Thursday, July 01, 2010

News from the UECNA

The United Episcopal Church of North America is not as well known as it should be, but is one of the three "St Louis Churches" that represent the mainstream of the Anglican Continuum in the USA. It was founded in 1981 by the Right Rev. C. D. Dale Doren, who was the first of the four bishops consecrated at Denver in January 1978. At that time apparently irreconcilable differences had grown up over how the Affirmation of St Louis was to be interpreted. The United Episcopal Church of North America came into being to represent the "minimalist" interpretation of the Affirmation. In short, the new Continuing Church was the old Protestant Episcopal Church without the heresy and goofiness. To this end, the UECNA adopted, with very little adaption, the 1958 PECUSA Constitution and Canons as its administrative standard, and required a specific undertaking to abide by the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion from its clergy.

From three parishes at its founding, the UECNA grew to some forty parishes by 1991/2 under the leadership of first Archbishop Doren and then Archbishop Albion Knight. Sadly, UECNA then declined during the long illness of the Most Rev. John Gramley (III Archbishop, UECNA) to the point where only seven parishes were represented at the 1996 General Convention. The present Archbishop, the Most Rev. Stephen Reber had to practically rebuild the UECNA from scratch during his first eight years as Archbishop growing the jurisdiction to twenty-seven parishes.

Now it has to be admitted that the sixteen months between January 2008 and April 2009 were stormy for the UECNA. Firstly, the then suffragan bishop decided to leave to take control of a diocese in another continuing church. Subsequently, we lost a number of parishes when we were "raided" by a bishop and several clergy who decided that their future lay elsewhere. However, as you may have deduced from the potted history above, the UECNA is a survivor, so it was time to once again pick ourselves up, dust off, and start again.

In November last year, Archbishop Reber, the present writer, and the National Council reorganised the jurisdiction. The old structure with an Archbishop and one or more regional suffragan(s) has been replaced. The church is now organised as three Missionary Dioceses - East, South & Ozarks, and West - each with its own Ordinary. This basic aim has been to make the UECNA's structure more responsive to the needs of local congregations. Bishops have now been consecrated for the South & Ozarks, and to succeed Archbishop Reber as Ordinary in the East.

On April 24th, at the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Glen Hartley as Bishop of the Missionary District of the South & Ozarks, Archbishop Reber announced that the Right Rev. Peter D. Robinson would be succeeding him Archbishop upon his retirement in September. On 26th June 2010, when the Ven. Joseph Dobson was consecrated as Bishop-coadjutor of the Missionary District of the East. For the first time in the history of the UECNA, all three of the consecrating bishops were from the UECNA.

In the past year, two congregations have joined the UECNA from other jurisdictions and two new congregations have been founded. The UECNA is planning more missions in areas not yet served by Continuing Anglicanism. We remain committed to mission and evangelism and the continuation of the old Episcopal Church tradition. UECNA is also working on closer relations not just with the ACC, but also with the APCK with whom we already "share" clergy.

The United Episcopal Church is optimistic about its future and about the future of Classical Anglicanism. Unlike those doomsters who say, because of the rampant revisionism of western theology, that the Elizabeth Settlement has failed, the UECNA firmly believes that the Reformed Catholicism of the English Reformation is of continuing importance. We retain our commitment to the sort of "Central Churchmanship" Anglicanism that balances of the Reformed and Catholic traditions on the basis of the 1559 and 1662 Settlements, whilst being open to churchmen from both the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic schools of thought. To walk away from that broad inheritance in favour of either Rome or Geneva would permanently impoverish not just Continuing Anglicanism, but Christendom as a whole.


Fr.Jas.A.Chantler said...

Dear Bishop Robinson
I thank GOD that the UECNA has survived and hope that they play an important role in bringing the Continuum together.Once the Continuum has coalesced and I believe it will : a global Communion of traditional Anglicans can be re-established.A starting place for it already exists in the ACC (a global body)which is in communion with both the UECNA and the APCK.

Anonymous said...

I especially hope that the UECNA may decide to become a resource and model for those in England who wish to see a jurisdiction based firmly on the central churchmanship of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This may well be the key to attracting those thousands of already or about-to-be unchurched Anglicans betrayed by the leadership of the Church of England.