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Emerging church in North America

27 April 2009

It seems that a new church is emerging in North America.

TitusOneNine – Emerging Anglican Province Announces 28 Dioceses:

Leaders representing Canadian and US orthodox Anglican jurisdictions approved applications for membership of 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation and finalized plans for launching the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Twelve Anglican organizations are uniting to form the ACNA.

The ACNA Leadership Council, in addition to accepting these dioceses as constituent members, finalized a draft constitution and a comprehensive set of canons (Church bylaws) for ratification by the provincial assembly. A list of the new dioceses, the constitution and the canons will soon be available at

At the last-mentioned site we also learn that Pastor Rick Warren, Metropolitan Jonah, the Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter are to Address ACNA Assembly:

Three Christian leaders, Pastor Rick Warren, Metropolitan Jonah, and the Rev. Todd Hunter have agreed to be among those addressing the organizing Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America scheduled for June 22-25 at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas.

I don’t know much about Rick Warren, other than that his role at US President Barack Obama’s inauguration caused some controversy.

I know a bit more about Metropolitan Jonah, the Archbishop of Washington and New York and the Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church in America. He was tonsured a monk in the late 1980’s at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania after spending time at the Valaam Monastery in Russia. He was an Episcopalian before joining the Orthodox Church in 1978, which makes me curious about what he will say to ACNA, and also wonder why he was invited.

The same site tells us that

The Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter is the Director of West Coast Church Planting ( for The Anglican Mission in the Americas and author of Christianity Beyond Belief. Hunter also founded Three is Enough, a small group movement that facilitates missionally focused spiritual formation. A past president of the Alpha USA evangelism ministry, Hunter is an adjunct professor of evangelism and postmodern ministry at George Fox University, Fuller Seminary, Western Seminary and Wheaton College. Earlier in his career he served as the Church Planting coach for Allelon Ministries and the National Director for the Association of Vineyard Churches.

Ir seems that there are some interesting things emerging in the North American church scene, and I wonder what this one will look like when it has emerged, and where it will go from there.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 April 2009 6:04 am

    Like the world needs one more religion? sarcasm intended. What about revitalizing “the way”?

  2. 27 April 2009 7:31 am

    A NEW Church ? I don’t think so. Simply the old church recovered by grace out of the chaos of apostate Episcopalian ism.

  3. 27 April 2009 8:45 am

    Yes, those speakers all seem to me to be theologically conservative, but pragmatically imaginative. Have I said that right? I think we may be starting to see churches that embrace the ‘good’ of the emerging movements, but reject what is seen as ‘too extreme’. What is interesting to me is how quickly we seem to have reached that point. It took longer for the charismatic renewal to impact the conservative churches.

    • 27 April 2009 2:43 pm


      I’m very interested in your last remark. Can you tell me something, anything about the charismatic renewal in the Methodist Church, or even give me some contacts I could ask about it?

      I’m engaged in a research project on it and its effect on SA Christianity, and while Anglicans were quite helpful, from Methodists I got zilch, nada, zero. You can read about it here. I need someone to tell me how it affected the Methodist Church. It doesn’t matter if they were in favour of it or against it. I just want to know what happened! Oh, and Presbyterians and Catholics too, if you know of any!

  4. 27 April 2009 11:48 am

    Jenny I think its moved quicker because of how quickly some segments of the emerging church, particularly those in the Emergent Village, began to dismiss some of what evangelicals and conservatives have considered central to the faith and they’ve done this in the backyard of declining yet still fairly powerful evangelicalism. And so some in that declining evangelicalism have become despereate for renewal and reformation but they feel that parts of the EC, which they had hoped would be that renewal, have over-shot the mandate and so now they’re exceptionally wary of the ‘pragmatically imaginative’ without being ‘theologically conservative’.

  5. 28 April 2009 4:48 pm

    They look good on paper, that’s sure enough, but when you get to the real meat of Christian service– feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners and comforting the mourners, they fall flat.

  6. 2 May 2009 9:10 am

    I am confused. I had always understood that Episcopalian was just the American word for Anglican. That’s what I was always told when I was in the Anglican church in Australia. So how is this group different from the Episcopalians? I see some of them even have Episcopalian in their name? Does this represent a split in the Episcopalian church in America?

    • 2 May 2009 3:27 pm


      I find it all rather confusing. There have been several splits from ECUSA (the Episcopal Church of the USA), many of which have called themselves “Anglican”. Most of them were about changes in the doctrine or practice of the church that people disagreed with. Many have called themselves “Continuing Anglican”, but they have had further splits because though they could sometimes agree on what they were against, they found it harder to agree on what they were for. This seems to be the latest of such bodies, but their selection of speakers seems to mark them out as somewhat different from the earlier groups. In what way I’m not sure, though — we’ll have to wait until they’ve emerged more fully.

  7. 4 May 2009 8:23 am

    Hi Steve – I lost your email address when my laptop was stolen. Please will you drop me an email (I think you have my address) and I’ll give you what I know about Methodists and the Charismatic movement – which isn’t an awful lot!

  8. Gert Marincowitz permalink
    10 May 2009 5:01 pm

    I had a quick look at their constitution – it reflects an (conservative) evangelical understanding of “true” Anglicanism, similar to that of CESA (Church of England in South Africa). It supports the decisions taken at last year’s Jerusalem meeting (the conservative Anglican equivalent of the Lambeth Conference).

    According to one of the reports, both the Episcopals and the new group want to remain part of the Anglican Communion. If the history of South Africa is anything to go by, it seems highly unlikely that the Archbishop of Canterbury will accept both provinces, and the new group will probably have to say goodbye to that Communion (and Lambeth and some of their property) and forge links with CESA, some evangelical churches in England, the (very evangelical) Archdiocese of Sydney and other similar-minded groups/dioceses/congregations.

    CESA has been campaigning ceaselessly for membership of the Anglican Communion but to no avail. In turn, some in CESA has claimed that their denomination is the authentic version of Anglicanism in South Africa, and that the CPSA (Church of the Province of South Africa (CPSA) has effectively broken fellowship with the Church of England (in England) when it was founded in 1870 and don’t have the right to call themselves Anglican. Despite this view, CPSA changed its name to the Anglican Church in Southern Africa in 2006, and is officially recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury as the only representative of Anglican Communion in South Africa.

    But perhaps this is for the better. Let the two groups (conservative and more liberal) split, make ready for some ugly property disputes and move on, stop pointing fingers at each other and concern themselves with the Kingdom of God, instead of bitter recriminations.

    • 10 May 2009 5:50 pm

      Though one can make comparisons with property disputes and the like, theologically the disputes in the USA today are very different from those in South Africa in the 19th century. Back then CESA was in many ways the “liberal” group.

  9. Gert Marincowitz permalink
    11 May 2009 11:21 pm

    Certainly the founding of CESA as a denomination with its own constitution in the 1930s took place in very different circumstances from the founding of ACNA in the 2000s.

    It seems reasonable to agree with the CESA position that it was in actual fact Bishop Gray that was the real schismatic with the founding of a new Anglo-Catholic denomination CPSA in 1870, and that at the time CESA represented the continuation of the original (non-Anglo-Catholic) Church of England, or Anglicanism, in South Africa. Gray was indeed the conservative bishop in the dispute between Gray and the theologically liberal Bishop Colenso, and his efforts to impose Anglo-Catholicism on all South Africa’s Anglican churches reflect a reaction against the influence of modernism (including liberalism) in the church. Gray’s historical-critical work on the Pentateuch was certainly informed by Enlightenment thinking and theological liberalism (although he was not only a child of his time – in a sense he was also ahead of his time – the colonialist era – by proclaiming and living out among the Zulus what may be regarded as post-colonialist theology and hermeneutics).

    But if CPSA was the conservative group (vis-a-vis Colenso’s church, who rejected the CPSA), that does not imply that CESA was the more liberal group relative to CPSA. CESA did support Colenso’s non-recognition of CPSA and still maintains (correctly in my view) that Colenso’s heretical biblical scholarship (questioning the historical accuracy of the Pentateuch) served as a convenient excuse for Gray to recall (“fire”) Colenso when the latter refused to cooperate with Gray in establishing Anglo-Catholicism throughout Anglican South Africa. In this sense, both CESA and Colenso have a very modern theological outlook, with much emphasis on the historical veracity of the Bible (although Colenso may also be regarded as pre-empting postmodernism by reacting against the imperialism/racism that underlied modernism/colonialism).

    But CESA has strongly rejected Colenso’s theological liberalism and his scepticism of the historical accuracy of Scripture. They would also certainly reject his interpretation of Romans, which seems to establish Paul as a universalist and regard traditional (pre-Christian) African religion as sufficient for salvation by God.

    Thus, I would say that both the CPSA and CESA were theologically conservative in their affirmation of traditional Christianity. However, at its founding in 1970 CPSA rejected the sola scriptura emphasis of Reformed Christianity in favour of Roman Catholic-type traditionalism. CESA reaffirmed the principles of the Reformation (all the solas) and the evangelical heritage of it considered to be “true” Anglicanism. CESA, due to its Protestant emphasis, certainly adapted easier to the changes wrought by modernism than CPSA.

    Today, the situation has changed, even as some things remain unchanged. CESA is still very evangelical in nature, and the erstwhile CPSA still has much Anglo-Catholicism. But the latter has in the meantime embraced much of both the theological liberalism and postcolonialist hermeneutics of Colenso. Apparently the churches in Natal under his leadership made peace with the CPSA after his death. So today the erstwhile CPSA is a mixture of the legacies of both Colenso and Gray, and there are even some evangelicals who joined the conservative Anglicans in Jerusalem last year.

    Today, CESA is the more conservative of the two denominations and – although it has always desired membership of the Anglican Communion – has felt increasingly alienated from the theological liberalism that pervades the Church of England (in England) and the Episcopal Church (Church of England in the USA). In contrast, the erstwhile CPSA feels much more comfortable with the Church of England (in England) than at the time of Gray.

    So in that regard, the current situation with the two Anglican denominations in South Africa is on both a theological and ecclesiastical level very similar to that of the two Anglican groups in the USA. And in my view it would make more sense for ACNA and CESA to sever their ties with the England-based Anglican Communion and (along with similar-minded groups such as evangelicals from the Archdiocese of Sydney) form their own (more conservative) communion and ten-yearly conference, based perhaps somewhere in the Two-thirds World.

    In any case, this would certainly benefit CESA, who at the moment is not a member of a strong global church communion with which it can fellowship and receive financial support. The irony would be that CESA would then be part of a communion also consisting of Anglo-Catholics (some of whom apparently also joined ACNA out of protest against liberal social policies of the Episcopal Church w.r.t. the ordination of women and gay clergy). Back in the nineteenth century, CESA tacitly supported the theological liberal Colenso in his struggle against the Anglo-Catholic Gray. Now, they may effectively support Anglo-Catholics in their struggle against the theological and social liberalism of the Episcopalian Church.

    • 12 May 2009 6:09 am


      There’s a lot that could be said about the CESA/CPSA divide, but I’m not sure how comparable it is with the ACNA thing, and it’s far too complex to be able to deal adequately with it in blog comments. I don’t think you live far farm me — perhaps we could get together to chat about it some time.

      • Gert Marincowitz permalink
        12 May 2009 9:17 am

        OK, I’ll stop commenting on this here, perhaps I oversimplified the issue. If you want to get together, my email address is provided in the reply.

  10. Gert Marincowitz permalink
    11 May 2009 11:24 pm

    An error: Second paragraph – it is not Gray, but Colenso
    Correct paragraph below:

    Colenso’s historical-critical work on the Pentateuch was certainly informed by Enlightenment thinking and theological liberalism (although he was not only a child of his time – in a sense he was also ahead of his time – the colonialist era – by proclaiming and living out among the Zulus what may be regarded as post-colonialist theology and hermeneutics).

  11. Gert Marincowitz permalink
    11 May 2009 11:29 pm

    Two more errors – see correct paragraph 5:

    However, at its founding in 1870 CPSA rejected the sola scriptura emphasis of Reformed Christianity in favour of Roman Catholic-type traditionalism. CESA reaffirmed the principles of the Reformation (all the solas) and the evangelical heritage of what it considered to be “true” Anglicanism. CESA, due to its Protestant emphasis, certainly adapted easier to the changes wrought by modernism than CPSA.

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