Orthodox Anglicans Welcome 3 New Splinter Churches

An Anglican splinter group in the United States has welcomed three new congregations, bringing its growing membership to now 37 registered churches in 15 states plus the District of Columbia.

"I am very pleased that CANA is providing a safe haven for faithful Anglicans in the U.S. who feel cut off from the worldwide Anglican Communion," said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, in a statement on Tuesday. "I am also delighted that we are reaching out and planting new congregations. It is especially appropriate that new people are coming to faith and new churches are being established as we celebrate the beginning of the Christian movement on the Feast of Pentecost."

Trinity Church in Bristol, Conn.; Christ the King Anglican Church in St. Augustine, Fla.; and Grace Church and St. Stephen's in Colorado Springs, Colo., have separated from the Episcopal Church and newly placed themselves under the leadership of Minns and Archbishop Peter J. Akinola of the Church of Nigeria, who leads the largest Anglican province and set up CANA in the United States.

CANA is meant to provide a safe spiritual home for people who want to remain faithful members of the Anglican Communion but cannot do so within the Episcopal Church, Akinola has said. Although such interventions as Akinola's CANA initiative were said to have exacerbated the current divide in the Anglican Communion, Primates (Anglican leaders) recognized at a meeting in February there is a need for pastoral strategies to address congregations in the United States that disagree with The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.

The Episcopal Church widened rifts in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop. The controversial action, conservative Anglicans argue, was a "flash point" to the American church body's departure from Christian orthodoxy and Anglican tradition.

And until The Episcopal Church "abandons its current unbiblical agenda," Akinola says CANA will remain. Otherwise, Akinola would end the CANA ministry.

The three latest additions to CANA join three other congregations that have recently joined – St. Brendan's in Washington, D.C.; Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Garland, Texas; and Celebration Church in Fredericksburg, Va.

The future for CANA is very bright, Minns said last week as the orthodox group newly ordained priests and expanded membership. And congregations joining CANA are not leaving or separating from the Episcopal Church, Minns had clarified early this month when he was being installed to oversee CANA churches.

"The Episcopal Church has declared itself separate" from the Anglican Communion, he said.

Minns is the first missionary bishop of CANA and was consecrated as a bishop on Aug. 20, 2006, in Abuja, Nigeria. He was installed as missionary bishop for CANA on May 5, 2007, in Woodbridge, Va.