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ACNA Archbishop is Optimistic in the face of National Decline

ACNA Archbishop is Optimistic in the face of National Decline
ACNA has grown to 1,000 churches with more than 134,000 members in 10 years

By David W. Virtue, DD
December 22, 2018

The archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, (ACNA) The Most Rev. Foley Beach, says that the first ten years has seen his denomination grow 1,000 congregations.

"This is an incredible achievement. We started in faith, and almost ten short years later, we see enormous growth in so many of our churches. Some are very small and struggling. Many are large and growing. But all of them are part of this extraordinary movement of God," He told his followers in a letter.

By contrast, The Episcopal Church is shriveling, with an ASA of 577,000 and is declining year over year.

"When I look at our Province and see that we are only ten years old, I am filled with joy and thanksgiving... and I see the power of the hand and power of God that has both guided and protected us."

The archbishop described it as an "Ebenezer" moment, allowing the ministers of the province to grow through prayer and support.

"We believe in church planting! I don't know of any movement that has seen such an explosion of church planting. We have learned so much over the past ten years...and we are developing this knowledge into practical training for a new generation of churches, ones that we are praying to see in our second decade."

Beach said that one new ACNA church was being started every ten days. "I find this truth to be more than amazing. We had an initial base of congregations that established the ACNA ten years ago. Since then we have had huge church planting efforts to increase our capacity. It is working! The Always Forward Movement is leading with support, training, and encouragement for local congregations and dioceses. And now we have a steady 'birth rate' year by year."

The archbishop, who will soon take over as the new chairman of GAFCON, and who is one of the youngest archbishops in the Anglican Communion, said that nearly 100,000 people attend ACNA Churches every week! Overall, ASA is estimated at 134,000 active Anglicans.

"This is another remarkable reality. The average Sunday attendance in all ACNA churches in every diocese is strong. And getting stronger! Many of these beloved churches are meeting in rented facilities. Their members willingly gave up the comforts of an established congregation to launch a new church. As I travel the country and speak with our bishops and clergy, I find that our churches and leaders are finding ways of making it all work to the Glory of God. In fact, many churches have been raising capital campaign funds for their own building expansions."

The evangelical primate says he wants to raise $200,000 by the year's end in order to initiate three provincial-wide efforts that will make a positive difference in the years to come:

"I want to develop young Anglican leaders; take church planting to the next level and to offer resources to leaders and churches."

Beach said it was necessary to find, call, train and equip young leaders for the work in churches and cited Canada as a leader in reaching out to the Asian community. "Our efforts with our dear Hispanic brothers and sisters are succeeding well through the efforts of the ministry of Caminemos Juntos. I want our province to be able to facilitate this work."

Beach acknowledged that church planting to the next level had hardened that when he first started a church plant in Georgia. "Today the soil has hardened; it has become rocky. Always Forward, our church planting network, could bring help to these planters in the form of training, connections, encouragement, and planning. Beach said he hoped to gather all the planters and their spouses for times of worship, training, marriage support and refreshment. "A strong province can facilitate this work."

Beach noted that the ACNA was a national church with an international reach. "Our staff is working overtime in several roles to make sure the word gets out. They make sure our leaders have relevant information, as well as produce and disseminate the essential tools, Anglican-based curricula, and information to strengthen our leaders, congregations and dioceses. The more we grow, the more important it is to have a fully staffed and fully updated website."


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