An Anglican Church in North America parish announced this week that it is departing the theologically conservative denomination to pursue affiliation with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, with its priest saying “This journey has brought us immense clarity and conviction.”
Resurrection Anglican Church South Austin is the third parish in two years to depart the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO), following St. Mary of Bethany Parish Nashville and The Table Indianapolis. The latter also pursued affiliation with the Episcopal Church, while the former remains unaffiliated as “an Ecumenical Eucharistic Community.”
The Table Indianapolis was the first parish to depart for the Episcopal Church from the ACNA denomination that is largely composed of congregations that themselves either departed the Episcopal Church or were planted in cooperation with those who did so.
In 2022, C4SO was the second largest diocese in the ACNA measured by attendance, membership, and number of congregations. The Episcopal Diocese of Texas is the second largest in the Episcopal Church.
All three departing parishes share emphasis on social justice causes and count a significant percentage of post-Evangelicals as members, rather than former mainline Protestants.
“While this moves us out of affiliation with our friends in the Anglican Church in North America and the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, we appreciate the support and relationships we have enjoyed with so many sisters and brothers in Christ over the years and hope those friendships continue,” Resurrection Rector Shawn McCain Tirres wrote in a Wednesday announcement posted on the church website. McCain Tirres also wrote of gratitude “for our colleagues in C4SO and our beloved bishop, Todd Hunter,” as well as eagerness to get to know Episcopal parish communities in Central Texas.
As I’ve previously noted, for such a small slice of the American religious pie (approximately 125,000 members), the ACNA sits on a heavily transited parcel of ecclesial real estate. Our denomination is often a waystation for Christians traveling from – and moving on to – a variety of destinations.
Some we meet “on the Canterbury trail” are encountering historic, liturgical Christianity for the first time and may eventually opt to swim the Tiber or Bosphorus on their way to Rome or Constantinople. Still others have departed from an Evangelical or fundamentalist context and will move to progressive Christianity, or out of the faith altogether. It is likely that some of those worshiping at Resurrection South Austin find themselves on one of these paths.
In October 2021, I wrote about the promotion of Liberation Theology within ACNA by McCain Tirres. It was one example of a jarring disconnect between Anglicans who separated from the Episcopal Church’s theological revisionism at great cost, and post-Evangelicals newly weighing such truth claims.
As I wrote last year, The Table Church wasn’t really the first to depart ACNA, and Resurrection South Austin won’t be the last to do so. What those of us within ACNA can do is contend for “the faith once delivered” and share those things that deepened our knowledge and love of the Lord.
McCain Tirres himself was circumspect in the announced change of affiliation.
“Even in our disagreements and concerns, we have walked in love, sought understanding and reconciliation, and entrusted ourselves to God’s unfailing wisdom and mercy.”