The Anglican Communion and its U.S. arm, the Episcopal Church, are a complex structure of councils, hierarchies and mission groups. In this respect the Anglican Communion certainly resembles the Roman Catholic Church.
In my Gazette story for Sunday, Aug. 23, on the the Anglican Communion in North America (ACNA), I try to cut through the archaic terms and complex internal structure to explain how and why the ACNA came about and its relationship is to the Anglican Communion.
Put simply, the ACNA members got tired of the liberalism of the Episcopal Church and formed their own more conservative U.S. group they call the ACNA. Now they want the Anglican Communion to officially recognize the ACNA, but there are impediments to that because the Episcopal Church is already the U.S. arm of Anglicanism, and the sect has never had two provinces in one geographic area.
The ACNA is a complex mix of missionaries of African Anglican provinces, former Episcopal dioceses now under the jurisdiction of the South American Anglican province, the Reformed Anglican Church founded in 1873 and other groups.
The two missionaries represented in the Springs are the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA). The ACNA Springs churches are St. George’s Anglican Church, part of CANA, which is a missionary of the Church of Nigeria; and the International Anglican Church and Holy Trinity Anglican Church, both part of the AMIA, which is a missionary of the Church of Rwanda.
Confused yet? You aren’t alone.
Below are edited excerpts of intervews I conducted with ACNA leaders that may shed more light on the organization.
Donald Armstrong is the rector of St. George Anglican Church in
MARK BARNA: Why has the ACNA set up shop in the United States?
ARMSTRONG: As the Episcopal Church ceases to uphold historic and catholic teachings, as it becomes just another denomination or sect disconnected from the Anglican Communion and catholic faith, and as it drifts ever more quickly toward a new age Unitarianism, there needed to be a structure within which Anglicans who confessed the faith of Christ crucified as taught and accepted through the ages could organize themselves under bishops whose own life and witness was a wholesome glorifying of godly living, and by which they could be connected to the larger Communion as the Episcopal Church severs those ties.
BARNA: What does the establishment of the ACNA accomplish?
ARMSTRONG: ACNA was created at the request of the archbishop of Canterbury as a way to gather all the orthodox Anglicans in North America into a single coherent entity with which he and the primates could communicate and eventually name as a replacement province for the Episcopal Church as it departs the Communion.
Below are edited excerpts from my interview with Daryl Fenton, the reverand canon to ACNA archbishop Robert Duncan.
MARK BARNA: Will the ACNA be recognized as the 39th province of the Anglican Communion?
DARYL FENTON: Does the vast majority of the Anglican Communion support the ACNA? The answer is yes. Have we gone through all the political hoops with the Anglican Communion? No. We are in the process. Eighty percent of Anglicans around the world recognize the ACNA. We are starting down the path of recognition.
BARNA: What is wrong with the Episcopal Church?
FENTON: The larger issues are core issues of faith and life … Is Scripture trustworthy at all? … Most telling of all is that Kathryn Jefferts Schori (presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church) a couple weeks ago said that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is heresy.
BARNA: What is the ACNA?
FENTON: A relaunch of the church. It is a revival, a restoring of the authority of Scripture and Jesus Christ as the leader of the church.