Robert Duncan, installed on Wednesday night as the first archbishop of the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), struck a decidedly evangelical tone in the sermon he delivered at his installation service. (You can see our coverage of the ACNA’s initial assembly here and here.)
The ACNA is mostly composed of conservative dissidents who have left the Episcopal Church — the main U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion — over thorny issues like gay clergy. It says it has 100,000 followers in 700 churches in Canada and the United States.
Like other mainline Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church — which is estimated to have more than 2 million members — has been shrinking while evangelical Protestant churches often have seen explosive growth (though some like the Southern Baptist Convention are also facing decline. We blogged on that issue earlier today). The ACNA seems to be in some ways emulating the evangelical movement by sticking to conservative principles (it would argue this means scriptural authority) and by stressing a renewed drive of evangelism.
Duncan at times certainly came across as something of a Southern evangelical (which some reserved Episcopal or Anglican audiences might find a bit jarring) but one wrapped in colorful Anglican robes. He called on his flock to “plant a thousand new churches in five years,” which will mark the end of his term in office. He talked about reaching the unchurched, relating the story of a recovering alcoholic whom he met on a plane and tried to introduce to Jesus. He also talked about the need to memorize scripture to live it.
His take on Islam echoed the more strident tone of conservative U.S. evangelicals and not those who have called for “inter-faith dialogue” with Muslims.