Wednesday, September 20, 2006

To All Continuing Hierarchs

In case this has not reached you directly, I am posting it here. This could be an opportunity to take another step toward unity among ourselves and to help shape the future nature and structure of the emerging new Anglican Communion.

Continuers, Covenant and Co-operation

A proposal from two editors – Auburn Traycik of The Christian Challenge and Peter Toon of The Mandate – addressed to orthodox, continuing Anglicans in North America.

We sent this message primarily to those whom we know as the real Continuing Anglicans, who trace their origins via the St Louis Gathering in 1977 to the orthodox Anglican Way, as that had been known in the Anglican Church of Canada and in the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA. However, we hope that others who have left these two Churches also to become Continuing Anglicans will prayerfully consider what we suggest.

On September 16, 2006, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sent out a pastoral letter to the Archbishops and Presiding Bishops of the Anglican Communion of Churches. In it he stated that, as request by the Primates themselves, he had asked Archbishop Drexel Gomez of The Bahamas to chair a committee to draft a Covenant. The purpose of the Covenant is to bring together in basic doctrine, liturgy, morals and polity those Provinces, which will be, in the future, members of the “renewed” Anglican Communion ( and which may or may not be the same as those 38 Provinces which are the current members). [For the origins of the need for a Covenant see The Windsor Report of 2004.]

We believe that in the process of creating this Covenant, there is a unique opportunity for the genuine, orthodox Continuing Anglicans to make a solid and serious contribution to debate and dialogue within the Anglican Family worldwide and also in the present Anglican Communion (some of whose provinces and dioceses still confess the Anglican Way in the same traditional style as do the Continuing Anglicans).

Our suggestion is simple but we believe profound:

• that each of the several jurisdictions, which traces its ancestry back to the exodus of 1977 via St Louis, nominate a couple of persons, one clergy one laity;

• that the two from each jurisdiction join together to form a working party to draft a Covenant for submission to the committee headed by Archbishop Gomez;

• that the initial meeting be under the good auspices of The Christian Challenge in Washington D.C., where a chairman and secretary can be appointed and the work begin;

• that in order to get this started that each jurisdiction contact Auburn Traycik at Christian Challenge (ATraycik@aol.com) and that she uses her knowledge of Washington,the Continuing Churches and persons therein to facilitate the first meeting.

• That Peter Toon be used as a contact person to advise what kind of shape, style and size of document [not content!] is required, and is likely to gain the best reading/hearing.

We see this suggestion as in the providence of God achieving good ends – e.g., the provision on The Table at the centre of the Anglican Family of a fully orthodox, traditional Anglican statement of what truly is the basis, content and genius of the Anglican Way; greater cooperation between orthodox groups that have, through varied circumstances, walked apart in recent decades; and a renewal of mind and purpose for those who engage in this enterprise and which they can share with others in their churches. We cannot see anything negative arising from this way forward; rather, we believe, it is an open door being provided for Continuing Anglicans to share what God has given them with others around the globe.

To discuss this further, please call Mrs Traycik at the Office of Christian Challenge in Washington, DC.

Also, please commend this proposal to the Lord in prayer for his guidance.

8 comments:

andrew said...

appreciate the inside info on the Anglican communion. thanks. keep it coming . ..

Fr Jerome CSJV said...

ABOUT TIME! Go for it brothers - however reservedly you must consider it!

Phil said...

What an outstanding idea. I pray that all of the Continuing Churches will, in humility, participate.

Anonymous said...

From my limited perspective I very unhappily do not see this happening, at least as presented here.

Granted, many of the difficult issues such as propriety of orders can be held off for later resolution and/or correction, but I will note that the highly respected, by me, Dr. Toon has made some enemies within the Continuing churches as one of the elements to be overcome.

The idea is good, however, and should be reworked and refined until either it goes or it becomes obvious it will never go. And if the resolution is that it will not go, the refining should be aimed at exposing just exactly why it will never go. (I think here of an acquaintance who is now "death on all bishops" based upon her stated experience of their desire to rule unilaterally and completely.)

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

I'm sorry to be the fly in the ointment, but I see little justification in following such a plan for the Continuing Churches that identify themselves as Catholic. Here are the negatives I see, contrary to the assertion above the there are none.

1. The invitation by the Abp of Canterbury was not sent to us. Thus we could only participate either as uninvited guests to the conversation (since the invitation of A. Traycik and Fr Toon is not, as far as I know, authorised by or representative of those who are organising this) or, as it might appear to others, supplicants for inclusion or recognition. My problem with this is not, I hope, about pride, offended dignity or whatever. The reason we exist is because we saw that the mainstream Anglican Churches progressively severed themselves formally and definitively from Catholic Faith and Practice and thus ceased to be jurisdictions within the Catholic Church. So, it would be misleading and scandalous to the faithful to treat any of the Churches who have done these things as if they were Catholic entities with which any sacramental communion was possible. If it is countered that our suggestions re: the Covenant need not make suggestions for establishing communio in sacris, then one is forced to ask "What is the point, then?"

2. Many of the Anglican jurisdictions which are interested in this and would be participants are in favour of the ordination of priestesses or practise it, though they are "orthodox" on issues such as homosexual acts. Many are straightforwardly Protestant and even commited to anti-Catholicism, such as Abp Jensen of Sydney. There is not enough common ground between us and them for any intercommunion, and what there is enough common ground for, cooperation or shared prayer as fellow Christians, is something we share with Baptists and Pentecostals.

3. Leading on from what I have just said, there is no more reason to suggest to the "more orthodox" remnant of the Anglican Communion how they should order their future than there is for us to make such suggestions to the Baptists or Pentecostals. Indeed, telling others (with whom we cannot have any intention of joining ecclesially) how to run their show is presumptious and rude.

4. As for those jurisdictions in the Anglican Communion that do not ordain priestesses, the fact that they remain in the Anglican Communion, that is, are or appear to be in communion with heterodox Provinces, including that of Canterbury, means they are in an ambiguous position as regards to their identity. By refusing to sever relations publicly and definively with those who have left the Catholic Faith, unlike the Continuers, they render their connection to the Catholic Church doubtful.

5. And that brings me to my final point. The only Anglican Churches Catholic Continuers could consider as partners in ecumenical dialogue with a view to re-union are those which are themselves Catholic (and not merely against revisionism in sexual morality). That would mean they could happily accept the Affirmation of St Louis or something equivalent that affirmed the fullness of Holy Tradition. And the first thing we would have to say to them was that they had to finally follow their principles and break cleanly and clearly from the rest of the Anglican Communion and thus become Continuing Churches! Is this really something A. Traycik and Fr Toon want us to do? We could do it, but somehow I doubt Abp Gomez or Fr Toon or anyone else hanging on to the Anglican Communion for no good reason would be impressed or appreciative.

albion said...

This must be the first time that I disagree with something you have said.

"1. The invitation by the Abp of Canterbury was not sent to us. Thus we could only participate either as uninvited guests to the conversation (since the invitation of A. Traycik and Fr Toon is not, as far as I know, authorised by or representative of those who are organising this) or, as it might appear to others, supplicants for inclusion or recognition. My problem with this is not, I hope, about pride, offended dignity or whatever. The reason we exist is because we saw that the mainstream Anglican Churches progressively severed themselves formally and definitively from Catholic Faith and Practice and thus ceased to be jurisdictions within the Catholic Church. So, it would be misleading and scandalous to the faithful to treat any of the Churches who have done these things as if they were Catholic entities with which any sacramental communion was possible. If it is countered that our suggestions re: the Covenant need not make suggestions for establishing communio in sacris, then one is forced to ask "What is the point, then?"

Thirty of 40 years ago, at the time Rome and Canterbury initiated serious ecumenical discussions, hardliners in Rome probably made the same sort of observation about the Anglicans. I think it also gives short shrift to the fact that many provinces, dioceses and parishes within the Anglican Communion are just as orthodox as we are, and it should be to them that we are directing ourselves, first and foremost. But to foreclose any possibility of dialogue means we lose an opportunity to convince others of the rightness of our cause. As for appearing as supplicants, that is a question of form. We could just as easily appear as what we are, people continuing in the faith of our fathers, concerned as we are to draw people back into that faith and making a magnanimous overture to that end.

"2. Many of the Anglican jurisdictions which are interested in this and would be participants are in favour of the ordination of priestesses or practise it, though they are "orthodox" on issues such as homosexual acts. Many are straightforwardly Protestant and even commited to anti-Catholicism, such as Abp Jensen of Sydney. There is not enough common ground between us and them for any intercommunion, and what there is enough common ground for, cooperation or shared prayer as fellow Christians, is something we share with Baptists and Pentecostals."

As I understand the Traycick/Toon proposal, it is for the Continuum to have input into the formation of an Anglican Covenant. If we believe in the concept of eventual reunification, which I do, then we should argue forcefully for a covenant that makes it clear that these aberrations are unacceptable.

"3. Leading on from what I have just said, there is no more reason to suggest to the "more orthodox" remnant of the Anglican Communion how they should order their future than there is for us to make such suggestions to the Baptists or Pentecostals. Indeed, telling others (with whom we cannot have any intention of joining ecclesially) how to run their show is presumptious and rude."

I don’t see it as a matter of rudeness or telling others how to run their show. I see it as a loving and magnanimous overture to brothers and sisters of similar beliefs who, in good conscience, did not take the road of separation but sought to effect change from within. Those people are now coming to realise that they have lost the battle. They need to be encouraged and supported.

"4. As for those jurisdictions in the Anglican Communion that do not ordain priestesses, the fact that they remain in the Anglican Communion, that is, are or appear to be in communion with heterodox Provinces, including that of Canterbury, means they are in an ambiguous position as regards to their identity. By refusing to sever relations publicly and definively with those who have left the Catholic Faith, unlike the Continuers, they render their connection to the Catholic Church doubtful."

Here, I more or less agree with you. This is one of the factors that led to my ultimate decision to leave the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Not only had it not taken a public position on the “great issues of our times,” it had basically buried its head in the sand and pretended that nothing was happening. I know for a fact that its primate, and my former bishop, was deeply concerned about the prospect of losing funding from ECUSA that was so vital to the province’s survival.


"5. And that brings me to my final point. The only Anglican Churches Catholic Continuers could consider as partners in ecumenical dialogue with a view to re-union are those which are themselves Catholic (and not merely against revisionism in sexual morality). That would mean they could happily accept the Affirmation of St Louis or something equivalent that affirmed the fullness of Holy Tradition. And the first thing we would have to say to them was that they had to finally follow their principles and break cleanly and clearly from the rest of the Anglican Communion and thus become Continuing Churches! Is this really something A. Traycik and Fr Toon want us to do? We could do it, but somehow I doubt Abp Gomez or Fr Toon or anyone else hanging on to the Anglican Communion for no good reason would be impressed or appreciative"

Yes and no. No point in papering over differences, as has been done for the past several centuries. But whether they join us, or we join them, are we jointly create a new entity is a question of function that can be dealt with if there is good will on all sides.

These are just a quick reflection on your post, Matthew, written as I have my first cup of coffee of the morning. They are not meant to be definitive, but as talking points. Let us all take this dialogue forward.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

I'm not sure we do disagree on substance at all. We seem to agree that the first thing we have to say to Catholics within the A.C. is "Get out! Can't you see there is no reason (other than holding onto property) to associate yourselves with heterodoxy and that, in fact, by your own principles you are obliged to break communion with them?"

The only difference seems to be that I feel that any such message, even if expressed much less confrontingly and much more eirenically, would be unwelcome to the self-identified Catholics in the A.C. and provocatively offensive to the "Protestant but not revisionist" Evangelicals. You, on the other hand, seem to think it may have an effect for good on both and cause them to reflect. Maybe, but don't forget we have been saying things like this for a long time and the vast majority of Orthodox Anglicans have remained in the ongoing crisis that is the A.C. Also, the fact that, as we have discussed on this blog before, Fr Toon has an agenda -- that we should make "7 sacraments and 7 Councils" optional, along with clear adherence to Holy Tradition generally, so as to foster unity -- means that I am frankly suspicious. Or, perhaps to be more fair, I would say to him that he should be careful what he wishes for. Any suggestion we made for a Covenant would be something very different to what he apparently sees as the "Anglican Way".

Lastly, I would note that the Affirmation of St Louis has already done the job. Why reinvent the wheel? How do you think they would react if we put it forward as the Covenant, slightly modified to take account of their historical circumstances?

poetreader said...

I'll come in at a slightly different place. I'm unconvinced that a formalized covenant such as is being proposed is of any real use, or indeed acceptable. I don't believe the pattern of ecumenism as practiced for these many decades is a workable or desirable thing. To give the impression that a least common denominator leaving controverted doctrines optional can be a sufficient basis for fellowship is to devalue the importance of truth. However, unity of Christians needs to be a priority for Christians, and any cessation of intense effort in that direction is nothing less than an ignoring of Christ's high priestly prayer.
There need to be efforts made and ways found to continue in close, loving, and brotherly conversation with those who, while holding the same core faith as we, yet differ in important ways. In making efforts of this kind we need to be firm, open, and obvious, in our rejection of priestesses, of 'lay presidency', and of modern so-called 'morality'. We do need to be as firm in our affirmation of seven councils and seven sacraments. No formal covenant less explicit than the Affirmation of St. Louis can be accepted, but we need to be patient with those whose perception of truth is inadequate, and we need to be patient with those who have not yet seen the folloy of trying 6to maintain communion with the revisionsists. If they do not themselves become revisionists, they will eventually find their way out.

In short, I believe there must be full communion between those of us who do accept the Affirmation, coupled with a strong and soncere reaching out to those who haven't yet got there.

ed