Why I left the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America)
- February 01, 2023
- Steve Macias
My notes (Not a transcript):
Today I’d like to share my personal journey within the realm of ecclesiastical politics, particularly within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Before delving into my story, I must clarify that the title might sound a bit sensationalistic. Presently, I am a presbyter in good standing in the Diocese of Mid-America in the Reformed Episcopal Church, a jurisdiction of the ACNA. However, my path was not always straightforward.
To provide some background, I was initially confirmed in the ACNA under a different diocese, where I served for several years in churches led by Bishop Todd Hunter in Northern California. Nevertheless, I eventually decided to leave the ACNA, only to later return. The specifics of why I left and what transpired during that period are not relevant here. What matters is the valuable lesson I learned about my own misconceptions and the challenges young men like me face when dissatisfied with ecclesiastical politics.
In retrospect, I have had to confront and repent of my arrogance, which was not rooted in intelligence, capability, leadership qualities, or theological acumen. Instead, it was founded on a misunderstanding of the role of the institutional church and its place in our lives.
The catalyst for sharing my experiences came from observing similar events unfold in the Church of England. Like the Episcopal Church in America, the Church of England is grappling with issues surrounding institutional identity. Discussions concerning same-sex blessings and the acceptance of homosexuality have sparked factions and debates within the Church, just as they did in the ACNA.
As I reflect on my journey and the current challenges within the Anglican Communion, I am reminded of the need for humility and a deeper understanding of the church’s role in our lives. It is essential for us to engage in thoughtful dialogue, appreciating the diversity of perspectives while seeking common ground in the love of Christ. Let us navigate these complex waters with grace, seeking unity amidst diversity, and above all, demonstrating the heart of Christ in all our interactions.
The issue of women in orders was a significant challenge I faced in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). As someone with a catholic-minded approach, I grappled with the ordination of women as deacons and priests, as it deviated from historic Christian practice. This discordant belief prompted me to leave the ACNA and seek a place where I could find doctrinal purity and institutional unity that aligned more closely with historic Christendom.
Enter the Anglican Continuum, a fragmented but diverse space that offered various approaches to doctrinal purity. However, I found it challenging to fit into either the more ritualistic and anglo-catholic groups or the less ceremonial, sectarian ones. The question of institutional unity continued to haunt me, and I observed many fellow seekers embracing Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy in pursuit of this unity.
Nevertheless, I chose to remain Anglican, rooted in my Protestant convictions. Additionally, the promise of institutional unity in these groups was not absolute, as they, too, experienced divisions and tensions.
As I searched for a place where I could find a balance between liturgical tradition and theological soundness, I unexpectedly found myself returning to the ACNA. My decision was not to revert to the exact diocese I had left, as my congregation held different preferences. However, I was determined to seek a space where I could fit in and continue my faith journey.
This personal experience made me realize that institutional unity should not be our sole defining characteristic as a Church. While polity and ecclesiastical systems hold significance, what truly unites us is our shared belief in Christ and adherence to creedal orthodoxy. The history of the Church reveals that various forms of government have experienced struggles and challenges, yet the Holy Spirit has sustained it through it all.
Seeking guidance and wisdom, I turned to Bishop Sutton of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), who played a pivotal role in shaping my perspective on the future of the church.
The REC has existed for over a century, remaining faithful to the Anglican formularies, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Articles of Religion. During the ACNA’s formation amid the Episcopal Church’s crisis, the REC became a founding jurisdiction and provided a solid, faithful witness for Anglican identity.
**These are my personal views and experiences do not represent the official position of the Reformed Episcopal Church or its Bishops.**