Monday, May 24, 2010

Out of Africa

The mission to which we belong identifies itself as “an evangelical church in the Anglican tradition,” affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA). Recently, the AMiA opted to revert to “Mission Partner” status with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). That means the AMiA will work at some distance from the ACNA of which it was an original constituent.

In a comment thread at StandFirm I found this note that offers some context:

…the history of the Church has always been one of both charism and order.

In the Anglican case, we must remember that AMiA quite intentionally seeks, in its ties to Rwanda, to partake of the blessings of the longest revival in modern church history (the ongoing East-African Revival). AMiA is passionate about planting churches, making disciples, and fanning the flames of the Revival in North America.

ACNA, on the other hand, appreciates all of that very deeply, but is quite keen to faithfully receive and pass on the enduring ethos of an ecclesiology that comprehends the orthodox streams of evangelical, catholic, and charismatic Anglicanism. In its North American context, it knows that prayer-book faith and sacramental practice, not to mention the visible ecclesial life of the Anglican tradition, are significant draws in a religious (esp. evangelical) landscape deprived of the roots and richness afforded by the Great Tradition.

So, AMiA will continue to tilt toward ‘charism’ and ACNA toward ‘order.’ It will be up to the bishops of both movements to recognize their need for each other in years ahead. Some minds are inclined toward disjunction… others toward conjunction. For the time being, it may be just as well that both mindsets have some opportunity to bear their distinctive fruits. No doubt, some fig-tree testing lay ahead as well. Fortunately, Jesus Christ is Lord* of the Church—a Church that has, historically, accounted for both charism and order.

*More precisely, Christ is Head of the Church.


Chuck Hicks said...

I can't say that I fully rejoice in this. I would prefer something like an evangelical Church of England parish, where evangelism and order flow seamlessly. The nearest to that on this continent that I'm acquainted with are the orthodox Episcopal churches in Charleston, SC.

The Underground Pewster said...

I have a sneaky suspicion that this is a move which might ease the admission of ACNA into the Anglican communion.

Chuck Hicks said...

Good observation. The AMiA is the a maverick, so this will likely help the ACNA's cause.

My comment above needs some clarification. I do not mean that I am sorry to see the AMiA distance itself from the ACNA; I thought the StandFirm reader's comments were helpful in framing the background and emphases of the two groups. AMiA is truly a mission-focused wing of the church.

I was alluding to a personal preference: at its best the AMiA is still not my ideal. I appreciate its focus on evangelism, but it gives itself to a "try anything" mentality that in some quarters includes experimentation with "postmodern" and "emergent" strains of an almost church-less Christianity. To be very frank, we left the first AMiA church we attended because it took a sharp and decided turn in that direction -- driving out elderly saints in the process. The mission we now belong to is more "traditional" in many respects; but the potential to "get hip" in order to be "relevant" is always lurking around the corner.

Not to say that God cannot use that sort of thing to reach certain people, but in my view it amounts to generationally focused silliness. I'm getting too old for that junk. Like I told one of my daughters when she was a teenager, "You may think getting a tattoo now is really cool; but how will you feel about it when you're a grandmother?"