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ACNA’s Attendance & Membership Rebound

Attendance within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) rebounded in 2023 to pre-COVID numbers, according to congregational report data released June 25 at the denomination’s Provincial Council meeting at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

The denomination in 2023 reported an increase of 36 congregations to a total of 1,013, an increase in membership of 3,115 (+2.5 percent) to a total of 128,114 and an increase in attendance of 9,211 (+12 percent) to a total of 84,794.

The 2023 attendance numbers are a full rebound, exceeding pre-COVID levels, and are broad: only four ACNA dioceses reported any attendance decline in 2023. One was the now-dissolved Via Apostolica Missionary District, which saw most of its congregations transfer to the Anglican Network in Canada, the ACNA’s Canadian diocese.

Of the increase, 2,251 members and 1,791 of attendance can be attributed to the Anglican Diocese of All Nations (formerly CANA West) transferring from the Church of Nigeria’s North American Mission to the ACNA in 2023. The remainder is organic growth among existing dioceses.

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina continues to report the largest membership in the ACNA, with 17,440 members (down 3 percent from 18,007 in 2022). The largest attendance was reported in the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others at 8,500 (up 6 percent from 8,017 in 2022).

Provincial Council is the annual governance meeting of ACNA, comprising a bishop, elected clergy and two elected lay members from each of 29 dioceses, alongside delegates from a handful of organizations with an official status.

The council is charged with producing a provincial budget, electing members to trial courts and the Executive Committee (a smaller governance body that meets monthly between annual councils). Canonical changes are also reviewed and passed before they can be brought for ratification before the larger assembly, which convenes every two to five years.

Among the canonical changes passing Provincial Council is a requirement that dioceses adopt safeguarding policies and procedures for both children and adults “no later than June 30, 2025,” and make those publicly available to the members.

Delegates also passed a canonical requirement to appoint at least two “Diocesan Reports Receivers” for reports of misconduct, and that neither of those receivers should be a diocesan chancellor.

The changes are noteworthy as ACNA emphasizes subsidiarity and has customarily been cautious about the requirements it places on member dioceses.

In addition to adopting a provincial budget and passing canonical changes, the Provincial Council received reports from various deans, including Bishop Ray Sutton of the Reformed Episcopal Church, who led ecumenical relations on behalf of the ACNA.

Sutton reported that ACNA has entered into full communion with both the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and the Philippine Independent Catholic Church. Sutton also traveled to Rome for meetings with Vatican officials regarding continued ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.

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