The end (of ACNA?) is near!
Things don’t look so good in the alphabet soup land of Anglican secessionists. Any number of people observed that these groups, united by their opposition to some decisions of the Episcopal Church, would disintegrate once their common foe was no longer a uniting focus. They don’t share much else in common, given their disagreements on the ordination of women, prayer book liturgies, ceremonial style, and more.
If you want to see the fissures, look no further than a recent interview between David Virtue and Bishop Jack Iker. Remember, this is the Jack Iker who took most of his diocese out of the Episcopal Church over dissatisfaction with his primate. Now he’s in impaired communion with his new primate! In the interview with Virture, Iker says “As long as the ordination of women continues, we will be in a state of impaired or broken communion”. Wow.
Then Iker is asked why they maintain dual allegiance both to the Province of the Southern Cone and to ACNA. He replies, “The Anglican Church in North America has entered into a process of recognition by the official structures of the Anglican Communion, and this will take some time. While that process unfolds, we remain a member diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone, so that our place in the wider Communion is assured.” Get that? The translation would be: “ACNA isn’t really Anglican, so we’re protecting ourselves by a connection to pure and undefiled Anglicanism”. Never mind the fact that the Southern Cone is about as Anglo-Catholic as your neighborhood Baptist Church. Schism makes strange bedfellows!
Of course, Iken isn’t the first one to snub Archbishop Bob Duncan’s ACNA by insisting on a connection to “real” Anglicanism. Last summer, Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA explained why his church benefits from its relationship to the Church of Nigeria, in addition to being part of ACNA. Minns said, “[Our congregations] will be members of the Church in Nigeria and as a result of that relationship, full members of the global Anglican Communion.” Get that? Translation: as a result of our membership in ACNA, we are NOT full members of the Anglican Communion, but our Nigerian connection makes us A-OK.
One wonders who, other than Archbishop Bob Duncan, believes that ACNA is going to be part of the Anglican Communion? If all these bishops (and, let me tell you, there are A LOT of bishops in the secessionist movement) can’t set aside their fiefdoms for the sake of unity, how will the laity and other clergy be inspired to share together?
And then there’s the question of the health of ACNA. Lionel Deimel’s blog reports that ACNA’s headquarters isn’t exactly impressive. Someone who drove past the published address of the HQ says, “What I found was surprising. There is no indication that ACNA is really there. There is no signage, and it would appear that there is only one tenant in what used to be the police/fire station, and that’s a biblical literacy group. The side door had ten lock mailboxes, so it seems as though the building can house that many tenants.” Now, I’m OK with not spending much money on buildings. I’m not sure ECUSA’s expensive real estate in NYC makes much sense, for example. But it seems strange for a supposedly growing, mission-minded church to lack a basic sign on their main office, don’t you think? And, while a building that’s too nice doesn’t reflect Gospel values, does it make sense to be occupying a building with boarded up windows?
While I do not support their continuing efforts to destroy the Episcopal Church, I wish ACNA well. To the extent that the Good News is proclaimed and lives are changed, we should all be glad when the church flourishes — though we might not support every aspect of a particular communion, denomination, or sect. A thoughtful friend of mine, who remains in ECUSA despite serious reservations about many things, hopes that all the secessionists can be united in one organization. As my friend says, that will make reunion easier at some future time when tempers cool and reason prevails. I agree. Sadly, things don’t look promising for the long-term health of ACNA.
Thanks to the excellent Three Rivers Episcopal blog for alerting me to several of these links.