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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Balkinization? It's the new Anglican math!

(See why it can give you a headache?)

Jacksonville (Fla.) Times-UnionJan. 20, 2007

Anglicans raise questions of unity
The Times-Union

The Anglican conference concluding today in Jacksonville was described as Christian unity in action.

About 1,300 to 1,600 participants of the Anglican Mission in America conference shared a zeal for spreading the gospel and a repulsion from the Episcopal Church's growing acceptance of openly gay clergy and same-sex blessings.

But between workshops on topics like church planting and creating effective children's ministries, the buzz among vendors' tables and coffee kiosks often centered on where the whole Anglican experiment in America is headed.

With about a dozen national organizations representing Anglicans who have quit the Episcopal Church, plus nearly as many foreign bishops overseeing parishes in the U.S., many worry the movement is becoming irreparably fragmented.

"It's all part of the balkanization of the Episcopal Church," said David Virtue of, an Internet-based Anglican news and commentary site that boasts 4 million readers.

Theologically conservative Episcopalians left the denomination after 2003 when an openly gay priest was elected the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire. In doing so, they sought oversight from like-minded Anglican bishops in places like Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.

On the First Coast [sic], former Episcopalians from more than a dozen congregations have accepted oversight from bishops in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Brazil.

Meanwhile, at least 10 national Anglican organizations have been formed, including the Anglican Communion Network, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Province of America and the Anglican Mission in America.

Some fear the longer congregations are led by different foreign dioceses, the harder it will eventually become to draw them together under a common banner.

Anglican parishes are stuck in a "survival mode" as long as that fragmented state exists, said the Rev. Jim McCaslin, a priest who led All Souls in Mandarin out of the Episcopal Church and into a Ugandan diocese in 2006. The church also is one of about 20 in the Anglican Alliance of North Florida, and McCaslin is the leader of Anglican Communion Network congregations in the region.

It is crucial that the communion's world leaders create a new hierarchical structure for Anglicans in the U.S. and Canada - hopefully during their triennial meeting next month in Tanzania, McCaslin said.

"If they don't, that leaves you with a fractured church with unity in the gospel but no structural unity," he said.

Such a new organization could exist beside the Episcopal Church within the Anglican Communion, Virtue and some priests at the convention said.

But some of the overseas archbishops attending the Jacksonville conference hinted that Anglicans in America may have to adjust their expectations.

"To me, structure is the wrong way, the wrong direction," Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, founder of the Anglican Mission in America, told the Times-Union.

Kolini said he believes an important kind of unity already exists - that which unites Christians from different denominations in fighting problems such as AIDS.

The Rev. Sam Pascoe, rector of the Kolini-led Grace Anglican Church in Orange Park, said a new denomination is necessary eventually.

Otherwise "it's just complete disintegration and everyone goes their own way and you end up with hundreds of different jurisdictions," Pascoe said.

1 comment:

Jim Trigg said...

Huh. They couldn't even figure out that some of them dated from Women's Ordination and some from the '79 Prayer Book.