Anglican Church in North America: A New Province or a New Church?

Article excerpt

Leaders of the Common Cause Partnership, a coalition of conservative Anglicans in Canada and the U.S., released a draft constitution on Dec. 3 for a new Anglican province that they propose will be defined by theology rather than a geographic location.

Gathered in Wheaton, Ill., leaders of the partnership, which they say represents about 100,000 Anglicans (3,000 in Canada)--those who have left the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. largely over blessing same-sex unions and the ordination of an openly gay bishop--outlined their vision for the new Anglican Church in North America.

According to Bishop Robert Duncan, who led the diocese of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and is the provisional leader of the new province, the future of this new body may go further than being a parallel province operating in the same geographic regions as the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada; it may become a rival church. "I think what the Lord is doing is that the Lord is displacing the Episcopal Church," Bishop Duncan said. "The Episcopal Church has been in extraordinary decline," he added. "We are a body that is growing, that is planting new congregations, that's concerned to be an authentic Christian presence in the U.S. and Canada."

Bishop Duncan acknowledged that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are still the only churches recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the structures of the Anglican Communion. But he said there is a new emerging reality, referring to support from conservative national archbishops who met in Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in June and who asked the Common Cause Partnership to create a constitution for a new province.

Soon after the announcement, the GAFCON primates, whose provinces comprise up to 40 million Anglicans, mainly in Africa, issued a statement of support and blessing for the formation of the new province.

Common Cause leaders hope that GAFCON primates will advocate for the new province when the primates meet in Egypt in February. Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) Bishop Donald Harvey recently warned of dire consequences for the global communion if the primates meeting in Egypt reject the idea of the new province. "It would be painful and cause decisions to be made that would be unfortunate for the communion as a whole. It would cause more fragmentation," he said.

Bishop Duncan said the new documents will be sent to Arch bishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. "What the Archbishop of Canterbury will do as this province emerges is for him to say," he said. Leaders of the partnership have said that they would like to have the blessing of the Archbishop, but they will move forward even without it. …