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LATROBE, PA: New ACNA Archbishop-elect introduced to the media

Leadership torch passed to Bishop Foley Beach of ACNA Diocese of the South
Unanimously elected on third day of conclave

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
www.virtueonline.org
June 25, 2014

The media got its first expansive -- albeit brief -- look at Bishop Foley Beach who, over the weekend, was elected the second archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America by ACNA's College of Bishops which met in an intensive secret three-day conclave in the crypt (undercroft) of St. Vincent's Catholic Basilica.

Founded in 1790 St. Vincent's -- originally founded by the Franciscans as Sportsman's Hall Parish -- was the first Roman Catholic Church established west of the Alleghany Mountains in the colonial Province of Pennsylvania. Now the basilica is in Benedictine hands and is affiliated with St. Vincent's Arch abbey, the oldest and largest Benedictine monastery in the Untied States, St. Vincent's College and St. Vincent's Seminary.

ACNA's connection with the arch abbey comes out of the friendship between founding Archbishop Robert Duncan and Benedictine mitered Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, O.S.B. The Catholic complex is large enough to accommodate ACNA's provincial assembly, which is drawing more than 900 participants, visitors, and media.

"This is an exciting time in North American Anglicanism and, indeed, of Anglicanism throughout the world," Archbishop Duncan prefaced in the news conference introducing his successor to the world via the media.
He lamented that fifty years ago -- during the 1960's -- "Anglicanism was terribly fractured over all kinds of issues and various accommodations to the culture, a stepping away from what the Word of God calls the Church to and has always called the Church to."

Archbishop Duncan's dedication and passion was the driving force needed to help reunite a fractured and splintering American Anglicanism into a Biblical, missionary and united Anglican family in North America. He brought together a dozen various Anglican entities and ecclesiastical structures to form the Common Cause Partnership, which eventually became the foundational building blocks of the Anglican Church in North America.

Five years after its original foundation in 2009, ACNA has nearly 500 new church plants out of the 983 congregations spread across Canada, the United States and into Cuba. There are 28 ACNA-affiliated dioceses and a special military jurisdiction. ACNA shows a steady growth in numbers and attendance with a deepening of spiritual awareness and focus.

ACNA was originally birthed out of desire and a mandate from GAFCON I -- held in Jerusalem -- that an orthodox Anglican province in North America be formed. Five years later when GAFCON II met in Kenya, ACNA was recognized as the fulfillment of that original directive with Archbishop Duncan acknowledged as an Anglican primate and seated with the GAFCON primates. That GAFCON seat will be passed on to Archbishop-elect Beach when he grasps ACNA's primatial staff Saturday.

Six Anglican primates are attending the Anglican Relief and Development Fund trustee meeting also being held at St. Vincent's. They include: the Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala; Congo Archbishop Henri Isingoma; Jerusalem & the Middle East President Bishop Mouneer Anis; Myanmar Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo; South East Asia Archbishop Bolly Lapok; and Kenya Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. The visiting primates are also looking in on ANCA while they are in town. In addition, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Church of Uganda, Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney in Australia and senior members of the Church of Nigeria are also present.

The nay-sayers in The Episcopal Church and other parts of the Anglican Communion who felt that ACNA would live and die with Archbishop Duncan are being proved wrong. A second archbishop has been elected and will continue to lead the emerging North American Anglican province to the next level.

"Many folks said -- and our critics in particular -- that we would never be able to elect a second archbishop," the first archbishop explained. "That it all depended on me (Archbishop Duncan) and I was the only one who could hold them together."

ACNA's founding archbishop speaks in a modulated voice. His expressions, which punctuate his speech, come through movement of his long thick eyebrows and infectious smile.
"Well, guess what?" he said with his bushy eyebrows raised high. "That's not true!"

"I count it a real joy and a sacred trust to have been elected as the (second) Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America," Archbishop-elect Beach stated in his introductory news conference.
He was deeply impressed with his fellow bishops in the conclave.

"I have never been around such spiritual men in my life ... such Godly men, such Christ-centered men," he said. "To have them elect me as their archbishop is a truly humbling and, to me, personally remarkable thing."

The Bishop Beach's election came as a unanimous vote on the third day of the conclave. Foley Beach has been a part of ACNA's College of Bishops since 2010 when he was tapped to be the founding bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South. He is the founding rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville, Georgia.

ACNA's election process for its primate is more along the lines of how the Church of Rome elects a pope. A conclave is called where the ACNA College of Bishops meet in secret and in seclusion with intense conversation and prayer. Currently, there are 63 members in the College of Bishops with Bishop Leonard Riches being the senior bishop of the College.

The newly retired presiding bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church was consecrated in 1975. The newest member of the College of Bishops is Bishop Mark Zimmerman, the founding bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Southwest, who was consecrated bishop four months ago.

Bishop Beach was the tenth Anglican Church of North America bishop to be consecrated in a direct ACNA line of apostolic succession. He is a first generation ACNA bishop who was consecrated by the founding generation of bishops. Archbishop Duncan was his chief consecrator.

"We spent three days actually talking to one another," Archbishop Duncan said explaining how the conclave worked. "Every single bishop talked and said what he felt the challenges before the church were and the kind of person we need."

Bishop Beach was on the list of possible contenders for the archbishopric along with Bishop John Guernsey the founding bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, who was consecrated bishop in 2007 by the Anglican Church of Uganda for the Anglican Mission of America; and Bishop Ray Sutton of the Reformed Episcopal Diocese of Mid-America, who was consecrated in 1999 as the coadjutor.

"Over the course of three days of intense conversation and sometimes vigorous fellowship [disagreement] and in the end we were all clear where we were headed and the person who could best lead us there was ... Foley Beach," Archbishop Duncan commented. "We were unanimous about that."

"I believe leadership is stewardship," said the newly elected ACNA archbishop as he shared his philosophy for leading the church. "Leadership is also temporary and leadership also has accountability."

As the first archbishop of the emerging Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Duncan served only one five-year term. ACNA archbishops can chose to serve twin five-year terms, but a conclave will then be called because an ACNA primate cannot serve three terms (15 years) in the top spot.

Saturday (June28) when Archbishop Duncan releases the ACNA primatial staff to Archbishop Beach, he will retain his Diocese of Pittsburgh mitre. He has been the VII Bishop of Pittsburgh since 1996. He led his diocese out of The Episcopal Church in 2008.

Four other former Episcopal bishops have also disassociated their dioceses from The Episcopal Church including: Bishop John-David Schofield (IV San Joaquin); Bishop Keith Ackerman (VIII Quincy); Bishop Jack Iker (III Fort Worth); and Bishop Mark Lawrence (XIV South Carolina). Only the South Carolina diocese is not currently a part of ACNA, the other dioceses -- Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin -- are founding ACNA dioceses.

Archbishop-elect Beach promised to be faithful to the Lord in his new position as primate and to be diligent in his newly-found responsibilities as he dedicates himself to serve with the humility of Christ in the power of the Spirit as he responds to how God is leading ACNA through his primatial service.

"I need your prayers. I'll really value your prayer," he pleads as he tries to fill Archbishops Duncan's shoes in reaching North America with the transforming love of Jesus where in Canada, the United States and Cuba there are many souls who hunger for God.

"Archbishop Duncan's shoes are very big. Mine aren't that big," the next Archbishop noted. "...there are millions of souls who do not know the Lord and our task is to reach them. The Lord has put the mantle on our shoulders."

The new Archbishop-elect then took the focus off him and directed it toward Archbishop Duncan whom he called a "modern-day hero of the faith."

"You'll have plenty of time to get to know me," he explained. "This week I want it to be about thanking the Lord for this man's (Archbishop Duncan) service."

Even though Archbishop-elect Beach will take over the reins of ACNA leadership on Saturday, his formal enthronement is to take place at a later date, which will be announced when plans have been put into place for the event.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline.

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