Support for New Anglican Body Grows
More Anglican leaders from across the global communion have joined in support of the newly formed Anglican Church in North America.
The Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East and the Province of Southeast Asia sent their congratulations and welcomed the new conservative body.
"Our prayers are for you and for the new Province to continue to stand firm in faith as you have always done," the Most Rev. Mouneer H. Anis of the Jerusalem and Middle East province wrote. "May the Lord keep your unity in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ in North America!"
Bishops from England, Sydney and parts of Africa also celebrated the ACNA and recognized it as authentically Anglican.
So far, nine of the 38 provinces in the Anglican Communion indicated support for the ACNA, which was constituted this week as a biblically-centered province.
The ACNA unites some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes – which have severed ties with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada – into a single church.
According to its newly ratified constitution, the orthodox Anglicans say they are "grieved by the current state of brokenness within the Anglican Communion prompted by those who have embraced erroneous teaching and who have rejected a repeated call to repentance."
The conservative group has been calling on The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – to repent and get back in line with traditional Anglicanism and Scripture, particularly since it consecrated an openly gay bishop in 2003. But the conservatives saw little hope that the U.S. church body would change direction.
Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, one of the breakaway groups that make up the ACNA, said that by forming the new province, they are establishing that they want to stay within the Christian mainstream.
"The teachings we hold to are the teachings that have governed the Anglican branch of Christianity for decades," Minns said.
Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth said constituting the ACNA marks "the beginning of the recovery of confidence in Anglicanism as a biblical, missionary church."
Establishing an Anglican national province where such a national church already exists is unprecedented. And although the ACNA has gained support from some of the largest provinces in the Anglican Communion, formal recognition as the 39th province may take years.
The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, who was installed Wednesday as the first archbishop of the ACNA, said he is in regular contact with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the global communion.
More than 900 people gathered this week for the inaugural assembly of the ACNA in Bedford, Texas. As they concluded the historic meeting on Thursday, they were reminded of why they created a new province.
The ACNA was not formed to relieve the pain and angst of the past, the Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter, past president of Alpha USA, said. It was established to help build the Kingdom of God, he stressed.
Archbishop Duncan said he wants to start 1,000 churches during his five-year term.