Breakaway Anglican Flock Adds Over 100 Churches

More than 100 new churches have been added to a breakaway Anglican group less than a year since its formation.

The Anglican Church in North America has now grown to comprise 809 congregations, some of which were newly planted and many of which severed ties with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over scriptural authority and homosexuality.

"When we began in June of 2009, I issued a challenge that we plant 1,000 new churches in the five years of my service as your Archbishop. It is wonderful to see how much progress has already been made," said ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan in a statement.

Among the newest churches in the ACNA is the Church of the Epiphany in Hamilton, Ontario, which started meeting in January. The church began with members who left the Anglican Church of Canada.

"We left everything behind, and we started fresh," said the Rev. Vicky Hedelius. "We stepped out naked, and he has clothed us … All you have to do is take the first step, and He guides you on to the next."

Duncan launched a vision for 1,000 new church plants last summer when breakaway congregations constituted the ACNA. Though there were existing Anglican provinces in the United States and Canada, the discontent parishes established their own North American province as they sought to create a traditionally Anglican and biblically-centered body (that would still be tied to the worldwide Anglican Communion).

The Church of England gave formal recognition to the new province earlier this year but it stopped short of declaring full communion with the ACNA.

Conservative Anglicans around the world are discontent with the liberal direction of The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – and other church bodies in the West and have rallied around various movements reaffirming Christian orthodoxy and traditional Anglicanism.

Last week, Anglican leaders from the Global South met in Bermuda where they acknowledged that the issues dividing the worldwide Anglican Communion "are far from settled."

They noted that the upcoming ordination of an openly lesbian bishop, the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, in Los Angeles "makes clear to all that the American Episcopal Church leadership has formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture."

The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – caused uproar in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop. Relations with the wider communion have been strained or, in some cases, impaired since then.

"Now is the time for all orthodox biblical Anglicans, both in the USA and around the world, to demonstrate a clear and unambiguous stand for the historic faith and their refusal to participate in the direction and unbiblical practice and agenda of TEC (The Episcopal Church)," they wrote in a communiqué.

Some of the participating leaders in the Bermuda conference included Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, retired Primate of the Church of Nigeria; the Most Rev. Gregory Venables of the Province of the Southern Cone; the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, archbishop of the Diocese of Sydney; and Duncan of the ACNA.

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