Friday, 12 December 2008

ACNA: 700 congregations?

Updated Friday evening

The press release about the Anglican Church in North America says

“The movement unites 700 orthodox Anglican congregations, representing roughly 100,000 people…”

“The Common Cause Partnership is a federation of Anglican Christians that links together eight Anglican jurisdictions and organizations in North America, including the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and the bishops and congregations linked with Kenya, Uganda, and South America’s Southern Cone.”

Estimates of the numbers of parishes by jurisdiction are shown below. Some of these figures come directly from the Common Cause database, others were supplied to me, and others are my own estimate. I would welcome corrections to any of these figures. The table does not include any contribution from the 75 Forward in Faith North America congregations listed by Common Cause, most of which as I understand it are still within The Episcopal Church.

Friday update

Forward in Faith North America has published Forward in Faith NA responds to Q & A on the new ACNA which may answer some of the questions raised here about the status of FiFNA congregations in ACNA.

Reformed Episcopal Church  (includes 7 in Canada) 135
CC database
Anglican Mission in the Americas  (Rwanda)
(includes 12 in Canada )
CC database
Convocation of Anglicans in North America (Nigeria) 68
CC database
Missionary Convocation of Kenya 36
Bp Atwood
Missionary Convocation of Uganda 51
Bp Guernsey
Missionary Convocation of the Southern Cone  
-       Ex San Joaquin 30
SS estimate
-       Ex Pittsburgh 55
SS estimate
-       Ex Quincy 20
SS estimate
-       Ex Fort Worth 45
SS estimate
-       Ex Canada ANiC 19
CC database
-       Individual congregations affiliated to Bolivia, Argentina and Recife 45
SS 2007 est.
Grand Total
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 7:42am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Simon, in response to a poster on a thread on SF - - Matt Kennedy claimed the number of congregations in ACNA was 656, although he didn't provide evidence for that. Quite a bit less than the stated 700.

I seem to remember that Bolivia handed its parishes over to CANA, so you might be counting them twice.

Figures for the Ugandan and Kenyan 'missions' is hard to come by, but the ACN's website differs from the figures given to you by their bishops - - It gives Kenya as having 19 and Uganda as having 31, plus a handful of 'in transition' congregations. It could of course be out of date.

What's more interesting is the 100,000 figure. The Wheaton announcement gave the impression this was total membership, but again Matt Kennedy claims this was a mistake and it is ASA. That would make an average ASA of 152 for each congregation. But a poster on the same SF thread had some interesting ASA figures. The 2007 ASA of the 4 breakaway dioceses was only 15,288 out of 49,408 'active' Anglicans. Even if we grant the breakaways that full ASA with their remaining congregations it still averages only at 100 or less. As for the REC, their stated membership in 2003 was 11,000. Even if every single member attended on a Sunday it would still only average in the 80's. These two groups comprise c 285-300 congregations, i.e. nearly half the ACNA. Yet their ASA amounts to well below (very generously) only 20,000 out of the claimed 100,000 ASA. The other half of ACNA must really be picking up the slack by providing the additional 80,000+!

But, of course, until they provide figures as TEC do (and don't they enjoy mocking those!), it's all speculation.

Posted by: MJ on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 10:29am GMT

First, my figures fromthe CC database were collected on 7 December, I have not rechecked today, and no doubt the database will change regularly.
The figures from Kenya and Uganda were received over the weekend in email correspondence. I regard them as more accurate than the database.
I am aware of the plan to hand over some of the Bolivian congregations to other jurisdictions, but do not have firm figures for that, so stuck with my earlier estimate which was in a Church Times article last year, see
I now believe that my aggregate estimate then of 135 was a bit low. I believe that my current estimate of 644 is a bit high, but it seems a reasonable starting point for discussion, esp. in view of the similar estimate on Stand Firm.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 11:03am GMT

FiFNA states that its full, "affiliate" membership is open to parishes from five church organizations - "Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA); Anglican Church of Canada (ACC); Anglican Mission in America (AMIA); Anglican Province of America (APA); Traditional Anglican Church (TAC)". Only the first two of these five groups are members of the Anglican Communion. C of E Anglo Catholics with whom I have been in communication appear to regard TAC with suspicion.

FiFNA also has an "Associated" member category. This includes, but seems not to be confined to, members of five additional "Anglican" denominations - Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC); Independent (Ind); Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC); Reformed Episcopal Church (REC); United Anglican Church (UAC).

So it's clear that FiFNA, in contrast to FiFUK, is a pretty heterogeneous group (Do all these organizations even have clear, valid successions? I've asked elsewhere, but received no answer) and offers ample opportunity for cross counting when it comes to toting up membership statistics for the new province.

FiFNA membership directory:

Directory of FiFNA parishes:

Those with time on their hands might attempt to determine roughly how many of these parishes may have been members of the Anglican Communion before the events of the past few months.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 12:53pm GMT

In Christianity Today on Dec 4, Timothy Morgan wrote from Wheaton:

"On a snowy Wednesday evening, about 1,000 worshipers, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, gathered in Wheaton, Illinois, for a worship service to celebrate the creation of the new entity, which comprises 656 congregations, 800 clergy, 30 bishops, and 100,000 people in regular worship. They represent the evangelical, charismatic, and Anglo-Catholic traditions within Anglicanism."

It didn't take long for 656 to become 700, and '100,000 people in regular worship' to become '100,000 ASA'.

Posted by: MJ on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 2:58pm GMT

There are many problems with the accuracy of the Forward in Faith members. There are two churches in Baltimore, Maryland that FIFNA lists as "friendly" because the "priest is a member ... and requested his parish belisted." The priest, Walter Burgess, has not been at at St. Luke, Franklin Square for over five years and that parish currently has a woman as interim priest. He left St. Paul the Apostle in the Fall of 2005, and the church was closed by the diocese in 2007.

I know about this because I was a former member of both parishes.

FIFNA was notifed about those changes and asked to correct their listing at least twice over the last two years, but has failed to do so. It would appear they are interested in artifically maintaining the higher number of members.

Bruce Calvin

Posted by: Bruce Calvin on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 3:13pm GMT

For what it is worth, I am aware of at least one church that is a member of CANA but still an active member of TEC - indeed it is actively involved in a search for a new Bishop in TEC (talk about a conflict of interest there!!) - This church may never leave TEC yet I assume it is counted among the membership of CANA. I wonder if there are others in such a twilight zone and therefore assume some of the numbers quoted by the putative, alleged new province are quite soft - regardless of the "stand firm" name they use to describe themselves. (perhaps mixing images but rather fun)

Posted by: ettu on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 4:01pm GMT

There are actually twelve Reformed Episcopal parishes in Canada. Seven are in the Diocese of Central and Eastern Canada and five are in the Diocese of Western Canada.

Posted by: Geoff McLarney on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 4:02pm GMT

Nice work, Simon.

One of the questions I have is how many of these congregations are house churches.

Posted by: John B. Chilton on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 4:04pm GMT

You should probably reduce the Pittsburgh number by about 7-1/2. Just under 30 parishes are expected to be represented at the reorganizing special convention in Pittsburgh, which begins this evening. The 1/2 comes from the fact that Trinity Cathedral is attempting to be part of both the Episcopal diocese and the “realigned” group. They are actually sending assessment money to each entity. I doubt this is a viable long-term status for Trinity, however.

Posted by: Lionel Deimel on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 4:46pm GMT

Even though the REP might have chosen to throw its lot with ACNA, I do not believe it is fair to include their numbers without making clear that they departed in 1873, and that their departure had nothing to do with the current issues.

And the REP will continue their affiliation with ACNA as long as it continues to be a loose federation of overlapping "my-own-kind-of-church" groups.

Posted by: Thomas+ on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 5:07pm GMT

I believe there were 74 parishes in Pittsburgh before the goers got on. My understanding is those of remaining might be possible 28 (and remember the Cathedral, Trinity is suppose to be a member of both groups). The remaining parishes have our diocesan convention this weekend. Numbers should be more firm. So 644-8 more.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 5:32pm GMT

How does one gain access to the "CC database"? I have long wanted to see a list of CANA congregations; and the only one I have seen, from some years ago, continued to list some of the "original" CANA congregations (the ones that were essentially "language ministries" largely to Igbo-speaking Nigerians, and which operated with the approval and cooperation of the Episcopal dioceses) Not all of these congregations went along with the Minns' version of CANA.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 6:08pm GMT

What about the 2 million members of TEC?! Uh, yeah...

Posted by: Joe on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 6:16pm GMT

This is how the conservatives do maths....

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 6:19pm GMT

Tobias, I went to this URL

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 6:21pm GMT

Having just looked over the issues that caused the Reformed Episcopal Church to split from the larger body some 135 years ago, how does a church that "rejects the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God's Word: First, that the Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of ecclesiastical polity; Second, that Christian Ministers are "priests" in another sense than that in which all believers are a "royal priesthood"; Third, that the Lord's Table is an altar on which the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ is offered anew to the Father; Fourth, that the Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine; Fifth, that regeneration is inseparably connected with Baptism" make common cause with Anglo-Catholics of any kind?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 6:38pm GMT

In my secular life, I am often required to take detailed numbers and express them as round (ballpark) numbers. A cost of $9,968 or a donation of $10,114 would both be described to a reporter as "around $10,000." A membership of 9,957 would be described as "nearly 10,000" or "fewer than 10,000" depending on my agenda.

But there are conventions to be observed. In general, a bald assertion of "700" would normally mean "at least 700," while 690 would be described as "almost 700," "fewer than 700" or "about 700" depending on one's particular bias / agenda.

Even "almost 700" would have its limits. It would be seen as an accurate reference to 675, a slightly misleading reference to 660, a deliberately misleading reference to 650 and a completely false reference to 649.

Were +Bob Duncan to have hired me to manage the media for the event, I'd have described 644ish congregations as "around 650."

But then, in my secular life, I am a PR practitioner, and I know the first rule of effective public relations: Don't Lie.

Good PR people don't lie for two reasons. One is that it's wrong. The important reason is that it doesn't work.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 7:51pm GMT

"They represent the evangelical, charismatic, and Anglo-Catholic traditions within Anglicanism."

This is not true. They represent CONSERVATIVE Evangelicals, charismatics, and Anglo-Catholics. I have no idea how many members of each of these groups do NOT sign on to the "New Province", but there are some, even Evangelicals, and my understanding is that many, if not most, TEC Anglo-Catholics are pretty gay friendly, actually. Besides, the Arians were once in the majority, as were the iconocalsts, but it took 1500 years for the iconoclast heresy to rear its ugly head, and until the last century for Arianism to reappear. So, what's the deal with numbers? Is it just a matter of "Nyahh, nyahh, we took a whole pile of your members, our God can beat up your God"?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 9:41pm GMT

Hmm. Didn't we have an ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) about thirty years ago? The issue then was mostly the ordination of women, but with some whining about the Prayer Book. It fell apart fairly quickly, as I recall, but there are remnants still around. We referred to it as "acne," but then we were young and rude.

Posted by: WSJM on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 9:58pm GMT

From "Why Join the Reformed Episcopal Church" on the website of the diocese of Eastern Canada:

"The Reformed Episcopal Church Is A Small Denomination
The Reformed Episcopal Church, being a small denomination, offers the great advantage of Christian fellowship among its communicants so that all members can come to know one another. The detriment of bureaucracy, so often present in larger organizations, is greatly reduced."

Small is good. May as well turn reality into a virtue.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 10:09pm GMT

Yes, to be precise it was in September 1977, and the New York Times article about its formation is here:

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 10:50pm GMT

Thank you Simon. It is a very helpful resource.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 11:12pm GMT

Hmm, Pat O'Neill, you are definitely on to something. It seems to me that any church that "rejects the ... erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God's Word: ... that the Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of ecclesiastical polity ..." fails to meet the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral test on the matter of the Historic Episcopate.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 11:18pm GMT

Simon, so that Anglican Chuch in North America morphed into the Anglican Catholic Church?

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 11:23pm GMT

"This new province is bringing order out of the recent Anglican chaos, and ensuring a vibrant united Anglican voice in North America. Eleven founding Anglican partners are coming together, some of which have been in existence for over 130 years." - Anglican Coalition in Canada web-site -

This really is the amorphous Never-Never-Land of the re-Asserters. The 'recent Anglican chaos' is more aptly a description of what has been happening with the Sola Scriptura crowd under Bobby Duncan. They are schizophrenic about whether they need the protection of the umbrella of an Anglican Church whose spirituality, theology and diversity they so violently oppose.

If only they could make a decision about whether they want to be part of the Communion or outside of it then perhaps the dust would be cleared and saner minds could prevail. At the moment, the ephemera of a proposed 39th province of the AC seems just a figment of Bobby's imagination.

It looks like an Anglican, sounds like a Baptist and squawks like a Pentecostalist. What is it?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 9:33am GMT

"Small is good."

Only on times. See, if a conservative group is small, that means with them there is "Christian fellowship among its communicants so that all members can come to know one another" so that "The detriment of bureaucracy, so often present in larger organizations, is greatly reduced". When a "liberal" group is small, though, that's because they are selling out the Gospel, following the trends of the world, and driving people away from the Church in droves. It's all in how you look at it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 12:06pm GMT

High Church TEC refugees have taken the Reformed Episcopal Church over and they now have a statement explaining away the Declaration of Principles. Some Evangelical Reformed Episcoplians ahave left, what they perceive is a corrupted denomination!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 7:43pm GMT

Were your discussions with +Atwood specific as to his congregations? I would be particularly interested in knowing if St. Luke's Maysville KY (circa 15 members) is a Kenyan "congregation" "mission" "house church" or other under his supervision

Posted by: EPfizH on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 9:12pm GMT

Is it just me or when one pronounces this acronym, does it not sound remarkably like "asinine?"

Posted by: Heather on Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:44pm GMT

Simon, just a couple of notes that hopefully will shed some light on the difference between your count and the final number we have been using.

1. The Anglican Mission in the Americas has 40 congregations in formation at the present time. We chose to count those congregations.

2. San Joaquin also has closer to 40 parishes that have continued with them instead of 30.

3. My understanding is that ANiC is also up to at least 22 in Canada instead of 19.

4. The other wild card are a number of Anglican Province in America parishes (I have yet to hear a number) in the west of the United States that are in the process of a friendly transfer to the Reformed Episcopal Church so that they can be part of this.

Otherwise I am happy to see a third party estimate of our real numbers that clearly isn't skewed by partisanship.

Posted by: Peter Frank on Monday, 15 December 2008 at 5:45pm GMT

What's most fun about all this is how the already self delusory claim to "orthodoxy" gets more and more obviously self delusory as times goes by. There is only one thing that unites these groups: a fear of change that has resulted in bitterness and anger. How much "liberal" actions have fed these feelings is another matter although an important one. Still, it's a good laugh to watch all these groups call themselves "orthodox", and affirming each other's "orthodoxy" which they would not have done just a few years ago. It's kind of like loudly claiming to be Jewish while chowing down on a bacon sandwich. Politics makes very strange bedfellows indeed.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 12:07pm GMT

They are counting all of the Diocese of Fort Worth, which is not accurate at all. As of now, at least 40 percent of the diocese is staying in the Episcopal Church and that number is growing each week.
Same is true of Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Posted by: Katie Sherrod on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 4:17pm GMT

As an out gay priest, I have no sympathy with the move to split the church. However, I am also dismayed by the nasty tone of many comments in this thread as well as others. No matter how hurtful their comments and actions, it does not justify any of us going tit for tat. These are my, our, brothers and sisters who, before they left, sat beside us at worship, synods and conventions. Correcting inaccurate information is important and healing our wounds is critical, but only as we continue to live out the grieving love of Christ for all of us do we become transparent to God's purpose in our ife. None of us is righteous or perfect enough to fall into the trap of judging others.

Posted by: Bob Webster on Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 6:44pm GMT

Thank you, Bob, for that timely reminder of our need of charity. However, when one is already being judged, there is a need for some adequate self-defence mechanism. Total silence here could be just too encouraging of the disdainful.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 11:50pm GMT

How does the qua-Diocese of Quincy figure into the totals for the ACinNA?

With their Cathedral's opting to stay Episcopal (and keeping with it something like 400 or more of the roughly 1,800 communicants in the Diocese), the early estimates of the numbers seem to correspond with the over-counting by the ACiNA types as they struggle to Own-the-Spin.

With regard to the good folks of the DofQ, these are 'small' numbers, I realize...but still and all, some numbers matter. And the same will be surely true in the other dioceses where this stuff is happening.

Frustratingly for those choosing to stay with the vast majority of TEC, the media seems to want to believe those ACinNA-trumpeted, under-substantiated numbers - and not bother to check their true facts...

Guess it will just take time to sort out. But if there's any place to keep an eye on the evolving data, it'd be great to have!

Posted by: Bill Cosper on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 6:54pm GMT

I think the 'Christian charity' exhibited by most of these posts illustrates perfectly well why Anglican Catholics in TEC (and indeed elsewhere), feel increasingly marginalised, and pushed back against the fence.

The issue is not just dispute about theological fundamentals, but how the debate is handled - particularly by those with power (the establishment) towards those without power.

For those of us looking on at American Anglicanism from the sidelines, it makes a pretty embarrassing spectacle. Particularly when the majority, the powerful and monied establishment, cry about how they are being bullied in the playground. Time to grow up a bit, I think, and behave with some Christian charity and generosity, which particularly behoves the stronger towards the weaker. [Clue: you'll find that in the Bible somewhere... ;-)]

Whenever an establishment majority calls upon a minority to 'trust' them, they first have to demonstrate trustworthiness.

Posted by: James Mather on Saturday, 27 December 2008 at 1:48pm GMT
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