Congregation to leave ACNA, seeks new affiliation with Episcopal Diocese of Texas

By David Paulsen
Posted Jul 27, 2023
Resurrection

The Rev. Shawn McCain Tirres is rector of Resurrection Anglican Church in Austin, Texas, which is seeking to change its affiliation from the Anglican Church in North America to The Episcopal Church. Photo: Resurrection, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] An Austin, Texas, congregation of the Anglican Church in North America announced July 26 that it was disaffiliating with the breakaway Anglican denomination and would pursue affiliation with The Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Texas.

The congregation, Resurrection Anglican Church, was planted in the past decade and led by the Rev. Shawn McCain Tirres. It was not involved in the schisms of the previous decade in The Episcopal Church over theological differences, particularly women’s ordination and LGBTQ+ inclusion. The Anglican Church in North America, or ACNA, was founded in 2009 largely by former Episcopalians who adhered to more conservative beliefs.

McCain Tirres, in a message posted on the congregation’s website and signed by two other clergy leaders, explained that the decision to align with The Episcopal Church – a decision backed by 80% of the congregation – was rooted in a desire to “welcome everyone in our neighborhood to encounter the love of God.”

“Though our affiliation is undergoing change, more importantly, our commitment to the Gospel of the Kingdom and our mission as a parish will be sustained and strengthened,” the clergy said. “This journey has brought us immense clarity and conviction about what makes our parish so special and given us a new boldness to participate in the mission of God for the sake of South Austin.”

The Houston-based Diocese of Texas released a statement on the news to Episcopal News Service, saying that the diocese and congregation will embark on “pastoral and canonical processes of mutual discernment” that eventually are expected to conclude in the congregation becoming part of the Episcopal diocese. The diocese provided no estimated timeline.

Resurrection had conducted a “thorough examination of its own convictions around a variety of concerns, including [ACNA’s] prohibitions against women in the episcopate and the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ in the church,” the diocese said. “As distance grew between many of the clergy and people of Resurrection on the doctrine and discipline of ACNA, Resurrection approached the Diocese of Texas to explore a discernment process to affiliate with The Episcopal Church.”

Bishop Andrew Doyle and Bishop Suffragan Kai Ryan met personally with Resurrection’s clergy and congregation before its vote to change its affiliation, according to the diocese’s release.

ENS reached out to Resurrection’s leaders by email but had not received a response by the time this story posted.

McCain Tirres, a Fuller Theological Seminary graduate, was ordained as an ACNA priest in 2012. He planted a church in Santa Cruz, California, before founding Resurrection in Austin in 2015. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in 2020.

In his announcement of the congregation’s decision, he offered gratitude to its founding ACNA diocese and Bishop Todd Hunter for “the support and relationships we have enjoyed with so many sisters and brothers in Christ over the years.” The announcement also acknowledged that some members may choose to remain with ACNA instead of joining The Episcopal Church. A gathering for those members will be hosted by the ACNA diocese on Aug. 13.

This is at least the second ACNA congregation in the past year to seek a new affiliation with The Episcopal Church. In October 2022, another ACNA church plant known as The Table announced its congregation in Indianapolis, Indiana, intended to join the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis led by Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows. The rector specifically cited ACNA restrictions on women’s ordination as a reason for pursuing the change.

Both Resurrection and The Table were founded by ACNA as part of Churches for the Sake of Others, or C4SO, a church-planting movement that started in 2009 and became a diocese in 2013. It is not a geographically specific diocese; its congregations are spread across the United States and organized into regional deaneries.

ACNA dates to 2008, when a group of former Episcopalians sought to form a new, conservative province of the Anglican Communion after leaving The Episcopal Church. The 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church and the 2006 installation of the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori as the church’s first female presiding bishop were catalysts for the schisms that emerged during the subsequent decade. Since then, ACNA has not succeeded in its goal of being recognized as a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

– David Paulsen is a senior reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.