Since its founding in 2004, the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) has worked for renewal within the Episcopal Church. Now it is focused on getting conservatives out and keeping them united.
At a July meeting in London with members of the Global South steering committee, Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of ACN, said he and three other American bishops were asked whether they believed the Episcopal Church (TEC) could be turned back toward orthodoxy. "All of us registered our assessment that the answer to that question was no," he said.
ACN represents 10 dioceses and an estimated 900 congregations, some within TEC and others that have already affiliated or emerged under new alliances or Anglican jurisdictions.
Ephraim Radner, a key leader in ACN, resigned in July over the shift. "My sense is, if you say you are working within the structures of TEC and the [global, 70 million-member] Anglican Communion, then you need to build the structures up, not work in the opposite direction," he said. "They've exported the seeds of division that exist in this country into the larger communion, so holding things together in the global communion has become more difficult."
Christopher Seitz, president of the Anglican Communion Institute, agrees. "Those of us who believe that Canterbury and the communion are precious gifts of God to the church and the world don't want to squander that just yet," he said. "The missionary success of the communion has relied on our instruments [of unity] for the proclamation of the gospel."
But where conservatives like Radner and Seitz see a tragic rift, other conservatives see realignment and reformation.
"The gospel has always been a global movement," said the Rev. Martyn Minns, who heads the Convocation of Anglicans ...1
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