I have not divided the Church, says bishop

Primates of the conservative Anglican group GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) have recognised the newly formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), made up of breakaway churches from the Episcopal Church.

ACNA was formed late last summer in response to GAFCON’s call for an “orthodox” church in the USA and Canada, where arguments about the inerrancy of Scripture and homosexuality have divided the Anglican Church.

The Rt Rev Bob Duncan, formerly the Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh, has become the leader of ACNA. Bishop Duncan was deposed by the leadership of the Episcopal Church for taking his diocese out of the denomination.

In a progress report to GAFCON, Bishop Duncan said that ACNA had 100,000 members from 700 churches in 28 dioceses. He added that on an average Sunday 80,000 people attended services, around 10 per cent of the Episcopal Church.

Before the formation of ACNA, churches and dioceses which opposed the liberal leadership of the Episcopal Church joined “protectorates” of conservative provinces in Global South countries such as Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya.

Bishop Duncan said that ACNA had prepared a constitution and canons that looked “recognisably Anglican”, after consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He added that the church was now focused on “reaching North America with the transforming love of Christ”, after a decade of division, reports Church Times.

He went on to say that ACNA was not an attempt to break away from the Anglican Communion, “I’m a cradle Anglican. My grandfather was a boy chorister ... My theological views haven’t changed. The problem is that folks who have become the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States have pulled the rug out from under me. The person who is our Presiding Bishop, she didn’t begin as an Anglican. I did. She represents something very different. I don’t think I’m a breakaway.

“I don’t believe I have divided the Church. I believe the innovators are the ones who are dividing the Church. I love them, and I want to behave in a godly way towards them, and I will do everything I can to convince them about the truth that’s been delivered; but my focus now has to be on those who don’t know Jesus.”

ACNA will now run parallel to the Episcopal Church in the USA and Canada, effectively meaning there are two Anglican provinces in North America.

“For the Communion as a whole, we have not talked about two parallel Churches. The majority of the Anglican Communion is saying that where the Communion has always been is where the Communion needs to be, and this group represents that view. We are the Communion. Who has the right to take the Communion from us?”

He said the division stemmed from two very different viewpoints on faith.

“You really have two religions. You have one that believes as Anglicans always have believed, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and you have another led by our Presiding Bishop of TEC [the Episcopal Church], who says ‘That would be to put God into a small box,’" he said.
"One is classic Christianity. One is actually not Christianity, at least not in the way that classic Protestantism, classic orthodoxy, or classic Catholicism would recognise it.”