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Dual-Integrity over Women's Ordination Heightens Tension in ACNA

Dual-Integrity over Women's Ordination Heightens Tension in ACNA
If we didn't support the status quo of "duel-integrity" we should "Shuffle off to Rome." Message received. -- Bishop William Ilgenfritz


By David W. Virtue, DD
March 19, 2018

Anglican Church in North America bishops are facing a crisis over the ordination of women bishops that could lead to a split in the movement.

At the recent annual synod of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS), a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America, the Rt. Rev. William H. Ilgenfritz, told delegates that he had been "rebuffed" when the subject of the ordination of women was raised, and told to accept "dual-integrity" or "shuffle off to Rome."

The Bishops who uphold the Declaration of Common Faith of Forward in Faith North America; who uphold the Faith and Order of the Undivided Church in affirming that the "Christian ministerial priesthood is male," called for a voluntary moratorium on the ordination of women until such time as a consensus is reached in the College of Bishops and in the Provincial Assembly of the ACNA, he told MDAS delegates that included Bishop Ray Sutton, Presiding Bishop of the REC and Bishop Ordinary of REC Mid-America, and Bishop David Hicks, Bishop Ordinary of REC Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Both men spoke on the issue of women's ordination within the ACNA.

"Each time we did so, our call was rebuffed by those who support the notion of "dual-integrity." One supporter of Women's Ordination told those of us who maintain the historic position, if we didn't support the status quo of "duel-integrity" we should "Shuffle off to Rome." Message received.

"Let me press the issue of a moratorium a bit further. Several years ago, it was made known that the Province of Uganda and perhaps Kenya were considering the consecration of women to the Order of Bishops. In 2014, the GAFCON Primates responded by calling for a voluntary moratorium on the consecration of women as bishops and that a study on the issue should be made.

"Acting in direct defiance to the moratorium, the now-retired Primate of South Sudan consecrated a woman as Bishop, without regard to the Constitution and Canons of his own Province and without the support of his own College of Bishops. To make matters worse, while this illegal consecration occurred in December of 2016, it was kept secret for over a year and excuses were made. All indications are that "dual-integrity" is here to stay."

Ilgenfritz said the issue of women's ordination is part of a larger epidemic of anti-Catholic sentiment within the ACNA.

"One Bishop of the ACNA openly posted that he is a Calvinist. I know that he is not the only one in the College of Bishops. At least one ACNA congregation is practicing credo-baptism, reducing this Dominical Sacrament into something we do rather than God's work in us. Another Diocese has affirmed by resolution that the 39 Articles of Religion are to be understood in their "plain and literal sense." While the 39 Articles are an important historical document within Anglicanism, they were written to address specific issues at a certain time. Their meaning is contextual. As Anglicans, we affirm our faith when we recite the Nicene Creed. We are not Confessional Christians. Finally, yet another Bishop stated that the goal of the ACNA is to "complete the Reformation." Think about his words and consider what they reveal about the future of the ACNA and our place in it. The effects of these developments have presented challenges to your Bishops."

Ilgenfritz said that as a result he had lost a few clergy, one parish, and he had received multiple emails and phone calls from clergy; some asking him to stay the course in the ACNA and some urging him to seek out an alternative to the ACNA. The diocese simply cannot meet all their sustainability requirements.

"If Bishop Rich (Lipka) and I were no longer able to serve as your bishops, our congregations desiring to continue in the ACNA would simply be assimilated by other dioceses. Lately I've been thinking about how many hours, days, and years we spend waiting... waiting upon the Lord to know which direction to take. This is where we find ourselves today: uncertain about where the Lord would have us go but trusting He will show us the way."

Ilgenfritz said he and Bishop Rich went to Ireland recently to participate in the 2018 Convocation for the Restoration and Renewal of the Undivided Church. "We met with Non-Papal Catholics from the Polish National Council Church, as well as other groups represented throughout Europe, discussing how we might move forward in the spirit of a renewed Catholicity and Ecumenical Catholicism."

Ilgenfritz said he and Bishop Rich would continue the conversations with those inside and outside of the ACNA, "that we may know how to best pray and move forward."

HEADLINE CHANGE: It was suggested to me that my headline might have been too extreme. I have therefore changed it to reflect more of what the situation is now and not what could happen.

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