Thursday, February 15, 2007

ACC-APCK Unity

Talk about the possibility that a second Anglican province might emerge in the United States has been generating some discussion at the ACC Members List over on Yahoo. It stems, in part, from my observation, as made here, that the continuing movement is not in a very good position to provide a common welcome mat to those orthodox Episcopalians who cannot, in good conscience, affiliate with such a province.

That has led to talk about a first step toward doing that as being a unification of the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Province of Christ the King. Running almost in parallel to that discussion has been one on the assertion that the ACC and the APCK are already in communio sacris.

I am still new to the continuum and do not understand why the two jurisdictions have not been one since the beginning, or if they are effectively in communion, and any enlightenment on that issue would be welcome.

In this post, however, I would rather focus on something else.

I am starting from the premiss that there is no good ecclesiological or theological reason why separation should continue, and that unification is, by definition, a desirable thing.

Given that, I have come up with the following suggestions of how we could begin to move toward unity. I welcome others.

+ If unity is to come about, it will be best and most quickly achieved it it comes both "from above" and "from below" ie by cooperation among the bishops of both jurisdictions and among parishes.

+ A first step could be agreement by bishops that, in any given geographical area, neither jurisdiction will plant a mission where the the other jurisdiction already has a presence. A corollary to that would be that officials in each jurisdiction, when approached by someone seeking a place to worship, or even proposing the creation of a mission, be directed to the mission/parish of the other.

+ A parallel step would be for the clergy and people of ACC and APCK parishes that overlap geographically, entirely or in part, to take active steps to work and worship together. The former would entail agreeing on joint outreach and pastoral care projects, while the latter would be fixed annual occasions for coming together at the altar, beginning perhaps with the patronal festival of each church.

+ Much farther in the future, in eventual discussions on organic unity, it could be agreed that the older of the two jurisdictions' primates would become primate of the unified church, with the younger becoming coadjutor. Once the younger took office, the oldest of the other old jurisdiction's bishops would become his coadjutor. That should conceivably give the "two sides" enough years to grow beyond a sense of separation and into one of unity.

+ A similar arrangement could be done at the diocesan level. New dioceses of the unified church would be fashioned, to a certain extent, by combining existing ones. There, the same procedure could apply, with the older of the two bishops becoming the ordinary, and the younger his coadjutor, etc.

We are blessed to have as co-hosts of this blog priests from the ACC and the APCK, respectively, Fr Matthew Kirby and Fr Robert Hart. I also know that bishops from both jurisdictions have been introduced to The Continuum, and hope they are at least occasionally reading. We undoubtedly also have lay people from both jurisdictions as readers.

I would welcome all of you to become active participants in this thread.

The harvest is ripening. Are we going to be ready?

15 comments:

Ohio Anglican said...

Eventual unity between ACC and APCK makes good sense. If one looks at a map of the United States, the geographical areas where the APCK is strong are the areas where the ACC is weak; and where the APCK is weak are the areas where the ACC is strong. Together we would have pretty good coverage across the major areas of the U.S., something neither of us have on our own. The ACC has an excellent publishing arm but no seminary; the APCK has an excellent seminary but no publishing arm. United, the new church would easily be the largest Anglican body in the U.S.A. In the ACC, very wisely we allow the use of the 1928 BCP alone, or with Missals, according to local churchmanship traditions. Is that the case in the APCK? The only potential "stumbling block" I can see is if the parishes who don't use the Missal were suddenly forced to do so, it might lead to a schism (undoing the unity we tried to achieve.) If it were worked out in advance that all could continue local churchmanship as they always have, I don't see a "stumbling block."

Ohio Anglican said...

What about United Episcopal Church of North America? The ACC and APCK are in communion with them. The UECNA even had a picture of Archbishop Haverland on their website when he became the new Metropolitan of the ACC. That shows the beginnings of a promising reunion, as well.

Fr. Daniel said...

Immediately after the Continuing Anglicans left ECUSA, they developed three provinces in three different regions of the US. These provinces later developed into the ACC, APCK, and UECNA. Thus, each of these jurisdictions is strongest in the region of the country where it originally was in control. A united Anglican jurisdiction would bring back the geographical and ecclesiastical unity.

Churchmanship is one of the principal issues over which these jurisdictions separated. The ACC and UECNA have been working on this issue for some time, including the possibility of an intercommunion agreement. As I understand it from various sources, the APCK has been unwilling to join forces with the other jurisdictions because of the churchmanship issue.

Albion Land said...

Can someone elaborate on Fr Daniel's observation?

Ohio Anglican said...

Fr. Hart's article on the Continuum sort of covered that. He said that "The APCK doesn't do low church." Perhaps they consider a service from the 1928 BCP without a Missal to supplement it to be low church???

Fr. Robert Hart said...

There is no churchmanship problem between the ACC and the APCK. We are all Anglo-Catholics.

About the UEC, since I am from Maryland, I know that for a time the Episcopal priest, Rev. Les Kinsolving (son of the late Bishop Kinsolving, once in Texas), well known for his radio show and embarassing questions at White House briefings (and his red coat) was licensed to serve as a priest. Les Kinsolving has always defended what abortionists call "a woman's right to choose." The fact that he is very Low Church is really very mild compared to his outspoken arguments in favor of abortion, which can be heard almost daily on WCBM Baltimore.

If the UEC wants to be part of anything larger, they must be able to guarantee that such a thing will never happen again. Just how did this guy get to serve as a priest while defending abortion?

CH said...

"Perhaps they [APCK] consider a service from the 1928 BCP without a Missal to supplement it to be low church???"

I can assure you the APCK does not. Because that's exactly how my APCK church has conducted its services in the almost quarter-century I've been here.

Ohio Anglican said...

Fr. Hart, I agree with your stance on right to life. However, I don't know that ACC or APCK can dictate the private feelings of all its clergy. What they say to the vocations committee, and what they actually believe, may be two different things. Once they are ordained, they may sort of let the real truth out. While I agree with why this would bother you, I don't know that it would be fair to hold up the unification of three churches with essentially identical beliefs over the wrong actions of one clergyman. All three churches may have individual clergyman with various flaws. Actually, clergyman deceive vocations committees frequently. No matter how hard you try to stop it,sadly, an occasional "bad egg" may make it through the process.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

I am sorry to make such a late conversation to this conversation. I have not checked the blog for some days.

Fr Hart has it spot on. There are no doctrinal or liturgical issues dividing the ACC and APCK. Indeed, the Province of Christ the King was briefly the Diocese of Christ the King in the nascent ACC at its first synod at least. The story of how they came to operate separately is complicated and not particularly edifying. I think there were mistakes from both sides and misunderstandings. Some of the issues were to do with governance and canon law.

However, and more importantly, the ACC's hierarchy does believe itself to be in communion with the APCK. While I have never read an official statement by Abp Morse precisely reciprocating this, the fact that there have been shared sacramental acts (including in episcopal consecrations, I think) in the past speaks for itself. There can be no doubt we see the APCK as a Sister Church in the full sense and look forward to the day when there is full organic unity.

Ohio Anglican said...

Thanks CH, Fr. Hart, and Fr. Kirby. I too think there are good things in the future for the ACC/APCK to work together, and hopefully eventual unity. I'm glad to know the APCK allows parishes to use the 1928 BCP mass without Missals to supplement. I think allowing that is a good thing. It allows the parish to worship using the churchmanship appropriate to their area/local traditions. While I attend an ACC parish that uses the Missal, I, myself, am more of a traditional prayerbook catholic who prefers the 1928 BCP mass "as is." However, I love the ACC for its traditional adherance to the faith, so I would certainly not let the Missal chase me away. Our parish is about a 50/50 mix of former Episcopalians and former Roman Catholics. The Episcopalians all coming from straight prayerbook backgrounds, and read along from the prayerbook itself, as do I. (a former high church Methodist who grew up with the identical 1928 BCP service in the back of the old, red Methodist Hymnal). WE just listen to the additions from the Missal.

Anonymous said...

I would also hope for unity between ACC and APCK. I have to admire APCK for their stand on not doing low-church. If more of us took that stand and stood by it, the whole Continuing Church would probably be better off.

Fr. Rob said...

Achieving organizational unity among different religious groups is almost never easy. The reasons why the ACC and the APCK are separate ecclesiastical bodies are complex and not reducible to differences regarding churchmanship, doctrine, or liturgy. Those who have been around the Continuing Church since its beginnings know that matters of the human heart--of power, money, control, prestige, and personality--are powerfully at play.

One question that needs to be faced squarely is this: have Anglicans EVER really been unified (i.e., since the C of E became independent of Rome in the 16th century)? If you take away the one thing that actually forced Anglicans to be organizationally united--namely, the church establishment and underlying infrastructure--is there anything left that will really cause us to cohere?

Let's recall that, historically speaking, the Anglican Communion was itself formed as a once-a-decade tea party hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. And as long as everyone agreed to be gentlemenly and keep everything within the club, it worked perfectly fine.

The fact that the new "Continuing" Anglicans in the US--those fleeing the apostasy evident in GC 2003 and the consecration of Gene Robinson--have themselves affiliated with different groups (AMiA, CANA, Southern Cone, Network, etc.) is perhaps but another illustration of this underlying lack of organizational unity.

On the other hand, isn't there a genuine sense in which the ACC and the APCK are already one in Christ and in faith, worship, tradition, and so on?

Incidentally, regarding Les Kinsolving, he was also licensed to function as a priest in the ACC back in the early 80s. I know this because I attended Mass at an ACC parish where he was the celebrant and preacher.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

1. Whatever Les Kinsolving got away with in the early 80s, by the early 90s his pro-abortion arguments were by no means private, since they formed a regular part of his daily radio broadcast. He was still claiming to belong to the UEC last I heard (2005). What I need to know can come only from a member of that body: What is his current status with them?

2. What I said about the APCK not doing Low Church was really about the theology of the Province. I know that the Church out here in Fountain Hills, AZ. has been gently and patiently guided into Catholic understanding, and given a little here and a little there to elevate the Liturgy. That was my mission, and I chose to accept it. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Anonymous said...

I just learned this morning that the attendance at my church is comprised of folks from the ACC, APA, APCK, REC and UEC, several are relatively recent arrivals (for many reasons for being here), most are members.

What surprised me in a chat this morning was to learn that in both the ACC and APCK "membership-only" communications people have been talking about reunification.

It is a shame it has not occurred.

+ Leo said...

Dear Brothers in "The Continuum" blog,

This is Bishop Leo Michael, Bishop Suffragan of the United Episcopal Church of North America. Appreciate your earnestness in promoting unity among the continuing churches and my quest is the same after the heart of Jesus who prayed that they may all be one.

In reference about UEC in the comments under "ACC-APCK Unity", some of the information is totally outdated and incorrect. The reference to Rev. Les Kinsolving is 20 years ago. Kinsolving is not a member of the UECNA for the past 20 years. We do not have any association with him or whatever he stood for nor stands for. Our position on right to life at all stages has been very orthodox and we have defended and we will continue to defend it.

As far as the UECNA Churchmanship is concerned, it’s true that under Bishop Dale Doren we began as a low church. This was three decades ago. Thanks be to God, UEC has continued to grow in strength and in num¬bers. We have evolved over the years in keeping the integrity of the church and not betraying the faith and confidence of the faithful who have continued to look out for our presence. Our evolution has been toward the Anglo-Catholic tradition. For your convenience, I’ve included our Archbishop’s letter. You are welcome to check out our website www.united-episcopal.org

The United Episcopal Church embraces the divine truth that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, the Supreme Head of His Body— the Church. That church is both Catholic and Apostolic. That means we are a Sacramental church in the traditional time honored way. We believe that the sacraments are “of the church” in the double sense that they are “by her” and “for her”. They are “by the Church”, for she is the sacrament of Christ’s action at work in her through the mission of the Holy Spirit. They are “for the church” in the sense that the sacraments make the church, since they manifest and communicate to men, above all in the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with God, who is love, one in three persons. The church, forming, as it were, one mystical person with Christ the head, acts in the sacraments as an organically structured priestly community.

We profess that the sacraments of the new law were instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord. The sacraments are “powers that come forth” from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his body, the Church. They are “the masterworks of God” in the new and everlasting covenant.

The Apostolically ordained ministry (priesthood) guarantees that it is Christ who acts in the sacrament through the Holy Spirit for the Church.

The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person. The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.

The real purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ and to give worship to God alone. Because they are signs, they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen and express it. That is why they are called “sacraments of faith”.

As Anglicans, we then accept the components of the faith revealed; the Scriptures, Creeds, Councils, Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, and Tradition. We believe that all of the components are like strands of a rope; a unity which holds the church together. In this belief we share a Catholic ideal way of faith.

The Reformation of the 16th century was the most comprehensive and far reaching effect to return the Christian faith to its legitimate roots of faith and practice. We accept the English Reformation as that which diligently sought the true sources of faith and discredited the many corruptions and distortions of the Middle Ages. Actually, the Articles of Religion found in the Prayer Book were written not as a statement of faith, but to deal with the above mentioned distortions and corruptions of the medieval church.

We do not, however, accept the theology of the Continental Reformation or its uncatholic effort which tried to discard the fundamental principles of the historic faith along with the abuses.

We do not accept private innovations intruding into the Church’s teachings. We honor Luther, Calvin, Knox and others for their efforts to explain the faith, but do not accept them as having prophetic abilities to speak for God.

We do celebrate the historic faith-fundamental form of Christianity; its faith, worship, teaching, devotions and life with joy and love and with real thankfulness and real confidence. We believe this catholic approach to be the most comprehensive and satisfying expression of gratitude for God’s unlimited love and mercy.

We do believe God has given us a special position as a “bridge church”—a bridge between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. We proclaim a living way of faith and worship that believes in every persons right to life, honor traditional marriage between a man a woman and practice financial policies that allow local ownership of local property (Church, parish house, etc).

The United Episcopal Church of North America, while coming from the American arm of the Anglican Communion and having our apostolic succession from these bodies, does not belong to either of these organizations nor shares their extreme liberal views on morals and their abandonment of orthodoxy.

We are a church truly catholic and evangelical in scope and embrace a broad base of ceremonial practice inherent in the Historic Anglican Tradition. We are just what you are looking for in a faith community.
Blessings
++ Stephen C. Reber. Sr

Also you are welcome to check out my episcoblog (http://episcoblog.stgabrielsuec.org/). Hope this clarifies who we are. May you have a blessed Easter.
Grace and peace
+ Leo Michael
Bishop Suffragan UECNA
St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church
1803 W. Emma Ave
Springdale AR 72762
www.stgabrielsuec.org
www.united-episcopal.org