A Letter to Fellow ACNA Clergy: On Anti-Racism and a More Diverse and Just Anglicanism

An appeal from the progressive faction within the ACNA

50
2070

Editor’s note: To sign the statement please go to the website of Anglican Compass the place of first publication. It has been asked whether readers might confuse the tag line for this article “An appeal from the progressive faction within the ACNA” as being a quote from the appeal. It is not. It is merely a descriptor used by the Anglican Ink to help readers place this article in proper context.

The Appeal states:

Following the lead of bishops Jim Hobby, Todd Hunter, Stewart Ruch III, and Steve Wood, who recently wrote in response to the death of George Floyd, which gained support from a number of other bishops, we offer this open letter to our fellow ACNA clergy and to the churches under our care. Whether you’re ACNA clergy, a layperson, or a Christian leader outside the ACNA, we invite your consideration of the following and your signature in support.


Our Context

Our province, The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), was born as part of a global movement that features diverse leadership and reflects the churches and people of global Anglicanism. It is a manifestation of the universal power and eschatological telos of the Gospel of Jesus: “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).

Currently, the American population is about 38% non-white. By many projections, over the next 20 years, it will be increasingly composed of ethnic minorities. Our province, however, is far from representative of this emerging reality. The mission on our doorstep is clear: to reach North America, in all of its ethnic diversity, “with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.” We have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel “to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15) and to be Jesus’ witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are called to reflect the ethnic diversity of the global movement of which we are a part, as well as the diverse locales in which we are present.

In order to more fully embody our Gospel witness, we must support, encourage, and empower the leadership of brothers and sisters of color in the ACNA to create more hospitable and welcoming spaces for people of color. This includes Black, Latino/a, Native, Asian, and other people groups. We must listen and respond to these voices in our midst and collectively seek to understand and address the historic and ongoing ways in which people of color continue to struggle under various expressions of injustice.

We see and grieve the racism and discrimination that exists and has a deep cultural and structural influence in our society, in our communities, and in our churches. The recent tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are simply the latest in a long line of harrowing examples of these deeply embedded systemic realities. We see and grieve that our brothers and sisters of color, including many in our own dioceses and parishes, have been and continue to be profoundly affected by these realities.

Against this backdrop, we offer the following confessions and make the following commitments.

Confessions

We confess that we have failed to see, understand, and address the expressions of racism, both personal and systemic, that plague our society, communities, and churches.

We confess our slowness to listen to the dismay and discouragement of our brothers and sisters of color, especially those in our own province, and have neglected to cultivate hospitable spaces for them to flourish.

We confess that our ignorance, complacency, and silence have undermined our fidelity to the Great Commandment to love God and love our neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40), which fundamentally calls us into disciplines of anti-racism.

Commitments

We commit to listening to, learning from, and supporting leaders of color in their witness to our province.

We commit to partnering with these friends, and with organizations like

that are working to promote, support, and invest in a more diverse and just Anglicanism.

And, in all of our different capacities and platforms, in our churches and in the world, we commit ourselves to investing in the work of anti-racism—in our catechesis, discipleship, preaching, ministry, advocacy, and reform.

The Road Ahead

We are encouraged by the leaders, including the Archbishop, who have spoken out about the recent injustices, and we know that there are places within the province where there is movement toward realizing this vision of a multi-ethnic church, one that is unhindered by racism in all its forms, that can reach the entirety of North America.

However, there is significant work yet to be done. We hope that others will join us in our intentional commitment to partnering with leaders of color and the provincial organizations listed above in order to cultivate a diverse and just Anglicanism in North America.

We are a group of clergy committed to the ACNA and its mission. If you would like either to join us in these confessions and commitments or signal your affirmation of such work, we invite you to add your name to this letter.

Our ultimate goal, however, is not just signatures, but a collective public commitment towards diversity and justice for the sake of the gospel and our Kingdom witness.

Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Sincerely in Christ,

Authors

Rev. Ryan Boettcher
Associate Clergy, Resurrection Anglican South Austin

Rev. Dr. Shawn McCain
Rector, Resurrection Anglican South Austin

Rev. Seth Richardson
The Telos Collective

Rev. Dr. J.R. Rozko
National Director, Missio Alliance & Co-Lead Pastor, First Church of the Resurrection

Rev. Ben Sternke
Co-Rector, The Table Indianapolis & Co-Founder, Gravity Leadership

Rev. Matt Tebbe
Co-Rector, The Table Indianapolis & Co-Founder, Gravity Leadership

Rev. Erik Willits
Host of The Intersection Podcast
Special Projects, 
Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others