The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has pledged through Archbishop Foley Beach to keep and uphold the Kigali Commitment. The Commitment, among other things, recognizes that those who affirm and promote homosexual relationships and/or transsexual ideology have departed from the Christian faith and that, therefore, collaboration with them is impossible.
“We cannot ‘walk together’ in good disagreement with those who have deliberately chosen to walk away from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). The people of God ’walk in his ways’, ‘walk in the truth’, and ‘walk in the light’, all of which require that we do not walk in Christian fellowship with those in darkness (Deuteronomy 8:6; 2 John 4; 1 John 1:7).”
The Apostle John warns against even the mildest collaboration with false teachers. “…do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 10-11). The reason for this is simple enough. If you treat those leading people away from Jesus as if they are legitimate ministers of the Gospel, people might follow them and be led astray. Loving your neighbor, therefore, requires identifying and disassociating from those who will lead your neighbor into the darkness.
Several weeks ago, the Living Church published a report describing just this kind of collaboration between ACNA seminarians and “affirming” Episcopalian seminarians from Duke and Nashotah House. Nashotah House has since, thankfully, issued a statement (the link to which I cannot find) clarifying that those who embrace and promote sexual sin have departed from Christian orthodoxy. Nevertheless, the sentiments expressed by seminarians in the article are not new nor are they restricted to the rarified air of Anglican academia.
“L.A. Rez,” an ACNA church within the Diocese For the Sake of Others (C4SO), has entered into a ministry partnership and collaboration with All Saints, an affirming Episcopalian congregation within the affirming Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Here’s how the Diocesan newsletter describes the relationship:
“Anglicanism’s “via media” (middle way) is the path newly chosen by two northeast Los Angeles congregations, one Episcopal, the other leasing space onsite as part of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).
Highland Park’s All Saints Episcopal Church, founded in 1904 and worshiping in English and Spanish at 5619 Monte Vista Avenue, has voted to welcome Church of the Resurrection, formed in 2016 and cheerfully dubbed “L.A. Rez” by congregants, to locate its ministries on campus and share the A-frame sanctuary’s worship space.
This agreement – forged by both congregations’ leadership groups and endorsed by Bishop John Harvey Taylor and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles – reflects Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s view that Episcopal congregations may find productive common cause with those of breakaway denominations such as ACNA.
“At a House of Bishops meeting last year, Bishop Curry asked us all to keep in mind that, in his words, the ‘ACNA of 20 years ago is not necessarily the ACNA of today,’” Taylor told The News. “He said that many of its congregants and even leaders were not as invested in the doctrinal disputes of the early years of the century, and he hoped we would not be, either. He stressed that he wasn’t asking us to put aside the gospel priority of equity for all across barriers of identification and orientation. He just wanted us to go into any conversations we had with ACNA with hearts of reconciliation….”
The rector of L.A. Rez, Teesha Hadra, seems to be fully on board
“…the Rev. Teesha Hadra, agrees. ‘What has been so lovely is the relational welcome that we have received in our conversations’ with All Saints’ priest-in-charge, the Rev. Otto Vasquez, and longtime warden Dan Valdez – a parishioner since 1991 and a seven-time senior deputy to General Convention – as well as Bishop Taylor and the standing committee. ‘There is an openness to doing more ministry for the sake of the Kingdom, and that has been really refreshing.’
Hadra, who holds a law degree from the University of Florida and received a master’s of divinity from Pasadena’s Fuller Seminary, regularly joins the Rev. Canon Melissa McCarthy, diocesan canon to the ordinary and chair of the diocese’s deputation to the churchwide General Convention, in conversations related to ministry and the Highland Park collaboration.”
The Rev. Hadra believes that collaborating with All Saints represents “ministry for the sake of the Kingdom.” I partly agree with her. This is definitely a ministry that serves a kingdom. We just disagree about which kingdom that is. I do appreciate that the Rev. Canon McCarthy uses the word “collaboration” to describe what is happening between the two congregations, tapping into a rich history of similar relationships.
The Kigali Commitment (not to mention holy Scripture) is clear. There is no “via media” between heresy and orthodoxy; the former damns while the latter brings life. If Bishop Todd Hunter has somehow not been aware of this collaboration, it has now been made public knowledge. It is his duty and responsibility as a bishop to drive away strange and erroneous doctrine and to protect the flock under his care. As a bishop in the ACNA College of Bishops, he is responsible to ensure that his diocese does not violate the Kigali Commitment by walking together with those who claim to be Christians while leading people into sin and death. I do not, sadly, have any confidence, given the record of his own collaborations, that Bishop Hunter will do anything.
The Gafcon and Global South provinces that have pledged themselves to the Kigali Commitment, have done so at great cost. What will they think if we do nothing while ACNA congregations collaborate with affirming Episcopalian ones? If this fellowship is allowed to stand without censure, then it is hard to see how our Archbishop’s signature in Kigali is worth the prince of the ink with which he affixed it and our friends have every reason to doubt our resolve and integrity.