"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wrap-Up on the ACNA Provincial Assembly

Well, it was a busy week around St. Vincent's Cathedral. About 800 guests from around the world moved from one end of campus to the other over the three and a half days of the Provincial Assembly, following a three day ACNA House of Bishops meeting in our parish hall. It was a genuine pleasure to have so many dedicated servants of our Lord here with us. A thousand thanks to all the volunteers from St. Vincent's and from around our diocese who made this massive undertaking look so easy. Very well done!

This last week has re-confirmed me in my convictions as an Anglican. I feel energized by the interactions I have had with clergy and lay people from around North America. I now have an even deeper admiration for the breadth and depth of traditional Anglicanism on our continent, and have developed a sincere appreciation for expressions of Anglican worship quite different from my own. I am very excited for the future of our Anglican tradition, and am delighted that I will be part of ACNA as it grows. (And it will grow!)

The installation of Archbishop Duncan on Wednesday night at Christ Church, Plano, was a joy to attend. The excitement in the air was palpable. And I have to admit that--despite misgivings I had walking in the door--the folks at Christ Church carried off a "blended" worship with astonishing elegance, calling upon elements from the Evangelical, Charismatic, and Anglo-Catholic expressions of Anglican worship in such a way that the entire service felt surprisingly coherent. The archbishop's homily was conversational but effective, and the actual installation ceremony was genuinely moving. Well done, Christ Church.

The mood among almost all of the delegates and "attendees" at the Assembly was very up-beat and the feeling of unity was strong despite differences on some points of theology and worship expression. Virtually all of the few negative comments I heard in the halls, which were also reflected on some social networking sites and blogs that I follow, were from opponents of women's ordination who are upset that the dioceses that do not ordain women to the presbyterate and episcopate were simply moving from one ecclesial structure with female priests (TEC) to another that has women priests (some dioceses of ACNA). Therefore, these critics contend, we are simply no better off than before (or they argue that ACNA is doomed to fail from the start because of its unresolved stand on the issue).

While I certainly understand the depth of feelings the issue of women's ordination stirs on both sides of the question, I urge my friends to have a little more patience. We have only just begun to journey together within ACNA. It will take time for people to get to know each other and come to trust one another's intentions. It seems quite wise to me to wait a bit before tackling this very thorny problem. To press the issue today risks destroying five years of hard work in bringing us together. Let us take a couple of years to get to know one another better, then do the serious theological and Biblical study necessary in order to come to a resolution all the parties involved can respect. A bit more patience and a time of rest after all we have already been through would surely serve us well right now. In the meantime, I am confident that in Archbishop Duncan we have a leader who will see that "both integrities" will be fully respected.

I am also aware that some of my dear friends are out there who, longing for immediate reunion with the Roman see, regard the formation of ACNA as a step away from their goal. These dear brothers and sisters (and I mean that sincerely) hope for some sort of special arrangement with the Vatican that would allow for creation of an Anglican Use personal prelature (or some similar structure), permitting significant numbers of Anglican parishes to enter into full communion with Rome without changing their common life and practice very much. Since ACNA clearly contains a sizable number of Protestant-leaning Anglicans who do not share this dream of immediate reunion with the Holy See, they would prefer that Anglo-Catholics have nothing to do with ACNA.

[In the interest of fairness, I should remind my readers of what I have often said on this blog in the past. While I have a high degree of respect for the Roman Catholic tradition generally, and for the present incumbent of the throne of Peter in particular, I cannot in good conscience become a Roman Catholic at present. For me the dogma of papal infallibility, combined with certain teachings of Rome on Marian doctrine, preclude my coming into full communion with the Holy See. I am by conviction an Anglican Christian of the "middling sort," as comfortable with the heritage of the English Reformation as with the heritage bequeathed us by the medieval Church. I am self-consciously a child of the Elizabethan Settlement. After the events of the last week I now have a strong sense that the ACNA is where I belong.]

To these dear friends I would say that ACNA may not be perfect, but it is a place to stand while you await the outcome you desire. Nothing I have seen indicates that your heart-felt longing for large-scale reunion with Rome will be satisfied any time soon. After all, the TAC has been pushing hard for such a thing for a decade now with no discernible results. And while there was a great deal of ink spilled about Anglican Use plans following the C of E's action on female bishops last year, I am aware of no concrete steps yet taken by Rome yet as a result of that momentous decision. The Vatican is not known for haste in taking action. History indicates that you may have many years of waiting ahead before the developments you hope for take place--if they ever happen at all. (And you must admit there are powerful liberal forces within the American Roman Catholic Church who would not be happy to see large numbers of traditionalist Anglicans being brought in via the Anglican Use and will work against such a development).

Would it not be better to muddle along in the company of a sizable number of traditionalist Anglican brothers and sisters, albeit ones with more Reformed sympathies than your own, than to go it alone for years to come in hopes that the Vatican might come through with a special dispensation in the end? Archbishop Venables has made it clear that the special arrangements made by the province of the Southern Cone are temporary and cannot go on forever. If the Southern Cone-affiliated dioceses must act to find a home, ACNA is the only clear path presently available to them. And ACNA allows for far more autonomy on the diocesan level than the old TEC structures did. If a diocese really wanted to pull out of ACNA in the future (which is, admittedly, not a thing I personally would hope for), it could do so with minimal interference. Why not come aboard ACNA now, even if you plan on departing in the future? Would the work of the Kingdom really be hampered by such participation? Surely being part of such a larger Christian body has benefits of scale for ministry. I would argue that the participation of worthy Anglo-Catholic prelates like Bishop Schofield, Bishop Ackerman, and Bishop Iker in the formation of ACNA indicates that they see the benefit in such large-scale associations, as do I.

Now that I have got that off my chest, I just want to say again what a positive experience this last week was for me. I am delighted by the spirit of unity displayed here and have much higher hopes for the future of orthodox Anglicanism in America today than I did a year ago. To God be the Glory!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Father. While I don't like the whole dueling integrities nonsense I also realize that a certain heresy was a generation in the making and it might take more than a week or two to resolve that issue.

I see the ACNA as a positive step in the right direction...not the end game but a good beginning.

I just want to know where I can get one of those really cool lapel pins, a 3XL ACNA t-shirt(yes, I'm a little mature in my stature) and a bumper sticker.

Ph yeah, check out Baby Blue's vidoe of the procession in to Christ Church. Really good stuff.

BigTex AC

9:44 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Big Tex, they passed out a form at Assembly that says: "All merchandise may be ordered directly from the ACNA office at: 1001 Merchant Ave, Ambridge, PA 15003 or on-line at www.theacna.org

I haven't tried the online thing yet, but frankly I would be surprised if it is already up and running. It takes a while to set these things up!

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Bob Maxwell+ said...

It was a joy, for how pleasant it is to be with brethren that live together in unity...


. . . still ridin' for the brand,

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Andy B. said...

Father, great post and I agree 100% on your take on ACNA! I'm glad you found the whole thing so positive and I'm sorry that I missed it.

I just watched the amazing Met. Jonah speech, and while I think that the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism are not as great as he does (i.e., papal infallibility, the marion dogmas, etc) [and presumably you also do], I do agree with him on the key issues. Hopefully something substantial (no pun intended) will develop in future years and that we all will take his admonitions and hospitality quite seriously.

Thanks for posting your thoughts and may God bless you!

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father, while I was not able to attend and feel a great loss in not being able to personally participate, I am so happy to hear your opinions and hopes for our future with the ANCA. If I were as gifted with the Kings English as you, I would have stated my views exactly as your have stated yours. As you and I have discussed in the past, I struggle with the ordination of women, not knowing which is correct, but I think that the dogmas of the Roman Church are of much greater concern than WO. If we ourselves let the WO issue become a breaking point in this new province we will have not only have let God down in what he has brought together but we will have played right into the hands of TEC. As the Archbishop said in his sermon last Sunday and what I believe Rich Warren said in his address, we should love one another as He does and therefore by extension "stop the bickering". As a further note to the RC thing, I perceive that some of our younger clergy may see Rome through romantic eyes rather than realistic and experience eyes. *Romantic was not intended to be a pun*

Thank you again for your guidance, service, devotion, knowledge and opinions.


7:22 PM  

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