Former Episcopalians launch Anglican Church in North America
Bedford, Texas, Jun 24, 2009 / 04:21 am (CNA).-
Former Episcopalian leaders from across North America gathered in Bedford, Texas on Monday to launch the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), described as an “alternative” to the U.S. Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion.
The new denomination claims 100,000 members from several varieties of Anglican spirituality described as evangelical, charismatic or catholic. A union of eight groups, it is seeking recognition as part of the Anglican Communion.
The new denomination's constitution emphasizes biblical authority, church discipline and evangelical missionary outreach.
The Episcopal Church has been afflicted by controversies over theological and moral issues, including the authority of Scripture, the ordination of women and the ordination of an openly homosexual man as bishop.
Former Episcopalian Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan leads the group, which expected 300 delegates including 50 bishops for its meeting.
Bishop Duncan addressed a crowd of leaders in St. Vincent’s Cathedral, telling them that it is a “new day” in which God the Father is “drawing His children together again in a surprising and sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. He is again Re-forming His Church."
According to the Anglican news site VirtueOnline.org, the bishop warned those gathered that Satan will attempt to “lure us back to old ways and old hurts and old fights.”
On the topic of women’s ordination, Bishop Duncan said that Anglicans should be “in mission together until God sorts us out. It is not perfect, but it is enough.”
Discussing conflicts with the Episcopal Church, he said that many of those gathered have lost “properties, sacred treasures, incomes, pensions, standing and friends.” He called for a return to “muscular Christianity,” saying, “No cross, no crown. No pain, no gain.” (No limp wristed touchy feely kumbaya love everyone Christianity for these Anglicans.)
Jim Naughton, canon for communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., was critical of the endeavor.
“There's already a crowded marketplace on the right wing of the American religious spectrum. I think the challenge is to move beyond the events that spawned them,” he told USA Today.
Many overseas Anglican churches have sent observers to the assembly. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head prelate in the Anglican Church, has sent retired Seychelles Bishop Santosh Marray to the gathering as a pastoral visitor.
Ecumenical speakers such as Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California and Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America will offer keynote addresses later in the week. (Check this link out for an interesting take on Rick Warren's presence at this event.)
Jeff Walton, the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Director of Anglican Action, said that the ACNA event was “remarkable” because it is uniting multiple churches rather than splitting off from an existing church. (Mr. Walton's remarkable event has been IRD's target for a very long time and not just in the Episcopalian church.)
“After over 30 years of splintering, traditionalist Anglicans are setting aside many of their differences in order to pursue common mission,” he said. “This is clearly not a schismatic quest for purity by a small group of discontents. Rather, it is a theologically diverse group that sees how much is held in common.” (What it has in common is not theological at all. It's the culture war issues of abortion, gay marriage, the supremacy of male leadership in the family and society, and a biblical exegesis which supports all of the above. All of those are important because the issue is not about the secular democracy we know. The ultimate goal is the Christian democracy they want.
I can't help but ask the question: "Where is Jesus in all these Anglican schisms over gay rights, abortion, and women's place in society?" I've seen plenty of old testament references to Leviticus etc. and New Testament references to specific passages of Paul, but very very few actual words of Jesus himself. Maybe that's because Jesus's words weren't all that specific which means we are to take them as applying to all. For folks who don't like that notion of 'all' it makes more sense to find other biblical quotes which are highly specific and apply them selectively.
Cardinal DiNardo recently spoke at another Texas gathering for disaffected Anglicans. These are disaffected Anglicans who participate in their own rubrics under a pastoral provision which allows them their Anglican Use in sacraments and the Mass while being united to Rome. This provision was issued by the Vatican to take in Anglicans and Episcopalians whose consciences wouldn't allow them to be led by women priests. They added more numbers to their ranks when Gene Robinson was made a bishop in New Hampshire. Apparently only closeted hypocritical gays can become bishops for these tender consciences. Truth holds too much scandal I guess.
The Anglican Church has been splintering since 1976 and this current conglomeration of splintered groups now calling itself the Anglican Church in North America is essentially composed of all those splinter groups who have more in theological common with Protestant Evangelicals than with Roman Catholics. Hence the appearance of Rick Warren. I'm sure there are also plenty of Prayer Warriors or Bishop Duncan wouldn't have mentioned Satan leading them back into their old ways. This is unity in fear and not unity in Christ.
Of course, these groups represent the twenty percent or so disaffected conservative Anglicans, the other eighty percent seem content to muddle their way through the challenges of multi culturalism. It's just that the conservatives have the mega phone and the money interests to ensure their view dominates.
As to the Catholic version of Anglicanism, it's married priesthood is sending a very mixed message to other Catholic priests. It's pretty obvious these converts haven't had a conversion to Catholicism for any other reason than it's stances on women priests and openly gay clergy. This is not about an invitation to unity because it divides the priesthood. How does it make sense to kick our married priests out for violating their vows and turn around and invite in married Anglican priests who betrayed their vows. Leads me to wonder how much God really has to do with the priesthood of either religion. Seems like attitudes towards gays and women have a whole lot more to do with it.
In the meantime the real beneficiaries of all this unity are certain neo con and Evangelical leaders who are hell bent on destroying the social justice voices of mainline churches and Catholicism in particular. The more infighting and hypocritical embarrassment they can generate, the better. Wait until Catholic bishops really get going on the need for universal health care and immigration reform. All those anti abortion people who so supported them in their insane attack on Notre Dame will attack them for their positions on immigration and universal health care, and they will be backed by groups like the Institute for Religion in Democracy.
Ultimately none of this has anything to do with Jesus and everything to do with which issues the Churches will be allowed to speak on. Right now it's gay marriage, abortion, and female complementarity. Should the bishops stray from the sex issues they will be attacked and marginalized as incompetent in political affairs which should be left to the laity. It's already beginning.