ACNA three years in

The Revs. Mark Harris and Scott Gunn have written blog posts recently about the Anglican Church in North America. In general I think it is a mistake for the Episcopal Church to pay too much attention to these folks because it distracts us from our own issues, with which they have little to do. Yet it is useful to have vigilant folks like Mark and Scott keeping an eye on a church that means us no good--even if that church is decreasingly able to do us harm.

Scott studied ACNA's annual report. He writes:

When I saw that ACNA had issued reports, I expected to see some impressive numbers. After all, at first glance they seem to have a clearer identity and mission. In many cases, they are free of the shackles of buildings ill-suited to 21st century church. But they have not shown much real growth or vitality. Perhaps that’s they’re still filled with too much anger and a fragile sense of self-confidence. If they are going to grow, they need to lose the anger and the persistent schism, and develop a Gospel-based message that is about hope, not fear and division.

Mark surveys the situation more broadly and says:

So, where is ACNA three years in?

It is a church, much like the church from which it sprang, only with more purple.
It is not our friend.
It is strategic in identifying itself as Anglican
It is patient.

Comments (7)

Hi Jim. The point in the original article that is particularly useful is the one about ACNA's depictions of its role and status. I had a long online conversation with someone recently who argued that ACNA was part of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the various provinces. When I pushed back, the author basically said, "Well, not THAT Anglican Communion. By communion, I meant willing to take communion with other Anglicans."

This sort of words-don't-mean-what-words-really mean gamesmanship is telling. So, I agree that it is best not to get too caught up in what ACNA does, while keeping a careful and thoughtful eye on those who may wish us harm.

Eric Bonetti

How are they exactly able to do us "harm"?

Hi Nicole. Thank you for your question.

ACNA's goals and its lack of transparency around its true intentions is best set forth in the December 28, 2003 memo written by Geoff Chapman,available at Chapman was instrumental in efforts to form ACNA, which he states intends to replace the existing TEC hierarchy. Tellingly, in his memo, Chapman urges recipients to "keep this memo confidential, sharing it in hard copy...only with people you fully trust, and do not pass it on electronically with anyone under any circumstances."

Apropos claims that ACNA folks believe parish property to be theirs, Chapman states, "Recent litigation indicates that the local diocesan authorities hold almost all the cards in property disuptes and clergy placement if they want to play "hardball". (sic) This, of course, well prior to efforts by parishes here in Virginia to seize TEC assets.

As I've said here before, I wish no one harm, and I know several folks at the breakaway parishes who are good and decent people. But I also believe that ACNA must be taken at its word when it says that it wishes to supplant TEC, particularly when it has, in fact, followed the "cluster strategy" outlined in the Chapman memo.

Forget my signature:

This rant was authorized by Eric Bonetti, candidate for dog catcher :)

Hey Eric,

Just a friendly FYI that your link above may be broken. (Or my computer may be broken...)


Yes, I tried going to the link as well. However, I think at the rate of how we are doing as a church, dwindling numbers and terrible budgets such as this one, they really don't need to do much. ACNA might very well be the next Anglican representative in the US in the next 10 years, if there is an Anglican Communion left.

Hi Nicole and Adam. Looks like the period crept into my earlier hyperlink. See if this works:

Note that it's in PDF.

Eric Bonetti

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