Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Communion

GlobalView from Bishop Bill Atwood
posted October 15, 2014

A “Communion” is a relational network of churches and people who are “in Communion.” What that means in the literal sense is that they have Eucharistic fellowship, in other words, they have Holy Communion together. In the case of Anglicanism, it has been expanded to include a number of institutional protocols, but the heart of the arrangement is the ability to share Holy Communion.

When the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) moved away from Anglican faith and practice (especially in regard to sexual practice), many provinces broke Communion with them. The previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and the current one, Justin Welby remained in Communion with TEC and the ACoC. They also have put heavy emphasis on the institutional structures. When many people in the US and Canada separated from TEC and the ACoC, the institutional structures did not respond. The GAFCON Provinces were quick to recognize the new Anglican Church in North America. Very shortly after that, the regional fellowship called the Global South recognized the ACNA as well.

Recently, in response to questions from the Church of Ireland Gazette, the Archbishop of Canterbury stated that the Anglican Church in North America was not part of the Anglican Communion. It was a very bad week to posit that. Some very significant things happened that demonstrated that most of the Anglicans in the world do not agree with his assessment.

Shortly after the TEC House of Bishops met in Taiwan, a group went to West Malaysia. They announced that they had heard the consecration of a new assistant bishop was about to take place and they were there to participate. Leaders in the Anglican Church in Malaysia said, “You are welcome—to our country. You cannot participate in the service however, because of the actions you have taken to tear the fabric of the communion and you remain unrepentant. We are not in Communion with you, so you cannot participate in the service.” 

The visit was part of TEC’s initiative to demonstrate that they are fully part of the Communion and are in relationships with other Anglican Provinces. The tactic has been used in a number of places in Africa where they visit, are received with hospitality (because that is the culture of those people), and then take pictures to demonstrate that there are no significant issues even though there may be disagreement over things like sexuality.  the rest
Here’s the rub: The Anglican Communion is not going to re-align, it has re-aligned. It is true that the structures have not yet caught up with that reality, but the re-alignment has taken place. Increasingly, those who pursue the liberal agenda of TEC and insist on maintaining partnership with them are finding that the fruit of their actions will continue to be increased marginalization.


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