The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) entered its thirteenth year with a full but successful Provincial Council 2022 held at The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia from June 14-16. Delegates and observers from across North America gathered to bring greater clarity to the church’s mission, to celebrate a year of ministry struggle and success, and to pray for healing and restoration. From business meetings to workshops to healing prayer, the Council meeting provided a variety of opportunities for engagement with one another and with the mission of the ACNA.
Per the ACNA Canons, the Provincial Council is the governing body of the church. It meets to discuss and vote on governing matters that move the church forward in mission. In addition to passing the 2022-2023 budget, the Council voted on and discussed the following highlights:
Members Who Serve Our Province
Mr. Lee Hilts and the Rev. Dr. Travis Boline were each appointed to another three-year term as Treasurer and Secretary for the ACNA, respectively. The Council also elected and welcomed four Executive Committee members: the Rev. Jake Stum, the Rev. Dcn. Lisa Schwandt, Dr. Joan Deeks, and Dr. Bill Atwood.
Additionally, the College of Bishops introduced three new ACNA Bishops-Elect: The Rev. Alex Farmer (Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic); The Rev. Alex Cameron (Diocese of Pittsburgh); and The Rev. Willie Hill, Jr. (REC Diocese of the Southeast).
The Rev. Cn. Andrew Gross presented the results of the Congregational Reporting process which is completed by congregations each year. Gratitude was extended to congregations, diocesan administrators, bishops, provincial staff, and volunteers for their work in successfully completing this project. Using the best two months of 2021 to compare in-person attendance to the mostly pre-pandemic numbers of 2020, an 11% decline was recorded (73,832 in 2021 compared to 83,119 in 2020). Using the data of overall ASA to compare 2021 in-person attendance to the pre-pandemic numbers of 2020, a 30% decline was recorded (58,255 in 2021 compared to 83,119 in 2020). Membership declined 3% from 126,760 in 2020 to 122,450 in 2021. Although there was fluctuation within dioceses, the overall number of churches increased by two from 972 to 974.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the total number of congregations remained steady; however, the strength of these congregations remains an open question given significant decreases in in-person attendance. It was noted that some of this difference may be accounted for in online attendance. Nevertheless, a 30% drop in attendance (while not out of line with the declines among other Christian denominations) suggests that many of our congregations face the need to rebuild.
Every year, the ACNA reviews the canonical laws by which it is governed. These canons are updated as needed as the Province serves the growing vision and mission of the Province. The process of amending the ACNA Constitution and Canons includes multiple reviews by all members of the ACNA with drafts adjusted from feedback received from all levels of the Church – bishops, clergy, and laity. This year, delegates approved several proposed canonical amendments formulated by the Governance Task Force led by the Rev. Canon Dr. Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council (AAC) who facilitated this process and presented proposed changes to Provincial Council. You can access the Governance Taskforce report which lists and shows the canonical changes here: [https://youtu.be/9pJrwFgyQJg].
The Council was also marked by worship at both ends of the schedule. An opening Holy Eucharist was held Tuesday evening and a worship and healing service was held on the last evening. In between, each day began with morning prayer and a Bible study led by the Rev. Sam Ferguson of The Falls Church Anglican. There was also daily midday prayer.
In addition to hearing the Archbishop’s Report by the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, the Provincial Council was also blessed to hear testimonies from members and ministry partners across the Province including the Rev. Cn. Mark Eldredge for the AAC’s Anglican Revitalization Ministries; the Rev. Herb Bailey for Matthew 25; the Rev. Dcn. Georgette Forney for Anglicans for Life; the Rev. Dan Alger from Always Forward; Mrs. Jenny Noyes for the Global Mission Initiative; updates from the field from the Anglican Relief and Development Fund; and more. You can watch these speakers on the ACNA Provincial Council 2022 livestream site here: [https://anglicanchurch.net/provincial-council-streaming-live/].
In addition to the livestreams, if you would like to access the full written reports and lists of presentations and schedules, the Document Center for the meeting is here: [https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rp70xuodivly2bm/AAC7yyC2f-WVSxzIPmiDbZfLa?dl=0]. The next Provincial Council will gather from June 19-22, 2023 (location to be announced). To stay abreast of future announcements regarding Provincial Council, access the ACNA event calendar here: [https://anglicanchurch.net/events/].