Friday, April 03, 2009

A step forward or a leap backward?

Fr. John A. Hollister on a story sad but true

(The names have been changed by the writer)

Over the past few years, a small group of people in a Midwestern town have lived through most of the horrors that have afflicted Lambeth-affiliated Anglicans. Because this is intended to be about facts and principles, not about personalities, let us refer to them “St. Charles the Martyr”. When the people of St. Charles’ could no longer hold their noses tightly enough to remain in “the name of the week” jurisdiction (hint: it’s “the church that has bishops”), they detached themselves from that and reattached themselves to the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), under a South American bishop.

That was followed by a continuous and rapid series of alterations in their parish life. They flipped from one form of liturgy to another to yet another and the teachings they heard from the pulpit were similarly varied. There are also indications that some of St. Charles’ people, including its leadership, recognized and understood the fatal inconsistencies that underlie AMiA, namely being immediately or mediately “in communion with” people whose ordinations one must reject, who worship according to novel rites one must regard as theologically suspect, and so on.

About two years ago most of St. Charles’ members simply picked up and moved out of the “overseas” version of Lambeth Anglicanism, forming their own mission congregation. This then quickly affiliated with one of the traditional, and orthodox, “Continuing Churches” which I will call “the Confederation of Unreconstructed Anglicans” (CUA). While St. Charles’ does not yet have its own building, it meets regularly in suitable rented accommodations and has grown to having its own resident clergy: two priests, one of them raised up from the lay leadership of the original group.

All seemed to be going remarkably well, a true Anglican success story. So imagine my surprise when a day or two ago I happened to visit St. Charles’ website, only to find that, without any fanfare or publicity, it has just transferred its allegiance from the orthodox jurisdiction in which it had found a home to one of the “wannabe Lambeth” jurisdictions that are currently in the process of coming together to form the “Anglican Church in North America” (ACNA). Again, to keep this low-key rant on track, we will refer to this member jurisdiction as “the Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico” (ACNM) because that particular name has thus far escaped actual use by any of the Neo-Anglican bodies.

The only overt indication of this transfer to be found on the parish’s home page is the statement:

“St. Charles the Martyr Church
“A parish church of the Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico
“A member of the Anglican Church in North America”

Only if you happened to know that, up until a few days or weeks ago, this had said “A parish church of the Confederation of Unreconstructed Anglicans” would this home page signal to you any change of affiliation. Then, buried under a link to “News” is:

“St. Charles the Martyr Re-Aligns with New Anglican Province

“St. Charles the Martyr Anglican Church has recently become a parish of the Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico which is a founding jurisdiction of the new North American Anglican Province called the Anglican Church in North America. This realignment puts St. Charles in communion with over 100,000 Anglicans in the U.S. and Canada and millions of traditional Anglicans around the world. It also gives the parish access to extensive resources for growth and development.”

“In communion with over 100,000 Anglicans in the U.S. and Canada…”

Of course, it also puts St. Charles’ back “in communion” with people who use the insidious 1979 ECUSA liturgies or the equivalent overseas “books of alternative services” and who ordain women (sometimes to the diaconate, sometimes to the priesthood, but there is only one Sacrament of Holy Order). So there is a real possibility that St. Charles’ is simply heading for a replay of its unsatisfactory experience with AMiA.

And, of course, all these new partners in communion are the very same people who cannot quite bring themselves to cut the apron strings that tie them to Lambeth Palace. The long and the short of this is that St. Charles’ has now adopted (or perhaps “again adopted”) “Anglicanism Lite”, the religion of ECUSA as it was in 2000, just prior to the advent of “Bishop” Vickie Gene Robinson.

The great, insurmountable problem with this is that where thirty years ago ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, and through them the entire Lambeth Communion, took upon themselves the authority to alter the fundamental state of being that can be ordained (not “may”, “can”) – think Barbara Harris, Jackboot Jane Dixon, and Katherine Jefferts-Schori --, there is no principled basis left for resisting alterations in the much less fundamental standards of behavior expected of ordinands – think Paul Moore, Vickie G. Robinson, Jeffrey Johns.

Also, the new ACNA and the old ECUSA cannot both be members in good standing of the Lambeth Communion. Much as such a compromise might appeal to Rowan Williams and his ilk, ECUSA will never stand for it. ECUSA has the geld, ACNA has only souls, and when Trinity Church, Wall Street can write one check to wipe out the huge deficit left from the last Lambeth Conference, it will be no contest. “He who has the geld makes the rules.”

And Lambeth has already made its choice; just recall how the North American bishops of African and South American Provinces were so conspicuously not invited to the last Lambeth Conference because, although they were legal Anglican bishops of lawful Anglican Provinces, their presence would have offended Katie Jefferts-Schori. And just remember how that Lambeth Conference was carefully choreographed to prevent any meaningful discussion of the real points of division. The Lambeth Archbishop of the Sudan even had to call his own personal press conference to make a statement against sexually perverse behavior.

“It also gives the parish access to extensive resources for growth and development.”

I hope it be not true, but here may lie the real explanation of this otherwise puzzling change. From time to time, messages in the blogosphere have lauded ACNA’s plans and arrangements for evangelism, church planting, and church growth. “Plans and arrangements” presumably include “resources” and, in the context of St. Charles’ featuring this item, “resources” seem to translate into “outside money, money we don’t have to raise for ourselves”.

It would be truly sad if St. Charles’ were to have sold out its authentic Anglican heritage for a mess of accomodationist pottage. In the words of the devastated young Black Sox fan who pled for reassurance from Shoeless Joe Jackson, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”


Anonymous said...

"They are bought and sold
For Yankee gold
What a passel of rogues in a nation."

Fr Odhran-Mary TFSC said...

In the 1970s, when the Archbishop of Canterbury was made aware of the Anglican Continuum he stated that his see was not in "communion with them," and to this day the jurisdictions of the Anglican Continuum are not in communion with the See of Canterbury.
And thank God for that.

Anonymous said...

I hardly think that anyone in the Continuum can judge anyone else for "leaving and aligning" with another jurisdiction.

Most of the clerics who post here have been members of multiple jurisdictions. Of course they feel justified in their reasons and don't see an offense as long as the next jurisdiction they pick is considered to be a continuing one.

I am so sick of this kind of hypocrisy. No wonder these guys have not been able to get it together in over 30 years.

Fr. Hollister needs to work on the plank in his own eye.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The inherent problem with writing comments about specks and beams in the eye, by anyone, is rather obvious.

Fr. Hollister is not writing about simply "another jurisdiction." He is writing about a return to the Canterbury Communion that includes multiple heresies as "diversity", and which takes the stand that anything goes as long as we all get along. The ACNA and GAFCON are simply the latest means to stay in a heretical communion by people who convince themselves that a protest against homosexuality constitutes, by itself, an orthodox basis for unity.

Should the Prophet Jeremiah have spent all his time looking for a beam in his own eye? At what point of perfection should he have finally spoken with authority?

Anonymous said...

The quest for "purity" has kept the continuum divided for three decades, and it will "continue" to do so I imagine.

I don't think that the "problem" with specks or beams in this context is "obvious" at all.

Using your logic, is ++Akinola a heretic??

poetreader said...

One of the principals in this incident is prayerfully working on a response in this thread. I'll withhold most of my comment until he's heard from. I will remark that, in the chaos that our movement has made itself to be, the questions are not nearly so clear-cut as may appear, and mistakes made out of good motives do not merit either sarcasm or anger, but should rather motivate us to seek solutions to the very real questions that underly the decisions right or wrong that have been made.

Anonymous "I hardly think ..." has a point that our behavior as Continuers does raise questions as to the propriety of our indignation at such things, though the bean-in-the-eye motif is probably a bit overapplied here. The point would be that our objections to what someone else does MUST motivate us to fix those parts of our own behavior that seem to spark the action. THAT, it seems to me, is what this kind of incident should bring us to do.

I love Continuing Anglicanism, and will be heartbroken if this movement fails, but I positively hate the ethos of divisiveness that we have developed, and that, in itself. makes me to understand some of what might have motivated this (as I understand it) mistaken decision.


Fr Odhran-Mary TFSC said...

Is it important to nitpick regarding perceived back-biting between various jurisdictions of the Anglican Continuum?
I know that it is easier for us fallen men to find fault than to find good.
I ask the reader to consider that the jurisdictions of the Continuum share much and are tacitly in communion with each other. Certainly someone can tell me that he has been denied the Sacrament in one of those "other guys'" jurisdictions; however, such has not happened to me.
As a member of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, I have seen and experienced intercommunion in actual practice. From Morse-ites to Falk-ites to Cahoon-ites (Haverland-ites?) and on down to some "ites" who have only one or two parishes.
The 1928 BCP is used and the Sacrament is shared, as I have observed.
When the affirmation of St. Louis was presented, it caused a divide (not based on homosexaulity but based on a continuation of the validity of the Sacrament). The issue of validity remains paramount. Perverse sexual practices are a side issue (albiet emotional).
Our bishops are not ready to sign those papers for official unity, but in most respects it exists. Someone will have the courage to begin.
It will come.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Mary,

It sounds like you have the same view of "validity" that the Donatists had.

The unity you talk about may happen, but the future for the continuum looks like one dying jurisdiction rolling over into another dying jursidiction until they are one and die out together.

The dynamic of each wanting his own kingdom and control seems to be inherent in the continuing DNA, hate it though we do.

The continuum had its chance and it failed,even though it fed many along the way (and for that I give thanks, for I am IN the continuum myself).

The reality is undeniable when you look at the numbers, and before anyone screams about "number crunching", I am talking about the same type of honest evaluation of what you do when you to pay your bills, or build something.

My years in the continuum have convinced me that we are so "doctrinally pure" that St. Paul wouldn't pass the test for acceptance, especially when he talks about being all things to all people.

The ACNA has and will have its problems, but it appears to be doing alot better than we have in 30 years combined.

At least that is what it looks like to me. Lord, have mercy.

John A. Hollister said...

I sign my postings and comments with my full name, and so can be called to task for them; the first Anonymous to comment on this thread did not even give us a "handle" by which to distinguish him or her from his or her rather large family. However, that F.A. wrote:

"I hardly think that anyone in the Continuum can judge anyone else for 'leaving and aligning' with another jurisdiction."

I did not "judge" the congregation in question, at least as "judge" is used in Scripture. I questioned whether this transfer was, as a matter of theology and practice, retrograde. Just as the group in question is entitled to go anywhere it wants to, so the rest of us are entitled to seek for the principles involved and to ask if they are being applied wisely and productively.

I think it is important that these particular people, and any others who might be tempted to emulate them, give serious consideration to what they ultimately are really signing on for.

"Most of the clerics who post here have been members of multiple jurisdictions. Of course they feel justified in their reasons and don't see an offense as long as the next jurisdiction they pick is considered to be a continuing one."

I can't speak for anyone else, but my first experience of Anglicanism came when I joined the jurisdiction of which I am currently a member (and I joined immediately after the very first BCP service I attended). In 26 years, I have never been a member of any other.

Nor -- and this is a purely personal opinion -- do I believe that clergymen are free to move at will from group to group, even among "Continuing" ones. At our ordinations, if those were according to the current version of the Edwardine Ordinal, we promised to "reverently obey [our] Bishop, and other chief Ministers, who according to the Canons of the Church, may have the charge and government over [us]". For those of us who were ordained in the ACC, at least, we also took several other oaths, in writing, that make that obligation even more specific.

I was awake all the night before I was ordained a deacon, wondering among other things if I was actually ready to undertake the commitments expressed in those oaths and promises, as well as the other obligations of a clergyman. So I was pretty groggy when I made my responses to the bishop but I made them voluntarily.

Of course, some clergymen have transferred their memberships and allegiances with the full permission and approval of both the bishops "a quo" and "ad quem"; I can think of several recent examples right off the top of my head. Those transfers cannot reasonably be taken by anyone as evidencing a cavalier attitude toward the obligation of loyalty.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

My error: the comment I just dispatched should have referred to the "Second Anonymous" or "S.A.", not the "First Anonymous" or "F.A."

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

The (by my count) Third Anonymous wrote, apparently in answer to Fr. Hart's kind defense of my posting, "Using your logic, is ++Akinola a heretic??"

So far as I am aware, Abp. Akinola has never denied any of the major tenets of the Christian Faith, as those are set out in the three Creeds. So it would be difficult to charge him with being an heretic.

However, there are persons who have examined the liturgy as used in his Province who have said it is less than certain in the faith it expresses. I've never read it so do not know, but if that were true, it would be troubling. And there are unquestionably lots of "'79" and "BAS/ASB" liturgies in use in places with which Abp. Akinola is in communion.

It is certain, however, that while the Church of Nigeria may not ordain women within its own Provincial boundaries, it is in full communion with other Provinces (Uganda, Rwanda, and more) that do so. It is also certain that the C of N is, at least for now, in communion with other bizarre locations such as the Diocese of Sydney, Australia, where as I understand it laymen are permitted to preside over what are billed as "communion" services and where, if they are not actually doing so now, the Diocesan leadership is preparing for them to do so.

So it seems pretty safe to conclude that Abp. Akinola is not, in the traditional sense, a Catholic Christian. While he disapproves of homosexual behavior, he would have the same problem as the rest of the Neo-Anglicans have in giving a principled basis for that opposition, where he and they have sat silent for 30 years during which the Lambeth Communion has tossed over the rail the traditional epistemology of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

The Fourth Anonymous (that family is growing by leaps and bounds) wrote in answer to Fr. Odhran-Mary: "It sounds like you have the same view of 'validity' that the Donatists had."

This is a familiar charge made by those who wish summarily to dismiss the issue of sacramental validity (a) because they are made uncomfortable by it or (b) because they do not understand what sacramental validity is and why it is essential to the Catholic expression of Christianity or (c) both.

Let us be clear about our terms. Donatus's followers taught that once a man had been baptized, and then ordained in the Church, a subsequent serious sin disabled him from holding or exercising that office.

It is not clear whether, in our terms, the Donatists thought that such sin retroactively invalidated the prior ordination or whether their view was more a disciplinary than a magical one, i.e., that a man who betrayed the Church by apostasizing in the face of persecution was thereby deposed from office.

It their position was the latter, that would not be inconsistent with the Church's disciplinary system as it has existed over most of its life. However, even under this latter formulation, where the Donatists made their mistake was in their additional, and unsupported, assumption that such a sinner could never be forgiven and restored, at least to office if not to fellowship in the Church.

It was that bit of over-rigor that disregarded Our Lord's express teaching that there is only one unforgivable sin. Theologians may argue until the cows come home about what that one particular sin actually is but it's pretty clear that it is not apostasy.

The current concerns on the part of many "Continuing Anglicans" about the validity of Orders in the Lambeth Communion post-1976 (some feel post-1970) is not based principally on any perceived sin on the part of those ordained, although in some cases that is of course also an issue of prudence if not of validity. Rather, it has to do with the entire basis of ordination as a function of the Church that is carried out on behalf of the Church, for the service of the Church, by the authorized officers and agents of the Church.

Now when PECUSA/ECUSA/TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada first began installing women as official, recognized ministers of those Provinces, they could not possibly have been ordaining those women to the original Apostolic Ministry that is described in the Preface to the Ordinal and that was founded by Our Lord. Ergo, they must, by default, have been installing them into a new, non-sacramental ministry that they created for themselves in response to social pressures.

But since that time, whenever these Provinces and those that followed their lead have ordained a man, they have told that man and the rest of the world that they are installing him into the same ministry as for his female classmates in the seminary. We take them at their word, therefore, and conclude that all post-1976 (or post-1970) ordinations in those two Provinces, even ordinations of men, have probably been into this new ministry, not into the old Apostolic one.

Or, at least, we have substantial reason to fear that is the case. And without going into the minor details, it is pretty clear that if "intercommunion" means anything, it means that the same concerns apply to the rest of the Lambeth Communion as of, at the latest, 1992, when the Church of England went the way of PECUSA.

That is not Donatism, which focusses erroneously on the personal sins of the recipient of a Sacrament, it is analysis of the Intent with which the purveyor of that Sacrament was acting. Such determinations are supposed to be objective rather than subjective, so when a PECUSA bishop ordains on behalf of PECUSA, using PECUSA's unisex rite, for the service that PECUSA at that point expects of its ministers, there is at least a reasonable objective possibility that no ordination, in the traditional sense, took place.

"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has feathers like a duck, and waddles like a duck, the ordinary, reasonable, and prudent man is thereby put on inquiry notice that he may be dealing with some species of migratory waterfowl."

This is what the people gathered in St. Louis in 1977 perceived to be the risks of PECUSA's proposed revisions to its formularies. Therefore this is the raison d'etre of the "Continuing Church" movement. To call their concern "Donatism" tells far more about the one applying that label than it does about the ones so labelled.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

Ed Pacht is, as usual, being irenic in pleading for understanding of a broad spectrum of points of view when he writes: "I positively hate the ethos of divisiveness that we [in the Continuing Churches] have developed, and that, in itself makes me understand some of what might have motivated this (as I understand it) mistaken decision."

I'm not privy to Ed's communications with his to-be-hoped-for commentator, but it rather sounds like there will be some explanation that the move by "St. Charles the Martyr" was at least partially billed as a "search for unity".

Hmmm, I think I heard something similar before, in fact, heard it for the first time 18 years ago, and then again a couple of years ago.

If such a "search for unity" is to be part of the reasoning here, the great irony will be that the group "St. Charles'" left, the body I called "the Convocation of Unreconstructed Anglicans", is in fact actively engaged in working toward real unity among the Continuing Churches.

As has been remarked before in another context, it does not ordinarioy further the cause of unity to split one church body and move part of it to another.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

What perplexes me about the continuum, especially those jurisdictions who have a "Communion Agreement", is why some of these jurisdictions have parishes in the same small city, and each parish is struggling to survive, but they won't come together.

Why is that?


Fr. Robert Hart said...


It would be easier to answer the question if an example were provided.

Anonymous said...

How about St Chrysostom UECNA, St Albans ACC in Richmond VA?

Anonymous said...

Huntsville, Alabama?

APCK and ACC I think.

Fr Odhran-Mary TFSC said...

The validity of the Sacrament which concerned the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen involves Holy Communion. Only a real priest can consecrate such, and only a male can be ordained to the priesthood. The Affirmation of St. Louis adresses several issues, but the prime reason for the "continuing" movement and its first ordinations was the preservation of the prieshood and thus the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
A flaming male fag in a homosexual lifestyle can have valid Orders, and a saintly woman can not. An attempt to continue Apostolic Succession through females will not work.
And I repeat. Most jurisdictions in the Continuum are already in a tacit communion. Official unity will come.

John A. Hollister said...

In partial answer to Steveo's question, for various historical reasons there used to be three congregations in Huntsville AL: one APCK, one ACC, and one UECNA.

Today, there are two. The ACC and UECNA congregations merged and the clergyman who was serving the ACC parish transferred, with the permission of both bishops involved, to the UEC.

It is my understanding that the surviving UEC parish and the APCK parish share fellowship and some common activities. Result: substantial progress toward a unity which is imperfectly realized at this time but which has hopes for further progress in the future.

Have you kissed your inter-church negotiator today?

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

One of the brave Anonymice wrote:

The unity you talk about may happen, but the future for the continuum looks like one dying jurisdiction rolling over into another dying jursidiction until they are one and die out together...The continuum had its chance and it failed,even though it fed many along the way...

I do not know what planet this sad person lives on, but it is not even in the same galaxy as mine. I know an honest evaluation from defeated Satanic accusations motivated by obvious hostility. I know also b.s. from the truth. This belongs to the former category.

Sandra McColl said...

"Have you kissed your inter-church negotiator today?"

Certainly not.

You should try:

Language warning: contains a word you may prefer not to hear for another week.

poetreader said...

Discussion on this issue was heavy on the Anglican Diaspora Board. I think it appropriate to post here the prayer I placed there:

Brethren, I went to Mass this morning, thinking that I would come back and discuss this subject some more. I believe Our Lord was speaking to my heart that we've had our say, we've expressed what we believe about this situation, and we've probably said all that we have to say to each other, but that He would that we would speak to Him together about it. I'm going to talk to Him rather informally now, and would invite everyone on all sides of this issue, please, to join in storming heaven for a healing for our fractured movement.

It's Palm Sunday, my Lord, and we're thinking heavy thoughts. We're remembering how they cheered You, how they threw down palm branches and even their own clothes in Your path, and how they cried out so very soon that You should be crucified. We hear the story of Your passion and death, for us, and yet, though we praise You with our lips, we so easily deny You with our attitudes and actions. Lord, we've made such a mess of Your beautiful Church. We're always arguing, always giving vent to anger and condemnation, always so ready to criticize. Yes, Lord, many of the issues are important. Many of the conflicting opinions just can't coexist. That's true, Lord, and most of us certainly know what we think of these issues. Whichever 'side' we espouse, most of us have no doubts at all. Our minds are made up. Lord, we can't all be right. Though we all think we know Your opinion of the matter, the fact is that we're not all right, and that none of us are infallible. Lord, decisions have been made and actions taken by brethren of good will who sincerely desire to serve You as best they can. You know their hearts. Many of us just as sincerely feel they are mistaken. You know their hearts as well. Open our hearts, all of us, to be able to hear you, to be able to deal with these conflicts exactly as You would have us to do. Heal the scandalous disunity of our movement, Lord. Help us to find out how to speak the truth in love, and to cease the endless biting and devouring that we so easily do. Lord, You have instituted One Church, one Baptism, one Eucharist, one Gospel Message, for the whole world, and have desired to draw all men unto You, for there is one God, one ather of us all. Heal us, Lord, and we shall be healed, O Lord Jesus, with Your Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Anonymous said...


To your prayer I say simply: Amen.

John A. Hollister said...

Ms. McColl:

I never suggested you should kiss him or her in church. There, of course, a decorous nod of acknowledgement of his or her existence, as he or she passes up the aisle, is all that is required.

The kiss is properly bestowed at the end of the coffee hour, in the back corridor, after about the sixth finger of sherry.


John A. Hollister said...

One of the Anonymice elaborated on Steveo's question by referring to St. Chrysostom's UEC and St. Alban's ACC, both in Richmond VA.

I have no idea how this duality came about and have never been in St. Chrysostom's, although I have worshipped at St. Alban's. So I can say from personal experience that St. Alban's, at least, is far from struggling, which was one of Steveo's premises.

Further, St. Alban's has, by ACC standards at least, a middle-of-the-road-to-crown-of-the-road style of churchmanship. On the other hand, St. Chrysostom's website warns sternly that all celebrations there are in cassock, surplice, and stole, and that no chasubles are worn at any time.

That rather makes it look as though the existence of the two congregations can be explained on aesthetic grounds, for it certainly can't on theological ones. However, in that apparent divide also lies the seed of hope.

The ACC used to have two congregations in the Washington, DC area, located only a few miles apart, one a "prayer book" and one a "missal" parish. Years ago, the two merged and now form the more than health parish of St. Andrew and St. Margaret of Scotland, Alexandria VA.

SS. Andy & Meg has at least two services each Sunday, one BCP and one Missal, and all are happy.

St. Alban's has just installed a new Rector, who happens to be a very ecumenically-minded man -- and whose own tenure there is a prime example of inter-church cooperation -- so who knows what may happen in Richmond in the future?

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Actually, as I should know from covering it a few times, St. Andrew and St. Margaret of Scotland have three services every Sunday, Low, Mid and High. When there, my sermons were the same in each service. The differences of churchmanship are not theological differences, but matters of taste and family custom. Some people like incense and chanting, and some do not. But, they are all solid Anglican Catholics who believe the same thing.

St. Alban's Richmond is one parish I have not been to; but I know it is also a solid ACC parish, and I am glad to hear they have a Rector now.

John A. Hollister said...

The delightful hymn to Mrs. Beamish reminded me forcibly of an occasion years ago when I was supplying for a parish that I had never previously visited.

Not being quite sure of all the fine details of the local style of churchmanship, I did pretty much the 1928 BCP service, with a few (but not all) of the more common interpolations from the Missals, thinking I was hitting all the likely bases but not going overboard.

So, after the Canon of Consecration and its immediately following Lord's Prayer, I said,
while still facing the altar, "The peace of the Lord be alway with you", to which a number in the congregation dutifully responded, "And with thy spirit."

(As I only had an acolyte to assist me, no deacons, etc., there was no French General's hug or anything like that. Just nine words without my moving an inch from my position.)

I figured that response meant we were hitting just about the right note. However, afterwards, when I asked the Senior Warden how he felt it all went, he said, "Well, in general it was fine but I heard a couple of the older people complaining, 'He PASSED THE PEACE!'"

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I should add, St. A & M need three services, because they have over three hundred members, and most of them are present every week (the Rector is a fine and busy priest, Fr. Nick Athenaelos). This is just another example of why one anonymous commenter was out of line writing an obituary for the living-in fact the living and quite healthy.

As Mark Twain wrote in response to his own premature obituary, upon reading the notice of his demise: "The rumors of my death have been exaggerated."

Sandra McColl said...

Fr Hart's comment reminds me of a story I once heard about a priest visiting a parish in the Rhondda Valley. At tea afterwards, a lady explained, comparing her church with the one in the next village, "Oh, Father, we're the low church. We only have Mass at eight."


palaeologos said...

Responding to the question whether ++Akinola is a heretic : he certainly doesn't seem to be teaching anything contrary to the revealed doctrine of the Church. On the other hand, he has remained in communion with material heretics for many years now. Orthodox Christians of the 4th and 5th centuries had no difficulty in severing communion with Arians and Nestorians; why is it so difficult for churchmen of the modern day to do so?

The answer is, to me, obvious. The ecclesiology of TEC is only incidentally episcopal; it is, in the main, a Congregationalist church. This crap ecclesiology is what makes it so easy for the ostriches of the denomination to poke their heads in the sand and think that everything's fine as long as it's not happening in my parish/diocese/province. This is why +Schofield & +Iker, despite their vaunted catholicity, held off on breaking with TEC over female ordination--even to the episcopate--until the election of KJS.

To be sure, we should not break communion without cause. But if heresy isn't a cause, I must confess I don't know what is. Heresy is wickeder, much wickeder, than schism; schism is just the formal acknowledgment of a split that's already occurred, and hence schism is a truth--although a painful one. But heresy is nothing but damnable lies, and to remain in communion with heretics is to give our approval to lies.

If you have an infection in your hand which resists even the strongest antibiotics, your hand will have to be amputated. Likewise, when heresy infects the body of Christ : if teaching and example don't rout the heresy, then we have to separate ourselves from the heterodox. As Fr Hollister points out, there's nothing Donatist about this at all; whether Katharine Jefferts-Schori is a sinner or not is not the issue. What is at issue is the proper matter for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which is a male human being : KJS, being female, is no more proper matter for Ordination than pretzels and beer are for the Eucharist.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

This is why +Schofield & +Iker, despite their vaunted catholicity, held off on breaking with TEC over female ordination--even to the episcopate--until the election of KJS.

The FiF/NA bishops and dioceses began to take action because TEC made an orthodox successor impossible, since only WO supporters would be approved. This does matter only to make it clear that the SFers were wrong by claiming it was all about homosexuality only. That was important too; but the issue of WO was, as a matter of fact, the issue that got the Realignment ball rolling. I proved this from Bp. Iker's words at an international FiF gathering in England in the Fall of 2007, and was the only person who reported this fact(in The Christian Challenge, but here first).

That fact that it has come to nothing, however, is also no surprise.

John A. Hollister said...

This thread has wandered a bit, for which I am as guilty as anyone. However, just to put the original discussion in context, my attention was recently called to some official materials of the group I have called "the Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico" (ACNM) which it might be useful to consider.

Since this thread has gotten up to 31 comments, so the details of the original posting may be getting fuzzy, I will remind the reader that the ACNM is the body that has just been joined by the parish I called St. Charles the Martyr, and that in order to do so, St. Charles left one of the Denver Succession bodies.

"Declaration of Principles

"The first general council of the [ACNM] approved this declaration [at the time of its formation]:


"2. This Church recognizes and adheres to Episcopacy, not as of Divine right, but as a very ancient and desirable form of Church polity.


"4. This Church condemns and rejects the following erroneous and strange doctrines as contrary to God's Word: First, that the Church of Christ exists only in one order or form of ecclesiastical polity; Second, that Christian Ministers are 'priests' in another sense than that in which all believers are a 'royal priesthood'; Third, that the Lord's Table is an altar on which the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ is offered anew to the Father; Fourth, that the Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper is a presence in the elements of Bread and Wine; Fifth, that regeneration is inseparably connected with Baptism."

The ACNM's founder himself wrote: "I contend that the Episcopate is not of apostolic origin; that the Bishop is only 'primus inter pares', and not in any way superior in order to the Presbyter. We are acting on this principle. We set apart a Bishop to his work by a joint laying on of hands of a Bishop and the presbyters. I act as a Bishop, not claiming a 'jure divino' right, or to be in any Apostolic Succession, but only as one chosen of his brethren to have the oversight. If others look upon me as retaining the succession, that does not commit us to their understanding."

So there can be no reasonable dispute that the ACNM has jettisoned the historic episcopacy, the Apostolic Succession, the objective Sacraments "ex opere operato", and the Real Presence.

Reasonable men may differ, I suppose, but I can't see where that leaves much that is actually Anglican except for the subscription to Almy's catalogue. And Almy's, of course, is more than happy to produce cassocks and albs that have darts in their sides.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. John said...

"Most of the clerics who post here have been members of multiple jurisdictions. Of course they feel justified in their reasons and don't see an offense as long as the next jurisdiction they pick is considered to be a continuing one.

I am so sick of this kind of hypocrisy. No wonder these guys have not been able to get it together in over 30 years."

and this:

"The continuum had its chance and it failed,even though it fed many along the way (and for that I give thanks, for I am IN the continuum myself).

The reality is undeniable when you look at the numbers, and before anyone screams about "number crunching", I am talking about the same type of honest evaluation of what you do when you to pay your bills, or build something.

My years in the continuum have convinced me that we are so "doctrinally pure" that St. Paul wouldn't pass the test for acceptance, especially when he talks about being all things to all people.

The ACNA has and will have its problems, but it appears to be doing alot better than we have in 30 years combined.

At least that is what it looks like to me."

I see these types of comments on line frequently. I suppose the intent is to demonstrate or "prove" that the ACC, APCK, and UECNA are not a viable alternative to the ACNA which is in the process of forming.

They see a different church than the one I am in (ACC) I have been in the ACC since 1982 and I have never been in any other jurisdiction. I post here so I am supposed to be an exception according to one anonymous voice, I wonder how he has that kind of knowledge? It is not apparent to me.

I will not retell the history of the ACC here, but I positively refute the inference that we are a hollow church and have failed in out thirty year effort to keep classic Anglicanism alive. The parishes I have been privileged to serve are all quite vibrant to this day. I invite the masked commenter to visit my own parish in Atlanta and see if we have failed in our mission.

For any of us to join the ACNA coalition would mean a return to Egypt. To the same situation we left in 1977.

"I would fight them if they were a million."

Albert Sydney Johnston

I smell an agent provocateur.

Fr. John said...

Canon Hollister,

Did you mean Cocofli?

Czy jest w pobliżu bar samoobsługowy? Где здесь побл'изости ... Spotkanie w barze Cocofli – opis sytuacji.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. John asked, "Did you mean Cocofli?"

No, it was "cocoffee", which was the "veriword" or random collection of letters needed to convince the blogspot's software that I was posting a genuine comment and not spamming some commercial message.

Several of us, including especially Ms. McColl, have noticed that these "random" groups of letters often have an eerie resemblance to some Lewis Carroll-style "portmanteau word" that might actually apply to the subject of a given posting.

Maybe it's a sort of anecdotal evidence of the old wheeze about "If you gave a million monkeys a million typewriters...."

John A. Hollister+

(This time, the veriword is "stiveive")

John A. Hollister said...

I agree completely with Fr. John's comment about multiple jurisdiction-hopping as well as Fr. Hart's seconding of it. (Albert Sydney Johnson was the author of the quote with which Fr. John ended his note.)

But I also feel compelled to add that a man's having been in several jurisdictions is not necessarily a bad thing. The best man I ever met, our late, sainted Abp. Michael Dean Stephens, had been in more separate church groups than Carter has little pills, beginning with the ancestor of today's ACA, James Parker Dees' notorious Anglican Orthodox Church.

When asked about his checkered, highly vagans background, the Archbishop never minced words: "Yes, I was there and I did that. And I am now in the last church I will ever join."

That varied background was a major reason why he was able to reach out to individuals and congregations that were struggling in the vagans underbrush, make them feel understood and loved, help salve the multiple bruises they had suffered from prior irregular "leaders", and ultimately welcome them into a stable, safe church home.

Some people like to growl about "sheep stealing", but when the sheep come running, looking for refuge, and can document real histories of spiritual, psychic, financial, and other forms of abuse, it would be hard to turn them away.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I am grateful to Fr. John for joining his voice to mine in rejecting the anonymous comment. I believe that I spoke none too harshly when I called that comment "Satanic accusation motivated by hostility." It was a lie from the father of lies.

To speak for my jurisdiction, I see health and strength in the ACC. Those who write our obituary, despite the healthy vital signs, tell no truth at all, but reveal one fact nonetheless: They wish we were dead.

Let us continue to disappoint their evil wishes.

poetreader said...

Fr. Hollister,
I'm speaking to a good, valued, and respected friend when I say this. Your slap at ACA in reference to Dees was entirely uncalled for. possibly you did not realize just how bad it sounded, but it is truly and deeply hurtful. You do know that there is ongoing debate as to both the nature and the significance of the historic facts, and have chosen, for what appears to you to be sufficient reason, to put the worst of all possible constructions on what you see. ACA and ACC do disagree about those things while both attempt to serve the Lord in a reputable and Catholic manner. Disagreement about the success of those efforts is certainly legitimate. Speaking with that kind of apparent scorn is never acceptable.

Fr. Hart,
I'm totally in agreement that the Continuing Anglican enterprise ought to survive and grow, but I am also entirely convinced that we are being presented with certain realities that will, if not faced honestly and with great energy, cause the demise of this movement. There are indeed many signs of health, but the fact that as good a man as Fr. Hollister can find it appropriate to fall into this kind of negativity and dismissive attitude toward brethren with whom we must be seeking unity, serves to illustrate, not weakness in him, but weakness in a movement, and at least an appearance that the movement is committing suicide.

If we are to survive, and we should, oh yes, it is important that we should, this kind of thing needs to stop once and for all and immediately. Those who wish us ill may indeed be serving dark powers -- but those who speak prophetically to our weakness and, yes, shame need to be held in honor. I hope that my complaints are of the latter nature. It is at least my intent.

I'm an Anglican, by choice, after a career probably as checkered as that of ++Stephens. I find myself in ACA, and glad to be where I am, but also loving many (including both of you Fathers) in ACC, and fervently desiring that the shameful and sinful division be ended -- insisting, in fact, that it must. A deeply charitable attitude is necessary from both sides, or else the voice of Our Lord is going unheeded.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Somehow I missed the Dees reference, and suppose it is the busy-ness of the week.

We have all had a bad ancestor or two, such as, in my case, William the Conqueror, known also as William the Bastard for two very appropriate reasons.

Thank God, the validity of Apostolic Succession, as with all sacraments, has never depended on the worthiness of the minister.

John A. Hollister said...

I am indeed sorry if Ed Pacht was either offended, or hurt, or both, by my comment about the genealogical connection between the old Anglican Orthodox Church and today’s Anglican Church in America. Such offense or hurt was certainly not my intention, particularly with regard to Ed, who I regard as a both a friend and as an exceptionally kindly, as well as honest, person.

The point I was trying to make was that Abp. Stephens’s extraordinary personal qualities enabled him to overcome a rather unpromising ecclesiastical beginning, a beginning which he shared with a number of other persons and organizations.

What was actually in my mind at that time, although I did not spell it out in detail, was the contrast between him, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, two particular individuals who also got their “Continuing Anglican” starts in the 1963 AOC and who also went through a number of church memberships after that, viz., Thomas Justin Kleppinger and Anthony Forbes Morton Clavier. Thereby, I intended to allude inferentially to the rather different endpoints of the journeys of the Archbishop (Metropolitan of the ACC), on the one hand, and the other two of them, on the other hand (respectively HCC[AR] and PECUSA/ECUSA/TEC).

Just as individuals, through their own innate qualities, can overcome questionable beginnings, so too can organizations. There are at least four church bodies presently extant which have their ultimate origins in that same 1963 AOC, of which at least three, the ACA, the OAC, and the APA, descend from the AEC that by 1967 or so had already discarded Dees’ characteristic racism.

That, I think, shows that segregation was a personal peculiarity of Dees’ and not a permanent aspect of the movement he founded. One of those three bodies, the OAC, has since then not only publicly disavowed his influence and beliefs nearly in toto but even went so far as also to try to cure his vagans episcopal Orders. (The position of the fourth body, the one that currently uses the AOC name, is harder to assess, in that it is so small that one seldom has any contact with it, its members, or their statements, and given that its website still refers expressly to Dees as its founder without, however, referring specifically to the issues over which he actually split from PECUSA.)

I do understand Ed’s frustration and genuine desire to see real, and short-term progress toward meaningful unity among “extramural Anglicans”. However, as I have previously had occasion to write elsewhere,* while the impulse to “ignore the past, achieve unity now” has a certain superficial appeal, it is simply not going to happen.

For more than thirty years, a principal barrier to real progress toward unity has been the insidious combination of (1) empty lipservice, such as have marked most “unity conferences”, with (2) the baseless assumption that “we are all alike anyway and we all believe the same things”, and (3) an utter unwillingness to examine the actual factors that led to the present fissiparous situation, factors that can never be overcome until they are properly understood and resolved.

(These are general comments regarding prevalent tendencies and are not to be taken as personal references to any particular individuals. Or, as the Barking Toad would say, "You know who you are, brraaawwwwkkkkk.")

It is all too easy to write off the present divisive state of “Continuing Anglicanism” as being due solely to sin, particularly the sins of pride and ambition on the part of certain individuals. Assuredly there has been more than enough sin to be going on with, especially those sins of pride and ambition, as also the bodies to protest against which the Continuing movement was formed have likewise been riddled with sin.

But there have also been some real theological, philosophical, ligurgical, aesthetic, and institutional factors responsible as well and those cannot simply be wished away. Until they are dealt with, openly and honestly, they will persist, waiting an opportune time to come out of remission and again begin working, just like the germs of an incompletely-cured disease.

Nor, contrary to Ed’s suggestion, are those historical factors all that difficult to unearth if people are actually willing to do the spadework. The facts of each separate group’s history cannot really be in much dispute, once all the relevant data is in hand.

There may be significant disagreements over the subjective intentions, goals, and objectives that motivated particular individuals to take certain actions at given times, but there can’t be a whole lot of disagreement as to what, objectively, those individuals actually did. Once they moved off the scene, has been the fallout from their actions with which we must deal; their motives can safely be left in this world to the mental health professionals and in the next to a merciful and forgiving God.

John A. Hollister+
*Unfortunately, this address to a regional meeting of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen is not readily accessible since The Christian Challenge closed the website on which it was archived.

poetreader said...

Thank you, Fr. Hollister.
The warm and open tone of your response is certainly appreciated, and I, in turn, hope I dodn't over-react to a hurtful extent.

I am mostly in agreement with what you say, but only mostly. I am tireless in pointing out that past sins are past, and I continue to be not a little dismayed at the constant harking back to what happened at some past date as a reason for remaining separate. What matters is what now is.

What theological differences NOW exist? Are any of them major enough to make schism inevitable? Is there an excuse for maintaining division NOW? If there is, then what us being done to remedy the situation? If nothing is being done, then one party is effectively considering the other as heretic and outside the Church. I do indeed make the charge that both ACA and ACC are, even though BOTH would deny it, saying precisely that about the other. When I hear complaints in my jurisdiction that the other side is not doing sufficient, I don't care whether that is tru or not, I merely ask WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT? I hear ACC saying the same thing about us. Yes, it is partially true, but it is not ACC's business to get ACA to do anything any more than the reverse is true. What is ACC doing? Is it as much as Our Lord wants done? Brings us back to the much maligned speck/beam story. It's easy to see the other's imperfections and hard to see our own. Both are true.

You make a very common, but very false, assumption, that the events and motivations of the past are easy to discover. That's not true. Even if one can find out exactly what was done (which can seldom be done with certainty - reasonable doubt is a hard enough standard to reach for) the disagreement in these cases isn't over facts, but over motivations and over unrecorded words and events. I'm sorry, but that matter won't be solved to anyone's justified satisfaction.

Now, if one can first find a theological difference now existing great enough to make a real problem, THEN it MIGHT be productive to find where they came from, if discovering that could lead toward a resolution. It serves no purpose (other than the adversaries desire to divide and conquer) to look at past events and then to surmise what differences may have resulted from that. That is what I see all the time, not only in our little movement, but everywhere there is division. I simply don't care who did what to whom. I do care intensely who is doing what to whom.

I hope I haven't sounded too fierce, but these things are close to my heart, and I am very tired and heartily sick from watching God's people biting and devouring one another. My slightly angry tone here is not really of anger, but of frustrated and bitter tears.


John A. Hollister said...

Again, I think the facts that occurred in the past, and that therefore shaped the realities of today, are important precisely because they did shape today's realities. What motivated the actions that created those facts is, on the other hand, both difficult if not impossible to assess to the complete satisfaction of all interested parties, but it is also probably unnecessary to do so.

Let me give two examples that I hope will not appear contentious. In the very late 1970s or very early 1980s (at any rate, at some point prior to 1983), Charles D.D. Doren, one of the four original Denver bishops (and, successively, first Ordinary of the ACC's Diocese of the Midwest and then of its Diocese of the Mid Atlantic States), left the ACC with a few followers to begin the UECNA.

Two factors lead me to conclude that it must have been recognized by all involved that Bp. Doren's dispute was a purely aesthetic one, based perceptions regarding prevailing styles of churchmanship rather than in any underlying theology. The first of those factors is that, effectively, the UECNA has always been in communion with the ACC and the APCK, something that would not have been true had there been a real theological dispute. The second is that when the UECNA terminated its "agreement to agree" on intercommunion with the APA, it did so precisely because the APA had already gone into intercommunion with the REC. The sacramental issues that prevented the UECNA from accepting the REC as a partner in communion would have been viewed in exactly the same way by the ACC and the APCK, so, again, to my mind that evidences a retained common theology of the Sacraments.

All three parties to the informal or formal APCK/ACC/UECNA state of intercommunion seem always to have recognized the historic, but non-theological reason for the UECNA's separation. With time, all also seem to have realized that, for example, the ACC has some "snake belly low" congregations that differ in no significant point of style from Bp. Doren's preferences and some UECNA congregations have developed local styles that differ in no way from many ACC and APCK congregations.

Because of this twin awareness, i.e., of converging aesthetics and of fundamental agreement on basic theology, it has been remarkably painless to formalize and intensify the three groups' common life. Nor, other than recognizing the reason that was expressed 28 or so years ago as the reason for the UEC's withdrawal, has it been necessary for anyone to spend a minute analyzing what motivated Bp. Doren to feel that the stylistic differences he perceived thereby necessitated separate institutional arrangements.

So in this instance, attention to the facts involved in the separation greatly facilitated its healing.

Something of the same sort, if not to the same serendipitous extent, might possibly be found to be true were the ACC and the ACA/TAC ever to sit down to talk. At least, we'll never know whether a solution can be found for the Deerfield Beach issue, among others, until an effort is made to do so.

And presumably any such effort would have a much higher chance of success if it focussed on the objective facts of what occurred and not on the often unknowable and almost always conveniently remembered subjective motives for what happened.

However, the ACC has made two overtures toward the TAC to which it has never received a direct reply (that's not an accusation, that's an observation). It may well be that this was because the TAC has been preoccupied with its overtures to Rome but, whatever the reason for it, one cannot talk to someone who won't sit still for the conversation. (Again, that's not an accusation, that's a sort of mangled proverb.)

John A. Hollister+

Appropriately, the veriword is "mingl"....

poetreader said...

Thank you.
We have some serious methodological disagreement here. As to the ACC approaches, a common ACA observation is that tentative responses were rebuffed. Agaon there is no accusation. My point remains that when we argue over what occurred historically, we will never come to agreement, as the perception of the events is different. You are correct that going back to find motivations is just as fruitless, but it remains that the motivation behind an action is a part of defining what the action actually was. just as in civil law murder with malice aforethought is an entirely different matter from murder of passion.

The question is and always must be as to what is believed now. historical matters may indeed illustrate and explain such matters, but only as a secondary thing.

I think we've carried this on far enough. All we'll accomplish in this forum is to illustrate just how far we are more willing to look at the weakness of others than to find out what our own faults are. Both sides are seriously wrong. Both sides need to change considerably. If either side is unwilling to see this (and what I have seen leads me to think this to be the case) unity will not come and the movement is extremely unlikely to survive. I pray that there may be more happening than I see.

At any rate, I've said all I need to or want to say, feel that to say much more would be fruitless, and intend to abstain from this particular discussion.


Fr. John said...

I don't think Rome is a safe place to be. The quest for Christian unity is an imperative, but as John Paul II said about ecumenism, it must be a positive one.

The entire Christian world is in flux and heresy has taken root in some very powerful places. For the ACC to carelessly risk its sovereignty and hard won independent orthodox parishes would be an act of bad stewardship.

I too would love to see a unified Anglican communion in communion with the Holy See and all of Eastern Orthodoxy, but we know that TEC, for instance, could never be part of such an arrangement arrangement. Furthermore the American, Dutch, German, and English branches of the Roman Catholic Church as currently constituted (at civil war with themselves)could not either.

Why would we allow ourselves to be sucked into a relationship that might in the future put our orthodoxy at risk through law suits claiming that some foreign or domestic prelate had jurisdiction over us.

Let the ACA/TAC run out their overture to Rome. I sincerely hope it turns out well for them, but I am seriously skeptical.

The verification word is "reensmu""

Anonymous said...

Is it fair to suggest that the presence of viable, functioning seminaries--four of them in the "Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico," which seems to have cherrypicked quite a few parishes of the "Confederation of Unreconstructed Anglicans"--might have played a big part in this development? I note that one of the newly-consecrated "CUA" bishops, who had not been priested for long before his elevation, entered a AC N of M seminary shortly after being received *in his orders* in that jurisdiction.

Perhaps it is also fair to suggest that consecrating fairly green priests who might not have fully grasped the importance of the events of 1977 (as opposed to the events of 2003) might not be a wise move in the face of the ACNA phenomenon?