ACNA'09: North American Anglicans Reaffirm Their Traditional Mission
PLANO, Texas, June 24, 2009 - Orthodox Anglicans from the United States and Canada, meeting Wednesday night at Christ Church in a Dallas suburb, celebrated the creation of a Christ-centered, missionary Church - the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
"It is a great day because working together, we have been able, by God's grace, to reunite a significant portion of our Anglican Church family here in North America," said Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh at a news conference before his installation as the ACNA's first archbishop. "We are uniting 700 congregations, and more importantly, committed Anglican believers in the north and in the south, on the west coast, and the east coast."
The ACNA held its first Provincial Assembly this week, working to ratify the constitution and canons drafted by their bishops, clergy and lay leaders at a meeting in suburban Chicago last December when they announced they were forming a new "province" - a large regional Anglican jurisdiction in North America.
Mrs. Cheryl Chang, a member of the Governance Task Force that helped draft the constitution and canons, said, "Our task was to ensure that the structure was supporting the mission, not the mission supporting the structure."
The preamble to the constitution says that orthodox Anglicans are "grieved by the current state of brokenness within the Anglican Communion [Anglicans' worldwide church] prompted by those who have embraced erroneous teaching and who have rejected a repeated call to repentance."
During the news briefing, many of the ACNA officials said the formation of a new province was a reaffirmation of the traditional values of the Anglican Communion.
"The teachings we hold to are the teachings that have governed the Anglican branch of Christianity for decades," said Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. "So, in that sense, we're not doing anything particularly new, but what we are doing is establishing that we want to stay within the [Christian] mainstream."
Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth said that central theme of this new Provincial Assembly was an emphasis on evangelism and mission. "What I think is significant about that for Anglicans and Episcopalians in North America is that this is the beginning of the recovery of confidence in Anglicanism as a biblical, missionary church," he said.
ACNA officials said that formal recognition as an Anglican province will take time. Duncan said he is in regular contact with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the principal leader of the Anglican Communion.
Nine Anglican provinces, representing the vast majority of Anglicans from as far away as Africa, Asia and South America, sent official delegations to the ACNA Assembly, indicating their support.
"We are in the process of being recognized by and partnering with churches around the world," Duncan said. "Just the other day, the Church of Uganda recognized our new province." Earlier this year, the Anglican Church of Nigeria also recognized the ACNA. Together, these provinces represent the Anglican Communion's two largest provinces and tens of millions of Anglicans.
Duncan went on to say that Anglicans are part of a worldwide movement. "We are part of something big," he said. "God isn't just bringing Anglican Christians together. Across the Church, people are re-embracing Scripture's authority. Christians are once again discovering the beauty, wisdom and grace of our 2,000-year-old tradition."
Jurisdictions that have joined together to form the 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation of the Anglican Church in North America are: the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin; the Anglican Mission in the Americas (including the Anglican Coalition in Canada); the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; the Anglican Network in Canada; the Reformed Episcopal Church; and the missionary initiatives of Kenya, Uganda, and South America's Southern Cone. The American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North America also are founding organizations.
The Anglican Church in North America unites some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes into a single church.
"The events of this week and the months leading up to it represent the answers to decades of prayer," said Dr. Michael Howell, executive director of Forward in Faith North America. "And, I am fully convinced that only God could have brought this about."
The Provincial Assembly concludes Thursday at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas. For more information, visit www.acnaassembly.org .
Anglicans end meeting with blow-out service
By Julia Duin on June 25, 2009 into Belief Blog When it comes to blow-out church services, the Anglicans can sure put on the dog. I've been filing stories for the past three days on the constitutional convention for the Anglican Church of North America, the emerging 39th province of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion. The big party to end it all was Wednesday night (it's 1:14 a.m. as I type this on Thursday) and it was a splasher.
The site was a Texas megachurch called Christ Church in Plano, a north Dallas suburb. Although I got lost getting there from Fort Worth (first ended up in Garland somehow), I knew when I finally drove up that this was the place. Talk about huge. Buildings everywhere and the sanctuary was cathedral-like in its vastness. All that was missing were side chapels and votive candles. The decor is a bit stark - no Christ on the main cross above the altar which goes along with low-church evangelicalism Texas-style.
Fortunately they got fancy with the music. Some 60 bishops and 323 clergy had to process in, so they needed something sprightly to move these folks in - long robes, mitres and academic hoods and all - rather quickly. What they came up with, composed by trombonist John Wasson was a variation on the hymn "Praise My Soul the King of Heaven" combined with African march-style music in a 4/4 beat. Sounds awful but it was stunning - and beautiful.
Now before that, there was a ton of intro choral and organ music - the brass quintet and organ were the best in a list of very presentable offerings. I don't think this is ordinarily a church that probably doesn't do the smells and bells of a more Anglo-Catholic service but they learned fast because of the huge variation of visitors there - people from around the globe coming to celebrate Archbishop Duncan's installation. The haunting "Veni Creator Spiritus" is very rarely done - usually for the consecration of bishops - and often it's played in a deadly fashion. At this church, the organ pounded it out in grand style. And fortunately the music director - Mark Snow - had the sense to choose the lovely "Missa de Sancta Maria Magdelena" for the Communion chants.
I've been doing this religion writer thing for more than 30 years and in the course of my travels, I've done Rome and Canterbury and Jerusalem; ordinations, installations and consecrations of everyone from Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl to New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson. I've done papal Masses all over the country with two popes. But I've rarely been in a service where every single piece of music was beautifully done at top level during a 2 hour+ service involving 1,500 people. During Communion, a pianist whipped out a movement of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2. Even hymns I can't stand, like "Fairest Lord Jesus" got gorgeous arrangements.
I am running out of adjectives here so must go to bed. OK, I do play piano, guitar and harp, but I am no music critic. I was told most of the musicians are home-grown although for big occasions, the music director borrows folks from Dallas symphony and opera orchestras plus a few college music professors. There were other parts to the service that were memorable: the new archbishop joking about his bushy eyebrows; the colliding lines of all the visitors wandering to and from the Communion rail not to mention the party afterward outside in a hot and soupy Texas evening.
3) Video clips of the Inaugural ACNA Installational Service of Archbishop Bob Duncan
a) The Procession of Clergy and Bishops for the Installation of the ACNA Archbishop Bob Duncan
b) The Consecration and Declaration of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America
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