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Conservative Anglicans say they do not expect their new North American church to receive official approval from Anglican archbishops who will convene next week (Feb. 1-5) in Alexandria, Egypt.
“We do expect that our situation will be discussed,” said the Rev.
Peter Frank, a spokesman for the newly established Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). “At the same time, it would be very surprising if there was some kind of quick, game-changing action.”
After years of disagreeing with the liberal majorities in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, conservatives broke off and formed a rival church last December. Conservatives hope the fledgling province will ultimately be recognized as the official Anglican franchise in North America.
Before the new province can assume full membership in the communion, it will need approval from both the Anglican Consultative Council and two-thirds of the world’s 38 Anglican primates, or leading archbishops.
Conservatives say they must be patient with the slow pace of change in the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members and is the world’s third-largest body of churches.
“When it comes to the international situation and politics in the Anglican Communion, we’re realistic about the speed in which things move,” said Frank.
To date, only five primates, most from Africa, where Anglicans lean conservative on sexual issues, have publicly sanctioned the new North American church.
Bishop Martyn Minns, a leader in ACNA, said he expects more primates to approve the rival church after it has ratified its constitution in June. “They’re going to wait until we’re up and running,” he said.
Jim Naughton, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said: “I don’t think there’s any chance of two-thirds of the primates expressing desire to legitimize this thing in any capacity.”
Earlier this month, Welsh Archbishop Barry Morgan told Virginia Episcopalians that he would oppose the new province “with every fiber of my being.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who is spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, has asked the heads of five provinces, including the U.S. and Canada, to give presentations at the upcoming meeting in Egypt on how the current conflict over homosexuality and the Bible has impacted their churches.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said his message will be that “there’s more to the Canadian church than discussions about sexuality; that mission is front and center,”
according to the Anglican Journal.
The office of Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori could not provide immediate comment.
At last year’s meeting in Tanzania, the primates pushed the U.S. and Canadian churches to pledge not to authorize public rites for same-sex blessings and to ban gays and lesbians from becoming bishops.
Both North American churches promised to enact moratoria on the gay issues, but blessings for gay unions continue in some dioceses within both provinces. Tension among Anglicans has steadily boiled since the
2003 consecration of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire.
By Daniel Burke
Religion News Service
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