Podcast: Brother Priests, One from TEC, One from ACNA

Review by Kirk Petersen

The Living Church Podcast debuted three years ago, and just posted its 102nd episode. High-profile guests have included Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (three interviews across four episodes), along with scores of bishops, priests, theologians, and lay people.

I’ve been fascinated by numerous episodes, but only one began to excite me before I heard a word of it. I’ve been looking forward to the Beadle Brothers episode since I first learned it was in the pipeline.

David Beadle is a priest in the Episcopal Church (TEC). Jon Beadle is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Various leaders of their respective churches have spent tens of millions of dollars litigating over property ownership since an acrimonious split over theological differences more than a decade ago. I’ve written dozens of articles on the lawsuits over the past five years, which has sometimes involved talking with some very bitter Christians on both sides of the divide.

I’m always actively looking for opportunities to tell stories about TEC-ACNA reconciliation, or at least cordial coexistence. That’s my jam, so I wanted to hear how these two brothers practice communion across difference.

The Beadle Brothers (there are five of them altogether) grew up in a charismatic, Evangelical family. For separate reasons, Jon and David as adults found themselves disaffected from the respective nondenominational churches where they were working as ministers. Jon was church shopping, and wandered into an ACNA parish. David got invited to a crawfish boil by an Episcopal priest. They both fell in love with the Anglican tradition, and enrolled in seminary and got M.Div. degrees.

These days, Jon is rector of All Saints Conroe, Texas, in the Western Gulf Coast Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. David is curate at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas, Texas. They sat down for a podcast discussion recently to describe their (not) tense discussions around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Some excerpts:

David: “The Anglican Instruments of Communion, or whatever binds us together, is always going to be more fragile than you might think. [Compared to] a Roman Catholic counterpart, it’s always going to be more fragile. It’s always going to take hard work. And it’s going to take mutual deference, and humility. And it’s going to take patience.” …

“When we came to our respective churches … [I realized that] the arguments tended to go along the lines of: on the ACNA side, orthodoxy is a matter of doctrinal truth. And on the TEC side, orthodoxy is a matter of unity in the church. … [But] I’m not as convinced that those categories really hold up on their own for either of us. I think Jon has a concern for unity, and I think I have a concern for doctrinal consistency and truth. All of that gets mixed together.”

[The ACNA introduced a new prayer book in 2019.] Jon: When people argue about which prayer book is better, “I just say to them, I don’t care. The issue is not which one is better. The issue is, which is the one we’ve been given. We’ve been given the 2019. That’s us. That’s the prayer book that our bishops and those committees and the college has said, this is ours. This is going to shape our worship. So let’s use it.” …

“This is the point I want to make about the division between TEC and the ACNA, though. I didn’t realize we were not-TEC, or that there was any real difference for a little while there. Because we just needed healing. And this was the church that scooped us up and rescued us, and loved on us and let us heal.”

Host Amber Noel made good use of her own M.Div., questioning her guests on the nature of Anglo-Catholicism and the importance of apostolic succession. She also introduced the discussion with the best three-minute explanation you’ll ever hear of the relationships among TEC, the ACNA, the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Global South.

Enjoy the podcast.


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