A press release and statement from the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans which met in Fort Worth, Texas, this summer
Three hundred and fifty clergy and laity from around the world met at the Hilton in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 13–17, 2015, to attend the first International Catholic Congress of Anglicans (ICCA), entitled ‘One Church, One Faith, One Lord’.
Primarily sponsored by Forward in Faith North America, and based on the Anglo-Catholic Congresses of the first half of the twentieth century, the Fort Worth event aimed to recall traditional Anglicans to a renewed sense of the catholic nature of the Church and her mission.
‘We look back to the previous Catholic Congresses not with nostalgia, but with a resolve to live out the implications of their prayers, with gratitude for their vision,’ stated Forward in Faith North America’s President, Bishop Keith Ackerman.
A positive message
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, and Congress Co-Patron with Ackerman, expressed hope that the Congress would give Catholic Anglicans a greater voice in orthodox Anglican gatherings, and send out a positive message about the Church:
‘This Congress is a splendid opportunity not only for their (Catholic Anglicans) voice to be heard but for a message to be sent out about the nature and calling of Christ’s Church and of the Anglican place in it.’
The international scope of the Congress was reflected in its speakers, who included Bishop Keith Ackerman, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa, of Tanzania, Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo, of Myanmar, Bishop John Hind, retired Bishop of Chichester, and Bishop Ray Sutton, of the Reformed Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Mid-America.
Wide range of subjects
Keynote addresses were given on a wide range of subjects, such as ‘Frank Weston and the Foundations for Revival,’ ‘The Theology of the Real Presence,’ ‘The Nature of the Church: Apostolic, Conciliar and Concrete,’ and ‘The Necessity of Unity in Truth for the Church’s Mission.’
Breakout sessions focused on marriage, pro-life ministry, the challenge of Islam, catholic devotional societies, theological education, icons, SOMA missionary work, church planting, and more.
Daily worship, consisting of Morning Prayer, Choral Evensong and the Mass, took place at St Andrew’s, in downtown Fort Worth. Preachers included Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), retired ACNA Archbishop, Robert Duncan, Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church, the Bishop of Northern Malawi, Fanuel Magangani, Bishop Paul Hewett of the Diocese of the Holy Cross, and Bishop Chad Jones of the Anglican Province of America.
Time of crisis
While the mood of the Congress was upbeat and positive, participants were aware of the challenges they faced in recalling Anglicanism to catholic Faith and Order. In the words of Fr Stephen Keeble, of St George’s, Headstone, UK: ‘We’re gathered at a time of crisis and because of a crisis. We stand for the Faith and Order of the undivided Church, yet we have a proliferation of jurisdictions. The overriding purpose, the imperative of our meeting, is to address our ecclesial deficit.’
Keeble continued, ‘In doing so, and when we’re done, would to God that Betjeman’s words might be extended to this Anglo-Catholic Congress: ‘Those were the waking days, when Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.’
This sentiment was echoed by Congress organizers, who hope that a broad coalition of orthodox, catholic-minded Anglicans will emerge from the event.
‘What we’ve seen at this Congress are bishops, priests and people from multiple jurisdictions beginning to work together towards a common, catholic vision of the church,’ said Bishop Keith Ackerman, ‘My prayer is that Forward in Faith North America will be part of an emerging orthodox coalition that reclaims our catholicity as part of God’s Holy Church.’
Forward in Faith North America, and its partners from the International Congress of Catholic Anglicans are committed to this vision of a renewed Anglican Church that is authentically One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
Bishop Keith Ackerman announced his retirement as President of Forward in Faith North America at the Congress on Wednesday, July 15. He is succeeded by Fr Larry Bausch, Rector of Holy Trinity, Ocean Beach (ACNA). Ackerman will continue serving Forward in Faith North America, with the title Ambassador for Foreign and Ecumenical Relations.
The full report can be accessed via the FiFNA website, www.fifna.org
We send our warm good wishes and heartfelt gratitude to Bishop Keith Ackerman on his retirement, and assure his successor of our prayers as he takes up office. ND