The annual CANA Council was held last week at Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, Virginia. It was a magnificent time of worship, learning and business (very little business, thankfully). Here are a few observatations.
First, CANA has experienced remarkable growth. In 2008 there were 70 CANA parishes, in 2009 there were 90 and at this date in 2010 there are 98. There are more in the pipeline including Lutheran congregations that are considering leaving the ELCA after the recent decision by their national body to embrace clergy in same sex relationships. CANA currently has parishes in 34 states, D.C. and Canada.
Second, worship at CANA Councils is always uplifting. The prayers, music and teaching are always first-rate and feed the souls of the attenders. I have felt this personally and this is something that our delegation comments on annually.
Third, at all four annual CANA Councils mission is uppermost. Having personally attended diocesan conventions in five pecusa dioceses it was absolutely dreadful how much time was wasted on minutia that had very little to do with the gospel. The best diocesan councils I attended while serving as a priest in the Episcopal Fraud were those in the DCNY under Bishop David Joslin. At least Bishop Joslin offered some seminars on ministry. I don't think that happens anymore under Bishop Adams, but I would be pleased to be corrected on this if I am wrong.
Fourth, CANA understands that the Great Commission is uppermost in the mission of the Church. The Episcopal Fraud currently believes that the Millenial Development Goals of the United Nations are uppermost. Evangelism is largely ignored in TEF. Is it any wonder that TEF is declining in numbers?
Fifth, church planting continues to be an important vehicle for growth for CANA and more importantly for the Kingdom of God. Fr. Tom Herrick has been at the forefront of this growth and CANA congregations like The Falls Church of Fall Church, Virginia continue to send church planters out on a regular basis.
Sixth, there has been tremendous growth in the area of military chaplaincy. Three military chaplains were ordained at the closing Festal Eucharist and they take their places alongside over 75 other CANA chaplains. CANA chaplains are overseen by Bishop Derek Jones.
Seventh, CANA continues to operate with a very small administrative staff. There are only two full-time paid staff members and four part-time staff. I came to the DCNY from the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia and I was amazed at how many staff people there were (and probably still are) in the diocesan offices of the DCNY. In the DSWVA there was two full-time secretaries, two full-time financial persons, and a part-time deployment officer. I know that the DCNY staff has been trimmed due to budget constraints, but I would guess that the diocesan offices continue to be overstaffed, particularly for a small and declining diocese.
Eighth, CANA is engaged with the world. By that I certainly don't mean aping the world as pecusa does. No, CANA values come from Scripture and Tradition, not from a world that is in rebellion to God. CANA works with groups like Five Talents, missionary societies like SAMS, and advocacy groups like Institute for Religion and Democracy. Parishes like Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia continue to powerfully demonstrate the love of God in wonderful ways through a myriad of social ministries.
Finally, I am so grateful personally to be a CANA priest. I no longer have to walk with the burden of being embarrassed by TEF. The leadership of CANA is so strong - it has been a privilege to serve under Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and Suffragan Bishop David Bena. I have observed that all too often in TEF nice guys are elected bishop, guys who would rather avoid conflict than promote the best interests of the Church. I've seen this at diocesan conventions and other diocesan occasions and it is evident in the House of Bishops; this is a great impediment to the work of God on earth. CANA has a cadre of bishops who are personable, but are also capable of making the hard decisions that are necessary for the health of the Body of Christ.
CANA is healthy, growing, and passionately serving Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God!