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ACNA remains in media spotlight – for the wrong reasons

ACNA remains in media spotlight – for the wrong reasons

Rivera was a beloved volunteer church leader in the Chicago suburbs for decades. Former parishioners say the church community dismissed Rivera’s frequent physical affection—kissing young girls on the cheek or inviting teenagers to sit on his lap—as “just Mark being Mark.”

“I feel like it’s the Lord’s kindness that this early in our life together we’re having this conversation and have an opportunity to reform our church before this abuse becomes more entrenched and endemic,” said Heather Ghormley, rector at Tree of Life Anglican Church in South Bend, Indiana.

Two news reports this week provide further details on the failure of the Anglican Church in North America to take sexual abuse charges seriously. The multiple allegations against one man occurred in ACNA’s Diocese of the Upper Midwest. The diocese’s bishop said he made “regrettable errors” handling the allegations.

Religious News Service has

Alleged victims say ACNA church leaders failed to acknowledge their abuse allegations,
Ten people in all have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against a volunteer leader in the Anglican Church in North America.

Christianity Today has

Faced with Allegations, Anglicans Want to Change the Trajectory of Abuse Response,
Mishandled case in Wheaton has been a wake-up call for the relatively young denomination.

Following those reports, ACNA tweeted a call for possible victims to contact its “Provincial Response Team”.

Kathyrn Post, author of the RNS  report tweeted a thread on her findings:

The report from Christianity Today focused on the reaction in ACNA, especially from female clergy

On July 1, more than 30 female clergy in the ACNA published an open letter expressing support for the survivors and pledging to help the denomination create better processes for responding to abuse allegations with “urgency, compassion, accountability, and transparency.”

Because it is still relatively young and small, it has the opportunity to make decisions in these early years to set a precedent for how it will handle cases of abuse. The incidents in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest are the most recent in a string of abuse cases to emerge in the ACNA within the past two years.

Sandy Oyler is a clinical social worker and a deacon at Church of the Savior in Wheaton. Though Church of the Savior is in a different diocese than Christ Our Light and Church of the Resurrection, Oyler said many of her parishioners have close relationships with people at Resurrection. News that horrendous abuse happened nearby has rattled members.

“I have no doubt that the leaders at [Church of the Resurrection] did not intend for this to happen. I do not question their good intentions or sincerity,” Emily McGowin said in a July 10 sermon at Church of the Savior, which is part of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO). “But the truth is good intentions and sincerity count for nothing when women and children are being abused and proper actions are not taken to protect them and help them. Sincerity is not a substitute for competency.”

In its tweet thread, ACNA invites victims to report:

Social media response was swift, including,

ACNA is a breakaway from The Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church is not immune to mishandling of abuse: for recent examples see here, here and here.

Image: ACNA College of Bishops Statement on the Ordination of Women, Sep 8, 2017

there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province.


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