Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Anglican Church in North America: Going Where the Money Is

By Robin G. Jordan

I recently examined the Anglican 1000 map of church plants and I could not help but take note of where the ACNA has been launching new churches. The ACNA appears to be focusing upon areas where the Episcopal Church would have been successful if it had not damaged its public image with the population segment in these areas with which it historically had a good track record—affluent educated upper middle class married couples living in new housing. This population segment is one of the traditional constituencies of the Episcopal Church.

I compared the map showing where the ACNA church plants are concentrated with a map showing the poverty rates of the commonwealths and states in the USA. There were no ACNA church plants in the State of Mississippi, which has the highest poverty rate in the United States.

Based upon the map of ACNA church plants, the ACNA does not appear to be heeding Ed Stetzer’s advice and reaching out to unreached segments of the unchurched population. Rather the ACNA appears to be ignoring his caution against concentrating its church planting efforts upon traditional constituencies. Money appears to be the determining factor in the ACNA’s choice of where it plants new churches—that and a population segment with which the ACNA can expect to enjoy a high likelihood of success without changing the way the former Episcopalians comprising the ACNA “do church.”

Some may argue that considering the state of the economy it makes sense for the ACNA to go where the money is. However, our Lord said nothing about taking the gospel to only those segments of the population that can afford to pay a pastor’s compensation package and support a conventional church ministry. Rather he said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”—make known the good news to everybody!

In the Commonwealth of Kentucky I noted that the ACNA church plants are concentrated around Louisville and Lexington, two of the largest cities in the commonwealth. Louisville and Lexington are also where the most Episcopal churches are concentrated in the commonwealth. The Jackson Purchase, the westernmost part of Kentucky in which I reside, had a sizeable concentration of Episcopal churches back in the 1980s. The number of churches has shrunk to five. Four of the five churches are missions. One of the four missions has only monthly services. The region has three small Continuing Anglican congregations. Only one of these congregations has a priest.

Whether the ACNA can be a viable alternative to the Episcopal Church, planting churches in the areas from which the Episcopal Church is withdrawing and reaching population segments with which the Episcopal Church has enjoyed little or no success, remains to be seen. It does not appear to be moving in that direction.

There are large areas of the United States and Canada and large segments of their populations that are not likely to be the focus of ACNA church planting efforts, belying the claim that the formation of the ACNA has made evangelism once more an Anglican priority in North America. Rather than reaffirming and returning to the New Testament gospel, the classical Anglican formularies and historic Anglicanism, the ACNA appears to be heading in another direction with the Catholic Revivalist element in the ACNA in the driver’s seat. There continues to be a need in North America for a Biblically faithful orthodox Anglican province that is proud of its Anglican heritage and supports the classic Anglican position and which is committed to reaching all people groups in North America and beyond with the gospel.


RMBruton said...

A picture-perfect illustration that these people are what I have consistently identified them as, Continuing-Episcopalians.

Barbara Gauthier said...

Sometimes stats can be deceiving. In the past couple of years there have been nine new ACNA church plants in the Chicago area. In Chicago proper, two of the new works are immigrant, working class Hispanic congregations, one is comprised of immigrant Nigerians and a fourth is located in Chicago's most diverse neighborhood, Albany Park, with mostly twenty-somethings in attendance, none of them former Episcopalians.

In Chicago's affluent Western suburbs, three of the new congregations are of the Continuing-Episcopalian type, but two are definitely not. One is an Hispanic congregation, mostly immigrant and economically disadvantaged. The other draws its members from multiracial, low income apartment complexes. No former Episcopalians here! There are some who have taken Setzer's advice to heart.

Ralinda said...

Do you even know the people in Kentucky whom you criticize? The Lexington churches have reached out to rural areas and are ministering to small fellowships outside Lexington. There is an ACNA parish in Elizabethtown--hardly a major metropolitan area. For some reason church plants have had a hard go of it in Louisville, but there is a small faithful core group at Christ the Redeemer who is working to launch a church that will reach out to the unchurched. All of these ventures, rather than being the grand strategy of ACNA leadership whom you seem to despise, are the result of lay people and clergy here in Kentucky who are willing to do the hard work of church planting. Maybe they'll get around to expanding into your neck of the woods so you can shoot them down at close range, metaphorically of course.

Robin G. Jordan said...


What part of the ACNA is planting churches in the Chicago area? Are the church plants to which you refer a part of the Anglican 1000 Church Planting Initiative, established under its auspices? Are they supported or funded by monies raised for the Anglican 1000 Church Planting Initiative? When were they planted and how long have they been in existence?

Enfolding Nigerian ex-patriots in their own churches in which their own dialect was spoken, that were Biblically faithful in doctrine, and in which they might worship as they were accustomed was one of the reasons for the establishment of CANA. Most ex-patriot Nigerian congregations predate the Anglican 1000 Church Planting Inititive and the ACNA.

This information would be useful in determining if your area is really an exception to what appears to be an emerging pattern in the ACNA.

The ecclesial body that is to my knowledge planting churches outside traditional Episcopal constituencies is the AMiA. The AMiA is not a part of the ACNA. It is a ministry partner of the ACNA. It decided against full integration into the ACNA. Full integration would have meant dismantling the AMiA church planting networks that have been very effective in planting new churches and Chuck Murphy relinquishing the extensive authority that he exercises as Primatial Vicar and Chairman. The AMiA is a missionary jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Rwanda and all authority in that ecclesial body is derived from the Primate of Rwanda through Murphy.

Robin G. Jordan said...


The small fellowships to which you refer are they actual church plants? Or are they home groups associated with the churches in Lexington. While home groups sometimes become the core of a new church, church plants are intentional. Do the participants in these small fellowships have their own worship gatherings? Or do they drive to Lexington and attend the worship gathering of one of the churches in Lexington.

Holy Apostles is not a new church plant. It has been in existence for a number of years. It predates the formation of the ACNA.

I have studied the church planting pattern of the PECUSA in the nineteenth and twentieth century. New churches were planted in what may be described as regional commercial centers. Elizabethtown falls into that category. The ACNA is largely following the same pattern. This is not surprising as these centers are where traditional Anglican/Episcopal constituencies are concentrated.

I have a number of legitimate concerns about the governing documents of the ACNA, their theological and ecclesiological biases, the leaders of the ACNA, how they operate, and the direction in which they are taking the ACNA. It also troubles me that members of the ACNA are unconcerned by what are major problems affecting the ACNA. Rather they dismiss legitimate concerns as personal animosity. These problems do exist. They are extensive and serious. Instead of denying them, ACNA members need to address them before they get any further out of hand. There is a very real need for reform in the ACNA.

Ralinda said...

Robin, The goal of the Lexington clergy is to circle the city with biblical Anglican churches and work outwards from there. The fact that they are in ACNA and AMIA hasn't stopped them from working cooperatively to make that happen. It's not happening quickly, but as one pastor told me, "It's happening on God's timing."

There is a church plant in Mississippi--but it's in a large city. Guess they are following the pattern of those crazy guys 2,000 years ago who started their church plants in commercial centers and worked out from there.

If you are really trying to help, have you approached anyone directly with your concerns? And assuming that you truly want an Anglican entity that is not TEC to thrive in the U.S. Other than banishing the Anglo-Catholics which will not happen, you may find that constructive comments will get a hearing.

Robin G. Jordan said...


They have not so far. I have found the upper echelons of both the ACNA and the AMiA closed to ideas both from outsiders like myself and from insiders according to my contacts in the ACNA and the AMiA. They are open only to ideas that come from within the leadership circle of their respective organizations. I have had at least one ACNA bishop lie to me and another demand to know who authorized me to submit the proposal that I had submitted.

I am not convinced that they are following the example of the New Testament Church. I have studied the history of church planting in the United States along with church planting methodology and I have been involved in a number of church plants. They are following the pattern of the Episcopal Church before the liberalism gained the ascendancy in that denomination. During the nineteenth century the Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, and the Presbyterians were among the first who planted churches along the western frontier. As the frontier moved further west, they moved further west. The Episcopalins waited for the railroad and the steamboat. The other denominations reached to people in every walk of life. The Episcopal Church reached out to the upper classes, the educated, and the wealthy. The Episcopal Church concentrated upon the commercial centers because its main constituencies were located in these centers and they were accessible by riverboat and train. These groups were also not put off by the increasingly Anglo-Catholic doctrine and High Church worship of the Episcopal Church as were the inhabitants of small towns and rural areas who equated such beliefs and practices with the Roman Catholic Church, which is not surprising because the Romeward movement was at at its height at that time. Here in the Jackson Purchase where you find an Episcopal church, you also find a Roman Catholic church in the same community or an adjoining community.

As for what I would like to see in North America, I suggest that you read today's article, "Catholic Revivalism in the Anglican Church in North America."

The Hackney Hub said...


There is one AMiA parish in Lexington, St. Patrick's, (~ 100 communicants), two ACNA parishes, Apostle's Anglican (~200 communicants) and St. Luke, one AMiA parish in Nicholasville, St. Aidan's (~30 communicants), one AMiA parish in Covington, St. Barnabas (not sure), an ACNA parish in Elizabethtown, Holy Apostles, St. Luke's in Maysville, St. Paul's in Corbin, Christ the King in Liberty, Christ the Redeemer in Louisville and St. Stephen's as well, there's the new mission in Mt. Sterling, Ss. Mary and Martha, and St. Andrew's in Versailles. Likewise, there is a lot of mission work going on in the Appalachian and eastern part of the state.

I can give you contact info if you would like.

Robin G. Jordan said...


I would be interested in their contact information. I publish several blogs. One is West Kentucky Anglicans. I would be interested in soliciting article material from these churches for West Kentucky Anglicans as well as learning more about them, how they were started, what their long-term and short-term goals are, what segments of the local population they are targeting, etc. You have my True Vine Anglican email address. Send the information to me at that address. True Vine Anglican Church was the name of a new church I was in the very early stages of planting in southeast Louisiana before the housing shortage caused by Hurricane Katrina caused me to relocate to western Kentucky. God apparently had other plans for me.

Barbara Gauthier said...

All nine of the church plants in the Chicago area are ACNA, not AMiA. The three Continuing-Episcopalian congregations are under +Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh and all three have a resident priest and regular Saturday night/Sunday morning church services. Ascension was founded in June 2010, Hope Anglican in 2009 and St. Aidan's in 2009.

The other six church plants are non-Continuing-Episcopalian congregations.

Iglesia de la Resurreccion began in 2009 and now has 40-50 attending Saturday night church service. Sagrada Corazon has 35-40 and now has an Hispanic deacon leading their Sunday services. Santa Maria is led by a Colombian-born priest and has around 60 every Sunday.

Redeemer-Northwestern meets on Northwestern's campus and has around 30 students attending its Sunday morning service. Redeemer Anglican began in 2009 and has around 40-50 attending its Sunday church service.

Briar Street Anglican just launched their formal Sunday service this month with a core group of around 15-20. It did begin as a Bible study group with people from surrounding low-income housing who had no church of their own and little previous contact with Christianity. However, it was not the traditional home group associated with an established church, whose members then continue to attend their sending church on Sundays. In this instance, a Greenhouse catechist moved into the apartment complex as residents about a year ago and began making connections with his unchurched neighbors. He now has a second catechist working alongside him as they begin formal services this month.

Mount Zion is part of CANA, but its services are in English and it is working closely with both the Hispanic and Anglo congregations.

These six non-Continuing-Anglican congregations in Chicago and suburbs are part of the Greenhouse Movement, which is a missionary society now under the auspices of the ACNA Archbishop, currently +Bob Duncan. Greenhouse is indeed working with Anglican 1000 and is helping church planting efforts in non-ACNA parts of Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas. Greenhouse also works alongside established ACNA dioceses in both the US and Canada.

This weekend, for example, they are in New England providing church-planting training for clergy and laity in Massachusetts. This morning, there was also a training session for lay catechists in Chicago, with some 20 catechists from the Chicago area and another dozen or so being skyped in live from Houston, El Paso and Virginia.

BTW, Anglican Mission has not planted a single new church in the Chicago area since Church of the Savior was started in 2004. Ironically, Savior does fit your profile of the typical ACNA church plant: older congregation, mostly ex-Episcopalians and ex-Lutherans.

At least in Chicago, the primary non-traditional Anglican church-planting group is ACNA, not AMiA.

Barbara Gauthier said...

I forgot to add that all of these Greenhouse-sponsored church plants in Chicago are self-supporting and receive no outside funding from ACNA or Anglican 1000. Their lay catechists are also self-supporting, either "tent-making" like Paul or raising funds in much the same way as Campus Crusade or Intervarsity workers. These lay catechists have then contributed their time and talent to Anglican 1000 conferences by leading workshops and break-out sessions on non-traditional church planting. I believe that their transportation costs and lodging at these conferences are picked up by Anglican 1000.

Robin G. Jordan said...


From my research on the Internet I gather that Greenhouse is an independent church planting network with which the ACNA is now working. From what you are saying the churches that were planted were not part of the Anglican 1000 Church Planting Initiative but for the most part predate that initiative. The three churches under Bob Duncan sound like old ACN churches.

I appreciate you providing readers with a more detailed picture of what is happening in the Chicago area and Greenhouse's relationship with the ACNA. I must point out that Greenhouse does resemble a number of the AMiA church planting networks and the idea of using of catechists to plant churches as in Africa was introduced in the AMiA as early as 2000. I recall a presentation on the approach at the 2001 AMiA Winter Conference.

The more detailed picture of the Chicago area that you have provided does not invalidate the observation that based on the Anglican 1000 map of church plants and the map of poverty rates in the United States the ACNA appears to be concentrating its church planting efforts in areas and populations with which TEC enjoyed success before the ascendancy of liberalism in that denomination. But it does suggest that where independent regional church planting networks are determining church planting targets there is greater likelihood that the population segments targeted will be more diverse. Thank you for sharing this useful information with readers. It does point to the need for strong, innovative region-based church planting networks in areas that have few church plants and these church plants are confined to traditional Anglican/Episcopal constituencies.

Barbara Gauthier said...

The Greenhouse Church Movement is not and has never been "independent." It was initially developed within the AMiA in mid-2009 and was then transferred to the direct oversight of +Bob Duncan in December of 2009.

The three Continuing-Episcopalian type churches actually came out of AMiA churches: St. Aidan's and Hope Anglican from Church of the Great Shepherd (which has itself also left AMiA for the ACNA) and Ascension from Church of the Resurrection. I will agree with you that they seem to be typical of an old ACN church, but none of them have ever had any ties to the ACN, since they came out of AMiA churches that preceded the ACN by several years.

There are several examples of "old ACN churches" in the area, which do fit the model you describe: All Souls, which came out of a 2004 split within St. Mark's, Glen Ellyn (TEC/ACN), and Christ the King, also begun in 2004 by refugees from Holy Comforter, Kenilworth (TEC), who then affiliated with ACN through Bolivia). All Souls is now part of the ACNA Quincy Diocese and Christ the King is in the Diocese of Pittsburgh's Chicago deanery.

The lines here in Chicago are much more blurred than in other parts of the country. That may be due to there being a sizable non-TEC Anglican presence here that was established in 1993, well before AMiA, Gene Robinson, the ACN and the ACNA. About half the parishes in this area trace their ancestry back to the 1993 split with the Diocese of Chicago and the other half came into being post-2003. Their DNA is very different, with the earlier parishes being much more mission-minded (African model) and the later ones more maintenance-oriented (TEC model). From all I've read, Chicago presents a unique situation because of these two very distinct waves, which occurred over a decade apart.

It is the mission-minded churches that will survive and grow and spread. I think you're right that we need strong, innovative region-based church planting networks in areas where there is no Anglican presence, particularly in areas traditionally neglected by TEC in the past.

Robin G. Jordan said...


I visited several websites that identified themselves as being a part of the Greenhouse Church Planting Network. These websites did not draw attention to a connection with the ACNA or emphasize it. In at least case "independent" was used to describe the network. Does more than one Greenhouse Church Planting Network exist?

Barbara Gauthier said...


There's just one Greenhouse church-Planting Movement as far as I know. Some of those websites you found may be out of date. During most of 2009 it was still unclear exactly how Greenhouse would fit into the ACNA structure, whether as a local diocese-in-formation or as a nation-wide missionary society with a vicar reporting directly to the Archbishop of the ACNA (whoever that might happen to be).

Greenhouse came under +Duncan's direct oversight in January 2010 as a "missionary district" for lack of a better term. However, the details of what the relationship would look like long term were not finalized until the spring ACNA House of Bishops meeting this year.

I would not be at all surprised if material posted between spring of 2009 and spring of 2011 might use the word "independent" since there were a multitude of details still to be worked out and nothing definite to post at that time. By the end of this month the new Greenhouse website should be up and running -- their first official site -- which should have more information for you.

It may also be that some of those websites belong to individual church plants, which may not feel that their target demographic has much interest in affiliation (being mostly of the unchurched variety) and thus they may have decided that any mention of affiliation was neither necessary nor helpful.

BTW, I have been amazed at how many of the AMiA and ACNA parishes have no mention of affiliation or diocese/network anywhere on their website, other than the generic term "Anglican." The REC does seems to be the one exception to this trend.


Robin G. Jordan said...


The reluctance to identify affiliation may reflect the trend to which a number of researchers have drawn attention. 'Survey: Pastors Say Identifying With Denomination Will Become Less Vital' is the most recent article on the trend to which I have posted a link:

Church leaders see no benefit in identifying the church with a particular denomination, only with an ecclesiastical tradition or theological stance. Western Kentucky has numerous Baptist churches. Some identify themselves as members of the Southern Baptist Convention and use the SBC logo; others simply identify themselves as Baptist. A few don't even identify themselves as Baptist. They are 'Community Churches.'

Churches in the Reformed Episcopal Church may place a greater emphasis upon denominational affiliation, a characteristic usually seen in the old mainline denominations. On the other hand, REC may have a policy of requiring churches to show their affiliation.

In western Kentucky the use of 'Anglican' may itself be off-putting. Some folks identify 'Anglican' with the Episcopal Church and liberalism or the Continuum and Anglo-Catholicism, which from their viewpoint is indistinguishable from Roman Catholicism. This is not surprising as the region's Continuers tend to be of the 'advanced' Anglo-Catholic variety, use the Missal, say the rosary, and so on. These folks don't regard Episcopalians, Continuing Anglicans, or Roman Catholics as genuine Christians.