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7 - Formation of The Anglican Church in America (ACA).

Updated: Dec 12, 2023


Chapter XII

III

The Anglican Church In America


Throughout the 1980’s unity talks between the Anglican Catholic Church and another ecclesiastical body known as the American Episcopal Church (AEC) were taking place. These churches were “the two largest jurisdictions” [1] outside of the ECUSA. The ACC was Continuing body, post 1976, while the AEC was established in 1968.


Unfortunately, however, some in the Anglican Catholic Church distrusted prominent long-time unity supporter, ACC Primate Archbishop Louis W. Falk, and his attempt to consolidate the ACC with the AEC. Detractors of unity with the AEC began to believe that Falk was also “trying to set up an international alliance that would operate independently of the ACC, and that could eventually supplant the ACC.” [2] As a sign of things to come, “on September 20, 1991,” [3] Archbishop Falk was replaced by Bishop William Lewis as Primate of the Anglican Catholic Church.


From October 2nd to 5th 1991, a conference of some five hundred clergy and laity met at Deerfield Beach, Florida to discuss both Anglican unity and ways to stop Continuing Anglican fragmentation. The meeting was called by the bishops of the AEC with the support of Archbishop Falk and several bishops of the ACC. Louis E. Traycik of The Christian Challenge called it “the largest gathering of non-ECUSA traditionalists” [4] since the 1977 Congress in St. Louis. According to Auburn Traycik, the meeting was held as a response to pleas for unity from Continuing Anglicans throughout the world. An example of this was a petition, initiated by the FCC, which had signatures of over “600 clergy and laity by mid-1991.” [5]


It was thought by the organizers that the gathering would also advance ecumenical efforts between the American Episcopal Church and Anglican Catholic Church. Subject to ratification by the ACC; the AEC had already declared itself in full communion. Prior to the conference, there were eleven conditional consecrations of AEC and ACC bishops, performed by three Anglican bishops of unquestioned succession.


This had been undertaken mainly in an attempt “to allay any doubts or worries” [6] that the ACC leaders, who opposed communion with the AEC, had about the orders of bishops. Additionally, prior to these consecrations the AEC bishops conditionally re-ordained their clergy to the diaconate and priesthood. The conditional rites were undertaken as “an act of unity and humility.” [7]


Despite AEC efforts, however, the majority of ACC bishops, unhappy with Falk’s pursuit of communion with the AEC, declared that “any church seeking union with the ACC should be received into it under the terms of an ACC canon dealing with the absorption of entities larger than a parish.” [8] The Anglican Catholic Church HOB also denounced the bishops of the Continuing Canadian and Australian churches for their participation at Deerfield Beach, in what they considered an unsanctioned consecration service for the selection of bishops and clergy to serve the TAC in Latin America. After unsuccessfully demanding that they repent for their actions, the College of Bishops “broke off relations with both bodies.” [9]


Deerfield Beach seemed to “offer hope” [10] but the merger, however, was “far from unifying.” [11] The opposing ACC bishops had believed they were acting in their church’s best interest by resisting closer ties with the AEC. Supporters of Archbishop Falk’s position believed that these leaders had misread the desire for unity amongst Continuing Anglicans and that the Deerfield conference was the “inevitable result.” [12] Sadly, however, “the Deerfield meeting fell short” [13] in its hope of uniting most of the movement.

The ACC College of Bishops were split with Bishops “Lewis, Mote, Seeland, Deyman, Stephens, Kleppinger” [14] on one side, and Archbishop Falk and Bishops “Connors, Garcia, Rodriquez, Chamberlain” [15] on the other side.


The end result was that Archbishop Falk led his diocese out of the ACC and formed the Anglican Church in America (ACA). “This new denomination brings together the entire American Episcopal Church,” [16] along with the Diocese of the Holy Trinity, a reported seventy percent of the Diocese of the South, and “a large part of the Anglican Catholic Church, more than 120 parishes.” [17] Archbishop Falk was elected Primate of the ACA and his former AEC counterpart, Archbishop Anthony Forbes Moreton Clavier (1940- ) was elected Metropolitan of the Diocese of the Eastern United States (DEUS). By 1992, the new ACA had grown from 7,500 to some 8,400 members with the attainment of “the ACC’s Central American Diocese and at least two more large parishes.” [18]


The Dallas ‘Constitutional’ Synod, which quickly followed the Denver consecrations, became the first synod of the continuing Anglican movement, giving birth to the Anglican Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the Synod proved, the road ahead would not be easy. But Anglican Catholicism would show itself to be quite resilient. In many ways, for Anglican Catholics, this was only the beginning of a process of continuous growth and self-definition. After almost a decade of relative calm, Anglican Catholicism experienced difficulties in the late eighties and early nineties, as it attempted to work out what direction it wanted to take as an ecclesiastical community.


Because of the power struggle within the Anglican Catholic Church over the issue of unity with the American Episcopal Church and the Deerfield Beach consecrations, the Anglican Church in America would form and ultimately become the American face of Anglican Catholicism. By participating in the Deerfield Beach consecrations, the international churches chose Archbishop Falk and his new church. Now the path to unity for Anglican Catholics was broadening and the possibility of an international Anglican Catholic Church was becoming very real.

[1] Marsh p.41 [2] Bess p.194 [3] Marsh p.48 [4] Falk [5] TCC 1977 Report [6] ibid [7] ibid [8] ibid [9] Falk [10] Marsh p.39 [11] ibid p.38 [12] TCC 1977 Report [13] ibid [14] Falk [15] ibid [16] Badertscher Chapter 2, p.18 [17] Falk * Also according to Badertscher and Bess, the bishops of the original ACC who chose not to merge with the AEC in 1991 (the merger which created the ACA), continued their existence as "the Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province)." This "Original Province" ACC began to form its own alliances around the world, and also established intercommunion with the UECNA. [18] TCC 1


This article was taken from the Doctoral thesis Recognizing Anglican Catholic Identity: An Historical Review of the Anglican Catholic Movement, the Affirmation of St. Louis and the Traditional Anglican Communion, which has been added to the database for scholarly works by Acadia University. For anyone interested in the complete thesis, it can be found at:


© Dr. Charles Warner 2010

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