What ACNA Archbishop Duncan wants

An interesting interview with the schismatic Anglican Church in North America Archbishop Robert Duncan:

VOL: What is your overall take on this gathering of African Bishops from 12 African nations?

DUNCAN: This, the Second All African Bishops Conference has lacked the clarity of the first All African Bishops’ Conference. What I believe we learn from this conference six years later is that Anglicanism without a confession is in a troubled place. The contrast between the spirit of GAFCON and this conference was striking. The prayerful, joyful always aware that God-is-right -here attitude of the African Church was present only when we worshipped or shared relationally. The sessions at the conference were dominated by Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and social solutions where the gospel of Jesus is not the driving force.

By and large, the folks in Entebbe were the same folks at Lagos and many of the same folks in Jerusalem, but this conference lacked that great enthusiastic spirit that the joy of Jesus invariably displays. Conference presenters were more often good-hearted NGO’s, but what exuded and continues to exude from the bishops of Africa was not so often on the podium since bishops were not so often on the podium. The agenda, apart from worship and Bible studies, was far more dominantly social than spiritual. Nevertheless and as always, the Lord did great things for many who shared in the conference and He is able to work all things together for good. (Rom. 8:28)

VOL: Did you feel accepted and affirmed as the new Anglican boy on the block?

DUNCAN: Over and over again, bishops all across Africa expressed to me their affection and respect for the stand that I and all of us have made and their sense absolute oneness in the gospel.

VOL: Were you saddened that two provinces, Central Africa and Southern Africa referred to ACNA as “illegitimate”?

DUNCAN: It is always when the actual realities are put in the light. What we have been observing in North America when Anglicanism ceases to be confessional is that Anglicanism does not cohere. This is simply a sign that the divisions North America has known will not be limited to North America.

VOL: You met Archbishop Rowan Williams. How did that go? What did you exchange between you?

DUNCAN: Nara and I greeted Rowan Williams on the night we gathered and we had a very warm exchange in which we talked about our families and the challenges of both his office and mine.

VOL: How do you think Williams handled himself in Entebbe?

DUNCAN: He led in the very same way he has led since 2002.

VOL: What do you see as the future of Anglicanism in North America with ACNA?

DUNCAN: The only future for ACNA, as the only future for Anglicanism, is the kind of confessional Anglicanism as represented in the Jerusalem Declaration. The clarity with which the GAFCON/FCA primates have admitted me as a primate among them also reveals something of the trajectory we are on.

VOL: How hopeful are you of reaching your goal of 1000 ACNA churches?

DUNCAN: On June 24th 2009 in my investiture sermon I called for the planting of 1,000 new churches. While not all the growth has been in new church plants, the number of congregations in or associated with the Anglican Church in North America has grown from over 700 to over 900 churches and includes ministry partners like the AMIA. Wherever I go among young people in particular there is an extraordinary readiness to join this vision and to work in reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Seems that trying to “do” the work of Christ in the world is not as fun as making statements and singing songs.

This editor believes the issue of whether or not Anglicanism would be “confessional” was decided some time ago. The interview reveals how Duncan’s church is a new version of an old idea — that some churches followed and Anglicans did not.

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Category : The Lead

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  1. John B. Chilton

    Agree, Ann, on the confessional part. And about the dirty Gospel work of actually working to change people’s lives for the better.

    What I wonder is does Duncan realizes he sounds like Glenn Beck?

    This conference focused on what is important to the African bishops, not what is important to Duncan. And what is important to those bishops is that the people in their flock are not suffering from want of baptism as God’s child and God’s own. They are suffering because of poverty, lack of health care, corruption in government and the like. The bishops are taking on truly knotty problems where there is a real chance of failure, but where there is real need. It’s unlikely that taking on these problems will get them named in the top 100 most influential religious leaders, but that’s not what matters to a faithful shepherd.

    As the bishops said in their _opening_ press statement, “Whereas Africa is well endowed with a wonderful people united in love and purpose; a people with great faith and hope; a capacity to make our world better, and with great resources in our land, we find ourselves stuck in a rut of poverty, conflict and disease. We find ourselves continually dependent on others for our survival and our future decided by people other than ourselves.”

    See Press Release Day 1 here: http://www.africanbishops.org/modules/wfdownloads/viewcat.php?cid=1&orderby=dateA

    In other words, what Duncan is really bummed about is that CAPA has moved on to what matters, even if it doesn’t draw the attention of the press. Duncan misses Akinola. He’s left scraping the bottom of the barrel for “press” attention.

  2. Roger Mortimer

    Shallow? Self-centred?

    The question and answer on the Central and South Africa document confirm its authenticity.

    “He led in the very same way he has led since 2002.” On some things, many of us can agree.

  3. Bill Moorhead

    I also agree, Ann, on the confessional part. Duncan gets a D- on Anglican church history. He asserts: “What we have been observing in North America when Anglicanism ceases to be confessional is that Anglicanism does not cohere.” Actually, Anglicanism has failed to cohere precisely when people have attempted to make it confessional. (The English Civil War? Or the failure of the Savoy Conference? Or the Methodist schism? — oh, wait, that was pretty much everybody’s fault. Or the Reformed Episcopal Church?)

    The problem, and the hypocrisy, of these folks is that there are already plenty of confessional churches. Pick one, and join it! But these folks are really crypto-Papalists, and if Rome is what they want, that’s where they should go. But they have a couple of problems with that: (1) As Eric Mascall put it a half-century ago: “I should have gone last Tuesday week, had not my wife objected”; and (2) There’s already a Pope, and he isn’t either Duncan or Orombi.

    What do you suppose the prophet Amos would say about the MDGs? Oh, wait — he did.

  4. Roger Mortimer

    “The agenda …….. was far more dominantly social than spiritual.” Poor Bob Duncan. All that social concern for one’s darker-skinned brethren. Could have stayed in TEC for that.

  5. I do hope someone — preferably not us, perhaps pp points out to the good bishops at the conference that, unlike ACNA, TEC is thoroughly committed to the Millennium Development Goals and willing to work with Africans toward their realization as much as African are willing to let us. We do think that is what Jesus is all about, not about what someone (not necessarily Jesus) thinks is dirty.

  6. JRG

    Duncan’s comments are no surprise to those of us in Southwestern PA. During his time as bishop, he dismantled the social service agencies associated with the diocese. When I asked him at a budget hearing in October 2005 what the diocese was doing to respond to the devastation caused by Katrina and Rita, he replied that the diocese had sent prayer books. He didn’t know what to say when I then responded, “With all due respect bishop, you can’t EAT a prayer book.”

    [Editor’s note: Thanks for the comment. We need your full name next time.]

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