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How big is the AAC and the Network?

The Living Church has just published an article by Joan Gundersen who is an officer of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. Neither of these organisations has the article on their own website, but it does appear on the website of Via Media Dallas: The Center Still Holds.

This article, which was written in July 2004 but only published in January 2005, contains some statistics on the membership of NACDAP and the AAC, which are now of course partially out of date. I have therefore corrected them below where I can, and added emphasis. Further corrections welcomed.

Of the 100 dioceses within the United States, so far only nine ten have joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. Of more than 7,300 parishes in the Episcopal Church, only 4 percent are affiliated with the American Anglican Council (AAC), and one-third of those are in the nine network dioceses. Roughly one-third of the dioceses of the church have no AAC affiliates.

Although there is no public listing of individual parishes affiliated with the network, apparently only about 70 have done so. For example, in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, home of network moderator Bishop Robert W. Duncan, approximately 27 percent of diocesan communicants belong to parishes that have officially repudiated the network. Groups supporting tolerance of diversity have arisen in 12 dioceses [11 of which have] with strong AAC presences, and these groups have formed a national alliance called Via Media USA to preserve the traditional Episcopal openness to different perspectives and scriptural interpretations.

Separately the Network has this week published a letter from Bishop Robert Duncan which says:

Six convocational deans – serving the vast areas of our country (including some 200 congregations and 300 clergy) that are in non-Network dioceses – have devoted much of their energies to what has become the creative engine of the Anglican Communion Network.

The apparent discrepancy between these two reports in the number of congregations in non-Network dioceses is noticeable, and cannot be entirely explained by the delay in publication, especially since one more diocese has joined the network since July, reducing the number of congregations outside Network dioceses. Another factor might possibly be the inclusion of some non-ECUSA congregations and/or clergy in Bp Duncan’s figures, but in any case it remains an extremely small proportion of ECUSA. At least 80 of the 200 claimed congregations would be in the FiF Convocation. (Thanks to Dr Gundersen for her additional research.)

What is frustrating is the lack of information on the Network website. Not even the number of Network dioceses is correctly given, let alone a list by name of these dioceses, published for all to see. The AAC website is no better at publishing its membership statistics.

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J. C. FisherAlan HarrisonSimeonDavid HuffKaren B. Recent comment authors
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David Huff
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David Huff

Simon, Thanks for the link to our website. I don’t expect a “Slashdot effect,”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot_effect but I bet our hit rate will go up anyway 😉 Your readers might also be interested in some of the other articles and essays we have, both on the site and linked from it. Dr. Gundersen herself, along with Christopher Wilkins of Via Media USA, have a thorough analysis of the theological statement of the “Network” entitled *An “Un-Anglican” Statement* avail as a link from our site to http://geocities.com/pephomepage/html/CC-0001.pdf (which is on the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh site). It’s a PDF file, so Adobe Acrobat… Read more »

Michael Povey
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Michael Povey

“Bob Pittsburgh” eh?

Humbly and faithfully in Christ,
+Bob Pittsburgh
Moderator, Anglican Communion Network
Bishop of Pittsburgh

Ian Montgomery
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Ian Montgomery

I write as a priest who is part of the Network but who has not asked his congregation to affiliate. I have in fact suggested waiting. We have spoken often within the congragation and do not believe that such affiliation is necessary until the fault lines — if such become apparent — make it necesary to make such choices. Our congregation has now over 65% of its giving redirected away from New York. This follows diocesan guidelines that make this a personal choice not one to be made either by clergy or vestry. Some congregations have seen this percentage be… Read more »

Karen B.
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Karen B.

Simon, in the interest of accuracy, I think it would be fairer to say that Via Media groups have formed in 11 dioceses with strong AAC presence. (There are 2 chapters in the diocese of Albany.) (There is a mention on the national Via Media site to some group forming in Rhode Island, but I hardly think that diocese can be said to be an AAC-base.) http://www.viamediausa.org/links.html Of interest perhaps is that two of the Via Media groups have formed in dioceses that are not a part of the Network (Tennessee and SW FL). Two Network diocese of Quincy does… Read more »

David Huff
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David Huff

While Quincy doesn’t have a formal Via Media group, at least that I’m aware of, there is one “right next door” in the Diocese of Springfield. I’ll also add the group named “E-Way” in San Diego to your list of such groups in non-Network dioceses. At their recent convention, the folks in San Diego were also able to elect a bishop who seems dedicated to reconciliation – so I suspect the “Network” lost quite a bit of traction there. And speaking of losing traction, the new bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of the Rio Grande (a NACDAP diocese, I believe),… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
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KarenB, you do understand that Via Media gatherings (or those of us who just support their work from afar: the comfort and safety of dioceses that stand w/ the ’03 GC democratic majority) *ALSO* believe themselves to be “orthodox Episcopalians/ Anglicans”? (And that *God alone* can declare who is orthodox, and who isn’t?)

Simeon
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I’ll second JCF on this one. I am *not* ready to accede the use of “orthodox” to the AAC crowd. Since their “Plano East” conference was mentioned above, I’ll add that I’m also quite weary of my city’s name being associated with them and their exclusivist, schismatic agenda. I attended the big, AAC mega-church in Plano for over a year and can report quite reliably that there is nothing “orthodox” about the happy-clappy, Anglo-Baptist, Episcopal “lite” liturgy, nor the smug, self-satisfied socio-political conservatism of the majority of the congregation. If they are the future of Anglicanism in the U.S., then… Read more »

Alan Harrison
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Alan Harrison

JC Fisher refers to “the ‘03 GC democratic majority”. This seems suspiciously like an appeal to democracy (or at least a pseudo-congressional/parliamentary system) as an appropriate form of church governance. On what basis would he/she seek to justify that? Simeon uses the word “schismatic” to refer to theologically conservative members of ECUSA. Aren’t we all, following the events in the reign of Henry VIII, at least material schismatics? I don’t think that I would enjoy the “Anglo-Baptist” liturgy to which Simeon refers, and I would certainly not wish to be identified with the “socio-political conservatism” which does appear to go… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
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Alan, thank you for your question. I must admit, it strikes this Yank as rather incomprehensible on its face: whaddaya mean “justify democracy”? Isn’t it rather incumbent on any Christian who would *deny* democratic governance of the Church to do the justifying? As your boy Winston Churchill (our boy: WC having an American mum and all) said, *”Democracy is the worst form of governance . . . except for all the others.”* The feeling I sometimes get from democracy-bashers, is that *theocracy* can somehow be Divinely Imposed, by the “Mighty Arm of God” coming down from the sky. Hey, I’ll… Read more »

Alan Harrison
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Alan Harrison

JC Fisher wrote: “Alan, thank you for your question. I must admit, it strikes this Yank as rather incomprehensible on its face: whaddaya mean “justify democracy”? Isn’t it rather incumbent on any Christian who would deny democratic governance of the Church to do the justifying?” I think the problem lies with seeking to resolve theological issues in a revealed religion by quasi-parliamentary procedures such as those of General Convention or General Synod. At the minor end of the scale, this can lead to some of the bizarre interventions of amateur liturgists which we see in the House of Laity of… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
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*”Antics”?* I thought you desired a genuine dialogue, Alan: my mistake. [“Henry VIII repudiated the authority of the Pope and arrogated to himself the title of “Supreme Head” of the Church of England.” Yes, there was a realignment of local church governance. The _Bishop of Rome_, via his excommunication, made it into a *schism* (then thoroughly compounded by atrocities on both sides). I don’t have to defend Henry, or his divorce, to see where a difference of political opinion (selfish on ALL sides) becomes a *division of the Body of Christ* by Papal _fiat_. We have plenty to repent of… Read more »