Monday, November 17, 2008

Exciting New Developments in the Anglican Church

It's been quite awhile since I've posted on developments in the Anglican church. The last thing I mentioned was GAFCON (the Global Anglicans Future Conference) in Jerusalem back in June. One of the highlights of that meeting was the promise to create a new province for Anglicans in North America who do not wish to be part of TEC (The Episcopal Church) on the grounds that TEC leaders no longer view Scripture as the ultimate authority (which is why they can ordain practicing homosexuals as priests and bishops). We've had lots of mini-networks springing up to accomodate, including the organization we're part of, AMIA (the Anglican Mission in America). But this new province would encompass all the mini-networks and make them one unified structure.

Well, the new province is going to be born in just 2 weeks, on December 3, in Wheaton, IL! The video announcement is here, and Rez friends must go watch if only to see our goateed "Connections and College Pastor" and our beloved Deacon Anne B. both in the foreground of the two bishops who speak.

The gist of the announcement is that there will be a worship service in which the announcement of the new Anglican province will be made, its constitution will be ratified, and all Anglicans present will be invited to sign the Jerusalem Declaration. (And we'll be there!)

One comment was made which I'd like to share with my readers:

As a proud Wheaton grad, it is thrilling to know that this historic event is happening there in Wheaton, presumably at Wheaton College’s Edman Chapel (which seats about 2,000). I’d LOVE to be there, but at least I can experience it vicariously (in a sense) as both of my children live in the Wheaton area and will surely be there.

I find the symbolism of holding this exciting event at the alma mater of Billy Graham and the premier evangelical college in America quite remarkable. Who could have imagined such a thing even five years ago? And in +Frank Griswold’s backyard too.

Sadly, the Diocese of Chicago is one of the most rabidly relativist dioceses in the country. There are already a handful of new Anglican churches in the Wheaton area, with big Church of the Resurrection drawing an ASA of over 700.

Keep watching what happens there among the western suburbs of Chicago; it’s one of the bright spots for the New Reformation. Thanks be to God.

David Handy+
B.A., Wheaton 1977

I know this man's son and daughter, so that's kind of cool, and we're both Wheaton alumni, so that's fun too--but the real reason I post this quote is that last line about "what's happening there in the western suburbs." See, Light of Christ is part of what's happening, even though we're just over the state line! Both our mother churches are in that handful of Anglican churches he mentions (though Rez isn't that "new"). There IS a "New Reformation" going on in the Anglican church, and it's exciting to be part of it!

Now, the establishment of this new province or "new Anglican church," as Bishop Murdoch of Kenya called it, raises questions of authority and communion in some minds. Will the Archbishop of Canterbury recognize it, or not? Does it matter? (The ABC is not the Anglican pope; he is "first among equals," and other archbishops will be in communion with the new province, whether Canterbury is or not.)

Well, our new friend Phil (a student at Nashotah House, whom I mentioned here), fielding a different question, wrote this recently, which I found helpful:

If you are in communion with such a catholic bishop, then you are in communion with the catholic church - granted, in attenuated, weakened, broken form (due to our grievous divisions), but for all that nevertheless the reality of the one Church which is Christ's body, and no less his body for the fact of its being broken. You may be in TEC, you may be outside of it. I don't actually care anymore either way about that: you see, if I'm right about the episcopal-ecclesiology, if the church is 'flat,' then in the most important sense TEC doesn't actually exist. Of course there are buildings, a presiding bishop, a website, etc, but none of these things have any reality spiritually. What is real is the body of Christ: and I believe that an essential gift which God has given to the church to ensure its unity and continuity is the catholic bishop. If you are with the bishop, then you are with the church [to paraphrase Ignatius].

Think for a minute about the fourth century. St Athanasius was exiled FIVE TIMES by arian bishops and emperors. That doesn't cease to amaze me. Now, do we really believe that an arian heretic had the spiritual authority to depose Athanasius? I don't think so. I think that Athanasius remained a bishop in the catholic church, whatever Constantius II or Auxentius or anyone else said about him or did to him. You can draw the parallel easily to today. Is Bishop Duncan any less a bishop in the catholic church today, than he was 8 days ago? My answer to the question is as simple as the answer to the question regarding Athanasius. Both alike are confessors of the catholic faith.

You can read the rest of his well-reasoned thoughts in their entirety here.

Bishop Duncan, addressing the question head-on, says:

The way in which the Jerusalem conference did things, it didn’t separate itself from the communion, it said, in the Jerusalem Declaration, what the heart of the communion believes, and all of us believe this going forward together. It didn’t say that it separated itself from any existing structures, but it did say that the structures of the communion were colonial structures, and we’re now a global communion – we’re not separating, but new things are emerging, new ways to do business.

One final, barely related note....

Since GAFCON, one of its key logistical organizers and his family has moved to Kenosha and they have been attending Light of Christ for a couple months now. They have three children, including one more teenager to add to our own three--yippee! growth in the youth group!--and they have been such a blessing to us already.

Just one more good thing to come out of GAFCON!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jeanne,

Some of the AMiA folks are scheduled to give a presentation at my seminary ( www.mhgs.edu )about their west coast church planting initiative. I am going to try and catch some of the presentation.

Jen in Seattle

Donna Boucher said...

Hi Jeanne!!!
Just stopping by this morning to say 'hi' and what a delight to meet you in person last night!

Such a great surprise!

Jill think we are all very modern....we bloggers :o)

Have a great week!

Love
Donna

TwoSquareMeals said...

I don't have time to read this now, but I look forward to looking into it. Though we have been part of AMIA churches for six years, I still have questions about the whole movement (not their theology, just the methodology and the fractures that are growing). I just wanted to mention that we, too, know Phil and Lisa! They went to our church here in NC before they moved up North! AMIA is a small world.

Momma Smith said...

WAHOOO!
I'm thrilled to hear that! I had been wondering what was happening with the Anglican Communion and GAFCON, but haven't heard anything yet. How exciting! I wish we could be in Wheaton with all of you worshipping and rejoicing. Amazing isn't it? All that Rez and other Anglican churches have been thru and here we are... arriving at a wonderful place! Take lots of pictures if you think of it! Can't wait to read your report.

Amy said...

I'll be in Wheaton for Mass - perhaps we will finally meet!

Jessica said...

Wow, how exciting that you get to be there!

I hope once the province is in existance, that my parish will join up, though I think the prospect is bleak for us . . . God willing, though, we can get there!