More Anglicans Seek Way Out of Liberal Church

Correction appended

Anglicans worldwide are taking steps to separate themselves from more liberal churches and finding new approaches that would allow them to live the biblically faithful lives that they want to.

The conservative Anglican Network in Canada will present later this month the option of forming a new church that would not be under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Canada. The new body in Canada would be more "biblically faithful" than the current national church.

The Ottawa chapter of Anglican Essential Canada/Anglican Network in Canada, which describes itself as a safe haven for all those who profess traditional Anglican beliefs, called a meeting last weekend, a week after a second diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada voted in favor of blessing same-sex "marriages." Both the Montreal and Ottawa Dioceses approved a resolution earlier this month that would urge its respective bishop to allow clergy to bless same-sex unions.

"I'm very dissatisfied with the direction the Anglican Church of Canada is going," said Peter Scotchmer, who attended the Anglican Network meeting, according to The Ottawa Citizen. "I'm certainly not happy to see the liberal drift of the church. It's an erosion of what the church has always stood for."

Attendees of the meeting discussed the impact of the recent votes and what should be done to remain true to tradition.

The proposal: a separate Anglican church.

"We don't want to stop being Anglican, but we don't want to be part of a church that is not biblically faithful," said Karen Bergenstein, who is seeking to become a priest in the Anglican Diocese in Ottawa, as reported by the local newspaper. "The question is where do we go from here?"

Concrete details of the new branch and its ecclesiastical structure and relationship with the wider church are to be further discussed at a meeting in late November.

Anglican Essentials Ottawa president Tony Copple is hopeful for the future of dissatisfied Anglicans.

"We're working on something tangible for the future," he said. "We sense there is potential for three new churches in the Ottawa area. We want to give people a place where they feel comfortable."

The proposal is part of a larger plan in North America to create a separate Anglican body, which has already begun to take shape. Breakaway Anglicans and others discontent in The Episcopal Church – the U.S. branch of Anglicanism – and the Anglican Church of Canada took their first step last month in forming a separate ecclesiastical structure and are strengthening their Common Cause Partnership.

The orthodox bunch has little hope that the national churches will get back in line with Anglican tradition and Scripture. The American church heightened controversy in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop.

Although the new North American body is only in its initial stages, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of the Anglican breakaway CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), said the orthodox partners are working together "far more deliberately."

The Anglican Network in Canada will present the option of a separate structure for orthodox Canadian Anglicans who are in "serious theological dispute" within the national church at a Nov. 22-23 conference. The meeting is expected to set a new course for orthodox Anglicans.

"Many have told us they could no longer remain Anglican if a substantive option was not made available to them by the end of this year. We do not wish to lose these faithful people," said the Rt. Rev. Donald F. Harvey, moderator of the conservative network.

Meanwhile, parishes discontent with the Church of England are forming their own "English solution" as they feel a "liberal threat" in the church. As a last resort, dissidents part of the traditionalist network Reform may look to orthodox bishops overseas for irregular ordinations in the future.

Correction: Friday, November 2, 2007:

An article on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007, about orthodox Anglicans taking steps to distance themselves from liberal churches within the Anglican Communion incorrectly reported the name of a traditionalist group as Anglican Essentials Ottawa. The Christian Post confirmed with Phillip Rutledge, a member of the group, that the organization's name is Anglican Essentials Canada, which serves as the umbrella for the Anglican Network. Also, The Christian Post clarified with Rutledge that the Anglican Network of Canada is part of the Common Cause Partnership which has already begun executing its plan to create a separate ecclesiastical structure in North America.