Epis­co­pal de­fec­tors ap­prove con­sti­tu­tion for new church

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY JU­LIA DUIN

BED­FORD, Texas | Sev­eral hun­dred for­mer Epis­co­palians, meet­ing in a school gym near the Dal­lasFort Worth air­port, rat­i­fied a con­sti­tu­tion June 22 for the fledg­ling Angli­can Church in North Amer­ica as a di­rect chal­lenge to the Epis­co­pal Church USA and the Angli­can Church of Canada.

About 800 peo­ple jumped to their feet and sang the Dox­ol­ogy, a hymn of praise, af­ter the ACNA’s new leader, Arch­bish­opdes­ig­nate Robert Dun­can, told the group that it had “done the work.”

“The Angli­can Prov­ince of North Amer­ica has been con­sti­tuted,” he said.

Six years af­ter the Epis­co­pal Church ap­proved the elec­tion of an openly gay man, V. Gene Robin­son, as the new bishop of New Hamp­shire, a large chunk of the con­ser­va­tives in the de­nom­i­na­tion are tak­ing fi­nal steps to form a 39th prov­ince of the world­wide Angli­can Com­mu­nion.

“There is no one here who would go back,” Bishop Dun­can said dur­ing a Com­mu­nion ser­vice. “Though the jour­ney took its toll, we know that we have been de­liv­ered, and have found that de­liv­er­ance very sweet, in­deed.”

Al­though Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury Rowan Wil­liams, the global head of the Angli­can Com­mu­nion, has not rec­og­nized the new prov­ince, he did send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Bishop Santosh Mar­ray, the re­tired bishop of the Sey­chelles. Nine of the world’s 38 Angli­can prov­inces sent of­fi­cial del­e­ga­tions.

“There is a great re­for­ma­tion of the Chris­tian church un­der way,” Bishop Dun­can said. “While much of main­line Protes­tantism is find­ing it­self adrift from its moor­ings [. . . ] there is an ev­er­grow­ing stream of North Ameri-

“There is a great re­for­ma­tion of the Chris­tian church un­der way,” the ACNA’s new leader, Arch­bishop-des­ig­nate Robert Dun­can, said. “While much of main­line Protes­tantism is find­ing it­self adrift from its moor­ings [. . . ] there is an ever-grow­ing stream of North Amer­i­can Protes­tantism that has re-em­braced Scrip­ture’s au­thor­ity.”

can Protes­tantism that has reem­braced Scrip­ture’s au­thor­ity.”

The new con­sti­tu­tion in­cluded a pre­am­ble, core doc­trines, found­ing mem­bers, the prov­ince struc­ture and fi­nances.

Whereas the Epis­co­pal Church’s elect­ing as­sem­bly, known as Gen­eral Con­ven­tion, meets ev­ery three years, the ACNA’s pro­vin­cial as­sem­bly will meet ev­ery five years. Its arch­bishop will have a five-year term, much shorter than the nine-year term held by the Epis­co­pal Church’s pre­sid­ing bishop.

The ACNA will also al­low each con­gre­ga­tion to own its prop­erty, in con­trast to the Epis­co­pal Church, which says the bishop of each dio­cese owns them. The Epis­co­pal Church has filed mul­ti­ple law­suits against dis­si­dent Epis­co­palians who plan to keep their churches’ prop­erty as they leave the de­nom­i­na­tion.

Del­e­gates broke into ap­plause af­ter they unan­i­mously ap­proved the ar­ti­cle in the con­sti­tu­tion ced­ing prop­erty to con­gre­ga­tions.

“I doubt there’ll be any [law]suits among us,” Bishop Dun­can joked.

Twelve per­cent of the 228 del­e­gates are from the North­ern Vir­ginia-based Con­vo­ca­tion of Angli­cans in North Amer­ica (CANA), one of 28 dio­ce­ses or groups that will be part of the new 100,000-mem­ber prov­ince. CANA claims 9,695 mem­bers, the bulk of them in Vir­ginia.

Many of them were mem­bers of 11 churches that left the Epis­co­pal Dio­cese of Vir­ginia in late 2006 and early 2007. Hugo Blank­ing­ship, the new chan­cel­lor for the ACNA, is the for­mer chan­cel­lor for the Vir­ginia Dio­cese and a Fair­fax lawyer who be­longs to the Falls Church, the largest of the 11 con­gre­ga­tions.

“I think there is a good spirit of unity here,” he said.

Bishop John-David Schofield, who led 90 per­cent of the Epis- co­pal Dio­cese of San Joaquin, Calif., out of the de­nom­i­na­tion, said he was “thrilled” with the gath­er­ing.

“This rep­re­sents more than 20 years of work and sac­ri­fice,” he said. “It’s good to be part of a House of Bish­ops where there’s love, co­op­er­a­tion and a de­sire to sup­port each other.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The time is now: Bishop Rober t Dun­can is set to lead the Angli­can Prov­ince of Nor th Amer­ica, which is be­ing formed in re­sponse to, among other moves, the or­di­na­tion of a gay Epis­co­pal bishop.

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