Celebrating Foley Beach

Everywhere Forward: The Legacy of Archbishop Foley Beach

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“Forward. Always Forward. Everywhere Forward.” Archbishop Beach used these words at the beginning of his tenure as Archbishop, borrowed from the motto of Saint Vincent College. Now that he concludes his tenure, it is fitting to reflect on his remarkable journey, together with the breadth of his ministry at home and abroad.

Guided by his unwavering commitment to scriptural authority and the mission of the Church, Archbishop Beach leaves an indelible mark on the ACNA and the broader Anglican Communion. True to the motto, and in the power of Christ, Archbishop Beach has moved the church forward, seemingly everywhere!

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Leadership in North America

Archbishop Foley Thomas Beach was elected Archbishop of the ACNA in June 2014, succeeding the province’s first ever Archbishop, Robert Duncan.

Born on October 31, 1958, in Atlanta, Georgia, Archbishop Beach’s journey into ministry was shaped by early experiences in youth ministry and pastoral leadership. His decision to depart from the Episcopal Church in 2004, alongside many clergy and congregations, marked the beginning of his influential role within the Anglican realignment. In 2005, he planted Holy Cross outside Atlanta, and in 2010 was consecrated first Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South.

Always Forward

Church planting was a major theme of Archbishop Duncan’s tenure. Archbishop Beach retained this focus and sought to advance it with his rallying cry: “Forward. Always Forward. Everywhere Forward.” Under his leadership, the vision expanded into the Always Forward initiative, enhancing support systems and collaborative efforts to sustain and expand church planting within the Anglican Church in North America. At the end of his tenure, there were more than 1000 parishes in the Province.

Matthew 25

Archbishop Beach elevated the significance of mercy ministry through the early development of the Matthew 25 Initiative. M25 distributes grants to support mercy ministries in parishes around the ACNA, and provides a community for support and best practice. Archbishop Beach spoke frequently about the importance of compassion in Christian ministry, including in his plenary address at GAFCON IV in Kigali.

Other provincial initiatives championed by Archbishop Beach include: the Global Mission Initiative, Every Tribe and Nation Network, and the Next Generation Leadership Initiative.

Liturgical and Theological Resources

Throughout his tenure, Archbishop Beach prioritized the theological and liturgical depth and unity of the ACNA. Key achievements included the release of the Book of Common Prayer 2019 and the catechism “To Be a Christian,” both of which have strengthened discipleship and worship across the province. His commitment to robust catechesis and the cultivation of common prayer across the province underscored his vision for a vibrant and faithful Anglican witness in North America.

College of Bishops Statements

Archbishop Beach also led the College of Bishops in issuing teaching statements on controversial topics in the church and the world. The two most notable were the 2017 Victoria Statement on the Ordination of Women, and the 2021 Pastoral Statement on Sexuality and Identity. While these statements did not resolve every aspect of these controverted issues, they did introduce key ideas and provide a precedent for the College of Bishops exercising its teaching office in the service of the church.

Leadership in the Anglican Communion

From a broad historical perspective, perhaps the most consequential aspect of Archbishop Beach’s leadership will be his impact on the Global Anglican Communion.

Standing Firm at Canterbury

From the beginning of his tenure, Archbishop Beach faced immense pressure from Canterbury to water-down his commitment to Biblical orthodoxy, especially in the doctrine of marriage. But he stood firm, including at the 2016 Primates meeting in Canterbury. Though this meant reduced prospects for good relations with Canterbury, it also meant that Archbishop Foley earned the respect of many orthodox Primates around the world.

One dramatic story from the 2016 Primates meeting is worth recounting here. When the Primates were assembled, Archbishop Beach had an opportunity to distribute copies of the new ACNA catechism, “To Be A Christian.” As he was handing them out, he described the role of JI Packer, a noted Canadian theologian, who served as theological editor of the catechism and wrote its introduction. Then, as Archbishop Beach handed a catechism to the Canadian Archbishop, he observed that it was that very Canadian church which had deposed JI Packer for his commitment to Biblical orthodoxy!

GAFCON Chairman

In 2018, Archbishop Beach was elected Chairman of the Primates Council of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), succeeding Archbishop Nicholas Okoh. This represented a remarkable vote of confidence from his fellow Primates, and also a significant development in the ongoing Anglican realignment.

As Chairman, Archbishop Beach provided global leadership to the majority of the Anglican Communion, traveling extensively for fellowship, ministry, consultation, and consecrations. He coordinated the teaching of the GAFCON Primates and organized the 2023 GAFCON conference in Kigali.

Supporting the Global South

Archbishop Foley also participated as a member of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans. In 2019, he participated in the Cairo Conference and contributed to the Cairo Covenant, promoting a covenantal relationship among orthodox Anglican provinces. The adoption of the Cairo Covenant highlighted the theological coherence and mutual accountability envisioned by Archbishop Beach and other global Anglican leaders.

The Kigali Commitment

The culmination of all these efforts was the Kigali Commitment, a statement released at the end of the 2023 GAFCON Conference in Kigali. With the unanimous support of the GAFCON Primates, representing a supermajority of the Anglican Communion, this statement declared that the Archbishop of Canterbury can no longer be recognized as the leader of the Anglican Communion.

It is hard to overstate the historical significance of this document, and of Archbishop Beach’s role in making it happen. For the first time since the English Reformation, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not recognized as the leader of the Anglican Communion. We are living in a new ecclesial era, the full consequences of which we cannot yet appreciate.

A Legacy of Steadfast Leadership

As Archbishop Foley Beach concludes his tenure, he leaves a legacy of unwavering
commitment to the gospel and steadfast leadership within the Anglican Church in North
America (ACNA). From his steady stewardship of the young ACNA to his visionary leadership in GAFCON, Archbishop Beach has exemplified the qualities of a faithful shepherd and courageous advocate for theological truth. As the ACNA prepares for its future under new leadership, Archbishop Beach’s legacy of trust in God’s providence and dedication to the Church’s mission will continue to inspire and guide.

On Video

Here is a video from Provincial Assembly 2024, in which Archbishop Beach discusses his tenure. The still photo for this article is a screenshot from the final moment of this address, in which Archbishop Foley reflects on leadership and dedicates all of his work to the Lord:

Leadership is a stewardship. Leadership is temporary. And there will always be accountability. So be faithful and be diligent. As your Archbishop and Primate, it has been a privilege to serve you. It has been a privilege to serve this place, to seek the Lord with you and to do his work. ‘So rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.’ This is his church. All of it is about serving him and bringing honor to Jesus Christ.

Foley Beach, Archbishop’s Address Assembly 2024, cf 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Image: Archbishop Foley Beach at Latrobe, June 2024, originally in ACNA video livestream. Still image screenshot and digital editing by Peter Johnston.

Author

Jesse Nigro

Jesse Nigro is Sales Coordinator at Anglican Compass, serving as the primary contact for ads, books, and event listings. He is also Editor-in-Chief at The North American Anglican. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with his wife and children.

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Author

Peter Johnston

The Ven. Dr. Peter Johnston is the Ministry President of Anglican Compass. He is a priest and archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of All Nations and the rector of Trinity Lafayette. He lives with his wife, Carla, and their eight children near Lafayette, Louisiana.

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