On Wednesday, there wil be an important vote in London on whether the Brits will side with a nascent would-be 39th North American Anglican province that has split with the U.S. Episcopal Church.
The General Synod, the governing body for the 27-million-member Church of England (on paper that’s who belongs but real attendance is only a few million per Sunday) will vote whether to align themselves with the 100,000-member Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). That is about one-tenth the membership of the U.S. Episcopal Church. Some Canadian Anglicans are part of the ACNA as well. The London Times explains a bit of the background here.
The ACNA, meeting last June in Bedford, Texas, adopted a constitution and appointed its first archbishop (Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh) to head the new church, which is constituted of former Episcopalians who left the denomination over issues of biblical authority, which had been simmering since the late 1960s, and the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the denomination’s first openly gay bishop. Several Anglican provinces have signified they will recognize the ACNA but the big kahuna is the Church of England. Once the ACNA gets recognized by enough of the current 38 provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion as a legitimate Anglican body in North America, it’s only a matter of time before they supplant the Episcopal Church, which at this moment claims it is the sole approved Anglican presence north of the Mexican border.
The Episcopal Church is none too anxious to have this happen which is why it’s got a lobbying force across the pond and this set of “talking points” that have been leaked out. Here is one reaction to those talking points.
The Episcopal Church is getting it on several fronts. Here is a memo from the American Anglican Council that tells “how The Episcopal Church (TEC) has spent millions of dollars in over 50 lawsuits, deposed or inhibited 12 bishops and more than 400 other clergy, and violated its own canons numerous times” since the Robinson consecration. The writer, Philip Ashey, used to be the vicar at South Riding Church in Loudoun County, one of 15 congregations that left the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia between 2005-2007.
I might add that the Episcopal Diocese of Washington’s “Episcopal Cafe” blog has a response to the ACNA but I must suggest readers find the link to this themselves. The Episcopal Cafe has consistently ignored articles and blog posts by this writer - even on the multiple occasions when this newspaper has been first with a story - so my days of linking to them are at an end. I will, however, link to an Episcopal News Service wrap-up to Monday’s events.
The ACNA, by the way, is based in Pittsburgh but one of its member bodies, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, is based just outside the District in Herndon. And one of the larger CANA churches - Truro Church in Fairfax - is hosting a big good-bye party Wednesday for retiring Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, who’s been a major force behind CANA and the ACNA. Although, with a major storm due in Tuesday, it’s not sure who’ll be able to brave the snow to view the archbishop on Wednesday. So there’s lots of local connections.
- Julia Duin, religion editor