The Most Rev. Foley Beach
The Anglican Church in North America – Unites some 100,000 Anglicans in nearly 1,000 congregations across the United States and Canada into a single Church. It is a Province-in-formation in the global Anglican Communion. The Most Rev. Robert Duncan is the archbishop of the Church and bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The Anglican Church in North America was initiated at the request of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCon) in June 2008 and formally recognized by the GAFCon Primates – leaders of Anglican Churches representing 70 percent of the active Anglicans globally – on April 16, 2009 after a thorough examination of the Anglican Church’s leadership, organizational structure, proposed constitution and proposed canons.
What we stand for – Members of the Anglican Church in North America are in the mainstream, both globally and historically, of Christianity – the biblically-faithful way of following Jesus and being part of the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. As Anglicans, this orthodoxy is defined by and centered on our church’s classic formularies – the Book of Common Prayer, including the Ordinal, and the Thirty-nine Articles – which all point back to the authority of the Holy Bible and articulate foundational principles of the Anglican tradition throughout the world. We wholeheartedly embrace the Jerusalem Declaration, the founding declaration of the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, and the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partnership – the precursor to the Anglican Church in North America.
We believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by Him. Therefore, the Anglican Church in North America identifies the following seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership:
• We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
• We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
• We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.
• We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.
• Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.
• We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.
• We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.
In all these things, the Anglican Church in North America is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain as the Anglican Way has received them the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ.
“The Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher wrote, “has no peculiar thought, practice, creed or confession of its own. It has only the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church, as preserved in the Catholic Creeds and maintained in the Catholic and Apostolic constitution of Christ’s Church from the beginning.” It may licitly teach as necessary for salvation nothing but what is read in the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word written or may be proved thereby. It therefore embraces and affirms such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the Scriptures, and thus to be counted apostolic. The Church has no authority to innovate: it is obliged continually, and particularly in times of renewal or reformation, to return to “the faith once delivered to the saints.”
To be an Anglican, then, is not to embrace a distinct version of Christianity, but a distinct way of being a “Mere Christian,” at the same time evangelical, apostolic, catholic, reformed, and Spirit-filled.
Globally, regionally and locally, Anglicanism is in the process of reformation. Within the last decades, the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada have increasingly accommodated and incorporated un-Biblical, un-Anglican practices and teaching.
In the context of this widening theological gap, the existing geography-based organizational model of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada became problematic for orthodox Anglicans. Orthodox parishes, clergy and dioceses that upheld Biblical authority and historic Anglican practice became isolated within their existing structures.
Distressed churches and entire dioceses began to disaffiliate from the established provinces in North America and seek episcopal oversight and spiritual care from Anglican Provinces and leaders in other parts of the world, including the primates and churches of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South America and Uganda. Beginning in 2000 with the Church of Rwanda, these leaders have responded by accepting orthodox Anglican parishes and dioceses in North America into their care.