Read it all (24 page pdf).
Spark notes version?
I liked the emphasis on
* Radical inclusion
* Profound Transformation
* Inspired Service
A very upbeat report. CANA does indeed have much to celebrate, including quite remarkable growth: 15 new congregations and 30 new clergy recieved in the last year (bringing CANA’s total up to 85 congregations and 179 clergy), and a stunning 17 ordinations in addition.
But one of the things I appreciated most was hearing about the even more impressive, sustained growth of the Anglican Church in Nigeria. That amazingly dynamic province now has 22 million members, and I was astonished to discover that since Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in 2006, an unbelievable 65 other bishops have been ordained. Got that? 65 new bishops in only 3 years, over 20 a year! That’s phenomenal, explosive growth. Thanks be to God.
A question for you. Just before the Anaheim convention we – along with several other Pittsburgh churches – hosted the Archbishop Elect of the Congo, a charming and godly man who revealed something of the trials and tribulations of administering pastoral care as an African bishop, not least the necessity of mass confirmation ceremonies from sun-up to sun-down. A quick look at the Anglican Church of Nigeria website suggests that each bishop with jurisdiction is responsible for between 200,000 and 250,000 believers.
Taking the listing of episcopal delegates to Bedford, it would seem that there are at least 25 bishops with jurisdiction for 100,000 believers. Even allowing the latter figure to be an underestimate, it seems clear that in Nigeria – with far poorer means of communication – ACNA would probably have one bishop plus a suffragan.
Now obviously there are a number of affiliates to ACNA (like the REC) that have had an episcopal order for years, but the need for all the recent consecrations would seem to have been minimal had a Global South paradigm been adopted. Worse, it makes all the criticisms of TEC for maintaining thinly populated dioceses seem hypocritical. Would not a more reasonable stance be: “Double your numbers in the next decade and then we’ll talk about more bishops!”
And perhaps they’ll manage it too.
[url=http://catholicandreformed.blogspot.com]Catholic and Reformed[/url]
Well, yes, Jeremy, it does seem rather odd that there’s been such a rush to consecrate lots of bishops for the ACNA. But we should keep in mind several factors in assessing that anomalous situation.
First, I suspect that the Africans would ordain a lot more bishops if they could really afford them, but they can’t. They don’t have nearly enough priests as it is.
Just to give one example. My church in Richmond, Eternity Anglican, was affiliated with Uganda before the ACNA launch in June. Specifically, we were under the pastoral oversight of Bp. Evans Kisseka of the Diocese of Luwero, which seems to be fairly typical in size as far as Uganda dioceses go. I’m not sure what the ASA oif Luwero Diocese is, but it had 634 congregations the last I knew (maybe even more now), and yet +Kisseka has only some 52 priests to serve those over 600 churches. Most are served mainly by lay catechists. So there is a severe shortage of clergy,
Second, The Nigerians in particular have pioneered the concept of missionary bishops with remarkable success, sending them out almost alone to be the spearhead of advances into genuinely new territory. I think that may be how they see these new CANA (and AMiA) bishops.
For example, take the three new AMiA bishops. They are explicitly designated for starting new work in the western half of North America (launching whole new church planting networks). And it should be noted that the three men (including Todd Hunter, who has been a priest only about a year, but who was John Wimber’s successor as the leader of the Vineyard movement in the US after Wimber’s tragically early death from cancer) were elected by the HoB in Rwanda, not in America. That suggests that the Africans may not be opposed to much smaller dioceses in principle, and that the chief reason why so many African dioceses are so large is mostly economic. At least that’s my guess.
As a historian, Jeremy, I’m sure you’re aware that in the early centuries, dioceses weren’t nearly as large as we are used to seeing. In the patristic era, there were bishops in almost every large city, and even some small ones (e.g. Gregory of Nyssa’s see was teeny tiny). Even to this day, in Italy the dioceses are quite small.
So the multiplication of bishops for the ACNA isn’t necessarily due to the infamous “purple fever.” I think the jury is still out on whether this experiment is going to wrok or not. I’m willing to wait and see. But I understand your concern. The Continuing Churches certainly fell into the trap of multiplying bishops without justification. But I don’t think we should simply assume that the same unhealthy dynamics are at work in the ACNA.
It’s always useful to have an inside view. Certainly a diocese of 200,000 is not a good situation for any bishop and, as I mentioned above, some of ACNA’s bishops were inherited rather than created. As you say, the proof of the ecclesiastical pudding will be very much in the eating.
The reason Anaheim seemed so empty was because the Holy Spirit was not there.
If you mean the promptings of the Holy Spirit were not apprehended by the majority at Anaheim, then please say so. It’s so easy to turn your statement against the Communion Partner bishops, the South Carolina, Albany, Central Florida and even the Pittsburgh Episcopal delegations. It’s not down to us to limit the Holy Spirit’s sphere in that manner.