Anglicans in the US: a new Church is born.

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FROM Ruth Gledhill’s Blog

Please welcome guest blogger Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream,reporting live from Texas on the first assembly of the Anglican Church in North America. For any readers baffled, bewildered or simply bored by Anglicans,Reuters have very helpfully published a Q&A on where we are and how we got here. For Chris, a member of the General Synod which meets in York soon, where traditionalists in England will continuetheir battle over women bishops, this group is the 39th province of theAnglican Communion. Although formal recognition awaits, new Archbishop Bob Duncan is in regular contact with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. Read about his ‘I am’ statement on VirtueOnline.

ACNA5Chris writes: ‘Many will be quick to find fault with the launch of the Anglican Church in North America, a church representing a Sunday attendance of 69,000 Anglicans in 23 dioceses across the USA and Canada.

‘It will to all intents and purposes be the 39th province of the Anglican Communion.

‘Already the Anglican Churches of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South East Asia, and Rwanda, representing over 30 million Anglicans have stated that they are in full communion with ACNA. But everyone should have their opportunity to have their say before being undermined without proper review of the evidence. That’s only fair.

‘So what has happened? The Episcopal Church has pursued a determined path to oppose and overturn Christian teaching and practice. An English clergyman now in the USA told me that many TEC clergy and bishops only regard the creeds as purely historical statements of what used to be believed, not statements of Christian truth today that they believe.

‘Many orthodox clergy and congregations who have resisted TEC’s practice and direction have been driven out of their churches and buildings. Some individual church members have been sued for upwards of half a million dollars.

‘What were the faithful bishops and clergy who cared deeply for their people and the teaching of the faith to do?

‘They have formed a new Anglican church and a new Anglicanism in North America. Their leaders are those who experienced the charismatic renewal movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Leaders of the world church here in Bedford, Texas this week have publicly recognized them as upholding the Christian faith as understood by the Church for the last 2000 years.

‘Archbishop John Chew of South East Asia sent a personal representative to present a letter in which he said: “Today you are making a historic and apostolic stand. You have paid a price. Be assured of our deep communion to the Lord. We are right behind you.”

ACNA1‘Most surprising was that the senior Orthodox Archbishop of the Orthodox Churches in the USA, Metropolitan Jonah, announced that over 30 years after they had broken off dialogue with The Episcopal Church, the Orthodox Churches in America were ready to begin dialogue again, but now with ACNA.

‘ACNA claims that far from promoting division, it is building unity by making it possible for other Churches to recognize in an Anglican Denomination in the USA the marks of a Christian church.

‘Visitors from the Church of England included Bishop John Ellison, assistant bishop in the Diocese of Winchester. Greetings were read from the Bishops of Rochester, Winchester, Chester and Chichester. The three day assembly included sessions to ratify their canons and constitution and inspiring talks on Christian mission by, among others Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church who had offered the prayer at President Obama’s inauguration, inheriting the mantle of Billy Graham as the USA’s chief pastor.

‘The formal canons establishing the Anglican Church in North America were adopted by acclamation over two short plenary sessions. Explaining how these canons differed from those of The Episcopal Church of the United States, one bishop indicated to me that they made it more difficult for bishops to depart from the teachings they were publicly supposed to uphold, while continuing to exercise office and jurisdiction in the church.

“Ways of calling them to account have been instituted”, he said.

‘A strong focus of ACNA is mission. Archbishop Bob Duncan insisted that the structures only existed to support and encourage the mission of the Church to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Would the structures of this new church enable mission in ways that their previous jurisdiction had not?

‘Canon John Macdonald, with long experience of overseas mission work and support for it, claimed that their previous jurisdiction had defined mission solely as charitable responses to poverty and hunger, allied with the concept that you did not want to impose your faith on another faith system.

“ What we have seen is an understanding of the whole gospel”, he said. “We have within our intention to reach the lost with the gospel.”

ACNA4‘The assembly was crowned with a service to install Archbishop Bob Duncan as their Archbishop. His anointing by the Archbishop of Kenya was formally witnessed by primate of West Africa, and representatives of the primates of Uganda, Rwanda, Southern Cone, South East Asia, Myanmar, and Nigeria along with Bishop John Ellison.

‘In his sermon Archbishop Duncan insisted that the past was behind them; they had left behind conflict with TEC ; there should be no bitterness. Their task, like that of John the Baptist, was to prepare the way for Jesus to come to those in the wildernesses of US society who are without any sense of being loved and forgiven. The service demonstrated another difference from the direction of TEC: Jesus Christ was enthusiastically worshipped as the risen Son of God who is ready and able to transform lives and situations.’

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