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Abuse of Power Cited in Bishop Todd Atkinson Taking Leave of Absence

Abuse of Power Cited in Bishop Todd Atkinson Taking Leave of Absence
Questions were raised in 2018 as to establishment of Via Apostolica for full membership in ACNA as a Missionary Diocese
Concerns of Extra biblical revelations and 'Heavy Shepherding' cited

By David W. Virtue, DD
September 29, 2021

Allegations of misconduct, specifically abuse of power, which led to Bishop Todd Atkinson taking a leave of absence - withdrawing as acting assistant bishop in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, has raised deeper questions as to both his personal fitness and whether the Missionary District of Via Apostolica should have been accepted into the Anglican Church in North America in the first place.

VOL has received a copy of correspondence from 2018 signed by a number of Canadian Anglican priests including two prominent clergy, David Short and George Sinclair, requesting that Charlie Masters, Moderator Bishop of the Anglican Network in Canada refrain from recommending Atkinson and Via Apostolica as a missionary district in ACNA, until significant questions concerning his leadership style and theology were considered. The letter specifically cited concern over reports of 'Heavy Shepherding' which is referenced on the ACNATOO website as one of the charges against Bishop Todd Atkinson.

They argued that the process in recommending Bishop Todd Atkinson and Via Apostolica was rushed through the ANIC Synod and cited four specific considerations.

They said there was a lack of process coherence, a lack of pastoral coherence, a lack of coherence in our witness and, mostly importantly a lack of theological
coherence. The signators requested that the process be put on hold until significant concerns could be raised and allow time for Bishop Todd Atkinson to respond. They additionally requested that their letter be put forward to the ACNA College of Bishops to communicate their concerns.

However, Masters rejected their request and went ahead in early 2019 and recommended Atkinson and Via Apostolica in the strongest of terms.

"Via Apostolica has an intense love of the Lord, a high view of the work of the Holy Spirit, and a love of the Anglican Way. I'm delighted that I was able to commend Bishop Todd to the College of Bishops today. I was honored by that, kind of like Barnabas bringing Paul to the Apostles. It was a serious time of discernment on behalf of the College of Bishops. They never lightly do anything. There was a great sense of joy. It was a great morning," said Masters.

It was reported to VOL that Bishop Trevor Walters, area bishop for Western Canada, flew into Lethbridge, at one point in time to mediate a dust-up that Todd had in his church.

The 12 signers who objected to Atkinson and Via Apostolica being accepted, cited the eminent British preacher John Stott, who termed the "principled comprehensiveness" of Anglicanism. "Some of us are troubled by the apparent claim to extra-biblical revelation from the pulpit by Bishop Todd. Others have raised concerns that the "unique discipleship method" of Via Apostolica may incline toward "Heavy Shepherding" with its unaccountable reliance on one leader. The essence of Anglican identity forms the basis for our confessional unity. It would be theologically troubling for us to move forward with a proposed Missionary District without these issues being somewhat resolved."

"Our coherence in process, in pastoral care, in witness, and in theology is an important part of our growth as a movement. Despite the passing of the motion we believe the motion was ill-timed and ill-considered."

They urged that the ANiC council exercise reasonable discretion and consider the four concerns we have raised. That Synod motions of structural significance be properly vetted and adequate time be given for consideration. That ANiC Council develop policies and procedures to deal with such significant motions in the future. That the task force set up under the motion particularly the ecclesial and theological implications of such structural changes, along with the implications of affinity / missionary districts and that communication to ACNA include a request for time for our concerns to be considered and resolved. We regret the necessity for this letter. We do not want to be considered contumacious, cranky or eccentric.

Our concern is for the future of our beloved ANiC.

The 12 signers are found below.
Rev. David Short.
Rev. George Sinclair.
Rev. Rob Stringer.
Rev. Lars Nowen.
Rev. Ray David Glenn.
Rev. C. Pete Malloy.
Rev. Alastair Sterne.
Rev. Sean Love.
Rev. Dr. Jon Vickery.
Rev. Aaron Roberts.
Rev. Danielle Martell.
Rev. Chris Ley

Because of this leave of absence, Atkinson will not be serving as an acting assistant bishop in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest.

Archbishop Foley Beach had earlier appointed Bishop John Miller to serve the diocese as Acting Bishop following an announcement by Upper Midwest Diocesan Bishop Stewart Ruch III that he was taking a leave of absence after admitting he made a "regrettable error" in failing to inform the diocese about allegations of abuse at Christ Our Light Anglican Church in Big Rock, Illinois. This is the second time that Bishop Miller has assisted a diocese in this capacity, having served the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes two years ago.


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