Those who have long followed this blog know how well disposed I am towards the Anglican Church in North America. With rejoicing, I attended the Assembly at which ACNA was born back in June 2009. I also supported the Reformed Episcopal Church joining ACNA.
So this post should be taken as an alarm call rather than an attack. And I am alarmed that ACNA is at risk of getting out of balanced and divided over issues of immigration and refugees. Veering beyond compassion and the Gospel into divisive politics is a particular danger at the moment.
Granted, Archbishop Foley Beach’s statement over the weekend is timely, helpful and balanced, particularly where he states:
In our province we also have lawmakers who face a different, but related set of challenging moral issues. As public servants, they are called to carefully discern how best to respond to the global humanitarian need while also maintaining the appropriate role of government in protecting its citizens. There are no easy answers to how our nations should balance these priorities, and our leaders need your prayers.
I find needful his acknowledgement that government has an important role in protecting its citizens. And saying “there are no easy answers” is certainly a succinct way of saying there are no easy political answers.
But, earlier, he understandably leaves something out in the statement in praising the Anglican Immigrant Initiative:
They have taken the lead in caring for those in our communities who are refugees and immigrants, showing the love of Christ to the most vulnerable.
This week, I encourage you to follow their example, and make a special effort to reach out to refugees and immigrants in your local community.
Does that reaching out include their emphasis on legal aid to immigrants? The Anglican Immigrant Initiative site places much emphasis on legal aid. Does that legal aid serve to make it more difficult to deport illegals who should not be here in the first place? Is that an appropriate role for the church? Again, if Abp. Foley wishes to keep his counsel on this sensitive area private, that is understandable.
Back to the bigger picture, ACNA needs to tread carefully. Many of us in ACNA fled denominations that had become the Democrat Party at prayer, that had habitually presumed to push Liberal/Left political policies in the name of Jesus and of his church, thereby abusing the Holy Name as well as those many in the pews who disagreed. I know I was long ago fed up with that sort of thing and am not at all of a mind ever to put up with it again. If ACNA appears likewise to follow the primrose path of espousing liberal political policies, especially on such a volatile issue as immigration, there may be an explosion from the rank and file and division within the church.
And ACNA is perilously close to doing so. Already, its relief arm, the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF), has partnered with World Relief on immigration and refugees. And World Relief is not shy about opposing President Trump’s policies in this area. We already have ACNA clergy (Thankfully not any bishops that I’ve noticed.) crusading on immigration and refugees with little regard to church unity. This post over at The Old Jamestown Church and a current perusal of the public ACNA Facebook page give a flavor of that and resulting unhappiness.
I may revisit this topic. But I will cut this post short in part because I hesitate to speculate what could ignite this situation into more widespread and open division. But it is safe to say ACNA and its bishops must tread carefully.
Note: I am having trouble with blogger formatting again. My apologies for any annoyance.