Good news for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA); bad news for the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) and its sister ecclesial community The Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC). The picture above shows Bishop Charlie Masters from the Canadian arm of ACNA (in purple cassock second from the left) and Canon Jack Lumanog, Canon to the Archbishop and Primate of the ACNA on the far left. They’re shown with Canadian Catholic bishops at the 2017 National March for Life. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa; Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, and Archbishop Brendan O’Brien (now emeritus) of Kingston.
ACNA is made up of former bishops, priests and lay members of the ACoC and the TEC. It’s a relatively new Continuing Anglican body that broke with the ACoC and TEC over changes in moral issues regarding human sexuality and marriage. ACNA deems these changes inconsistent with Holy Scripture.
While there are some Anglo-Catholics among ACNA members, most seem to be from the evangelical and charismatic stream of the Anglican Communion. My experience of them is of a warm, inviting and attractive group of Christians.
Several years ago I covered the synod of the Canadian arm of ACNA called the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) for Catholic papers; every year one or two of their bishops come to Parliament Hill in May in their purple cassocks for the March for Life (see above) and a while back Christopher Mahon and I attended, as representatives of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society, the installation of Canon Brent Stiller as rector of St. Peter and St. Paul’s in Ottawa, an ANiC parish in the heart of downtown.
Now for the good news and the bad news.
More information has emerged from a recent study revealing the Anglican Church of Canada would shrink out of existence by the year 2040 if current trends continue. The study was recently presented to the recent meeting of the Canadian House of Bishops.
According to Jeffrey Walton at the Juicy Ecumenism blog:
New attendance figures are striking: in 2017, the Anglican Church of Canada had an average Sunday attendance of 97,421. For context, the Anglican Church in North America (which partly overlaps geographically with the ACoC) reported an average Sunday attendance of 93,489 this past year. The ACNA through its Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) diocese and The Reformed Episcopal Church’s Canadian convocations now has congregations in every Canadian province with the exception of Prince Edward Island.
Obviously this comes with a major caveat: the ACNA also has congregations in the United States and Mexico, which the ACoC does not. In order to offer an “apples to apples” comparison, we can add the Average Sunday Attendance of the ACoC to the same for the Episcopal Church in 2017 (553,927) for a total attendance of 651,348 between the two neighboring churches. The ACNA’s 93,489 figure is about 15 percent the size of the combined ACoC and TEC attendance figure, but a consistent trajectory is visible: the two liberal Anglican provinces are consistently declining, while the ACNA has for its first 10 years reported consistent growth.
Walton gives a hat tip to David Jenkins at Anglican Samizdat who broke the story, who reveals the news is even worse for The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States.
The Anglican Church of Canada is declining faster than any other Province other than TEC, which has an even greater rate of decline.
The slowest decline is in the number of priests.
Interesting. I’m glad ACNA is flourishing. I wish they would consider the Catholic Church, but right now most of them do not share the same ecclesiology or sacramental theology. There are women priests in ACNA, though some division within about whether this is a good idea or not. I hope we in the ordinariates can maintain good relationships with ACNA, ANiC and other Anglican bodies who strive for deeper conversion in Christ.