Hawes, Jennifer Berry. “Archbishop says ACNA not part of the Anglican Communion.” 9 Oct 2014. The Post and Courier. http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20141009/PC16/141009387/1177. Accessed 10 Oct 2014.
The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion says a group of churches that left The Episcopal Church and its Canadian counterpart are not part of the communion, riling more orthodox members who see the cementing of global divisions.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made the comments about the Anglican Church in North America, which includes one of the Lowcountry's largest congregations, St. Andrew's Church based in Mount Pleasant.
Its rector, the Rt. Rev. Steve Wood, is bishop of ACNA's Diocese of the Carolinas.
"ACNA is a separate church. It's not part of the Anglican Communion," Welby said in an Oct. 3 interview with The Church of Ireland Gazette. Instead, he called ACNA "an ecumenical partner."
The issue of who is in communion with the global body remains sensitive in the wake of parishes and clergy across the country opting to leave The Episcopal Church, often over scriptural disputes including the nature of salvation and homosexuality.
Locally, Bishop Mark Lawrence and two-thirds of area parishes separated from The Episcopal Church in 2012. St. Andrew's already had left, in 2010.
However, the Anglican Communion is divided into a series of geographic provinces, and The Episcopal Church spans the entire U.S. with a series of dioceses.
"We consider ourselves to be the expression of the Anglican Communion in South Carolina," said Holly Behre, spokeswoman for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the area parishes that remain with The Episcopal Church.
Separating from The Episcopal Church left breakaway groups figuring out how to remain in communion with Canterbury.
The Diocese of South Carolina, Lawrence's group, is still discerning its permanent affiliation within the Anglican Communion. In the interim, its has entered a relationship with an archbishop in the Global South, comprised largely of African and Asian provinces, to establish a direct connection to the larger communion through a recognized body, the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis said.
St. Andrew's joined ACNA, which today has about 112,000 members.
In essence, Welby's comments have re-stirred a critical question: Is being Anglican about being in communion with Caterbury, or is it about holding certain shared theological views?
Wood noted that Welby also said in the interview, "There is no Anglican Pope," and that "decisions are made collectively and collegially."
"The status of the ACNA within the Anglican Communion would, by extension of the same logic, be dependent upon the decisions of the primates and not solely upon the personal opinion Archbishop Justin," Wood said.
Wood expects the archbishop's comments will be addressed by other primates "as they are his peers and share equally the responsibility of global leadership."
Some of those primates are in Atlanta, along with Wood, for the investiture of the Most Rev. Foley Beach on Thursday evening as the new archbishop of ACNA.
"Perhaps Archbishop Justin might have just wished us well and offered his prayers on behalf of a unified and biblical Anglican witness around the globe," Wood added.
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes.