Anglicans Shouldn’t Be Building New Colleges

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”

St. Luke 14:28-30

Anglicanism is young in North America, again. Besides a handful of holdouts, the Anglican church is entirely new to the Evangelical scene and has acted like it, proving incredibly adept at planting churches and getting their foot in the door in institutions across the country. They are already stepping up to the mantle long abdicated by the Protestant Episcopal Church (hereafter PECUSA), dialoguing with Evangelicals and confessional Lutherans, and making prominent converts out of as diverse candidates as Beth Moore and Mike Pence.

While the heir of the old Protestant Episcopal Church, the ACNA does not feel like a mainline Christian denomination and has had far closer relationships with Evangelical denominations as compared to their older, heterodox cousins. Nevertheless, a good dose of 20th-century Episcopalian Realism is in order. While the ACNA has received a shot-in-the-arm through new alliances with the global south and an influx of disillusioned Baptists and Presbyterians, more of Episcopalian culture has been inherited than first meets the eye. As Eliot notices in his Notes toward the Definition of a Culture, only a minority of any culture is articulated within a single generation. Thus what a culture intentionally passes down is only a small part of what it actually is. It is the unspoken continuity more than the articulated traditions which allow for culture to be passed on between generations, in what Anglican statesman Edmund Burke calls the “society” of the “the dead, the living, and the yet unborn.”

While certain trends within Episcopalian culture this past century should be seen as detrimental to the health of the ACNA, we should not and cannot hope to entirely kill all the roots which eventually bore each and every bad fruit, but rather mitigate American Anglicanism’s worst excesses and bolster its strengths to take advantage of our current moment and disciple a generation of Christians in an uprooted age. Lest we be unsettled by the possibility of future decline and fall into a crippling anxiety about the future or zealous reform of all the institutions of the ACNA at once, remember the promises of our leading light, Richard Hooker, who noted that “the generall and perpetuall voice of men is as the sentence of God himself.” The entire unfolding of the Anglican tradition has been the providence of God and has been used for the good of his children. All of us have our quibbles with how our traditions have developed and which were more accidents of history than maturity of true doctrine. But at this time we have inherited a tradition, and to throw away our inheritance for an easy, momentary solution would be to replicate Esau’s folly.

Anglican Undergraduate Failures

It is for this reason that Anglicans ought to reconsider the hope placed in establishing Anglican institutions of higher learning. While two recent attempts yet live on (and bravo to them for their efforts, I pray they succeed), it is highly unlikely that there will be an orderly or peaceable Provincial seminary or college in the foreseeable future.

Since the formation of the ACNA, several worthy attempts at building Anglican Colleges have failed behind the scenes, and more likely will in the near future. It is a well-established tradition within American Episcopalianism, a tradition enamored with the perennial prestige of Oxford and Cambridge, to aspire to build respectable gothic colleges and find oneself with either a rapidly liberalizing institution or no institution whatsoever.

The very first Anglican liberal arts college, William and Mary College, produced some of the greatest thinkers in American history, but it was neither very orthodox nor very long-lasting, relying heavily upon the fortunes of Whiggish planters rather than upon a rhythm of the Daily Office or orthodox Anglican theology. After being restructured by Jefferson, it lost all Anglican distinctives, and effectively bullied its theology chair (and one student) off campus after a single year. It never partook in any religious revival in Virginia and never again had the political or religious influence it did prior to the American Revolution.

In 1754, Dr. Samuel Johnson (not the one you’re thinking of) was elected president of the Tory-Anglican Kings College in New York City, which, led by some of the brightest Tories in English society, produced a generation of brilliant Anglican statesmen such as John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris. It suspended operations after the outbreak of the Revolution and lost all religious connections after the War for Independence.

While the influence of different forms of Anglican political thought upon Anti-Federalist and Federalist parties of the United States is itself fascinating and worthy of a deeper study, suffice it to say that as Episcopal churches collapsed across the United States in the wake of disestablishment, the Anglican colleges also declined. Since then, the PECUSA has never held denominational universities in high regard and turned instead towards the development of seminaries. Where Kings had once been a bastion of Tory sentiment which formed leading Federalist leaders, there was now Hobart’s Sacramental, High Church General Seminary. Where formerly William and Mary held pride of place for Virginian elites, the center of gravity moved north to the Calvinistic, Low Church Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, a region dominated by Low Church evangelicals to this day.

Notably, Joseph Packard, professor and then president at VTS from the 1830s till 1901, wrote in his autobiography that the failure to establish an undergraduate college alongside the seminary and boarding school was his great regret during his (very!) long tenure in Alexandria.

Westward expansion provided a couple of successful examples at Episcopal undergraduate universities in Sewanee and Kenyon College, but neither proved as large or as influential as the founders had intended, and neither played a decisive role in the theological direction of the PECUSA (despite providing a large number of clergy). Few Episcopalian colleges have maintained a close connection with their theological tradition, and none were recorded as defending orthodoxy during the PECUSA’s long theological drift.

Seminary Failures

Finally, even though the Anglican tradition in the United States has developed a number of seminaries since the beginning of the 19th century, few have contributed significantly to the theological advancement of the faith, and again, none provided material resistance to theological liberalism when it actually entered the church. In fact, Anglican seminaries have a very poor track record in the United States: the powerhouse of evangelicalism in the PECUSA, Virginia Theological, never held a candle theologically to its Presbyterian or Congregationalist equivalents, and never produced the level of minds that those denominations did in opposing theological liberalism. Virginia Theological Seminary’s centennial autobiography writes of its founding Bishop, William Meade, with a mix of admiration and confusion at his Calvinism and his obstinate theological conservatism; while VTS has achieved remarkable institutional stability in recent years, VTS graduate Phillips Brooks recounted how backwards his education was even during its evangelical golden age as compared to his undergraduate, Harvard College in the 1850s. Not only was it not particularly academic, it also was not original, as founders Meade and William Wilmer copied the New Light Congregationalist Andover Seminary in precise detail, going so far as to enroll as former faculty and students from Andover and recruiting heavily from Puritan New England families to sustain the evangelical reforms in Virginia.

Lest this problem be seen as a purely Virginian phenomenon, John Henry Hobart’s High Churchmanship faced similar problems. What the bishop and his General Seminary possessed in tenacity they lacked in rigor: first, being theologically decimated in a pamphlet war against Alexander Hodge over apostolic succession, then being infiltrated and decisively defeated by the Tractarian movement, the old high church formula was dead by the War between the States. Their best defense, the stream of refugees from revivalism, became a double-edged sword once the reactionary Tractarians outflanked the old High Church party, only to themselves be compromised with Darwinism and German higher criticism. Later seminaries usually ended up following either the Evangelical slide into liberalism or a civil war won by Tractarians who in turn had few of the tools to rebuff higher criticism and Darwinism.

Proposed Reasons for this Odd Sequence of National Success and Institutional Failure

The reasons for the repeated failure of orthodox Anglicans to support or maintain even a portion of their institutions of higher learning despite national prominence are fivefold, and through rigorous examination of these causes, the personality and mission of the ACNA might be preserved and strengthened.

ACNA is not an Ethnic Province

First, the PECUSA (and the ACNA today) was and is not an ethnic church. Ethnic bodies have been the most successful at developing “cradle to collar” approaches to ministry. Denominations like the Christian Reformed Church (Dutch) and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (German) successfully built primary schools, a plethora of academically rigorous and theologically distinctive colleges, orthodox seminaries, and hundreds of parishes with which to place curates looking for ministry experience. Greek Orthodox churches have a similar, if less effective, model as well.

In all cases, the ethnic denomination thrives by creating its own ecosystem of owned space which can be kept pure from theological and social contamination. As long as children are raised in faithful families who attend church regularly, then sent to approved secondary schools which reinforce that same worldview with the same liturgy, hymns, catechism, history, and social expectations, then to colleges where they marry others similarly raised, the denomination could theoretically thrive in perpetuity. But for this to happen, two factors have to occur. One is that there has to either be high levels of homogenization within the community the child is raised in throughout this period, or the child has to perceive himself close enough to the experience which made the founding of the denomination significant. It matters less what year the new LCMS minister is ordained than that he believes he is theologically proximate to founding president C.F.W. Walther, and that he can transpose his own experience of the world into one in which Walther and the institution he created can adequately respond to the pastoral and social problems of the present. Confessionalism and emigration was the solution chosen by the LCMS to respond to the Prussian Union. That same Confessionalism must be believed to interpret the problems of current theological crises and to justify the cradle-to-collar approach. The second is that the denomination has to disregard shifting societal expectations about credentialing. In a world where communication was slower, communities could ostensibly hold out for decades with high suspicion of outsiders and little knowledge of them.

An old professor of mine recounted to me his time in north Alabama where in the 1970s students were still led in prayer in public school, and Roman Catholic priests were believed to sleep with brides on their wedding night. Such a perception was made possible by a lack of knowledge of Roman Catholicism, and rendered the status envy of Roman Catholics very mild. Nobody wanted to be a Roman Catholic. They were dangerous. But when the LCMS began growing into a mainstream American denomination, there was pressure for them to send their professors to Ph.D programs at elite American institutions. Being a pastor was no longer a sign of being an expert. Ph.D’s had a sort of credentialing power that pastors now needed. This caused significant upheaval when LCMS pastors were forced to confront liberal theology at its most rigorous, and many capitulated to it out of social pressure, intellectual conviction, or disillusionment with the Lutheran Book of Concord’s ability to adequately solve the problems of the mid-twentieth century.

The PECUSA did not have an insulated ethnic class which made up the majority of the weekly attendance. There was not a vivid founding experience, like religious persecution or immigration, and almost nothing about their culture was actually exclusive to them as a whole. Insulation was impossible and never seriously considered.

ACNA is not a Confessional Province

Second, Anglicanism is not confessional. In the United States, Anglicanism has never been confessionally binding like some Reformed and Lutheran churches are. While there have been binding statements in place to be employed at some Episcopal churches or institutions, the PECUSA never had a united document for discipline that all Anglicans agreed to beyond the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer is a wonderful liturgy, but it is not a confessional statement upon which negative sanctions like ex-communication could easily be applied to one who dissents from some aspect of it not common to the catholic creeds.

This allows for far greater flexibility of Anglicanism than many other church traditions, but it also makes internal policing almost impossible. Such a wide range of beliefs makes systematic treatment of theology difficult and discipline based on deviant theology very difficult. Even if many dioceses come to affirm a common statement on theology, that other dioceses do not affirm the same standards opens the door to future infiltration and compromise at all times. In other words, an almost complete consensus is needed before any hope of discipline can be successfully employed. As an Old School Presbyterian minister said about his New School counterparts in the denomination, “The measure of the strength of a machine is the strength of its weakest part.”

The ACNA’s diversity also means that different cultural traditions like Low Church and Anglo-Catholic are at high risk for entirely different forms of infiltration. In theory, a denomination with a single confessional tradition has a finite number of discernible weaknesses which can be enumerated and protected against. As we will see, the PECUSA had and the ACNA has an infinite number. Policing all possible forms of heterodoxy is an exhausting task, and cultural distinctions, or prejudices, will begin to emerge in order to signal conformity to certain parties. This has the positive effect of building homogeneous, high-trust churches, but the potential downside of people taking on the social identity without the theological content, and never being vetted, a common occurrence in early 20th century Episcopalianism. For instance, the aforementioned Joseph Packard was an incredibly staunch Calvinist, almost out of place by the early 20th century. He defended an explicitly Protestant and Bible-centered identity around the PECUSA. Yet in his autobiography, he referred only positively to Charles Briggs, a newcomer to the Anglican tradition who had been effectively forced out of the Presbyterian church for his promotion of higher criticism. Packard selectively had his guard up, choosing to make certain social identities enemies (critics of the 39 Articles, like Tractarians), and certain social identities friends (New England Calvinists, like Briggs), without considering how his prejudices blinded him from his own side’s weaknesses. Unsurprisingly, it wouldn’t even take two decades from the publication of Packard’s autobiography for VTS to fall to modernism.

There has yet to be a method proven within the Anglican tradition to successfully police institutions while maintaining the breadth of theological diversity within Anglicanism. The Anglican micro-denominations which supported the Congress of St. Louis recognized this, and opted for a distinctly Anglo-Catholic identity, making them more internally stable, but at the cost of losing their public, national, and outward-facing identity altogether. Many of their parishes are almost unrecognizable, highly combative, and very focused on internal church politics–all traits of less wealthy, ethnically centered, confessionally bound denominations more than any historic Anglican Province.

ACNA is a Public Facing, National Province

That last paragraph deserves some explanation, and is the third reason why Anglicans haven’t built strong private institutions of higher learning–Anglicanism’s character around the Anglo-sphere is national, public, and outward facing, and the United States has been no exception to that. St. John’s Lafayette Square, where President Trump infamously held up a Bible after clearing protestors, has been attended by every president since James Madison. The National Cathedral is the de facto home for state funerals. Civil holidays have historically been celebrated in the Episcopal Church and have made a point of highlighting their civic contributions: Bruton Parish was the cornerstone for what became Colonial Williamsburg, Christ Church Alexandria had large plaques inside the nave to their famous vestrymen, George Washington and Robert Edward Lee (countless parishes still maintain plaques to servicemen of various wars and civic heroes), and Episcopal Churches across the South celebrated various state commemorations to the Confederacy well into the last decade. My Country ‘Tis of Thee still concludes the offertory after the Doxology in some churches.

Looking to the formularies, a similar pattern emerges. The Articles of Religion were not only approved by a Parliament and redacted by a Queen, they also speak of the Church in explicitly national terms, something the ACNA, unlike the Presbyterians and Baptists, have not modified for the American civil polity. The BCP is the only major Protestant book of worship which requires prayer for the civil authorities. The Homilies speak in glowing tones towards the Civil Magistrate and condemn rebellion in the harshest tones. Anglicanism’s two colonial colleges in William and Mary and Kings College gave the United States the authors of the Declaration of Independence and most of the Federalist Papers, the two national documents most immediately responsible for persuading the Colonists of the national scope and consequences of Independence.

National consciousness has not always been an advantage. The bishops of the PECUSA refused to discipline Bishop James Pike despite blatant heresy for fear of causing a public relations scandal due to his influence in the Civil Rights Movement. Colonial conditions required regular, if infrequent, attendance to hold political office in many colonies, perpetuating conditions for cultural religion. Confirmation was nonexistent in the American colonies from Jamestown until the 1780s, and for the last several decades it has not been a prerequisite for Holy Communion. The other side of this equation is that the PECUSA was the religious master of civic ceremonies. Episcopal ministers disproportionately filled the role as the Protestant chaplains at military colleges and in civic functions. Paul Zahl noted that the Episcopal Church was the only Protestant church which left open its doors for private prayer. The mission of the Episcopal Church to this day cannot be disentangled from its public function as chaplain to the government, military, and public life of the country.

This public-facing culture of Anglicanism will make policing and disciplining professors an incredibly difficult task. Anglicans in the United States have struggled to excel in theological precision as earlier stated, and the level of internal energy expended to hold a seminary or undergraduate college would sink the project before it got off the ground. In all likelihood, it would replicate the Fuller incident, wherein neo-evangelicals founded a seminary based on inerrancy, and almost immediately the faculty refused to cooperate and the whole project fell into a tailspin, never achieving its objective as a west-coast, ecumenical Westminster or Dallas Theological Seminary.

Aspects of this national and public character of Anglicanism have been criticized by Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics alike for the better part of 200 years, but no party has successfully driven this public and national tendency out of the Anglican church’s DNA. In fact, a key aspect of PECUSA’s witness was always as the religious master of civic ceremonies, much to the chagrin of purists. It also helps situate the ACNA within the larger landscape of American Christianity. Despite Provincial infighting, few Anglicans have become Baptists, Presbyterians, or Methodists. The ACNA is already inhabiting within the Evangelical world a status remarkably similar to the old PECUSA among the “Seven Sisters” of mainline denominations. That will become clearer in points four and five.

ACNA is not Geographically Centered

Fourth, American Anglicans are diffused across the entire United States. There is no center of Anglican life in the United States, no center of gravity around which the rest of the denomination orbits. The ACNA is remarkably anti-federalist and even localist. Different regional and even neighborhood demographics, not to mention personalities behind the pulpit, radically change the culture from one parish to another, to an even greater degree than the last century and a half of Anglicanism in the United States. There is little to no communication between two ACNA church plants in Charlottesville, much less a shared loyalty between a parish in Pittsburgh and a parish in Fort Worth, or a Black REC church in Charleston and a suburban parish in Chicago. This is not necessarily a problem for governance, except when these diverse churches have to actually invest in each other or in mutual institutions. The ACNA does not have a Boston (Irish Roman Catholic) or a St. Louis (LCMS) or a Louisville (SBC) around which to center a theological project, meaning that the vast majority of potential undergraduates will have to be lured across the country for a tiny program disconnected from any influential church (unlike Reformation Bible College in Orlando), and without a single vocational focus (unlike Patrick Henry College).

Even if students could be convinced to travel from across the country, to that singular location, they would still have to be convinced that Anglican formation provided something unique to them intellectually they could not otherwise get in parish life. And quite frankly, that is hard to prove when the Province can neither police the institution, and there is little affection and loyalty between different parishes and dioceses. At least at Covenant College (PCA), most potential parents can drive to the college within a day and can rest knowing by what standard their students’ curricula will be taught. The same would not be remotely true of an Anglican college. And if the aforementioned Anglican college were to take a strong Evangelical or Anglo-Catholic character (necessary for any attempt at doctrinal fencing), the school would be further limiting its potential student base to half of a Province where under 90,000 parishioners of all ages attend on Sunday, with a massive demographic cliff coming in 2026 for colleges of all stripes. Any new college will be jumping in, late, to a dogfight for a shrinking slice of the pie.

Even under a majority Christian society when Episcopalians were present in every American town east of the Mississippi, Episcopalians never built their colleges into major centers of learning or influence.

ACNA is Socio-Economically Privileged

Finally, Anglicans have struggled to maintain strong separate institutions in the United States because they are socioeconomically unique. H. Richard Neibuhr maintained that a person’s economic status usually disclosed their denominational affiliation, and this is certainly true of the old PECUSA, and the ACNA. Whether this ought to be the case is another matter, but as a matter of course, Anglicanism attracts those from higher economic strata, and has, with some regional anomalies, dominated the upper class.

Higher economic status meant Episcopalians did not need to build their own colleges, since existing colleges all had PECUSA parishes and clergy on main street. Episcopalians did not need their own college because they could and would be expected to attend Yale, Washington and Lee, or Vanderbilt.

The ACNA has not maintained that level of status, but congregants are still higher-income than the average college student’s parents by a significant margin, and thus Anglican parents will have higher expectations for their son or daughter’s economic and social success. This means that any Anglican college would be competing, not primarily against other small start-up colleges, nor even other evangelical colleges, but against the best and most prestigious colleges in the country. It would be competing directly with the Ivy League, military academies and institutes, and the best private and public colleges in the country. An Anglican college could not afford academic missteps or the faculty shake-ups that occurred at Liberty, Regent, or Patrick Henry in the last 40 years. The Anglican college would need to practically be an R1 research university out of the gate with tight admission standards, a herculean task for any Province with less than 100,000 weekly attendees, and a fairly tight yearly budget. Even if the product could be created, it would certainly add weight to an already strained Christian college ecosystem, another college vying for many of the same limited number of students. It would face tremendous pressure to conform to corrupt standards and outdated practices to attract the median applicant, yet also be unique enough to have a unique selling point that interests outside-the-box-thinkers. In other words, an Anglican college sounds like a King’s College fiasco waiting to happen.

But what about another seminary?

The ACNA already has Nashotah House in Wisconsin, Bishop Cummins in South Carolina, Trinity and Reformed Episcopal in Pennsylvania, Cranmer House in Texas, and Packer College in Newfoundland, with provincially approved tracks through Gordon-Conwell, Beeson, Asbury, and Regent College, not to mention several other unapproved Anglican tracks across North America. That none of the above options have garnered wider support reflects the lack of consensus in Anglican theology and worship more than the theological shortcomings of any one seminary. It is just as foolish to pursue another Anglican seminary to solve the Provincial theological divides as it is foolish to try the same thing over and over and expect different results. Putting aside formation, seminaries have not proven adequate guards in the Anglican tradition against heresy, and they likely never will. They have only for short times successfully held back theological division, and never for long, or beyond the seminary-founding diocese’s own reach.

In all likelihood, the ACNA will not build any powerful, sustainable institution of higher learning in the coming decades: too many factors oppose it in our cultural moment. Nearly all colleges and universities are struggling with admissions, especially Christian colleges. Former “Christian Harvard” Wheaton College has had rising acceptance rates for years, while Grove City has been padding its slow enrollment decline and endowment plateau with part-time students and racial initiatives. The dwindling number of students has faculty and administrators on the defensive, looking to stay afloat, not launching bold new campaigns.

The place to begin unlearning the Evangelical tendency to exit and restart is in the many seminaries the ACNA already has, not to mention existing undergraduate institutions. If they are in error, reform them, if in financial distress, fund them, and if they come into trouble, pray for them. Our PECUSA muscles have atrophied, but they are the muscles we have been given, so let us use them well.

 


Jack Waters

Jackson Waters is a Virginian studying at Reformed Theological Seminary. He attends Christ the King in Alexandria with his wife, Emma Leigh, and daughter, Elizabeth Anne.


'Anglicans Shouldn’t Be Building New Colleges' have 9 comments

  1. May 17, 2023 @ 2:09 pm Philip Enarson

    Much to chew on here! Question? Does Wheaton College have an Anglican track for Seminary Studies similar to Regent College?

    Reply

    • May 18, 2023 @ 10:52 am Jackson Waters

      Wheaton has a partnership with some Anglican churches in the area, particularly the C4SO ones: https://www.wheaton.edu/academics/school-of-mission-ministry-and-leadership/partnerships/anglican-church-in-north-america/.

      Wheaton’s School of Biblical and Theological Studies does not have any “complimentarians” teaching in their undergraduate, and only a minority in their graduate programs. It is well known that they discourage students from attending nearby Church of the Rez, the cathedral of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest because of their view of ordination.

      Reply

      • May 18, 2023 @ 12:30 pm Philip Enarson

        Thank you for your reply. Jackson. Two additional questions? 1) Why so few ‘complimentarians’ on staff? And 2) what view of ordination doesWheaton have a problem with?

        Reply

  2. May 18, 2023 @ 9:30 am Jake Dell

    This is very well put:
    “The PECUSA did not have an insulated ethnic class which made up the majority of the weekly attendance. There was not a vivid founding experience, like religious persecution or immigration, and almost nothing about their culture was actually exclusive to them as a whole. Insulation was impossible and never seriously considered.”

    Also, in re:
    “The place to begin unlearning the Evangelical tendency to exit and restart is in the many seminaries the ACNA already has, not to mention existing undergraduate institutions. If they are in error, reform them, if in financial distress, fund them, and if they come into trouble, pray for them. Our PECUSA muscles have atrophied, but they are the muscles we have been given, so let us use them well.”

    I just wrote something similar myself: https://truthscript.com/culture/is-reconquista-a-good-strategy-for-the-mainline-churches/

    Reply

  3. May 19, 2023 @ 1:02 pm Fr. Mark Perkins

    Speaking of things that are unrecognizable, your drive-by-shooting description of the Anglican Continuum does not accurately reflect any of the three Continuum parishes I have regularly attended and/or served since 2008. Have you ever attended a Continuum parish regularly? How many such parishes have you visited? Is your sweeping description based on personal experience? …the judgments of others? …Twitter vibes?

    The Continuum, like all North American Anglicans — actually, all North American traditions; actually the entire Christian family across modernity — is indeed a messy affair, often beset by dysfunction and misplaced priorities. I am certainly not in a position to throw stones. Nor are you, to be quite blunt.

    Blessings,
    Fr. Mark Perkins

    Reply

    • May 21, 2023 @ 1:57 am Jackson Matthew Waters

      Fr. Mark,

      I’m sorry you were offended that was not my intention. It seems clear from what I have read from Archbishop Haverland and Presiding Bishop Chandler Jones’ own blogs (and Haverland’s book on the Anglo-Catholic Church) that they are not interested in trying maintain historic Anglicanism, but creating a smaller, easier-to-police denomination with greater theological conformity. That’s not a criticism, that’s the stated strategy, and it’s a good one for keeping the Philadelphia Eleven and 1979 BCP incidents from happening again. Again, I’m not sure where I offended– was it the statement that Continuing Churches resemble ethnic churches in their insularity? That’s a double edged sword, but it keeps the continuing bodies from having to deal with much of the silliness Evangelical and Mainline academies churn out. If it was the “unrecognizable” comment, I meant in comparison to historic Anglicanism as public and outward facing. That said, I may have been harsh in speaking of infighting as the defining characteristic. Every time I have mentioned my affiliation within the ACNA to a Continuing Priest, it has been met immediately with scorn and derision, so perhaps it is not infighting so much as “fighting.” Anyway, I pray for the Continuing Churches’ unification with the ACNA and have much admiration for ethnic denominations like the LCMS and CRC, and I think they ought to be more studied. No stoning from me.

      For the record, I have attended three continuing churches in the last three years while traveling, and was hospitably received in each: St. Bede’s DHC, Irondale, AL; St. George’s ACA, Columbus, GA,; and St. Andrew and St. Margaret of Scotland ACC, Alexandria, VA. Fr. Roddy of St. Andrew and St. Margaret is a friend of mine, as is Mr. Collins, an aspirant at St. Bede’s.

      P.S. Best of luck on your boys school, I think such projects are most necessary.

      Reply

      • May 21, 2023 @ 12:40 pm Fr. Mark Perkins

        Dear Jackson,

        I appreciate this irenic response, but surely you can see that calling us tiny, inward-facing, unrecognizable, highly combative, poor, and ethnically centered comes across as something less than an even-handed and fair description?

        Can you point me to any statement from the blogs of Archbishop Haverland or Bishop Jones stating or even implying that, “they are not interested in trying maintain historic Anglicanism, but creating a smaller, easier-to-police denomination with greater theological conformity”? It is certainly true that very few folks in the Continuum — particularly in the APA and ACC — are interested in exactly reproducing any particular era of English Church history, but every tradition undergoes continuity and change. More to the point, the Continuum obviously sees itself as a *continuing* movement. You can certainly dispute whether it is an accurate claim, but you shouldn’t be surprised to find that “continuing Anglicans” would not affirm your characterization.

        As for the combativeness, it seems to me that you’re extrapolating from anecdotal experiences. I could recount being mocked by senior ACNA clerics and the occasional (visiting) professor at Trinity School for Ministry for being Anglo-Catholic and/or for being in the Continuum, but I wouldn’t presume to make sweeping statements about the ACNA based on such anecdotes. (Just yesterday, clergy and laity from the APA, REC-ACNA, and COH-ACNA all met to celebrate St. Dunstan’s land purchase; I suspect there was no fighting whatsoever. I get coffee with an DOS-ACNA church planter down here in Orlando occasionally, and I’m in a reading group with four TEC priests. No combat has yet occurred.)

        Basically, everything you say is at least *partly* true in at least *some* places — but as a comprehensive and sweeping description of the entire Continuum, it fails.

        I appreciate your support for St. Dunstan’s. It is an APA project, and I am an Anglo-Catholic, but I am committed to making it a welcoming place for any orthodox, committed Christian family.

        Blessings,
        Fr. Mark

        Reply

  4. May 21, 2023 @ 4:53 pm Wes Morgan

    While don’t think some points are major factors in the challenge of establishing an Anglican college, they’re all well-observed. The biggest challenges, to me, are national demographics and the relatively small size of the ACNA. The younger generations are increasingly non-Christian, and with shrinking future generations, it’s a daunting task to keep Christian college doors open (let along any college). Anglicans have plenty of seminaries to choose from and a new one, to me, is certainly unnecessary. For the foreseeable future, the only path in establishing an Anglican college is perhaps starting one with an established seminary (e.g. Nashotah House), this has been done at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with Boyce College.

    A question for you, what’s the difference between the Old High Church and the Tractarians?

    Reply

  5. May 26, 2023 @ 10:57 am Eutychus

    Excellent article!

    Great work.

    Reply


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

(c) 2023 North American Anglican