Back door recognition

The Church Times reports on the campaign by supporters of ACNA for back-door recognition of the breakaway group by the Church of England.

While the sponsor of the private members motions says that the motion has nothing to do with interfering with the internal life of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, she and the motion’s supporters disapprove of the idea that when ACNA clergy left their former churches they were treated as if they left for a new denomination. They are also surprised that Anglican churches might object to the new denomination appropriating their property.


Three English bishops are supporting a lunch-and-learn where Synod members can hear about ACNA complaints first hand.

In the meantime, some facts are gradually filtering through, and some bishops are trying to craft an alternative motion.

The General Synod’s Secretary General, William Fittall, has supplied a seven-page background note on the ACNA, which was set up in June last year and says that it has 100,000 members in the US and Canada.

The note offers “material on how new pro­vinces are admitted to the Anglican Commun­ion, how the Church of England has entered into communion with Churches outside the Anglican Communion, and how epis­copally ordained ministers of some Churches which are not in communion with the Church of England can be permitted to minister”.

Bishops were said at the pre-Synod briefing on Monday to be producing an alternative motion. ACNA did not respond this week to requests for comment.

The Church Times asked the Cafe’s Jim Naughton what he thought of all this. He said:

“My primary concern about this motion is that it would set a bizarre precedent that would encourage schismatic activity in other provinces.

“When you look at ACNA’s numbers, then subtract the folks who were never Episcopal­ians to begin with, you see that they’ve spent millions of dollars to draw away about three per cent of our Church. That sets the bar for the quasi-recognition that is being discussed awfully low, and can only encourage similar splinter groups — who may be upset about other issues — to take similar initiatives.

“Passing this resolution, or one like it, will make it harder for the Covenant to get a fair hearing in the Episcopal Church.”

Category : The Lead

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7 Comments
  1. I wish Jim would expand on this tidbit: “folks who were never Episcopalians to begin with.” That’s an important part of the story and I don’t think most of us realize who this new denomination is drawing from.

  2. Andrew Gerns

    I am not Jim, but I think I can comment on your question, Josh.

    According to the ACNA website, the biggest single block of members and congregations come via the Reformed Episcopal Church, which broke off from the Episcopal Church in the 1870’s. So these folks have never been a part of the Episcopal Church in the first place.

    Many of the AMiA churches consist of people who are former Presbyterians or come from another protestant tradtions, rather than Episcopalians who left in the 1970s and 80s.

    So while ACNA’s number give the impression that are comprised of former Episcopalians, their actual count does not differentiate between these members and Episcopalians who left to form the new denomination.

  3. Thanks, Andrew. The REC claims 13,000 members in 141 churches.

    Oh, those poor persecuted ACNA people! Imagine, being treated as if they left for a new denomination when they… left for a new denomination. Imagine, having their old denomination object when they tried to take the bank accounts, stained glass and candlesticks with them. Imagine, being deposed for breaking their ordination vows. Yes, those are some “loyal Anglicans,” all right.

    Notice that the woman who proposes to import schism by listening to ACNA’s “complaints” feels a need to stress that she’s not trying to interfere in TEC’s business while she… interferes in TEC’s business. Maybe tomorrow she can make the sun rise in the west by simply reversing the meaning of every word.

  4. Michael Russell

    Why should we expect that the lies told by English proto-schismatics would be any different than those told by ACNA?

    Is England ready for TEC to begin forming congregations in the British Isles?

    Any recognition of ACNA while they hold TEC property and include every schismatic group of the last 150 would be a process disaster for the Anglican Communion and simply create more havoc.

  5. John B. Chilton

    “Bishops were said at the pre-Synod briefing on Monday to be producing an alternative motion.”

    Please, no. Let the motion be voted on straight up. We need to know where the C of E stands.

    (BTW. Are pre-synod briefing behind closed doors?)

  6. To answer John Chilton’s question: this was the regular press briefing which is held before each group of sessions. It is open to any accredited journalist.

    What was said was that the House of Bishops i.e. the corporate body, not just some random selection of like-minded bishops, was producing an amendment to the motion. In response to a specific question from, IIRC, The Times correspondent, it was said that it was not a “wrecking amendment” but one intended to bring some nuances to the debate.

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