When the Anglican Church in North America launched last year, founders were clear on what they didn't want to be: the Episcopal Church.
But as the ACNA marks its first anniversary with a meeting here this week, members are finding that carving out a new identity requires a good dose of patience, and more money than they have on hand.
The ACNA knows what it wants to be: a church-planting, soul-saving province officially recognized by other churches and leaders in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion.
Leaders reported some progress on those goals this week, but fiscal hurdles remain.
Archbishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, who leads the ACNA, said Tuesday (June 8) that membership grew from 703 congregations to 811 during the last year, a step toward fulfilling his mission to plant 1,000 new churches within the first five years.
Meeting those goals, however, will mean surmounting financial challenges. The church's $1.36 million budget, approved by the ACNA's Provincial Council Tuesday, counts on a new initiative to raise $500,000 within the next six months. If the fundraising comes up short, projects central to establishing the young church's identity may stall.
"The vision for `Anglican 1000' is contingent on us being able to raise $500,000," said treasurer Bill Roemer, referring to the church-planting plans.
Delegates to the ACNA's meeting here said these early years are critical for establishing it as a dynamic alternative to the Episcopal Church, which has been wracked by internal disputes and losing members for decades.
"The fear is that if we don't push forward with a mission effort, we're going to fall back to the old settled denominational pattern, which didn't serve the Episcopal Church well and won't serve us well, either," said the Rev. Tom Finnie, Rector of Christ Church in Midland, Texas.
Many parts of the ACNA, which is composed of a number of conservative Anglican bodies, split from the Episcopal Church in recent years after long battles over homosexuality and theological issues.
Some Anglican critics worry it threatens church unity to have overlapping jurisdictions for competing forms of Anglicanism in a single geographic area.
But the ACNA, which says it hasn't yet petitioned for official standing in the Anglican Communion, enjoys significant support in Africa and other developing regions.
At an April meeting in Singapore, delegates from 20 of the communion's 38 provinces affirmed the ACNA as "a faithful expression of Anglicanism" in a region they said is in need of one.
The new church would need official approval from two-thirds of the world's nearly 40 Anglican primates and the imprimatur of a key Anglican committee before it could be granted membership in the communion.
Even within the ACNA, hot-button issues aren't entirely settled
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