ACNA Archbishop at All Africa Bishops Conference of CAPA.

The CAPA All Africa Bishops Conference meeting in Entebee, Uganda included some 400 bishops and invited guests and observers. Among those invited guests were several Archbishops and bishops not part of CAPA, including of course The Archbishop of Canterbury. 

In addition, the ACNA webpages noted that Archbishop Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America and several of ACNA's bishops were in attendance.  The ACNA article reports,

"Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Martyn Minns, Bishop John Guernsey and Bishop Bill Atwood are among the Anglican Church in North America leaders who are attending the event.  “The Anglican Church is expanding everywhere in Africa.  There are now some 400 dioceses spread across the continent.  As Archbishop I am here to learn and to stand in solidarity with this vigorous gospel mission,” said Archbishop Duncan.  As the leader of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Duncan was included with the other Anglican primates (leaders of Anglican provinces) during the opening Eucharist, and shared in the distribution of communion, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams."

ACNA Archbishop Duncan, deposed in The Episcopal Church and holding orders as Archbishop in the new ACNA church, is not an Archbishop in the Anglican Communion. Neither he nor the church he leads have officially become part of the Anglican Communion.  Never the less, there he is: He was included with other Anglican Primates in the opening Eucharist and "shared in the distribution of communion, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury..."  

The article then notes that he, as well as Archbishop John Chew of Southeast Asia, have also been invited to sit with the primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) during their meetings.

Bishops and Primates attending the All Africa Bishops Meeting
The photograph accompanying the article says a great deal: Seated in this picture are  mostly the Primates, in vestments. In the center is the Archbishop of Canterbury, looking to his left, apparently at Duncan. On his far left is ACNA Archbishop Duncan looking to the right, apparently at Williams. The other Primate present, Archbishop Chew is at the ABC's far right, looking forward. 

I wonder what each was thinking as their gaze fell on the other?

There is no question that the ABC knows full well that Archbishop Duncan is present and considered by the CAPA Primates as at least on the same level as Archbishop Chew - an Anglican Communion Primate.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was an invited guest and he had neither authority to invite or disinvite. He did, however, have the right to attend or not and to remark or not on the presence of the ACNA delegation and its Archbishop. 

He of course chose to attend. 

He apparently did not chose to make any comment about ACNA's presence and acceptance by the African Bishops as participants in the meeting. 

There is no report of any comment concerning ACNA presence among the primates of Africa, no comment concerning the bishops irregularly ordained in cross- boundary violation, no stepping back from full engagement.  He gazed across the way at the Archbishop of ACNA, who gazed back.  Not a word was forthcoming then or later.

The ABC did take occasion to say, "It has been said that this is going to be the African century of the Christian Church in terms of energy and growth and vision. God raises up different countries and cultures in different seasons to bear witness to his purpose in a specially marked way, and it may be that this is indeed his will for Africa in the years ahead.
“And if the churches of Africa are indeed going to be for this time a city set on a hill, how very important it will be for the health and growth of all God’s churches throughout the world that this witness continues at its best and highest.”

Readers, please note that the Archbishop did not say that "this century will be the African century of the Christian Church." He did say that if this is so then it needs to be itself at its best and highest. This has already been inaccurately quoted.

There is little doubt that the population of Africa will grow considerably as will the number of persons who are Christian in Africa. It is not at all clear how many of them will be recognizably Anglican, or in any sense related to the ancient churches of the west or east. It is not at all clear if the leadership of the churches in many parts of Africa will escape the temptations to corruption that are rampant in many countries in Africa. The bishops will indeed need to be the church at its best and highest if they hope to address in meaningful ways the many problems of the various countries in Africa. 

At present what seems to be the case is that there is a good deal of post-colonial posturing going on about how the West is decadent.  

In an interview with The Nation (Kenya),The host Archbishop Henry Orumbi made no bones about it: 

"Homosexuality is incompatible with the word of God," Orombi said. "It is good (that) Archbishop Rowan is here. We are going to express to him where we stand. We are going to explain where our pains are." Orombi also said that disputes over homosexuality had already divided the global Anglican community. "There is already a break. It doesn't need to be announced. It is in the way people act," he said.

In the same article Archbishop Earnest also stated, "Today, the West is lacking obedience to the word of God,"...
"It is for us (Africans) to redress the situation," he said, adding that he has severed all ties to the Episcopalian churches in Canada and the US that have allowed gays to enter the clergy."

This is mostly posturing.  In whatever status they came there were observers from The Episcopal Church Center, from Trinity Church and from Episcopal Relief and Development present.  It has already been reported that grants from Trinity Church have helped underwrite the  meeting. 

So there is a bit of bishop posturing going on - in the remarks of several primates from Africa and perhaps too from the Archbishop of Canterbury. They say the West is decedent and they will have none of it. The ABC says it may be the century of the African church. He sits in a central chair and looks across the way at the Archbishop of ACNA.  It is all posturing.

Hopefully they will now get to work and try to address the needs of the suffering in Africa.

But meanwhile, let us be clear:  So long as the Archbishop of Canterbury does not stop this mess it will only get worse. Either ACNA is or is not a church part of the Anglican Communion and every occasion such as this one is a vote on the ground for it being a de facto church in the Communion. If the ABC has any intention of countering vote on the ground he needs at least to remark on the unusual circumstances in which he has found himself, as an invited guest. At the very least he needs to make it clear that this conference can invite who it wishes but that it has no bearing on what churches are part of the Anglican Communion.

And then, supposing there is any spine left, perhaps he might suggest at some point that while there might be some joy in spitting on the churches of the West in a sort of post-colonial spit-fest, it's not all that helpful or honest to say that the Churches of Africa will have nothing to do with them (He and us alike.)  Anathema is a harsh acid and is it turns on those who hurl it and disfigures them as well.

We are bound together in following Jesus Christ who we can not shake loose because we are part of his presence in the world, and thus we are bound together in bringing the abundance of life in his Name in this world of suffering and joy both.  


  1. A young child was attending his first consecration of a bishop. At the moment the bishops in attendance gathered around to lay their hands on the new bishop-to-be, the boy asked his father: "Dad, what are they doing to him now?" The father replied: "Now they're taking out his spine."

    I always thought this was a fiction. In Rowan's case, sadly, it appears to be true.

  2. Is it all posturing, Mark?

    It appears that CAPA, along with a number of Anglicans not in CAPA, think that ACNA is Anglican, on any manner of defining the term 'Anglican', save for the formal admission of ACNA into the Anglican Communion as a member church. Thus Archbishop Duncan is recognised by many Anglicans, including many bishops and primates as an Anglican primate, equivalent to other Anglican primates, though he is not yet a member of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

    This is not posturing. It may be preparation and anticipation. The question then is, 'for what?' Is it for a yet to be unveiled concerted effort to admit ACNA to the Communion? Or for a yet to be revealed new formulation of a global Anglicans-in-communion?

    Either way, I think ++Rowan is right to be present not absent at CAPA, and to look, listen and learn.

    True, he could show some 'spine' of steel. But the Communion might break on it. I am not quite sure whether that would be a better way to go!

  3. While it is clear that Bob Duncan is not a Primate of the Anglican Communion, the question of whether he is a bishop of the Anglican Communion is somewhat more fuzzy. Two years ago when the Pittsburgh re-aligners voted to leave The Episcopal Church, they were supposedly accepted into the Province of the Southern Cone. This was a bit questionable, since it does not seem to be in accord with the Constitution and Canons of The Southern Cone, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, this kept them in the Anglican Communion. This affiliation has never been terminated, even after the formation of ACNA. The re-aligned Pittsburghers thus maintain that they are part of the Anglican Communion even though ACNA itself is a "Province in Formation." They tend, however, to use very non-specific language about this, presumably so as to give the impression that they are part of the Communion via ACNA, when they really claim Communion ties via The Southern Cone.

  4. They may want nothing to do with us, but they do appreciate our money. Just saying...

  5. I have come to accept the messiness of the current situation, partly on the grounds that all such matters are provisional, something which I recall learning from Mark's book.

  6. Peter... if it is not posturing then it is disingenuous. I will grant that it may be that being Anglican does not mean being part of the Anglican Communion. And, yes, I agree, the ABC was right to be present. The news reports indicate that he was put in a tough spot having to hear various speeches. It could not have been easy.

    But here is the thing: The Episcopal Church is a sizable crowd of people of various opinions on these and other matters. We understand that at various times people leave this church and either join others or start new churches. That is too bad, but it is understandable. But when a group leaves and then claims that it is the true presence of Anglicanism in America and works to replace The Episcopal Church as part of the Anglican Communion we are not dealing with alternate Anglican communities, for whom recognition by Canterbury is of little concern. ACNA means to be the representative church in North America in the Anglican Communion, or barring that the church in North America in a world wide Anglican Church, which might or might not include TEC or for that matter the CofE.

    If ACNA replaces TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada then the old Anglican Communion is broken. If it joins a new world wide fellowship / church then there are two large Anglican world wide bodies, one a fellowship of churches, the other a church.

    I'll go for the fellowship.

    But either way, the ABC does not help matters by standing and taking it all in and making no comment.

    At least that's what I think now.

    I appreciate your comments greatly and hope you know that.

  7. Sigh.... it is all too sad --no, horrific for words.

    I am actually beginning to think the ++ABC thinks his strategy is working.... and the next few meetings of the Primates will continue to expose his strategy --which I think is focused on stripping TEC of participation and voice and relegating it to a lower 'class' in the 'the church.'

  8. Apparently Trinity, Wall Street's lucre was rejected by Uganda. I hope and pray that other provinces can stand strong.

    We have this: "But when a group [i]leaves[/i] and then claims that it is the true presence of Anglicanism in America..."

    Implicit is the very dubious assumption that the ACNA was doing the "leaving". There is very little evidence for this. In fact, it is plain to all that the denomination has abandoned all but the window dressing.

    "ACNA means to be the representative church in North America in the Anglican Communion." I don't think that the ACNA has hidden its objective, and it is already recognized as such by some of the biggest provinces of the AC. The question is really how the two parties should behave? Like Bp Benhase of Georgia who threatens any clergy for fraternizing with the enemy? The reality is that who ever wins the numbers game will win the AC recognition (unless we have a The Episcopal Communion). So why don't we agree to disagree and say, "Let the best man win." (Sorry about the non-gender-neutral language.)

  9. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for your response! Perhaps two Anglican global entities already exist, with various points of mutual interchange so that the ABC is part of both, but ACNA is part of one and TEC part of the other.

    Is it not a matter for pause and deep self-examination if we believe that being Anglican is to be part of the community of other Anglicans yet find that a significant part of the wider community does not think we are (currently) authentically Anglican? (And, arguably worse, thinks that an upstart rival Anglican church IS authentically Anglican?) From a long way away it just does not appear that TEC's hierarchy/governing bodies are engaging in anything which constitutes deep self-examination re Anglican character.

    Recall very recently the lack of a red carpet, widespread welcome across the breadth of the Australasian Anglican churches to the visit of ++Schori down under: does that indicate that TEC's assertion of its Anglican character at this time lacks persuasive power not only in Africa but also in the very churches where pundits have presumed common cause lies?

    I think one can raise these questions, in a spirit of concerned fellowship, without implying that all is well in the Anglican world outside of TEC. Significant issues challenge all Anglican churches in this age about what it means to be Anglican. But the fact remains that the future of global Anglicanism is more likely to be charted by what Anglicans actually do re big conferences/invitations, than machinations on elite committees such as the Standing Committee of the AC.

  10. The Anglican Communion has broken.

    Good. It wasn't much to begin with, if these Global South "christians" (more appropriately, non-muslims) are the end result.

    God, in His Wisdom, sent the right man to ensure the breakup of this rotted tooth in the Body of Christ and the end of a Western necessity to bow to GS war-mongering. Rowan's legacy will be the man ignored by everyone.

    Maybe he'll silently slink away to the preserved corpse that is Rome, or the Magic Show from Constantinople.

    And, yes, I'm being condescending because I'm tired of pretending like these people have a single thing to offer humanity in general to feel good about my progressive street cred. They're not Christians, they're not brothers, they're not decent.

    I'm crazy, but I'm not stupid.


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.