Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More on St. James Kansas City

It appears that some people are confused about why I have posted the story about St. James in Kansas City, MO. Some of the comments have gone into so many details that the main point needs to be brought out and placed on center stage. Thanks to a very fine piece by the archbishop of the United Episcopal Church, North America (UECNA) the main point has been made abundantly clear. Writing on May 7th, Archbishop Stephen C. Reber, in a piece called PARISH OWNERSHIP-A MUST, wrote:

The following is just a brief summary of the UECNA's position. As a Church of the Continuum there are three major points that are essential, indeed sacred and special.

I. The use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.

II. An all-Male Clergy

III. Ownership-control of the local parish buildings and property by the local Vestry.

To break any of these essential points is to break them all. To pick or choose or disregard any of these points for any reason is to forever separate oneself from both actual or spiritual association of the Articles of St. Louis and all that they stand for. There is no reason or justification ever to pick and choose, or to compromise on these points.

Those persons or organizations deliberately dishonoring these points give evidence to their outright dishonesty, self-aggrandizement and/or outright fraud.

Archbishop Reber got to the one point that matters most. The Episcopal Church (TEC) has used financial matters, especially ownership of church property, as a weapon to use against people who have sought to be true to their convictions, and their consciences. They have used the Denis Canon, which made the Diocese the owner of all church property.* Even before that canon (1979), it was clear that they were going to claim the property of parishes trying to break away as the Continuing Anglican Churches were forming their Constitution in 1977. The use of financial pressure to establish and propagate apostasy and heresy was something that the framers of the Affirmation of St. Louis understood, and so they made it impossible for this tactic to reappear in the Continuing Churches. So, one of the Articles of the Affirmation says, ""Financial Affairs: The right of congregations to control of their temporalities should be firmly and constitutionally recognized and protected."

When and how the Holy Catholic Church Anglican Rite (HCC/AR) became a separate jurisdiction is beside the point for purposes of this post. What matters is that their Constitution embodied the principle quioted above from the Affirmation of St. Louis, as Fr. John Hollister reported to us in a comment.

"Constitution Part II
". . .
"ARTICLE XI -- OF THE INTERPRETATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION AND CANONS
"All words and provisions of this Constitution and Canons shall be interpreted strictly in accordance with their plain literal and grammatical meaning at the time of writing.
". . .
"ARTICLE XXI -- OF THE TEMPORAL AFFAIRS AND POSSESSIONS OF CONGREGATIONS
"The right of Congregations to control of their temporalities, and to freedom from claims of any Diocesan or Provincial or Synodical Trust or implied Trust asserted by the adherence of such Congregation to the Communion of this Church, or by its adherence to the Constitution or Canons of any Diocese, Province, or Synod shall be forever recognized and protected.

"No person or ecclesial body in this Church shall ever resort to any civil court for the purpose of depriving any congregation departing from this church of any property or right pertaining to it."

This, then, became part of their Canon Law.

The two bishops, Rt. Rev. James McNeley and Leo Michael, by trying to take over the parish property, violated this part of their Constitution, and by resorting to civil law, violated it further.

Furthermore, they disobeyed the clear teaching of the Apostle Paul, the word of God in holy Scripture:

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren."

I Corinthians 6: 1-8.


By filing the lawsuit against St. James, these two bishops renounce the Affirmation of St. Louis, violate the Canon Law of their jurisdiction, and disobey Scripture.

Little details about who struck John are not the issue that matters most. Imitating the worst behavior of Katherine Jefferts-Schori and her thugs is the issue. Blowing the whistle on bad behavior by churches that claim to descend from the original Denver Consecrations of 1978, and that claim to adhere to the principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis, is necessary no matter how unpleasant. Otherwise, the little fixes that spoil the vines get to set precedents, both in courts of law, and in the human imagination. The plague can spread to others.

For the good of all, I ask these two bishops to drop their suit. If they win they lose, and everybody loses with them. And, besides that, their actions constitute sin from which they need to repent for the sake of their own souls.

* Oddly enough it is the very success of the Denis Canon in courts of law that presents TEC with a problem now, as they try to sue the entire Diocese of San Joaquin for realigning with the Province of the Southern Cone.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

*Claim* to descend from the original Denver Consecrations? Did some not admit in the other thread that the HCC-AR hierarchs are indeed perfectly valid Anglican bishops in the Chambers succession tracing from the Denver Consecrations?

poetreader said...

Lighten up!

As Father said, what is relevant to this issue is not the origins of the group, nor the truth of the claims it makes(These are not being questioned), but whether the current actions are in accord with the claims it does make. I'd have worded it that way if speaking of my own jurisdiction.

Let's do as Fr. Hart has asked and stick to the issue itself.

ed

Anonymous said...

Poetreader is quite right. The people who gathered at St Louis and wrote the Affirmation would be appalled at the behavior of McNeley and Leo Michael. By the way, has Leo Michael ever signed the Affirmation?
What exactly are his credentials as an Anglican? He seems well-suited to become successor to the pugilistic gun-toting McNeley
Laurence K. Wells

Ken said...

What authority, other than moral persuasion, do bishops in the continuing churches have? I assume, at the very least, that they would some power of licensing, an authority to judge disputes against priests, and authority to declare some form of excommunication. Of course, being authoritative teachers of the Faith should go without saying.

But what does this authority mean if, at any point in time, a congregation may say "no thanks we're going elsewhere" without any penalty.

Albion Land said...

Ken,

Some very good questions you ask. I must say that I am of mixed feelings about this property issue.

Certainly, people who have worked hard, sacrificed and saved to build something should not have it taken away from them, or from their posterity.

On the other hand, and perhaps some good bishops might step in here, there must be many occasions where it has been a diocese or even a national church that has provided the seed money, or some other form of help to get things going/sustain them. In such cases as that, it would seem to me equally unfair to them that a conceivably impetuous parish might walk off with everything.

Anonymous said...

"What exactly are his credentials as an Anglican?"
Actually close to none. He was a Roman Catholic priest serving in India. He returned to the U. S. and the R/C diocese in or near N.Y., N.Y. His arrival in Arkansa is as far as I know unclear. It was reported that he wanted to marry. I do not know that as a fact, but from thence to the UEC for what a couple of years, max?
So from his limited exposure to anything that could be described as Anglican his participation in a property grab would align with the R/C understanding.
FWIW,
Fr. D.

poetreader said...

As a theoretical matter, one has to admit that it is a central difference between Catholic polity and congregationalism that the local church is gathered around its bishop, and that the worshiping community gathered around a priest is therefore a part of the bishop's church. The bishop, therefore is the proper spiritual and disciplinary leader. However, as long as there have been congregations without resident bishops, the question has arisen as to how local affairs are to be managed, and specifically as to what a congregation is to do is its bishop err, specifically if he depart from the faith. In the current chaos of Christendom, this could fairly expand to a question of, 'What if he is no longer our bishop?"

With regard to property, the RCC has taken one tack in declaring that all property is vested in the bishop, and ultimately in the pope. Anglicanism, at least since the Reformation, and arguably even before that, has always recognized that management and control of property is far more complex than that. The TEC, in pursuit of its own less-than-orthodox ends, has been attempting to adopt the RC pattern.

When Continuing Anglicans found that heterodox teaching and practice was forcing them to leave their errant bishops, and experienced all the legal wrangling that went on, they made, in the St. Louis Affirmation, a decision that it was best to handle temporalities otherwise, and, in effect, bishops agreed to yield property claims in favor of local congregations. The Affirmation enshrined this decision as a foundational principle of the movement.

I'm afraid I don't agree with +Reber's placing of this as the most important point. Actually it's a very subsidiary matter. After all, what value are temporalities in the light of eternity? Why did
St. Paul come down so hard on Christians going to court against each other? Is it maybe because it puts too much attention on the earthly matters, draws our hearts from the one thing that matters, and thus treads rather closely to idolatry? I would see this as part of the answer.

At any rate, the issue in this case is clear. Bishops consecrated under that commitment to leave the temporalities to the local congregation have taken it upon themselves to fight against that very principle in secular courts. There are so many self-contradictions in that action that it gives me a headache to think about them.

A Christian attitude toward property? It's not important. It can be a valuable tool. It can aid the heavenward journey of souls. But clinging to it only holds one to this earth and away from heaven. We do what we must. If that leads us to walk away from property (as most Continuers indeed have done), so be it. That is honorable indeed. Likewise, if it leaves a bishop to watch valuable property slip from his control, so be it. It is far more honorable to let it be than to fight over mere things. My own parish, in fact, has twice moved from one bishop to another. I won't get into the story, except to mention that, for all the brouhaha that has been involved, nobody every tried to make a court fight over property. That, at least, is honorable on all sides.

Remember the Pharisees. They were outwardly right in much of what they did. Our Lord said, "They have their reward," with the implication that there was no more for them. Let's not be them.

ed

The Auld MacLaren said...

In re: ownership issues….

I just started reading Pamela Cunningham’s very interesting book How Old is that Church? (2005 ed.), and was interested in her comments (from p. 15 and ff.) on the re-evangelization of Britain during the early Saxon period….

“From the minster church, or mission station, priests went out to the surrounding villages to preach the gospel, at first preaching in the open air. If the priest was accepted he might build himself a small hut, or chapel….

“As the priest gained converts among the villagers, they would gather around the open door of the chancel to watch him, and try to follow the services. As pagans they were used to worshipping in the open air, but after they had been baptized and become members of the church, able to take a full part in its services, they would no longer be content to assemble ‘outside’ the church and would build themselves a covered annex, or ‘nave,’ to the west of the original chapel, which then became the ‘chancel’…

“[S]ince the nave had been built by the parishioners, it remained their property, and they were responsible for its repair, while the chancel remained the responsibility of the mission priest and the rector who succeeded him once the church had become established…. This was the case until comparatively recent times, when tithes were abolished….”

Ken said...

While it may seem that I've been picky about a creeping congregationalism, it seems me that much of the chaos and disorder in the continuing movement stems from the bishops themselves. Or may be something inherent in the type of people that make up of the movement.

ISTM, that St. Paul's admonition to St. Timothy to not lay hands on anyone hastily has not been heeded and the continuing movement has reaped the "rewards". What's the value of being in the "Chamber's succession" if one abuses his authority.

Back to the point at hand, local property ownership has it advantages and disadvantages, but I hope that everyone has their eyes towards heaven (as Ed stated).

Fr. Robert Hart said...

To the first comment, I knw for a fact that they come from the Chambers Succession. I was emphasizing the fact that they consider this to be of great importance themselves.

Albion.

St. James as a parish is older than the HCC/AR. The HCC/AR has not put their money into it.

From HCC/ AR Canon Law:

Canon 10 of those “Constitutional Canons” states that “Any member of this Church who shall … initiate any action regarding a Church matter in any civil court is automatically excommunicated and removed from membership in this Church from the moment he sets pen to paper.” Section 15.6, “Of Parochial Property”, of the DHGP’s Canons states that “Each Parish shall hold title to its real and personal property and this Diocese shall have no legal or possessory interest therein.”

Bishops Michael and McNeley have excommunicated themselves, according to these canons, from their own jurisdiction.

Thanks to Fr. Hollister for finding that.

Anonymous said...

"While it may seem that I've been picky about a creeping congregationalism, it seems me that much of the chaos and disorder in the continuing movement stems from the bishops themselves. Or may be something inherent in the type of people that make up of the movement."

Thanks for the compliment, Ken. As for the "chaos and disorder" of which you speak, I'm quite confident that such exists over in Rome and Constantinople, though in somewhat different forms. In fact, I know it does in Orthodoxy, where I've spent the last 15 years of my ecclesial life. I believe it was St. Gregory of Nazianzus who complained of certain "cranes and geese". Last I looked, he was never a member of the Continuing Anglican movement.

Caedmon

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Ken wrote:

But what does this authority mean if, at any point in time, a congregation may say "no thanks we're going elsewhere" without any penalty.

Bishops are not Czars. From ancient times the Church has had Canon Law, such as the 20 canons of the First Council of Nicea. In this case, the breakers of Canon Law are bishops. this makes them lawless, as in the New Testament word (ἀνομία) translated "iniquity." There is no such thing as lawless authority.

Actually the answer to your first question (What authority, other than moral persuasion, do bishops in the continuing churches have?) is none,in terms of enforcing their own wills. That is because people can leave as individuals. We live in a free society.

These two bishops, however, have thrown away their power of moral persuasion. That's the fact on the ground.

ISTM, that St. Paul's admonition to St. Timothy to not lay hands on anyone hastily has not been heeded and the continuing movement has reaped the "rewards". What's the value of being in the "Chamber's succession" if one abuses his authority.

This problem is so old that you can read about it in St. John's third Epistle.

Ken said...

Caedmon,

Twern't nothing. I like painting with broad strokes and generalizing beyond reason. I guess things are bad all over. I recall that problem with some bishop in Jerusalem, not to mention the criminal activity some bishops were involved in that RCC pedophile scandal.

Fr. Hart,

I agree that if the bishop broke the canon law of the church he is leading then he needs to be held accountable.

But as to the ancient canons, my rememberance is that most related to preventing a bishop from usurping the authority of another bishop, such as ordaining priests in another bishop's diocese. I am not familiar with any ancient canon that specifically address parochial concerns similar to what occured at St. James.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I am not familiar with any ancient canon that specifically address parochial concerns similar to what occured at St. James.

From the early councils we see canons about many different things, all of which were quite practical. Probably the canon from Nicea I that forbade bishops to lend money on interest came from a real life case. The St. Louis Affirmation based its article concerning church property on real life situations too.

But as to the ancient canons, my rememberance is that most related to preventing a bishop from usurping the authority of another bishop, such as ordaining priests in another bishop's diocese.

That is from Constantinople I. It is only one of many canons in these councils, covering many things.

Furthermore, the prohibition on suing other Christians is in a higher law still: the Bible.

Ken said...

I agree, Christians shouldn't take take one another to court, especially over "church matters".

Luanne Fliss said...

As a vestry member of St. James, I can attest these facts are true and not even all of the story. Our rector was not only inhibited, but had a restraining order put against him that he could not go near the church. This man has served St. James well for approximately 5 years. Our other priests who have served even longer understood that they would still be able to serve Mass. They showed up to do so and were informed that they had been inhibited and could not serve. Their years of service did not warrant a phone call or warning, or even why this was done to them All of our priests have all been treated abominably and their only “crime” was debating whether they could take a vow of obedience to a strange Bishop with a very spotty record.

The rumors that have been spread about these three good men are ridiculous and yet they have been accepted as gospel truth and quoted by Kleppinger, who has not once spoken to them regarding any of this. He did not get their side of the story before inhibiting them. Our rector did NOT lead the group away. Several prominent members of our group were dissatisfied with years of never getting any closer to communion with other Anglican groups and wondered whether our HCC-AR affiliation was a detriment to growing as a parish. When our rector tried to discuss this with Bishop McNeley in loyalty and a sense of fairness to give him a chance to address those issues, THAT was when everything went to Hell. And I don’t mean that figuratively. Bishop McNeley is suffering from severe health issues, heart problems and quite possibly mini strokes. That is why he has resigned or is resigning, whichever it is this week. He went ballistic over the phone call and has been viciously attacking our rector ever since. No one ever accused Bishop McNeley of theft, it is a perfect example of the delusional lies and attacks that have not stopped since. Those who are not here in Kansas City, who have NEVER spoken to our priests about the charges are repeating them. It is a disgrace. We did try to show support for Bishop McNeley and the HCC-AR in our January parish meeting. We were trying to reassure him and there had not been any real plans of dissociating at that time, only speculation. Bishop McNeley assured us then there had been much ground made toward intercommunion and we were indeed in communion with the UECNA, which was Michael’s affiliation that month, and he was introduced to us to demonstrate it. The real dissatisfaction began when Bishop McNeley resigned. Or didn’t, it is hard to tell. His successor was appointed rather than elected; in clear disregard of the canons. When we checked into this unknown man, we found out he had a very questionable reputation. Bishop Reber informed us that we were most certainly NOT in communion with the UECNA. When we didn’t accept Michael's appointment joyfully and with total acquiescence, then the bullying and Gestapo tactics started. I don’t think it a surprise that this resulted in a large number of people being interested in removing ourselves from this demented group of Bishops who quoted diocesan canons when those supported their stance, HCC-AR constitution when that was advantageous, and when neither suited their purpose, the inherent and total authority of a Bishop. What was going to be next, cyanide?

In the April surprise attack appearance at St. James, Leo Michael absolutely said “Maybe you aren’t worthy of me.” He continued by saying that if we did not abide by the authority of a Bishop we were just a “Congregationalist church”. He went into that angry tirade after asking for our questions, then not finding them to his liking. I asked for an apology for insulting us in that meeting and did not get one. I asked for assurance that if we did accept him as our Bishop that our priests would be punished or removed. He evaded that also. Basically he was there to bully and threaten our priests, and then cajole the group into accepting him. But we were supposed to accept him without any direct answers to anything regarding what his attitude to our church would be if we accepted him. The only direct question that he DID answer was about the UECNA being in communion with the HCC-AR. He said that the two groups had been in communion and Bishop Reber was a liar. It pained him to have say anything against him, but since the issue came up he left the UECNA because Bishop Reber was not trustworthy, and was planning on the UECNA being absorbed in the ACC. He claimed Bishop Reber said they had to join the ACC as the UECNA did not have any money, even though he, Leo Michael, knew there were vast funds there. He said Bishop Reber was thinking of his retirement and that the ACC had a much more attractive retirement policy. Come to think of it, for someone so reluctant to speak out against his former Bishop, he sure said a lot. I have to wonder what Bishop Reber thinks about this?

We pointed out that diocesan canons state that when a Bishop resigns, the diocese will be under the temporary authority of an appointed Bishop until an election can be held and instead Bishop McNeley was continuing to act as Bishop Ordinary. Leo Michael claimed to not be familiar with the canons and seemed surprised to learn about how the resignation of a Bishop was supposed to handled. Leo Michael was acting as Bishop in demanding obedience, but hedged about not having authority yet when it came to resolving any of our conflicts. He also was quick to say the word “senility” in reference to Bishop McNeley and some of his erratic decisions.

The facts are the facts and are as reported. The opinions and motivations of each and everyone of us are subjective. There is no one in this situation; or outside of it, for that matter, who can not be painted in a flattering light or a damning view depending on what someone wants to believe. I don’t like Leo Michael and I am very suspicious of him. I don’t know Bishop Reber, I have no opinion there at all. I am mostly forgiving of Bishop McNeley because his health concerns may be the true problem. I do know our clergy and have for years. They have never lied to me, they have never demonstrated anything dishonorable or non-trustworthy. I am proud to support them. By the way, the “few renegade vestry members” that Kleppinger referred to were unanimous in voting to have the special parish meeting to leave the diocese. We were unanimous because Jim Daniels chose not to attend that vestry meeting, but he was the only vestry member missing that day. No matter how you factor it, there are more renegades attending another Anglican parish at the moment than there are faithful left at St. James.

Fear, paranoia, greed and ambition can all make people do very bad things and it is my belief that those are the instigating factors of this entire tragedy.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Greed especially. St. James has an endowment, and makes a nice cathedral. Follow the money- including when it is in the form of real estate.

John A. Hollister said...

Thank you, Luanne Fliss, for your courageous statement. Let me just add to it two comments:

1. "The only direct question that he DID answer was about the UECNA being in communion with the HCC-AR. He said that the two groups had been in communion and Bishop Reber was a liar."

Last year, the HCC(AR) bishops composed and published a statement that claimed they had always been in communion with the UECNA, that this state of communion had never been broken, and therefore that they continued in communion with the UECNA.

Upon receiving a copy of this rather bizarre (because unilateral) declaration of intercommunion, Abp. Reber IMMEDIATELY wrote the HCC(AR) bisops to set them straight.

He told them that those among them who were formerly members of the ACC had been, while members of the ACC, in communion with the UECNA because the ACC is in communion with the UECNA. However, he told them, this is an institutional relationship, not a personal one. Thus when those men left the ACC, they also abandoned that relationship of intercommunion.

Therefore, he emphasized, the HCC(AR) is not, and never had been, in communion with the UECNA.

I have seen this letter and could, I am sure, obtain a signed copy should that be necessary.

So who is, on this issue, a "liar"?

2. "He claimed Bishop Reber said they had to join the ACC as the UECNA did not have any money .... He said Bishop Reber was thinking of his retirement and that the ACC had a much more attractive retirement policy."

Abp. Reber would not have said this because he is perfectly well aware that the ACC has ABSOLUTELY NO retirement policy for its bishops. It SHOULD have one, it certainly needs one, but to date it has never had the resources to put one together.

I get the financial reports that are submitted to each biennial Provincial Synod regarding all the ACC's funds and assets, so I have personal knowledge of this glaring lack.

As a direct result of it, for the 30 years since the ACC came into existence as a separate jurisdiction, each bishop -- and, indeed, each other clergyman -- has had for retirement only what he himself has earned or saved, whether out of secular employment or otherwise, or for a fortunate few whatever the parishes they served have been able to put by for them. That is all.

So, again, on this issue, who is the "liar"?

3. These remarks by Bp. Michael to the members of St. James remind me disturbingly of those I heard another HCC(AR) bishop address in 1997 to a congregation in California that he was trying to persuade to leave the ACC to join the HCC(AR).

He told those people that the majority of the ACC's bishops, those loyal to Abp. Lewis, wanted to promote clerical divorce and wanted to promote homosexual behavior. He then went down the whole list of PECUSA's "hot button" innovations from 1976, over which the founding members of the ACC and APCK left PECUSA, and stated that the loyal majority was trying to introduce into the ACC each and every one of apostate practices and that, he said, was the reason the minority bishops were leaving.

He was extremely nonplussed and annoyed when I rose and told the meeting that the majority bishops had never discussed or contemplated a single one of these changes with which he was charging them because they remained completely faithful to the principles upon which which they left PECUSA in the first place.

I then told the meeting that I was absolutely dumbfounded to hear this charge about promoting clerical divorce, first because no such discussion had ever taken place but second because the inhibited bishops had a most unlikely standard-bearer to uphold orthopraxy on that issue.

Perhaps those present did not know, I told them, that Bp. Thomas Justin Kleppinger, whom the minority bishops claimed was "Senior Bishop Ordinary" in the ACC and therefore automatically "Acting Metropolitan", was at that moment on his third marriage. Thus I simply could not understand how they could be making clerical monogamy a plank in their political platform.

The congregation voted to maintain its affiliation with the ACC. When the tellers reported the results of the balloting, both the bishop who had addressed it and its former rector, who had promoted its schism from the church, quite literally slunk out the back door.

So my personal experience is that some HCC(AR) leaders, at the very least, will say anything they feel will meet their needs of the moment and they are most unhappy to be called on the carpet over their terminological inexactitude.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

"He claimed Bishop Reber said they had to join the ACC as the UECNA did not have any money .... He said Bishop Reber was thinking of his retirement and that the ACC had a much more attractive retirement policy."

"Abp. Reber would not have said this because he is perfectly well aware that the ACC has ABSOLUTELY NO retirement policy for its bishops. It SHOULD have one, it certainly needs one, but to date it has never had the resources to put one together."

Canon Hollister, the retirement issue aside, are you saying the ACC and UECNA isn't planning some sort of merger down the road, the intercommunion agreement being the first step toward this?

Anonymous said...

Arggh. I, Caedmon, posted that last one too. Sorry folks: I post on a lot of forums, and I'm just not used to this system here. (My Google/Blogger account doesn't work half the time, so that's why I post under "anonymous.")

Anonymous said...

And so we bite and devour one another and are destroyed.

John A. Hollister said...

Caedmon asked, "Canon Hollister, the retirement issue aside, are you saying the ACC and UECNA isn't planning some sort of merger down the road, the intercommunion agreement being the first step toward this?"

No, I am not saying that but nor am I saying that they ARE planning a merger. To date, the issue of merger has simply not risen as a subject of discussion between them.

The ACC-UECNA reaffirmation of their organic state of intercommunion certainly was a first step, a first step toward building warmer and more productive relations between the two groups. The second step was when Abp. James Provence of the APCK issued a statement reaffirming the APCK's state of intercommunion among the APCK, the UECNA, and the ACC.

The third step, which will probably prove to be a "stage" more than a "step", is already under way, with the bishops of the three groups cooperating on matters of mutual interest whenever possible. Two examples of this that have already occurred have been (1) help the ACC extended to the APCK in getting a military chaplain "endorsed" or accredited to enter the military service and (2) Abp. Provence's stating that St. Joseph of Arimathea Seminary is now available to students from each of the APCK's partners in communion.

More such cooperative incidents will undoubtedly occur as occasion offers. Where this all will lead will, in the end, be entirely up to the members of these three church groups who ultimately would have to vote on any changes to institutional structures.

Many of us would dearly love to see all three groups reunite and pray earnestly for that end. But for the ACC and the UECNA to merge, as just one instance, the people of the UECNA would have to vote to do so and as Abp. Reber told Bp. Michael about the question of his successor after his retirement, that is simply up to them.

As for the ACC side, I cannot imagine that it would raise any obstacle to merger with either the APCK or the UECNA, whenever either or, preferably, both of those groups wished to do so. What is often forgotten is that the ACC has already had the experience of going through a merger and of integrating two church groups together. In the early 1980s it merged with the old AECNA.

While there was understandably some initial uncertainty as to how it would all work out, it was largely a very positive experience (barring the fact that this was how the ACC acquired Thomas Justin Kleppinger). So with that precedent, the ACC's bishops and synod delegates would probably be predisposed to favor any reasonable proposal.

So, to try to give a short answer to Caedmon's question, from where I sit as a maker of coffee, not policy, the attitude of most in the ACC seems to be to welcome, but not to push, each of its sister churches' considerations of our joint futures. As we work together more widely and comprehensively and get to know one another ever better, I cannot imagine that the subject of organic unity, as the logical outgrowth of our existing organic intercommunion, would not arise at some point.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Anonymous wrote:
And so we bite and devour one another and are destroyed.

Are we doing that? I think not.

poetreader said...

And so we bite and devour one another and are destroyed.

Are we? Well, the vigourous debate on this blog does not descend to that place (thanks in part to the vigilance of Fr. Hart and Albion), but how else can we characterize the brouhaha under discussion, or indeed a good part of the internecine wrangling in the Continuum?

Whoever the anonymous who said that may be, in that comment he was indeed bringing a prophetic word to Continuing Anglicans. If we don't find ways to stop this biting and devouring, only destruction can be predicted.

ed

Anonymous said...

This time, that "Anonymous" was not me. I'm not that close to God.

Amen to your post.

Anonymous said...

Sigh: that was me, Caedmon.

poetreader said...

Caedmon,

We sympathize with your effort to keep yourself identified. You get A for effort. The software is not always terrifically user-friendly. Things like that is one reason I've got into the habit of always signing my posts -- even when I'm otherwise identified, like right now.

BTW, even when we may be expressing strong disagreement, your presence is a welcome one.

ed

Albion Land said...

Caedmon,

Let me second what Ed says about your being welcome here.

While I'm here, I believe you said early on you have arrived at the point of looking for a home in the continuum after 15 years in the Orthodox church. I believe you also hinted that you might write something about that. Would you be interested in doing this here, as a sort of testimonial?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ed and Albion. I appreciate it. I read this blog regularly, and have learned much from it.

I did write a little testimonial over at the Anglican Diaspora, which is where, I think, I indicated that I would write about my sojourn. Here is the link:

http://anglodiaspora.proboards85.com/index.cgi?board=heated&action=display&thread=17&page=1#289

If you want me to write something similar here to initiate a discussion about Orthodoxy and traditional Anglicanism, I'd be happy to. Or you could simply paste this link in a new blog entry and solicit comments. Either way.

Caedmon