Departing Anglicans plan their own province

Various groups that have left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada since 1873 are planning to form their own province that would cover the United States and Canada.

The Living Church reports that the leadership of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) has scheduled a constitutional convention on December 3, 2009 to form the proposed province. After that the organizers will visit each province and lobby for recognition as a member of the Anglican Communion.

Mark Harris writes about what he calls “the New Improved GAFCON Province in North America” or NIGPNA:

Right now the four groups that have left The Episcopal Church in San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth and have formed as Dioceses in the Province of the Souther Cone are appendages to the Province of the Southern Cone. Any two of these groups has more members than all of the Province of the Southern Cone put together. It is only temporary, for which the PSC ought to give thanks. They claim they are only part of the PSC until a new improved GAFCON Province of North America NIGPNA can be formed.

Of course this may not be all that good as good news. When they form NIGPNA they will cease to be part of the Anglican Communion, having lost their already tenuous connection through membership in PSC. But it appears they don’t really care. GAFCON is the wave they are catching, not the Anglican Communion.

The PSC expanded involves the dioceses already in the Southern Cone plus the 4 formed by people having left TEC.

No doubt Moderator Duncan will be the primate-like persons for this GAFCON invention. NIGPNA will, one assumes, cover all of North America where TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) is or has been the jurisdiction….

…No matter the fine words from CCP and most recently Quincy and Fort Worth about compassion and brotherly love for those who have not joined them: The object of the exercise is to form a new Anglican entity in North America that stands over against the ACoC and TEC which are viewed by the groups making up this new “Province” as heretical and apostate. This new entity, called by them a Province, will not be in communion with TEC or ACoC. At least some parts of this new entity will believe that the women in ordained ministry in TEC or ACoC are simply lay ministers in clergy dress. Most will believe that TEC and ACoC are wrong about the way these churches deal with the issue of marriage after divorce, abortion, and certainly the possible full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in the life of the church (remembering that neither church has completely made its peace with the issues here.)….

The new improved GAFCON Province of North America purports to be closer to the true Anglican ideals and corrective of the awful TEC and ACoC. But come the first week in December I believe we will be dealing at last with the great effort to change the nature of leadership in the Communion. This is the hard right of the Global South flexing its muscle, testing its strength. The rest of the Communion in the Global South and elsewhere will have to decide if the flexing is to be challenged.

Of course, given that all the churches (Provinces) of the Anglican Communion are autonomous, it hardly needs to be said that all such power is assumed and an illusion. TEC and ACoC will go about being who we are quite independently of the NIGPNA or any other church with which we are not in communion.

The formation of this new denomination (or federation of denominations) is not unexpected. Several of the groups that make up the Common Cause Partnership identify themselves as some kind of denominational lifeboats for the theologically conservative and openly hope for the creation of a province that will replace the TEC and ACoC as the Anglican franchise in North America.

What will bear watching will be the results of their global lobbying among the Primates, especially the moderate CAPA primates, in advance of the next Primates meeting. They hope that should enough Primates support their effort that they will become de facto members of the Anglican Communion with or without the recognition of the ABC.

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