Anchor clinging to rock.

My Anchor Holds, Part 2: My Ministry in the ACNA

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(This is the second and final part of David Wilson’s ministry story. Check out the first installment here.)

I served as President of the Standing Committee in 2008, the year the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church deposed our bishop, Robert Duncan, and our diocese realigned out of the Episcopal Church. I served as the Ecclesiastical Authority for two months until, by a joyous vote by acclamation, Robert Duncan became Bishop Ordinary of the re-constituted Diocese of Pittsburgh in December 2008.

Sponsored

As a board member of the Pittsburgh Realignment Coalition in 2007-08, we prepared the Diocese of Pittsburgh to vote a second and final time to realign.

The Birth of a Province

Straight away, we felt like missionaries and pioneers setting out to create a new church, and then in August 2009, a new Anglican denomination, the Anglican Church in North America, allied in belief with 75% of the Anglicans worldwide. We put our former denomination, the Episcopal Church, in the past and aimed toward the future. The battles were over, and realignment was a reality. David Roseberry, rector Christ Church Plano, the largest church in the ACNA said, “The Episcopal Church has left us, we have dusted ourselves off and moved on; they are in our rear-view mirror. We have the energy and the resources. We are about rebuilding the walls.”

The inaugural ACNA Assembly in Bedford, Texas, invested our diocesan bishop Bob Duncan as Archbishop, and the distance in our rearview began to shrink so that by the completion of Archbishop Duncan’s term in 2014, he could say, “We changed the subject in the Church. We threw away the rear-view mirror.” We had finished that unsavory part of our history. Rear-view mirror or not, things were not the same.

As an aside, when speaking to former clergy colleagues who stayed with the Episcopal Church, they seem to be still in much pain, whereas we’ve moved on. Interestingly, they call it “the split” or schism, while we call it the re-alignment.

As rector of a mid-size suburban parish, leaving our property in 2012 after losing it in a lawsuit was a blessing in disguise. We had started over as a denomination, and now we had started over as a parish. Bishop Duncan was wise to require that we abandon not just the property but also the name. For many parishioners, giving up the name St. David’s was even more difficult than giving up the property. It was their history, their identity, and where their faith had been forged.

A Parish Church Reborn

We renamed our church The Anglican Parish of Christ the Redeemer in the South Hills. We moved to a blue-collar neighborhood in a closed church building we leased from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. After about two years, we bought the property, and within the next year, we will have paid off the mortgage. On my former blog, The Anglican Yinzer, I wrote about our first worship service in our new home,

We had a wonderful service this Sunday at our new worship site. The place looked beautiful, and the air-conditioning worked marvelously in the 90+ degree heat! Almost 150 (145+) showed up for our one service at 10 AM. It looked like a sea of red as we all dressed for Pentecost. We had 15 children in the nursery and our children’s ministry, KidzStuff. We had 10 visitors, mainly clergy, coming from around the Diocese. We praised God in freedom and release, led by both the worship team and the pipe organ. I preached on Philippians 3:12-14:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

After ten years of serving as the rector of St. David’s/Christ the Redeemer, I pondered whether to step away. I was in my mid-sixties, and the congregation was aging, as was I. If this parish was to not just survive but thrive, they needed a younger, more energetic rector at the helm than me! I retired as the rector in 2018, and a clergyman in his forties became my successor. It was the best decision I made during my tenure there. The church is thriving with many young people; singles, married, families, and children galore. I could not have been more pleased.

Executive Ministry

Within the Anglican Church in North America, I have been an active participant at every Assembly and many Provincial Councils. I joined the ACNA Executive Committee in 2017 and served one three-year term ending in 2021. Since 2016, I have assisted Bishop Alan Hawkins in leading the Diocesan Administrators and Canons in a bi-monthly Zoom call. This long and happy service ended last month in Latrobe with Foley Beach’s and Alan Hawkin’s retirement as the ACNA Archbishop and Chief Operating Officer, respectively.

Hope for a New Generation

It was attending the 2024 Provincial Assembly in Latrobe which has given me the most hope ever for our budding Anglican Province. Many of the leaders, the delegates, and the participants were aged 40 and younger. It represented a sea-change from Assemblies past as most of my generation, the Baby Boomers, have given way to GenX, Millennials, and even GenZ. These younger Christians had no part in the conflicts with the Episcopal Church. Many were attracted to the beauty of Anglican worship, liturgy, sacramental theology, and Biblical preaching. Many were post-evangelicals yearning for more than ubiquitous big-box Christianity. And many were from Anglican church plants. It was encouraging to see that a church planter from a diocese made up mainly of church plants (Diocese of the Carolinas) was elected as our third Archbishop, the Rt. Rev. Steve Wood.

These reasons cause my hope to swell. When Bishop Duncan stepped down as Archbishop in 2014, in his closing address, he prophesized, “Many dreams made us the movement we are [today]: ‘Biblical, missionary and united’… ‘Reaching North America (and the globe) with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.”’ It is truly coming to pass and so I can say once again.

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ the solid rock I stand.


Photo by ivstiv from Getty Images, courtesy of Canva.

Published on

July 9, 2024

Author

David Wilson

The Rev. Canon Dr. David Wilson's entire ministry has been in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He gained his M.Div. & D.Min. from Trinity Anglican Seminary. He has served as a member of the Array (Ecclesiastical Court), on Diocesan Council, and as President of the Standing Committee. He currently serves as a presbyter on the Trial Court of a Bishop.

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