June 18, 2013

Duncan on the State of ACNA

Archbishop Robert Duncan delivered his State of the Church address to the Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) today at Nashotah House. (You can read the address here on the ACNA Web site.) I don’t intend to analyze the entire speech, which was mostly not very interesting to Episcopalians, but a few items did catch my attention.

Under the heading of “Things to Celebrate,” we find this:
In a different way, as a GAFCON/GFCA Province we are full partners with a majority of the world’s Anglicans.  Twice a year I participate in the GAFCON/GFCA Primates Council.  An even larger constellation of Anglican Provinces – the so-called Global South – also always includes our leadership in their global gatherings.  The Church of England continues to follow-through on the General Synod motion of 2010, a follow-through that, I am convinced, will lead to the recognition of our orders within another year or so.  Recently I spent four and a half hours with the Archbishop of Canterbury, at his invitation.
Duncan loves to associate himself with his Global South friends, but those friends increasingly isolate themselves from the larger Anglican Communion, of which they are nominally members. It is not at all clear that ACNA friendships with the likes of Uganda and Nigeria will ingratiate ACNA with the mainstream Anglican Communion, which surely includes the Church of England.

The reference to the 2010 General Synod resolution of the Church of England is ironic. ACNA has interpreted the resolution as supportive. In its original form, it surely was. As amended and passed, however, it did little more than acknowledge that ACNA wanted into the Communion. (See the Guardian story here and Mark Harris’s post here.) It is hard to invest much credibility in Duncan’s prediction that the Church of England will recognize ACNA orders—whatever that means—“within another year or so.” Certainly, the Church of England has bigger issues to deal with, in any case.

More disturbing is the revelation that Duncan recently met with Justin Welby at his invitation for “four and a half hours.” What does the Archbishop of Canterbury think he’s doing? I certainly have no idea, but it is difficult not to see meeting with Duncan as a hostile act from an Episcopal Church perspective.

Under the heading “Final Questions and Exhortation,” Duncan noted that the breakaway South Carolina group led by Mark Lawrence was attending the ACNA meeting, as was the Jubilee Pentecostal Fellowship of Churches. Both of them were, apparently, considering aligning themselves with ACNA. The presence of the Mark Lawrence faction is hardly a surprise, of course. I have not been able to determine just what the “Jubilee Pentecostal Fellowship of Churches” is, but it certainly doesn’t sound very Anglican, however one chooses to define “Anglican.”

In his final paragraph, Duncan declares, “As it turned out, few of us got to take any gold or silver or copper.” Surely, this is disingenuous. Duncan and his minions tried to steal the entire Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh from The Episcopal Church. At least for the moment he has succeeded in “liberating” the diocesan office and much of the real and personal property that rightly belongs to The Episcopal Church. Perhaps other elements of ACNA have been less successful thieves.

Finally, I have to point out the peculiarity of an ACNA event taking place at what is nominally an Episcopal seminary. In fact, Nashotah House was hijacked by forces hostile to The Episcopal Church two decades ago, and the seminary’s board now includes Duncan and others whose antipathy to The Episcopal Church is well documented. Nashotah House has become the Anglo-Catholic analogue of the Evangelical Trinity School for Ministry, a sort of Trinity of the North. The Episcopal Church should repudiate both seminaries as Episcopal institutions and acknowledge that they have been instrumental in undermining, rather than supporting, The Episcopal Church.


  1. I forgot to mention that Duncan is on Nashotah House’s board, along with other figures that have been or are currently giving The Episcopal Church grief. Interestingly, I cannot find a list of current board members on the Web. This blog post offers a sampling of names.

  2. Was very pleased that in the obviously turbulent waters the Nashotah Board elected +Dan Martins its chair. That I would think is a strong indication of the continuing intention to support its mission:

    " Nashotah House is a seminary of the Episcopal Church whose mission is the preparation of men and women for ministries in the Catholic Tradition, including: the formation of priests for parish ministry, the continuing education of the clearly, and the education and training of persons for other forms of ministry, both lay and ordained."

    Tony Clavier was up at the House for a recent meeting, and he had some interesting reflections.


    Bruce Robison

  3. Bob Duncan, the deposed TEC bishop of Pittsburgh, runs off at the mouth with whatever ¨fillers¨ and make-shift-sounds of reality for his wonderland of a ¨a place to stand¨. His personal stand against community, fellowship, inclusivity and sisterly/brotherly love and reality in faith at the Anglican Communion. Duncan plays one against the other with a tedious illusions of the promised greatness of his more holy tribe. His mouth moves quicker than his eye to eye.

    Duncan promotes difference. Duncan promotes fear and hate and mumbles shallow words of faith and self-acceptance when and where he can. Actions and words that demean others at Church.

    We are constantly, because of Bob Duncan and his lot of excluders, viewing the kind of gossipy and ill-character that we are taught, every Sunday, to avoid in our personal lives! We are encouraged to move away from thievery, pride and deceit (self and other)...we are called to be vigilant regarding our self-accountability and everyday living-in-faith realities.

    Playing ¨pretend¨ decays body and soul at Church and beyond. Promoting difference at Church is the same as slandering fellow human beings and becoming accessories to the outcasting/murder of fellow Anglicans/others in places like Nigeria and Uganda.

    Defending and admiring those who generate harm to fellow Anglicans/others is irresponsible and dangerous.

    Dangerous and irresponsible words from wounded child-men on the run.

    No thanks. No sale. Reality just takes some getting used to.

  4. Good catch and commentary, Lionel. Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I would not be overly surprised if the Church of England did recognize ACNA's orders.

  5. The "Jubilee Pentecostal Fellowship of Churches” certainly sounds like it's in the Anglican tradition of "via media." (facepalm)

    You know, if Bob Duncan or Lionel Deimel or anyone else wants to start a new, more conservative church, I say, good for them. If you think TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada are misguided, then the marketplace of ideas should be able to support a new "alternative" form of Anglicanism.

    But saving souls should not be a zero-sum game. There is no reason that one person's effort to bring people closer to Christ should come at the expense of driving other people away from Christ.

    Jesus said, "And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town." He did not say, "Then stand outside the gates of that house or town and continue to throw mud."

    The ongoing effort by ACNA to sow discord and unhappiness, rather than simply getting on with its own practices and worship is harmful to the Body of Christ.

    Someday, we are all going to be called to account before the one great mediator. I would not like to have to explain why I spent so much time trying to drive people away.

  6. One hopes Welby raised the embarassment of Tory Baucam withdrawing from his friendship with Bishop Shannon Johnston shortly the two of them were on display at Welby's reconciliation conference. http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/anglican_communion/practical_donatism_in_northern.html

    1. Yes, that was a strange incident, wasn’t it?

    2. Bishop Johnston then topped Crossan by inviting Spong to preach during Holy Week including Good Friday's topic that New Testament people were just characters "as real as Harry Potter". To many conservatives Guernsey's request seems correct, perhaps prophetic predicting Johnston's path. People are judged by their friends and by the ideas they promote/preach. Jesus had no kind words for those who led others astray.
      Chris H.

  7. Someone who wanted to leave a comment and had trouble logging in with a Google account—have others experienced such a difficulty?—has apparently identified the “Jubilee Pentecostal Fellowship of Churches.” One can find pictures of Duncan with Jubilee folks here.

  8. It's great that +Martins was chosen chairman of the Nashotah board, but the presence of Bob Duncan and Keith Ackerman negates any illusion of Nashotah House being an Episcopal Church seminary.

    To reward a seat on the board to people who have openly conspired to steal Episcopal Church assets is unfathomable.

    1. Exactly...part of the non-stop trouble makers of TEC diocese of San Joaquin stirs more brew?

  9. On the Jubilee Fellowship site, I read ACNA "is a Province of the global Anglican Communion." No, not that Anglican Communion, the other one. If wishes were fishes...

    1. Well, so it does (here). Truthfulness is not ACNA’s strongest suit. The Jubilee folks are being sold a bill of goods.


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