Saturday, November 26, 2016

In order to whip up support for joining the Anglican Church in North America, the leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina are misrepresenting the ACNA as an "Anglican" "province," meaning it is a province in the Anglican Communion. It is "Anglican" in name only. ACNA is not now, has never been, and will not be a province of the Anglican Communion. It is a separate denomination, certainly with friendly ties to the anti-homosexual-rights organizations of Anglican primates called GAFCON and Global South. The good and faithful communicants of the DSC need to understand the truth about the status of the ACNA before they vote.
ACNA was created in 2009 in an alliance of the four schismatic dioceses: Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Ft. Worth, and Quincy and GAFCON. Its aim was to become the replacement for TEC as the legitimate province of the Anglican Communion in the U.S. Many of the GAFCON primates had broken off communion with the Episcopal Church in the wake of TEC's confirmation of the first openly gay bishop in 2003. GAFCON was created in 2008 in a conference in Jerusalem, attended by Bp Lawrence, that drew up a declaration (the "Jerusalem Declaration") denouncing rights of homosexuals and rejecting the authority of the Anglican provinces, i.e. TEC and Canada, that accepted such rights. ACNA styled itself a "province." In fact, it was not, and is not, a province of anything. It is an independent entity. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is clearly on record saying that the ACNA is a separate church not in the Anglican Communion.
Before this year, there was talk in the Anglican Communion of making ACNA the 39th province. Under pressure, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited ACNA's archbishop, Foley Beach to the primates' gathering in Canterbury last January as an observer. He was not considered a primate and was not given a vote as a primate. He was invited only to appease GAFCON. In the meeting the issue of admitting ACNA to the Anglican Communion came up. The GAFCON/Global South primates abandoned ACNA on the spot. The primates issued a statement saying that if ACNA should want to join the Anglican Communion it would lave to apply to the Anglican Consultative Council. They added a discouragement to ACC against admitting ACNA. Since then the GAFCON/Global South block has had two opportunities to press the issue and abandoned both. In the ACC meeting in April, no one mentioned ACNA joining the Communion. In the Global South meeting in October, ditto, even though Beach is a member of the GS "Steering Committee" as he is also a member of GAFCON's primates' council.

It is clear that in its retreat from schism in the Anglican Communion, the anti-homosexual rights coalition, led by the equatorial African primates, has abandoned the idea of ACNA being a province of the Anglican Communion. This means they have also abandoned their aim of having ACNA replace TEC in the Communion. The people of South Carolina need to understand this before they attach themselves to this entity.
As I have pointed out in earlier posts, there is plenty of downside to joining ACNA, primarily from its authoritarian structure that gives great power to the bishops and virtually none to the laity. The most obvious problem will be in getting the diocese's choices of bishops confirmed. DSC's bishops in the future will be determined by the bishops of ACNA who have to give 2/3 vote for confirmation of an election for bishop. This is a steep obstacle. Ironically, Lawrence would not be a bishop today if this were the rule in the Episcopal Church. ACNA is a fraud in that it pretends to be localized but in fact is a system far more authoritarian than the one DSC left in 2012.
The DSC leaders have a regrettable habit of spreading misinformation about the diocese's relationships with other bodies. Before the schism of 2012 they spent years promoting untruths, half-truths, exaggerations, and opinions advanced as facts in their concerted campaign to herd the good communicants out of their ancestral church. It worked for the majority. Now they are trying it in an effort to get DSC into ACNA.

Something has gone wrong in the diocesan leaders' plan to move DSC into ACNA. Last spring they announced there would probably be a diocesan convention in the autumn of this year for the first of the two necessary votes to join ACNA. The clergy met in September to discuss joining. Autumn is nearly over and there has been no mention of a convention. We do know that Bp Lawrence is out in the parishes talking up the idea. He will be in Old Saint Andrew's this Sunday to discuss the topic. He has made joining ACNA his cause. Why the delay? My guess is that the leaders are not yet sure they can get a strong vote in favor and need more time to propagandize the idea before calling for a vote.  
The communicants of DSC need to understand, before they go along with another bad choice, that the ACNA is not in any way a province of the Anglican Communion in spite of what their leaders are telling them. Joining ACNA will simply be moving into another denomination and one this is not now and will not be in the Anglican Communion. The only way DSC will ever be in a province of the Anglican Communion is to return to the Episcopal Church.