New Anglican Church Poses Dilemma; Challenges Representation of Denomination in U.S., Canada

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The Anglican Church in North America will be formally founded next week, challenging the legitimacy of the U.S. Episcopal Church and posing a dilemma for the worldwide Anglican Communion over who represents Anglicanism in the United States and Canada.

When 232 delegates to the ACNA convention at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, approve the organization's constitution and canons on Monday, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan will become archbishop for this emerging 39th province of the communion, consisting of several groupings that have left the Episcopal Church over issues related to sexuality and biblical authority.

A ceremony celebrating Bishop Duncan's installation is set for June 24 at Christ Church in the Dallas suburb of Plano, the ACNA's largest parish, with more than 2,000 members. Also among the ACNA's members are 11 Northern Virginia parishes, including the historic The Falls Church and Truro parishes, which left the Episcopal Church to found the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

At a news conference in December, Bishop Duncan said God is displacing the Episcopal Church in favor of the ACNA. The Texas gathering is the conservative alternative to the Episcopal Church's triennial convention next month in Anaheim, Calif.

There is no precedent in the communion for a country to have more than one recognized province, and Episcopalians who back the move have maintained that the U.S. and Canadian churches no longer preach and believe historic Anglicanism.

The formalities cap a six-year progression out of the 2-million-member Episcopal Church by Episcopalians over the U.S. church's increasing doctrinal liberalism, which has prompted many to leave to other denominations, though others have hung on in the hope a conservative alternative would arise.

ACNA spokesman Peter Frank said the gathering will be inspirational instead of legislative. This is really about mobilizing people to do mission at the local parish level, he said.

Speakers will include such non-Episcopalians as Rick Warren, the pastor of California's Saddleback evangelical megachurch, and Metropolitan Jonah, head of the Orthodox Church in America. …