Last week more than 800 men and women gathered in Bedford, Texas, to elect an archbishop and ratify a constitution for the ACNA, a new alliance for churches that have left the Episcopal Church. Led by Robert Duncan, bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the ACNA comprises more than 700 theologically conservative churches with about 70,000 parishioners.
There were many central theological beliefs that last week’s attendees could agree on in their constitution and canon laws, including the full inspiration of the Bible, the centrality of baptism and Communion to church life, and the authority of the historic church creeds. But for the time being, ACNA leaders have not reached full agreement on female priests. At this time, each jurisdiction is free to decide whether or not to ordain women, but jurisdictions cannot force others to either accept women’s ordination or to stop practicing it. Women bishops are forbidden.
“For those who believe the ordination of women to be a grave error, and for those who believe it scripturally justifiable . . . we should be in mission together until God sorts us out,” said Duncan in last week’s opening address. “It is not perfect, but it is enough.”