The Anglican Communion Network (ACN) announced on Thursday, June 17, of the formation of a new alliance between six groups of “orthodox Christians” in the Anglican tradition. The groups, which together represent some 200,000 Anglicans in the U.S., pledged “to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ and common cause for a united, missionary and orthodox Anglicanism in North America.”
In making the public announcement, the Rev. Robert Duncan – ACN Moderator and chairman – sent a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leaders of the five groups that have joined the Network.
“To see orthodox Christians in the Anglican Tradition move from competition and divisiveness to cooperation signifies a new season in the life of the Church,” Bishop Duncan wrote.
In the last few months, unity within the Anglican tradition has been scarcely seen: Triggered by the consecration of an openly gay man as bishop, worldwide Anglicanism had been torn apart – leaders of archdiocese representing more than half of the world’s Anglicans have severed ties with the U.S. branch (Episcopal Church USA) for their action. Additionally, within the ECUSA, dozens of churches have refused the oversight of the openly gay bishop and his supporters.
“The events of history have resulted in separations among those who claim the same Anglican heritage. The circumstances of the present compel us to find ways of reestablishing and rebuilding relationships among all those in the Anglican world who remain steadfast in holding ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’," said the Rt. Rev. Leonard W. Riches, Presideing bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church – one of the six groups.
All the while, the groups have also expressed a desire for unity.
“We share a common heritage with our orthodox brethren in the Episcopal Church and pledge our support in building unity among faithful Anglicans,” said the Rt. Rev. Walter Grundorf, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province in America (APA) – another group that joined the network.
Meanwhile, Duncan clarified that the network between the groups has yet to grow.
“This is not a declaration of organic unity – far from it – but it is a proclamation that we can function as allies in the common cause of Jesus Christ,” said Duncan.
Nonetheless, the Rt. Rev. Charles Murphy III, Chairman of the Anglican Mission in America, expressed gratitude for the unity effort.
"Even as we watch with some sadness the painful yet necessary realignment in the Anglican Communion, I am encouraged by the willingness of a growing number of orthodox groups and voices to work together and to shape a new Anglican witness for the 21st Century," said Murphy.
The president of Forward in Faith North American (FiFNA), the Rev. Dr. David L. Moyer, echoed the concerns while adding to the chorus of praise.
“The Holy Spirit is uniting Biblically-centered Anglican jurisdictions and organizations for the common cause and integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and for the necessary re-alignment of the Church,” said Moyer. “The crisis of faith and authority in this Episcopal Church that cripples, undermines and damages the witness of the Anglican Communion in North America has impelled us as leaders to embrace and uphold each other in unity of spirit and action. We have prayerfully committed ourselves to each other in this new relationship for the maintenance and growth of our Anglican heritage for our children and our children’s children.”
The President of the American Anglican Council expressed the reason for the move to unite.
“We have maintained, since the debacle of General Convention 2003, that realignment in North America is a necessity,” said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson. “Our common cause effort with these other Christian communities increases our numbers, our strength and our witness.”
The groups in the newly-aligned network is: the Anglican Communion Network (ACN), the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), Forward in Faith North American (FiFNA), the Anglican Province in America (APA) and the American Anglican Council (AAC).