplaincies, much less military.
Bishop Jones refers to "the Anglican Church" (meaning I suppose the ACNA umbrella of member churches and "partners") and says about half of the "Anglican Church's" chaplains have come from "other Christian groups."  It is hard to know if they must become part of ACNA / CANA / REC or not.
So Bishop Jones is the referent of note for ACNA's Chaplaincy program. God bless him in his work.

But, just for a moment, let's understand there are not 100 military chaplains arising from the ranks of ACNA, at least as far as one can tell from all this.  There are 100 people in chaplaincy positions of all sorts, from at least three distinct sources, and with others coming in from outside and being endorsed by ACNA.

Just for the fun of it I looked up the Armed Forces military chaplaincy list of endorsing bodies. That list includes the following "Anglican" or "Episcopal" bodies:

Bishop Sanjay Thakore

The Rt. Rev. D. Presley Hutchens

The Rt. Reverend David L. Moyer

Archbishop Michael B. Simmons

The Very Rev. David B. Fucci

The Most Reverend Douglas S. Woodall

The Rt. Reverend George E. Packard

Rt. Reverend William W. Millsaps

Rt. Reverend Royal U. Grote, Jr.

The Venerable Reverend George E. McClellan, Archdeacon

The Right Reverend Derek S. Jones

I am sure the names have changed a bit since this was posted by the Armed Forces Chaplaincies folk. Our own Bishop Packard has retired and the Bishop is now James Magness. 

So... I want to be very clear in what I now wish to say:

(i) I believe Military, Hospital and other chaplaincies are of vital importance and I am very pleased that ACNA / CANA / REC have mounted an effort to provide chaplains. 

(ii) I believe The Episcopal Church is very clear in its effort to both recruit and endorse well qualified people for such ministries.

(iii) I have no knowledge of or particular interest in challenging any person endorsed by any of the many "Anglican" or "Episcopal" entities listed above.

(iv)  I know that military chaplains serve not for their denominations but for the whole of the force and are trained to provide pastoral and sacramental services as their own disciplines will allow.

Having said that, I have some real concerns that a number of the bodies listed above drawn in wandering clergy and find a place to put them that both expands their own clergy rolls and provides a living not dependent on their denomination's own resources.  

I rejoice that Anglican clergy - however they came by the title on the door - find their way into military and other chaplaincy.  I am less delighted if chaplaincy becomes a way to recruit clergy into small denominations in order to swell the "Anglican" ranks and make it appear that the true, red, white and blue, REAL Anglicans are to be found there and not in The Episcopal Church.  

And I resent the ACNA model of wanting to gather in the Army of Anglican Chaplains as their own, further making "Anglican" their title, as in "the Anglican Church..." (Without "in North America").  

For those who are interested in the fact of the matter:  The Episcopal Church is the province of the Anglican Communion in the United States of America and several other countries. It is then "the Anglican Church" hereabouts. The fact that none of the other "Anglican" or "Episcopal" bodies on that list are part of the Anglican Communion takes a bit of the shine off the "Anglican" title on their door, and frays the rug on the floor.


  1. Mark: At this point, I'm well past caring. 99% of people couldn't tell you what either an Episcopalian OR an Anglican of any other stripe is anyway, so I spare not too much thought on the trademark. And +++Rowan is hardly going to protect TEC's "franchise".

  2. Over the decades, splinter churches with at least some origin in The Episcopal Church have had high clergy-to-laity ratios. There have to be ways to provide a living for all these more-orthodox-than-thou priests, and chaplaincies salaried by somebody else (military, health care, etc.) would be a good source. Given the issues over which these splinters arose, I do hope and pray that these priests are nevertheless making good chaplains. (Chaplaincy by its very nature is an inclusive ministry; schismatic sects by their very nature, not so much.)

    Reading your list of "Anglican"/"Episcopal" bodies, I'm not sure whether to giggle or to weep.

  3. Locally, the cynical would say that conservative priests from TEC and/or ACNA etc. are becoming chaplains because the bishop will not hire conservatives or graduates of conservative seminaries--that's one of the reasons an ACNA group broke off here. Of course, even a progressive priest in another parish who is searching for a new position is looking at chaplaincy because it offers a more secure and, sometimes around here, a better paying job. No vestry to please, no building to maintain, more one on one contact with those you serve, sounds good doesn't it?

  4. Mark: I remain anonymous because I remain with TEC for the time being. With Bishop Packard's permission, I met Bishop Jones and found him gracious, pastoral, and humble. I remain an Army Chaplain in our Episcopal Church because Bp Jones believed my current ministry might be adversely affected should I move at this time. He and +George agreed I could consider moving following this assignment and only after Bp Packard's replacement was announced (Bp Magness). Of course Bp Jones would like me to move to CANA, but clearly he's not in a numbers game as you suggest. I am a mid-level officer in the military which you rightly suggest is the focus of the endorsement office. I appreciate your defense, but twisting information into something that isn't there is troublesome for me, especially since I know the real story personally. I and many others pay attention to your blog - in this case, I know you are wrong. I'll bet Bishop Jones would still talk to you despite how you have disparaged what they are doing. I'll be interested in whether you set the record straight or not (as will other fellow chaplains).

  5. Anonymous....just use some name, so that if you reply again I don't have to distinguish between you as "anonymous" and some other writer.

    As to your point. I made it very clear in the article that I am more than appreciative of the service done by military and other chaplains. I do not for a moment believe that Bishop Jones is other than the gracious, pastoral and humble person you name him to be. I find the way in which he and Bishop Packard dealt with your particular situation.

    I am sure Bishop Jones would still talk to me. I do not disparage what "they" are doing, if by that you mean the actual ministry being engaged by chaplains of what ever origin.

    My question is, given the wide range of agents endorsing people for chaplaincy as "Anglican" or "Episcopal" clergy. The list of such agents is telling. For Bishop Jones (and others) to talk of the "Anglican Church" (the official name of one of the organizations by the way) and of ACNA as being an agent that gathers in Anglicans from many places for endorsement, muddies the waters.

    The waters of service are clear, one hopes. The waters of denominational or even "ism" affiliation is quite muddy.

    I wish you well in your ministry. We pray at every service for those in our armed forces and for the end of all wars.

  6. Tom, I do think this is an interesting post, not so much because I care about ACNA, AMiA, CANA, etc., and their forays into military chaplaincy. Rather, I find it interesting for the reason that Mark pointed out the challenge of affiliation and endorsement.

    Of course, the Baptists have had this problem for years: is one a Southern Baptist, American Baptist, a Conservative Baptist, et al? What is one's "brand identity" and, more importantly, what do you do when a particular chaplain behaves badly?

    We as Episcopalians have essentially had a closed shop for years. We knew whom Episcopal Chaplains reported to and represented. We've not had the problems that the Baptists have had with the proliferation of different denominations using the same label.

    Now we do as well. Sort of a Post-modern thing: I am an Episcopalian, Anglican because I choose to be. I don't have to be under the authority of a bishop or any bishop. I create my own definition.

    I think that's interesting.


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.