The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) expects to receive at least five, and perhaps as many as eight, applications for official recognition as a diocese when it meets for its first provincial assembly in June.
A letter sent in January by the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan to members of the Common Cause Partnership encouraged the formation of dioceses.
“Consistent with all Anglican practice, congregations are a part of an Anglican province because they are part of a diocese, which in turn, is part of a group of dioceses banded together as a national (or international) church,” Bishop Duncan wrote. “This principle is critical to understanding the provisional constitution of the [ACNA], and to the steps we all need to take as we move toward our first provincial assembly.”
Bishop Duncan is Archbishop-designate of the ACNA and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that is now under the auspices of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. The Rev. J. Philip Ashey, chief operating officer and chaplain for the American Anglican Council, told The Living Church that Pittsburgh is one of the five applications for recognition as an ACNA diocese that have already been received. The deadline for applications is April 15.
Earlier this month, the Rt. Rev. John H. Chapman, Bishop of Ottawa in the Anglican Church of Canada, said he would authorize a congregation under his oversight to begin performing same-sex blessings in part because “while our church struggles to honor the call for gracious restraint in blessing same-sex unions, those who are proponents of cross-border interventions have and continue to show no restraint.”
That view was echoed this week during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat by Bishop Dan Edwards of Nevada. Bishop Edwards posted a blog entry noting that a number of bishops are considering the repeal of Resolution B033 because of what they perceive as a lack of reciprocal restraint by the ACNA.
Fr. Ashey countered that it is unrealistic to expect the ACNA to postpone its efforts to organize while same-sex blessings continue to occur unofficially in a number of dioceses in both the U.S. and Canadian churches.
“[Ottawa and Nevada] have already made their decisions and are now looking for an excuse to implement them,” he said. “We have responded to the invitation from the GAFCON primates to form an orthodox Anglican province in the Americas.”
The ACNA has been welcomed “in abiding and full communion” by the standing committee of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. The March 20 announcement also noted that the standing committee recommended that the Church of Nigeria send a delegation to the provincial assembly in Bedford “to demonstrate our enduring partnership in the gospel.”