Anglican/Episcopal Battle Sharpens
by Mike McManus
When I interviewed Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of
Anglicans of North America (CANA) this week, he was already in Jerusalem
a week before the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCon) which will
gather 300 conservative bishops representing 35 million Anglicans, more
than half of those in the world.
Most are from the "Global South," such as Africa, Asia, South America,
Australia. However, many are "missionaries" from those countries to the
U.S., such as Minns, who has attracted 55 conservative congregations,
most of which have fled the increasingly liberal Episcopal Church.
Another 250 have left for such groups as the Anglican Mission in
The gathering of GAFCon bishops is almost revolutionary, because only
weeks later, the
Archbishop of Canterbury will preside over Lambeth, a conference for the
bishops. The Global South bishops decided not to attend Lambeth, but to
hold their own
Does this mean there will be split in the Anglican Communion?
Minns thought not: "We are in a process of realignment. When children
grow up, you have to re-do your relationship, and begin to relate as
equals. They are no longer kids and want to share in the leadership of
the family. Institutional change is difficult."
On the other hand, Bishop John Rodgers, another of the newly minted U.S.
bishops in the Anglican Mission in America, and former President of
Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, argues that the Anglican
Communion "faces the greatest challenge to its survival since the 16th
He called for "the clear and decisive separation" of orthodox Anglicans
from Canterbury "to form a new Communion that is truly global in scope
and truly Anglican in doctrine. Anything less will leave faithful
Anglicans throughout the world as unwilling collaborators in a
counterfeit Communion which makes a virtue out of the toleration of
teaching contrary to scripture."
At the 1998 Lambeth, the world's Anglican bishops voted by 527 to 69 in
favor of a resolution which limited sex to "one man and one woman in the
covenant of marriage." and rejected "homosexual practice."
In 2003, The Episcopal Church elevated V. Gene Robinson as the first
bishop to be an active homosexual with a male live-in lover. That
ignited controversy across the Anglican Communion and particularly in
The San Joaquin Diocese in Fresno twice has voted overwhelmingly to
leave the denomination. Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy, IL voted to
exit last fall and are expected to make a second required affirmation
this fall. Some churches will remain in each diocese, yet the fleeing
of virtually entire dioceses from any U.S. denomination is
These departures are not easy or inexpensive. The Episcopal Church
(TEC) claims that it owns all local churches of its denomination, though
they were all paid for by local congregations. Eleven churches in
Northern Virginia who decided to align with CANA negotiated for a year
with the Diocese of Virginia and agreed to pay millions for a amicable
Though the offer was accepted by Virginia's bishop, TEC Presiding
Jefferts Schori overruled the Diocese, telling it to sue the 11 churches
rather than settle
peaceably! It was an outrageous, un-Christian act. Clearly the woman
never read Jefferson's
1779 Declaration of "Religious Freedom," the words of which are chiseled
into the marble of
the Jefferson Memorial:
"Almighty God hath created the mind free... "
On Sunday I attended The Falls Church, a 275-year-old congregation whose
original church was built when George Washington was on the Vestry. The
church has already paid $1.3 million in legal fees and sister churches
have collectively spent a similar amount. "It could cost us $5 million.
It is a terrible witness to the world," said John Yates, Rector since
"It has been costly in energy and attention. They are asking for
records going back to the founding of the church. It is an enormous
task, and one way to bleed us financially."
His sermon focused in part on Jesus' call "to make disciples of all
nations" which he interpreted as creating churches as well as reaching
individuals with the message. "For the first time we feel free from
denominational restrictions to plant churches."
Restrictions? The diocese refused to allow Falls Church to create
because some Episcopal churches in Northern Virginia were only half
full. And probably half
dead with unbiblical preaching.
"We have started five congregations and have another in the works!
May more Anglican flowers bloom in America and around the world.
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