The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), meeting in Bedford, Texas, will elevate former Episcopal Church bishop Robert Duncan to Archbishop of a new body made up of groups who have left The Episcopal Church over the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons and other issues that have arisen in church life in the past 200+ years.
From The Pittsburgh Gazette:
Tomorrow in Texas, [Robert Duncan] is slated to become archbishop of the new Anglican Church in North America. Its 100,000 members broke with the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada, believing they failed to uphold biblical authority and classic doctrine about Jesus when they approved the consecration of a partnered gay bishop and failed to discipline another bishop who denied Jesus was God incarnate.
"The Lord has called him to an extraordinary position of leadership and responsibility, one which I think he would much have preferred not to have been called to," said Bishop John Guernsey, an ex-Episcopal priest consecrated by the Anglican Church of Uganda.
But a retired Pittsburgh cathedral dean said Bishop Duncan followed his own agenda. "The only program he has kept to totally for the past 11 years has been developing this parallel universe and his position in it," said the [Very] Rev. George Werner.
Bishop Duncan, 60, grew up in Bordentown, N.J. His mother was mentally ill and violent, he said, and he was raised mostly by his grandparents. At 11, his parish priest led him to life-changing faith in Jesus.
Two years later, kneeling at Eucharist, "The Lord said very plainly, 'You will be my priest,' " he said -- adding, "He doesn't usually talk to me with that clarity."
He met his future wife, Nara Dewar, at a diocesan youth event when he was 16 and she was 14. They married in 1969.
The Rev. [Ryan] Reed [who serves the church hosting the event] says the Episcopal Church is following culture, not the Bible. When it ordained a gay bishop in 2003, he says, the conservatives finally decided to offer an alternative. That view irks — but does not worry — leaders in the mainline church.
"The folks that are gathering in Texas represent a small, conservative fringe within the Episcopal Church," says Susan Russell, a minister at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., and a leader in the church's gay rights movement.
"Their goal has been to vote the American Episcopal Church off the Anglican island," she says. "They failed at that over and over again, and now they're trying to re-create a new province in their own image."
Russell believes they won't succeed this time, either. For one thing, she says, they would probably need the approval of two-thirds of the 38 Anglican leaders around the world to create a separate Anglican province in the United States. Currently, only a handful of those leaders have signed on publicly. Plus, she says, leaders of the breakaway faction would need the recognition of the archbishop of Canterbury — and that hasn't happened.
"It would be as if Sarah Palin were to take a small, but vocal, percentage of very conservative Republicans and decide that they were going to create a parallel United States without having the White House at the center," Russell says.
George Pitcher, an Anglican priest at St. Bride's Anglican Church in London and religion editor at the Daily Telegraph, agrees. He says the communion welcomes conservative views.
But, he says, "when they want to say this is the one true way, and we want to impose it on all Anglicans, then it's at that stage that the broadly tolerant Anglican Communion says, 'Well that's not the way we do things.'
NPR reports the conservatives churches are growing although does not cite the source for this assumption.
Other news from The Sacramento Bee on the The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and those following John-David Schofield, former Episcopal Bishop who is joining ACNA.
It is hard to believe that people with such profound differences over the ordination of women and liturgical worship styles, as well as other issues that caused breakaways in the past will live into a future together when they could not live with differences over the role of gays and lesbians in the church. We wish them well and happiness in their journey of faith. Perhaps as the Sufi mystic Rumi says,
"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about."
Listen to NPR story here.
Cathy Grossman of USA Today has a blog item on the new church.