A splinter group in Canada has been approved as a diocese in an emerging body of orthodox Anglicans in North America.
The Anglican Network in Canada – a group of Anglican parishes that broke from the Anglican Church of Canada over theological differences – is now one of 28 dioceses in a province that is still in formation.
Last week, Canadian and U.S. Anglican leaders who severed ties with The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – and the Anglican Church of Canada announced the approval of applications for 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation as part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
"It is a great encouragement to see the fruit of many years' work," said the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, who is expected to head the ACNA, on Saturday. "Today 23 dioceses and five dioceses-in-formation joined together to reconstitute an orthodox, Biblical, missionary and united Church in North America."
The ACNA is an emerging province uniting around breakaway 700 parishes – representing 100,000 conservative Anglicans – in North America into a single church. The conservative leaders began forming the "separate ecclesiastical structure" in 2007 in an attempt to remain faithful to the global Anglican Communion, citing that the two existing North American bodies have departed from traditional Anglicanism and orthodox teaching.
The Episcopal Church had widened rifts in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion in 2003 when it consecrated the first openly gay bishop. Before that, the Anglican Church of Canada's Diocese of New Westminster stirred controversy when it sanctioned same-sex blessings.
The move for a new national Anglican province in an area where a national church already exists is unprecedented. While some have criticized it as a means for further division, disaffected Anglicans see it as a way of preserving unity in an already splintering communion.
Conservative bishops mainly from the Global South have formally recognized the ACNA as part of the Anglican Communion. Recognition from the rest of the global body, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, has not yet been given.
Plans for the launch of the ACNA have been finalized and an inaugural provincial assembly has been scheduled for June 22-25 in Bedford, Texas.