Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bishops Approve Anglican Church in N. America

Charles Lewis
National Post - Friday, April 17, 2009

The move to create a new conservative Anglican jurisdiction in North America got an enormous boost yesterday as bishops representing three-quarters of the faith's worldwide adherents said they would recognize the breakaway faction in defiance of the wishes of the established churches of Canada and the United States.

Meeting in London, the leaders of Anglican churches from Africa and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere said the new "province" would be seen as the home to "faithful Anglicans" in Canada and the United States and would be considered part of the worldwide communion.

The decision to recognize the new entity is another strong sign that the real power in the Church is quickly shifting from the Global North to the Global South and that Canterbury, the traditional seat of Anglicanism, is losing its authority.

"This is unprecedented," said Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, who will become the head of the new Anglican Church in North America. "A decade ago we discovered our Church had been stolen from us. We [conservatives] had come to the clarity that the American church and the Anglican Church of Canada would not be able to reform themselves and the only way that would happen would be with intervention from Anglican partners from around the world. None of us imagined this moment where fragments would reconstitute themselves into a new recognizable church in North America."

In the past decade, orthodox Anglicans have been fighting the blessing of gay marriages and what they call the move away from scripturally based Christianity to adapting to secular culture. Conservatives were especially outraged when Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was made a bishop of the American church in 2004.

Bishop Duncan said with yesterday's decision it has become clear that the American and Canadian national churches have become "rogue provinces" that only represent a fragment of global Anglicanism. For that reason, he said, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will have no choice but to recognize the new entity or risk his office becoming irrelevant.

"Either he will go with the tide or it will be the end of his historic office. He will cease to be the first among equals."

The new jurisdiction will be officially launched at a meeting in Texas in June and will be headquartered in Pittsburgh. It will have 100,000 members and about 700 parishes. It will also be the first time in the Church's 500-year history that a jurisdiction will be based on theology and not national borders.

Read it all here.

In their statement, the Anglican Bishops wrote: "It is our aim to ensure that the unity of the Anglican Communion is centered on Biblical teaching rather than mere institutional loyalty. It is essential to provide a way in which faithful Anglicans, many of whom are suffering much loss, can remain as Anglicans within the Communion while distancing themselves from false teaching. "

Read the full statement here.

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