Saturday, 14 July 2007

Network annual meeting and statistics

The American body named Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes also known as the Anglican Communion Network will hold its Annual Council Meeting on 30-31 July at St Matthew’s Cathedral in Bedford Texas, which is near Fort Worth. Here is the official announcement:

Over 80 representatives of the Anglican Communion Network will gather at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas for two full days July 30–31 for the Network’s Annual Council Meeting. This will be the third meeting of its kind since the birth of the Network in March 2004. The Bible teacher for the meeting will be the Most Rev. Greg Venables, Archbishop of the Southern Cone.

The press is welcome to attend plenary sessions of the council meeting. Press credentials can be obtained by registering online at Suzanne Gill, Director of Communications for the Network Diocese of Fort Worth, will be coordinating press on site and can be reached at (817) 244–2885. The meeting is otherwise closed to the public.

And here is this morning’s report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Episcopalians’ struggle comes home

Area residents will get a close-up look this month at the decades-long rift that is continuing to tear apart the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church.

About 80 representatives of the Anglican Communion Network, of which Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker is a leading member, will meet July 30-31 in Bedford at St. Vincent’s Cathedral.

The network — formed three years ago by Episcopal members appalled by church actions such as the 2003 consecration of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire — likely will be a sounding board for more attacks on leadership of the U.S. church.

Strengthening dissent

The Rev. Ryan Reed, dean of the Bedford cathedral, said network representatives will discuss how to work more closely with other conservative Anglican groups. Archbishop Greg Venables, a conservative who leads the Anglican province that includes Venezuela and Bolivia, is the main speaker. Some sessions are not open to the public, but general gatherings are open.

The Anglican Communion Network and similar conservative groups contend that the American church no longer represents those abiding by the historic faith.

The network, based in Pittsburgh, represents 200,000 laity and 2,200 clergy in the U.S., said the Rev. Daryl Fenton, chief executive. It has 10 member dioceses, including Dallas and Fort Worth, and also has alliances with some 40 smaller U.S. Anglican groups that have left the Episcopal Church in opposition of what they say are departures from biblical Christianity by Episcopal leadership…

Back in December 2006, TA published this article: What size is NACDAP really? which included this:

The American Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes or Anglican Communion Network has published this map, showing at the time of writing a total of 737 parishes that are said to be affiliated with them in some way.

Curiously though, the same website also says:

We are currently ten dioceses and six convocations stretching from coast to coast, border to border. As of January 2005, ACN dioceses and parishes count 200,000 Episcopal Christians in more than 800 congregations, and the number of affiliated parishes grows weekly.

The map on the ACN website now lists a total of 845 “parishes” though from an English perspective “congregations” would be a more accurate term to describe them. Nevertheless the claims made by Daryl Fenton above are identical to the now updated page of the ACN website quoted previously which currently says:

We are currently ten dioceses, six convocations and the international conference stretching from coast to coast, border to border. As of January 2007, ACN dioceses and parishes count 200,000 laity and 2,200 clergy in more than 900 congregations, and the number of affiliated parishes grows weekly. We have received support throughout the Anglican Communion, including encouragement from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Fourteen leaders of the international Anglican Communion, representing 75 percent of the world’s 60 million Anglicans, have offered their recognition and pledged the full weight of their ministries to the Anglican Communion Network.

There are clearly a number of inconsistencies in these claims. An earlier attempt to get to the bottom of the numbers claimed by the Network was done in February this year: A Modest Analysis of NACDAP’s “Anglicans in the United States” by Lionel Deimel, Joan Gundersen, and Christopher Wilkins. You can read that here. The data provided to the primates in Dar es Salaam by Bishop Robert Duncan can be read in this PDF file here.

See also Let’s do the numbers and also NPR has fun with numbers at epiScope.

And much more recently, on 29 June, epiScope had this comment on the slightly different issue of counting “breakaway” churches:

…there may be 250 congregations within the continental United States that claim to answer to various Anglican bishops in Africa and Latin America—but that’s not the same thing as “up to 250 of the 7,000 congregations in the U.S. church.”

The numbers, as we’ve said before, are hard to pin down, because—as we all know—”congregations don’t leave, people do.” The vast majority of the congregations listed under foreign bishops appear to be fledgling “new church plants” meeting in homes and hotels, not established, full-bore, paid-up TEC parishes.

In fact, so far your editor has found less than a dozen TEC congregations that were officially listed by their dioceses as “closed” when a significant group chose to depart and re-form as an “Anglican” congregation. (More later; watch this space!) The rest remain open as TEC congregations, in many cases greatly renewing their mission and ministry in the absence of the controversy du jour.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 14 July 2007 at 4:11pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Dr.Ephraim Radner's article "The Common Cause of a Common Light" gives a much less rosy picture of the Network's present situation:

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 14 July 2007 at 7:39pm BST

"Over 80 representatives of the Anglican Communion Network will gather..."

Would *80* seem to be an appropriate # of representatives, for a total body of 200,000?

[I suspect that if you multiply 80 by 10---or maybe 20---you get the REAL # of *committed* "Networkers", as opposed to the merely *claimed* as such]

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 14 July 2007 at 7:48pm BST

For the umpteenth time, Gregory Venables' title is "presiding bishop", not "archbishop":

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 14 July 2007 at 8:49pm BST

'...For the umpteenth time, Gregory Venables' title is "presiding bishop", not "archbishop" ... '

I thought his title had transmogrified into 'Bible teacher' --whatever that may be .

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 16 July 2007 at 3:44pm BST

Presiding Bishop Venables (not Archbishop) does not oversee Venezuela in his Southern Cone Province...Venezuela is at the top North East corner of South America, not part of the "cone" and is part of Province IX of The Episcopal Church...just another little piece of irregular, yet factless, South Global reporting.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 at 3:20am BST

Any leads at this end on a rumour floated at "Inclusive Church" that Chris Sugden is to be consecrated bishop of an alternative "English" Anglican jurisdiction by an unnamed Global South primate?

Regarding information on this page three or four months back that Sugden's daughter Joanna was an intern at the Washington Times, the right-wing, Moonie-owned DC daily, a Joanna Sugden is described as "currently a trainee religion reporter on Times Online" on Faith Central, Libby Purves's blog at The Times. Presumably the two are one and the same?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 at 2:56pm BST

As for the Sugden rumor, I posted an update on the blog a bit ago. Some people in UK have done some digging, and it appears that this rumor is just that. However, it does not seem that people scoffed at the idea, nor were there the vehement denials one could expect. I don't imagine this makes the speculation true or more likely, but it does point to the strange place in which we find ourselves. The very fact that one can contemplate a scenario in which an African province is set up in Cantuar's realm is astonishing. I would be happy to post a clarification -- but, sadly it seems that if not now, at some point in the future, there may yet be parallel jurisdictions in England.

The church in England managed comprehension in 1559. It is sad and painful that comprehension seems to be a relic of the past.

Posted by: Scott Gunn on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 at 8:54pm BST

Scott Gunn on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 at 8:54pm BST --

I've mentioned on many threads how we have lost the ability to agree to disagree (which Bishop Wright seems to think is a good thing) -- I grew up in a diocese which was known as "the YMCA with Apostolic Succession" but my home town parish was the "Catholic" parish in the diocese -- the evangelical (old style meaning of Low Church) bishop always joked about the parish & they always joked about the bishop, but there was never any suggestion from the parish that they could ignore the authority of the bishop nor from the bishop that these "high & crazy" people were not Episcopalians. I miss the generous hearts of my youth.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 at 9:23pm BST

In the true sense of the word 'liberal', let market forces prevail! Ditch the outdated parish quota system, pay the clergy direct and elect bishops and archbishops!

If the rumour were true, Canon Sugden would become a flying bishop for the Resolution L (Lambeth 1998 1:10 compliant) parishes, alongside the Resolution A, B and C parishes already in existence.

Then the rest of us can assert our Inclusive (resolution free)Church in line with Equality legislation, welcoming anyone back into the fold from the Exclusive Resolution A,B,C and L parishes when they see the light!

We can be in communion with whomsoever we like at home and abroad. (Or is this too anarchical?)

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 at 10:49pm BST

This rumour is described as "juicy" - which is its problem. It is so juicy that it can fly on its own, and all the more important that anything like it or near to it would have to be corroborated. If it were true as given, it really would be the end game, and no single Communion would exist. It is that important and what makes it juicy. It needs buckets of ice cold water on it.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 2:07am BST

Scott said: "The very fact that one can contemplate a scenario in which an African province is set up in Cantuar's realm is astonishing."

With respect, it really shouldn't be any more astonishing than the comparable ecclesiastical invasions in other provinces of the Communion. If it is open season to poach the American cub, it is likewise open season on the English sow.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 6:07am BST

Scott / Malcolm - there will not be a need for direct intervention against false teaching in England......the leadership of faithful bishops like +Durham is keeping the CofE firmly in the AC and true to its historic roots and scriptures - the synod vote for the covenant is very encourging indeed in this respect

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 4:29pm BST

NP, 1 Corinthians 13, all of it, but particularly vv4-6. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. I like the language of the KJV, verbs like "vaunteth" and all, but any translation will do.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 5:30pm BST

Ford - love does not give license for sinning....nor does grace (as ROmans 6 makes clear)

Actually, love will try to encourage people away from sin...right?

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 10:39am BST

vv 4-6, NP. "...vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up...." This has nothing to do with gay people, gay bishops, gay marriage, or anything to do with sex or covenants or Church politics, or biblical authority. It IS about obedience though. Figure it out. Read those 2 verses over and over and pray about them.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 7:26pm BST

Ford - there is no sensible way to take the scriptures to mean we should never judge ideas and teaching - we are told to do know that, I am sure.

It is not puffing up to say "sorry, you say doing X is good and holy but the bible says it is not and I am sticking to the bible"

Posted by: NP on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 9:11am BST

No, but it IS puffing up to continually gloat over what you see as the failure of the Liberal message against what you see as the success of the Evangelical one. It is not exactly loving of your neighbour to characterize them by stereotypes and claim they are faithless because they don't believe as you do. Do not deny this, NP, you do it nearly every day. Why is it that you can't seem to preach your message without violating basic Christian precepts of behaviour? I'm not arguing against your message when I cite this passage of Scripture, NP, I am merely pointing out to you that you disobey it with regularity while claiming to be obedient, and you need, as do we all, to examine yourself and your behaviour. You are demanding that others comply with specific parts of Scripture while disobeying other, more basic, parts of it yourself. That's all. This kind of self examination is what Lent and Advent are for. I know some Evangelicals don't observe the calendar and the seasons of the Church year. If you are one of those, you need to take up the practice, or at least ask yourself critically once in a while how you could be a better Christian. And don't look to me as an example. I'm just working out my salvation in fear and trembling just like anyone else, and I'm not all that good at it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 2:59pm BST

Dear Ford - well, following the example St Paul eg Gal 5:12 and someone else who called the Pharisees "children of the devil", I do not have respect for false teachers' ideas....and yes, I do rejoice in God's power as we see the failling churches of those who arrogantly thought that watering down the bible to suit society will fill their churches.....

False teachers are not my neighbour, Ford - they are enemies of the gospel and to be avoided, according to Paul. I can imagine you telling ST Paul to go easy on the Galatian heretics.....even though I know you would not agree with them - is it just that you are by temperament so kind and generous that you hate people to take a strong stand against certain ideas? (serious question, given I know you are an intelligent and serious man)

On our Deanery Synod, some are quite hostile to us because they are based 10 mins walk from us but we get hundreds and they get few coming to them - hard from them to explain how the nasty, exclusive, traditionlist teaching does this in England when the very pleasant, liberal message has so many empty churches.......I rejoice in the power of God's message which still multiplies like a mustard seed (even in England!)

Posted by: NP on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 4:50pm BST


I think the numbers argument carries weight - Acts bears out the fact that the Gospel attracts people and God blesses local churches who are true to His Word.

But... numbers must always be checked against what is actually happening on the ground. Here in Houston, I can give two examples where numbers alone mislead. One is a medium sized TEC parish on the west side of town. Four years ago they ran about 600 in ASA, but after the fallout of +VGR the conservative clergy and vestry began leading the church away from TEC. Today they run about 350, as most liberals and those conservatives feed up with TEC have left. The parish is excited about the future and their message is certainly evangelical, conforming to the NT teaching. Here you see falling numbers and might write off a vibrant church as a dying church.

The other case is Lakewood Church - Joel Osteen's super-mega-church. More than 24K people worship there every weekend and the TV broadcast is seen in dozens of countries. But the pulpit teaching is pure prosperity gospel. Yes, there are some very solid small and medium group studies that provide the backbone to the church, but most members live off high powered praise and worship music (that's keyed waaay to high for the average person to sing...) and a faith-leads-to-wealth message. There are lot's of people, but how many are moving beyond milk toast Christianity and feeding on solid food?

Just be careful will using a single piece of information to make a case; this carries the same dangers as proof-texting.

Posted by: Chris on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 6:25pm BST

"the Pharisees"
And you cannot see how much your attitude is like theirs?

"I do rejoice in God's power"
No you don't, you gloat. A bit of honest self examination is in order, NP.

"False teachers are not my neighbour"
I think I heard a story once about a priest who said the same thing about a Samaritan. Now where was that?

"still multiplies like a mustard seed"

Mustard seeds multiply by steadily decreasing their numbers? How odd! And you really believe people are hostile to you for you "success"? Might I suggest something a bit different, namely your behaviour? If this kind of self-deluded, spiritually arrogant self-righteousness are the product of Evangelicalism, NP, I just might have to re-examine my tolerance for diversity. I've always thought this of course, but just chaulked it up to sinful bigotry in myself and tried, with very limited success, to rise above it. Here you are pulling me back down!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 6:30pm BST

NP refers to "one who called the Pharisees "children of the devil"

I am reminded of the story of the Sunday School teacher who, in reference to the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, taught her charges to pray "Thank you Lord, for not making me a Pharisee."

The conundrum of the parable is that the second we identify with one of the characters, we have become the other. When we identify ourselves with the Publican we are taking pride in our reliosity and are actually analagous to the Pharisee. When we identify ourselves with the Pharisee, we are repentant about our pride and hypocrisy and are actually anaagous to the Publican.

A better question is, "who are the Pharisees here?"

I've heard only one side proclaiming that the other is faithless. I have heard only one side consistently claiming everyone who disagrees is evil.

Who are the Pharisees?

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 11:06pm BST

Galations 5:12 - Paul, referring to those who demand that everyone conform to the traditional interpretations, says: "As for these agitators, they had better go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves."

Are you sure this is the verse you meant to cite, NP?

As much as I may find the Bishop of Abuja and his fellow travellers objectionable, I'm not sure I'd ask them to castrate themselves.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 20 July 2007 at 11:09pm BST

"As much as I may find the Bishop of Abuja and his fellow travellers objectionable, I'm not sure I'd ask them to castrate themselves." Malcom

Why not? That's probably what Peter and his Nigerian/Ugandan pals have in mind for LGBT people (if being imprisoned or stoned to death won't play in Peoria).

Sounds like a great way of adding to the "population explosion" control for those who refuse condoms...castrating bigots is exactly the opposite side of the persecution of LGBT Christian/Muslim/others coin.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 5:02pm BST

"castrating bigots is exactly the opposite side of the persecution of LGBT Christian/Muslim/others coin."

But we are supposed to oppose the bigots, not join them. Or am I missing the point?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 5:54pm BST

"But we are supposed to oppose the bigots, not join them. Or am I missing the point?" Erika Baker

Oh, I got carried away with all the excitement of castrating me, "castrating" is a "step up" from what I once thought I would like to do to bigots and hate mongers...I guess "castrating" would be a non-lethal (mostly) and un-Christian hatecrime wouldn't it?

Don't worry, I'll try to "love them anyway" as God and Bishop Robinson suggest.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 4:09am BST
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