Ex-Episcopalians Launch Rival Anglican Church Body

Article excerpt

Conservative Anglicans disenchanted with the liberal direction in their U.S. and Canadian churches say they are confident that a new church body formally launched in June will one day gain a seat in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has been organized, its leaders say, as an alternative for Anglicans who disagree with the theology of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

"This is the beginning of a recovery of confidence in Anglicanism as a biblical, missionary church," said former Fort Worth Episcopal bishop Jack Iker.

Iker and other ex-Episcopalians frequently criticized their former denomination's approval of female clergy and the 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. Iker seceded, along with his diocese, late last year.

The ACNA, he added, will give "the mainstream of our clergy and laity a chance to recover confidence and enthusiasm about being an Anglican Christian."

Delegates representing an estimated 69,000 active Anglicans from some 650 North American parishes met June 22-25 at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, to ratify their church constitution and nine canons, or laws.

They also installed former Pittsburgh Episcopal bishop Robert Duncan as archbishop in a ceremony June 24 at Christ Church, a Plano megachurch that cut its ties with the Episcopal Church three years ago.

[A group of Episcopal loyalists in Pittsburgh noted that the ACNA has inherited ongoing litigation over property claimed by the parent denominations in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ontario, British Columbia and elsewhere. "Despite the ACNA's grand words, the new organization is being built largely with assets belonging to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. It is unclear what Christian moral principles can be invoked to justify this," attorney Kenneth Stiles, vice president of the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh told Episcopal News Service.

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[V. Gene Robinson, whose 2003 consecration as bishop of New Hampshire created a backlash in the Episcopal Church, told Ecumenical News International that he doubts the new Anglican group has long-term viability. "A church that does not ordain women or openly gay people--I don't see a future for that," said Robinson after preaching June 28 at the First Presbyterian Church in New York City during the city's annual gay pride festivities.]

Anglican archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya anointed Duncan, 60, as the ACNA's first archbishop; he will serve a five-year term. Duncan was removed from the Episcopal Church last year for leading his diocese to secede from the denomination. …