A congregation of the Anglican Church in North America, a theologically conservative denomination comprised mainly of former Episcopal Church congregations, has voted to pursue affiliation with The Episcopal Church.
Resurrection South Austin Church, a Texas-based congregation that began as an ACNA church plant, voted to leave ACNA for The Episcopal Church, with more than 80% of the congregation in favor, according to a public letter released last Wednesday by the church’s rector, Rev. Dr. Shawn McCain Tires.
Tirres wrote that the discernment process “has been intense for all of us, and it was certainly not the summer we expected.”
“I am so proud to belong to a parish that has never been afraid to face complex topics while demonstrating hope and faith in our Good Shepherd to see us through,” wrote Tirres.
“Those who have long been with this faith community will be the first to tell you that we have always aspired to be the kind of place that could welcome everyone in our neighborhood to encounter the love of God, or as we say it, ‘Life Together in the Goodness of God.'”
Tirres expressed gratitude for “the support and relationships” developed while being part of ACNA, expressing hope that “those friendships continue.”
“Though our affiliation is undergoing change, more importantly, our commitment to the Gospel of the Kingdom and our mission as a parish will be sustained and strengthened,” he added.
The Christian Post contacted Resurrection South for this story, but the church declined to comment.
Resurrection South was part of the ACNA Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, based in Franklin, Tennessee, and overseen by Anglican Bishop Todd Hunter.
A diocesan spokesperson directed CP to a comment Hunter gave in an email announcement about the Resurrection South vote. The bishop said the church’s departure from the ACNA is “a sad and painful reality for many of the people directly involved and those adjacent to the situation.”
The spokesperson stated that Hunter worked directly with Resurrection South in a “private, individual process of discernment” in which he “worked diligently with the Rev. Dr. McCain Tirres to try to figure out a way for LGBTQ+ people at Rez to find a loving faith community and full flourishing in Christ within a traditional, biblical sexual ethic.”
“Should it be needed in the future, Bishop Todd is working with C4SO’s ministry team, executive leadership team and legal counsel to formalize a disaffiliation procedure for C4SO churches,” the spokesperson noted.
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas said in a statement shared by the Episcopal News Service that the diocese and congregation will embark on “pastoral and canonical processes of mutual discernment” that will likely lead to the church joining the diocese.
The diocese said that the church did a “thorough examination of its own convictions around a variety of concerns, including [ACNA’s] prohibitions against women in the episcopate and the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ in the church.”
“As distance grew between many of the clergy and people of Resurrection on the doctrine and discipline of ACNA, Resurrection approached the Diocese of Texas to explore a discernment process to affiliate with The Episcopal Church,” the statement reads.
Founded in 2009, ACNA traces its origins to several congregations leaving The Episcopal Church due to the mainline denomination’s theologically liberal direction.
A major point of contention came in 2003 when The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson, as head of the Diocese of New Hampshire.
Today, there are nearly 1,000 ACNA churches with around 125,000 members.
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