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The Situation in the Anglican Churches in America and the Primate Crisis

As many of you know, I have trotted down the Canterbury trail into the Anglican fold since my time at Westminster.  By and large, that move had more to do with my own theology and spirituality than with anything else.  But there is a tincture of irony in my departure from the conflict-ridden narrow (not to say ‘narrow-minded’) way of conservative Presbyterianism for the middle way of the Church of England.  Part of what drove me towards Anglicanism was the desire to get away from the ceaseless ecclesiastical cannibalism of Machen’s Warrior Children.  But it seems I have leaped out of the frying pan into the fire so far as that goes.

This week a series of meetings have been taking place in Raleigh under the banner of “Moving Forward Together: A Sacred Assembly.”  You can read about it here.  Basically, since Bishop Chuck Murphy decided to break with the Archbishop of Rwanda and go rogue with the Anglican Mission in America, a number of local AMiA churches have been looking for a less schismatic way of moving forward.  Please pray for cool heads and warm hearts to prevail as all of this gets sorted out.  Generally, I am encouraged by what I’ve heard about the “Moving Forward Together” meetings and am pretty excited to see what God may be up to.

But, of course, these are not the only challenges facing the Anglican communion at present.  The following video with David Attenborough handily summarizes some of the more recent difficulties concerning the ordination of women bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s leadership, and the Vatican’s opening the church doors to disgruntled Anglican clergy:

Hope that helps.



2 thoughts on “The Situation in the Anglican Churches in America and the Primate Crisis

  1. I don’t know much about the Anglican controversy that has been unfolding over the past few months, but as a Presbyterian who is very accustomed to the reality of conflict in our circles, I do have a few theories as to why the Anglican church is going through this. First of all, I think any denomination with a robust ecclesiology will face heavy conflict. Those denominations with very weak ecclesiastical ties, will simply choose to leave and have greater freedom to do so. Baptists typically fall into this category. Rather than fight, they have a tendency to simply flee, which is a downfall of the congregational/non-connectional form of polity. So, the healthiest denominations are often the ones who really do stay and fight. Second, I think the Anglican crisis is very much connected to the relative youth of the AMiA. As an outsider looking in, for having such strong ties to the historical faith of the Anglican church, the ecclesiology is actually not very well defined on the local church level. This is a function of being a young denomination. I think all young denominations go through growing pains. The PCA (which I’m part of) has certainly had it’s fair share. Thirdly, I do wonder if this exposes a weakness of the form of government of the AMiA, being the episcopal form of government in which there is one man is leads a particular church/group of churches. As a presbyterian, I am both biased in favor of my own church polity and less than knowledgeable on the polity of others, but I could at least see how conflict in the episcopal form of government can be more difficult to resolve because it becomes very personal and individual. I have seen tremendous benefit in my context of having a plurality of leadership, which has served as a great safeguard for us. I wonder if the anglican form of government has the potential for conflicts like this to escalate too quickly, become very personal more easily, and become resolved less easily. I have a number of friends in the Anglican church and this is probably one of the big debates among us in regards to the ecclesiastical structure and how it plays out practically in the church.

    Posted by Lindsey Williams | January 22, 2012, 2:17 am

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NCSU Graduate Christian Fellowship

Hi! I'm David, the campus minister for InterVarsity's graduate and faculty ministries at NC State and Meredith College. I hope you'll join me as I learn to "practice resurrection" in the City of Oaks, in her universities, and in the wider world. You can contact me at dmwilliams83@gmail.com

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