Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ACNA's Direct Approach

(See UPDATE above)

The newly formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), led by Bishop Robert Duncan, received a very thorough response from Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church (posted here), who explained why he declined their invitation to attend their inaugural Provincial Assembly in Bedford, Texas, from June 22nd to 25th. Afterward, we received the news that Bishop Duncan plans to ordain four women during the same time. That no bishop in Continuing Anglicanism has any business lending his presence to their activities at this time, thus dignifying and appearing to endorse or tolerate the heresy of women's ordination, needs no explanation. That this new ACNA fail to appreciate this, and did not mention plans to ordain women, in the invitation, indicates their failure to recognize certain facts. (so that the Archbishop of the ACC found out after declining the invitation, meaning that even had he accepted initially, he would have to back out, because he represents the ACC. He cannot even appear to support such "ordinations").

1. This new ACNA owes respect to the bishops who have gone before them as leaders of the Anglican Diaspora.

2. We were here first. Whatever shortcomings we have as sinners who depend on God's grace, Continuing Anglicans had the sense to leave long before the problem, the one problem the ACNA seems to recognize (Homosexualism), came about.

But that is not the whole problem. Their attitude toward us carries a pattern of apparent contempt.

I followed up the posting of the Archbishop's letter with this comment:

Not only that, but I see from old mail that arrived at St. Benedict's in February (I came here in early March) that the ACNA was inviting each congregation separately, approaching them directly. The people here had been sent an invitation to attend. What kind of polity does the ACNA understand? How can they simply bypass the bishops of each diocese?

One of the first things I discovered was an expensive invitation in the form of a brochure, addressed to St. Benedict's, inviting the congregation to join them. This means that before they sent an invitation to the Acting Primate of the ACC to attend their inaugural Provincial Assembly, they had already invaded his diocese (Diocese of the South, ACC-OP), directly approaching the congregations on an individual basis. That included churches with no resident clergy, such as St. Benedict's in Chapel Hill, N.C. before my arrival.

I cry Foul!

I urge Bishop Duncan and his crew to recognize that each bishop is, in his diocese, the chief Pastor of every church. A Diocesan Ordinary has authority that is not to be violated, and a direct invitation to parishes and missions is a violation. Furthermore, their recent association with the Episcopal Church, up until just recently, renders the ACNA no pride of place, but rather the very opposite. By appealing to each congregation, without episcopal approval, they have presumed to take the highest place, and instead of being urged to "come up higher," by those of us who followed our Patron St. Athanasius into exile thirty years ahead of them, they must take with shame the lowest place in the presence of all. They still "ordain" women, and until five minutes ago have tolerated every error until the "yuk factor" of homosexuality provoked them to relative "orthodoxy," truly modeling orthodoxy in that a model is a small replica of the real thing. Yet they claim pride of place due to that very association that impresses us not one whit.

We welcome the ACNA into this larger world of the Anglican Diaspora, noting that they have a lot to learn. The first thing for them to learn is humility.


Fr. D. said...

No surprise here. The purported "ordination" of women and the secret invasion of other dioceses go hand in hand. Both actions demonstrate that not only do they operate under a flawed moral code, but are also totally devoid of either any understanding or respect for the Church's Biblically based traditions. Arrogance and ignorance abound!

Reminds me of the charismatic excitement in the Episcopal Church about twenty five years ago in the city that I currently serve in. That group sent two or three into each Episcopal parish in an attempt to peel off members to follow them out into a new church.

I remember an old cliche: "when any one claims its not the money, its the principle that matters; be assured its the money".

Let us not forget whose diocese is the beneficiary of the steel magnate Carnegie fortune. Think Pittsburg.
Fr. D.

RSC+ said...

I'm immediately suspicious of any body that appears to be rolling the calendar back to a particular point, which is essentially what the ACNA is doing.

Picture the Episcopal Church in the early 1980s, particularly in areas like the South:

Many parishes using the 1928 BCP and politely (or not so politely) refusing to have women serving at the altar.

Other parishes using Rite I and ever so slowly getting used to the idea of women serving at the altar.

Still other parishes using Rite II and having no real problem with women serving at the altar.

Fr. Hart asks a very important question:

"What kind of polity does the ACNA understand?"

I have every reason to suspect that they mostly prefer a Congregationalist model with the episcopacy there because they have a fondness for purple shirts, rather than any real sense that it's a role put in order by God.

That's been the model for most of the Episcopal churches who were opposed to whatever going on in TEC. "As long as they leave us here alone, we're okay."

It's a frustrating part of many Anglicanish churches. Each parish thinks it's the most special, best kept secret in town, and as long as no strange people bother them, they're set. And so you can have both extremes living in a weird sort of harmony so long as they leave each other alone.

But it won't work, as it's just a well-kept illusion. Heck, my advice to a self-described conservative church would be to avoid the ACNA like the plague. It isn't worth risking a building and all one's endowments to join a body that will be in the exact same place 15 years from now. Far better to join one of the groups that isn't in any danger of repeating that particular part of history.

My $.02, anyway.


frron said...

I was told some time ago by a now bishop in the REC that Bp Duncan really wanted to do away with WO and they would not ordain any more women so that those who were ordained would just die out so to speak.
It now appears that this is not the case and in my opinion never was " Bait and Switch" comes to mind.
In the case of the ACNA the term Orthodox cannot and should not be included when speaking of their organization.
I think a number of folks have been sucker punched.

+Peter said...

The ACNA is getting a reputation in certain circles for being bad neighbours. For example, not only has one/two of their clergy being actively recruiting clergy from the Continuing Jurisdiction of which I am a bishop, they also seem to have a liking for setting up new missions in towns were existing Continuing Anglican parishes are operating rather than moving into unchurched areas. All of this seems a little predetory to me.

poetreader said...

That does seem to be a pretty accurate description of their relations with other groups. However, does that make them, on those grounds, much different than the Continuing jurisdictions? I wish I could respond in the negative, but I've seen too much. The pattern of targeting areas that already have a continuing parish, and the active recruitment of clergy from other jurisdictions are very familiar patterns, as is the very easy moving of parishes back and forth across those lines.

Bishop Peter If I've correctly guessed your identity, you and I both belong to parishes that have (perhaps with good reason) bolted from one bishop to another. Something that happens with bewildering frequency among us. I can't fault them for committing pretty much the same offenses as we've been doing right along, though I certainly have other reasons for being very critical.


Anonymous said...

Can some one verify that females will be ordained during the provincial meeting of the ACNA?

It is not listed on the schedule, and I cannot believe such action would take place during the inaugural ceremonies.

Edward Craig+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

First, we hope it does not happen. Second, it appears to have been added after the initial plans.

Someone else claims that these involve a larger number of ordinands than just the four women, and have taken place separately (apparently, after consideration, sticking with original plans). Either way, it is, practically speaking, irrelevant. The fact is, women's ordination goes on in the ACNA without any reason to anticipate (as we once did, with real hope) that the subject will be studied and debated.

The same person took me to task, not for reporting that diocesan integrity had been violated (and never tried to deny it), but for criticizing our betters. He both confirmed and justified the violation, claiming that the Continuing Churches are "growing more irrelevant every say." In other words, he believes it is justified to trample on diocesan integrity and to despise episcopal authority. The same commenter appears to consider himself an Anglican priest-how odd. If his attitude is shared by others in the ACNA, then it is not merely a naive lack of humility, but positive arrogance.

I would like to know how church bodies that number in the thousands are considered to be irrelevant. In fact, I would like to know by what standard we may consider even one Christian to be irrelevant.

I have bad news for all our detractors, including the commenter: In many places our numbers are growing. I provided a link to the website of my parish, and he may notice that the congregation in the photographs (taken one average Sunday in Lent) consists of various people of all ages, and of different races and colors.

The comment did not pass the "robust if polite" test; however, he is free to comment again with less steam under his collar and more thought in his head. If he can correct or update the facts, that will be just fine. we want to be accurate. But, merely another string of asinine insults will end up in the trash again.

Anonymous said...

This past Sunday (June 13) Bishop Duncan ordained four women as transitional deacons for the Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA). Somehow the rumor was started that this ordination was going to occur at or during the ACNA meeting next week, which is obviously incorrect.

Whatever one thinks of Bishop Duncan for ordaining women one can hardly accuse him hiding his views on it or operating a "bait and switch". He has always been clear that he and the Diocese of Pittsburgh would continue to ordain women. The following is taken from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette dated Nov 2008,

"Unlike many of the theologically conservative dioceses and parishes that have broken with the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Pittsburgh has a history of ordaining women. When it was in the Episcopal Church, he (Bishop Duncan) said, the diocese took in "theological refugees," meaning priests who couldn't get parishes elsewhere because they were theologically conservative. Now it'll be called to do the same for women who have trouble receiving calls in the conservative Anglican movement, he said.

"We know how to take in refugees ... that is our vocation. God has taken us to the next level," he said."

poetreader said...

Whatever the truth of planned actions at this convention, Bishop Duncan makes it very clear that ACNE, while it may be a safe haven for lady 'priests', is not a safe haven for those who accept historic apostolic order as necessary.

It is, then, very clear indeed that this is no place for those, like us, who firmly believe that women on the priesthood is both an impossibility and destructive of Catholic order. To pretend to be "orthodox" while holding such antitraditional views and following through in practice is simply stated, quite sufficient for keeping clear of entanglement.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

The issue of ACNA's direct approach to parishes without regard for the Diocesan Ordinary remains.

Fr. Giffin said...

As one who recently has served in the leadership of CANA as the Chaplain to one of it's Nigerian Bishops, I can say with CERTAINTY that the GAFCON movement will fall on its face within 20 years. The waffling over WO, multiple liturgies coupled with multiple theologies of Sacraments...the list goes on and on. I have eaten tremendous "crow" over the last few years because I too thought a new "province" could emerge and participated in the charade, losing numerous parishioners and friends along the way. Well, it will "emerge" to be sure but not in the form any catholic Anglican would wish it. I am now back in the ACA/TAC where I started 10 years ago. I have total clarity on the continuum vs. GAFCON movement. I am quite convinced that the continuum will be the ONLY remnant of orthodox catholic Anglicanism left on the planet in my lifetime. I am 38. Peace brothers.

frron said...

This is just a " What if "
Consider for a moment that the ACNA had a convention and a proposal what put forth to eliminate the ordination of women and was passed.
I wonder what the outcome would be ?
I admit to using the term " bait and switch" in a previous post, but this was do to information from a former continuing priest and now bishop who claimed to have the inside track so to speak, it now appears that his attempts to convince me that WO was going to be done away with were unfounded.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Consider for a moment that the ACNA had a convention and a proposal what put forth to eliminate the ordination of women and was passed.
I wonder what the outcome would be ?

It would certainly be a big step in our direction.

Right now they will up against many of the same things the Continuum was up against long ago, such as the loss of large amounts of endowment money,no longer there to back them up. Their real estate will be lost in many cases. Frankly, instead of the "direct approach" that "disses" our bishops, they ought to treat us like potential guides through a strange country.

The first bit of advice we offer is, become genuinely orthodox.

poetreader said...

Anyone who would rather have GAFCON and ACNA fail than have it become truly orthodox is working at cross-purposes to Our Lord, who desires that Christians be one. Instead of hurling insults and wishes for failure at them, we need to be able to stand before them as friends who sincerely believe them to be mistaken, and steadfastly demonstrate the truth. The only way we can demonstrate that successfully is by becoming more Christ-like.

May I add, as gently as I can, that it would appear that one who has bounced from church to church and theology to theology fir the whole of his ministry would better serve the cause of Christ by humbly becoming a learner, learning, among other things the stability that is at the heart of the Catholic Faith. In such a role there is little call for much speaking ans much call for much listening. I would hope such a one would find rest and peace and an end to constant contention.


Fr. Giffin said...

poetreader said

"May I add, as gently as I can, that it would appear that one who has bounced from church to church and theology to theology fir the whole of his ministry would better serve the cause of Christ by humbly becoming a learner, learning, among other things the stability that is at the heart of the Catholic Faith. In such a role there is little call for much speaking ans much call for much listening. I would hope such a one would find rest and peace and an end to constant contention."

You are right sir. I, more than most, have no right to dismiss the paths of those who are led to the ACNA, given the fact that I left the continuum to join ECUSA, Bolivia, CANA, and the like. I merely wished to comment that I am pleased to be back in the continuum. Many in the new ACNA are fine men and women, and I have many friends there who are fine Christians and energized spirits. I with all humility before our Lord admit to the mistakes that I have made and appreciate your thoughtful comments made with graceful restraint. It is clear that you are an insightful fellow with much to pass along. I hope this day finds you in good health and spirits.

Fr. Giffin

poetreader said...

Thanks, Fr. Giffin for a gracious response.

Brethren, let us all, without sweeping our differences under the rug, listen to one another, and learn how we may walk together in the Lord's service.