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ACNA offended by invitation to Lambeth as a non-member observer

ACNA offended by invitation to Lambeth as a non-member observer

Under the headline “Archbishop of Canterbury invites ecumenical observers to the Lambeth Conference 2020”, the Anglican Communion News Service reports that the breakaway group, the Anglican Church in North America, is invited to Lambeth Conference.

ACNS says ACNA is not invited as an ecumenical partner, but as a church not part of the Anglican Communion “recognized to different extents by some of the Communion’s provinces”.

The invitation managed to offend Foley because to accept the invitation and serve as an observer is to accept the reality that ACNA isn’t in the Anglican Communion.


In addition to leaders of Churches in Communion and ecumenical partners, representatives from Churches formed by people who left the Anglican Communion are also being invited to send observers. These churches – the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), the Anglican Church of Brazil and the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA) – are not formally part of the Anglican Communion but are recognised to different extents by some of the Communion’s provinces.

ACNS’s report triggered this ungracious press release from Foley Beach, Archbishop of ACNA and chairman of Gafcon:

Yesterday I received a letter from Archbishop Justin just moments before the invitation was reported online. I read the online report first and was disappointed to see that the original “news” source had furthered a partisan, divisive, and false narrative by wrongly asserting that I left the Anglican Communion. I have never left the Anglican Communion, and have no intention of doing so.

I did transfer out of a revisionist body that had left the teaching of the Scriptures and the Anglican Communion and I became canonically resident in another province of the Anglican Communion. I have never left. For the Anglican Church in North America to be treated as mere “observers” is an insult to both our bishops, many of whom have made costly stands for the Gospel, and the majority of Anglicans around the world who have long stood with us as a province of the Anglican Communion.

Once I have had a chance to review this with our College of Bishops and the Primates Council of the Global Anglican Future Conference I will respond more fully.

Foley transferred out of The Episcopal Church and joined a church, ACNA, established in an overlapping geographic territory. That church has not applied for recognition as a province of the Anglican Communion. To become a province of the Communion requires application to and acceptance by the Anglican Consultative Council.


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JoS. S Laughon

++ Foley should not worry. We should instead continue to commune with our GAFCON brothers and sisters, celebrate being in communion with nearly every province in the Communion and then carry on our gospel work. Better to separate than be in communion with persistent and proud error.

Philip B. Spivey

Queen Elizabeth I, titular head of the early English Church, immersed in the heated debates of the recent Protestant Reformation, was purported to have said: “There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith. All else is a dispute over trifles.”

Today, however, some might say that the devil has found a home in those trifles.

Lawrence Graham

“Revisionist,” one supposes, is intended to sound like a bad thing. But theology is always being revised. If not, Martin Luther would have been right when he called Copernicus a “fool.” And the Church would still teach that the Earth is at the center of the solar system.

We are living in the midst of the first world-wide renaissance. Our new renaissance brings rapid change. New discoveries are made daily, and everything is up for reevaluation, including the authority of long respected institutions like the Church.

Richard Hooker, an Anglican theologian who lived during the Western renaissance, has some good advice for us today: include “reason” along with “scripture” and “tradition” in considering theological revisions.

The new discoveries in human life and endeavor compel a theology still based on the prime directive of loving God and neighbor. But one that also draws the circle wider and thereby more fully catholic.

Revision provides us with the eternal Gospel for this new age.

JoS. S Laughon

Hooker’s much abused idea of three criteria for doctrine is not a “stool” as that would presume all three legs are of equal authority. They are not. It is nothing more than the early patristic and later Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura.

“What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience are due; the next whereunto, is what any man can necessarily conclude by force of Reason; after this, the voice of the church succeedeth.”

While development may be possible on some doctrines, it remains to be seen whether the Holy Ghost speaks through a small faction of Anglicanism, much less the worldwide Church.

Philip B. Spivey

Well said, although I prefer to see this mischief in less charitable terms: Like most schismatic rumblings, at its heart it’s about power and influence and not doctrine. Faithfulness to doctrine is not the same as faithfulness to Christ Jesus. His “doctrine” was simple: Love one another as you love me.

“Reason”, when summoned by the holy spirit, is not antithetical to science or to religion; it seeks the wholeness and unity ONLY found through diversity, i.e., live and let live. As the author suggests, human consciousness continues to evolve, thank God. It’s only those minds fixed on dominion that resist acknowledging (or advocating for) human development. Woke people ask uncomfortable questions.

The 1920s Scopes “Monkey”trial, (the premise of which is still being debated in some parts of our country), was a powerful example of a nation unwilling to move forward. Sad to say, for me, these debates within the Anglican Communion strike a very similar chord.

Mark Kozielec

Thank you for this, Lawrence. One note: for Hooker it was always scripture and reason–scripture informed by reason and vice versa. “Tradition” was this tag put on his rather lengthy discourse regarding what we experience in worship and our common life, but “tradition” was never ahead of or more important than reason. Even what has come to be called “tradition” in this formulation needs to be engaged through the lens of reason.

Kenneth Knapp

The more the national churches fight about who is in communion with whom, the less relevant the national churches and the Anglican Communion become to my faith. I remain in communion with all Anglicans regardless of whether they are more conservative or more liberal than I am, and regardless of any official status or recognition.

Carol McRee

By the same reasoning (of the last paragraph), then TECinSC is *not* a diocese of The Episcopal Church because that group has never applied and gone through the process of becoming a diocese in the Episcopal Church. I find it very interesting that The Episcopal Cafe adheres to a definition when the definition fits their goals but not when it does not…..

Lawrence Graham

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church creates, subdivides, and/or dissolves the dioceses of this branch of the Anglican Communion. It is the only entity empowered to do so. GC did not dissolve the Diocese of South Carolina. All that happened was that a dissident bishop attempted to purloin the name and appropriate its property. Nevertheless, the diocese continued to exist, albeit under a working name, with a bishop in charge of it and all of that in accordance with canon law.

Jon White

The Episcopal church in South Carolina is a diocese because it has been a diocese since the 1780’s when the church was formed. That Lawrence and Co. continue to use the name “Episcopal Church” may make it confusing but they are in fact and in law (now) understood as a group that has separated itself from TEC. But their departure did not mean that the TEC diocese ceased to exist; it continues. The Cafe’s understanding in these matter is pretty clear and consistent and unaffected by the lies the leadership of ACNA and GAFCON tell about who is or is not part of the Anglican Communion.

Thomas Rightmyer

REACH_SA The Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church in South Africa used to be called CESA Church of England in South Africa. It and the Church of the Province of South Africa parted ways in the late 19th century. Bishops and Archbishops of Sydney, Australia, used to ordain clergy when they stopped in Capetown on their way to and from England. Then after WW II Bishop Morris retired from North Africa and consecrated bishops for the CESA. I don’t know if CESA / REACH-SA has been previously invited to Lambeth. For part of the 19th and early 20th century local Christians in Spain and Portugal received episcopal ministry from Ireland. I note Archbishop Beach characterizes the Episcopal Church as “a revisionist body that had left the teaching of the Scriptures and the Anglican Communion.” I hope and pray for some reconciliation among the divided parts of the Anglican family. We need a better start for that. What would it take for dialogue in South Africa, Brazil, or the USA?

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