Thursday, July 29, 2010

The United Episcopal Church and "Foreign Churches"

As Archbishop-Coadjutor of the United Episcopal Church, I think I may take the liberty to point out a couple of misunderstandings about UECNA and churches outside North America.

The assumption tends to be made when discussing the United Episcopal Church in North America on this blog that it is purely a North American phenomomen. Whilst this is true today, the UECNA has had relationships with overseas juridictions in the past. Whilst it is accurate to say that the UECNA's Constitution confines its jurisdiction to affiliated parishes within North America,(1) this does not preclude us being in full Communion with suitable Continuing Anglican groups abroad.

How so?

The UECNA's Canons allow it to consecrate Bishops for other Churches provided they fall within the parameters set by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.(2) The Canons also grant permission for the ordination of priests and deacons for overseas churches. For those not familiar with it, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is the document that has traditionally regulated Anglican relations with other, non-Anglican, Churches. In its day, the Quadrilateral paved the way for the old Anglican Communion's relationships with the Church of Sweden and the Old Catholics. Looking to the future, it could be used in a similar manner between the Continuing Anglicans and the remaining orthodox Old Catholic body, the Polish National Catholic Church.

For churches to enter into FULL communion with the UECNA it is necessary that, in addition to adhering to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, the potential partner Church uphold the Anglican Tradition in theology and liturgy. This would include adherence to their local edition of the Book of Common Prayer - provided it pre-dates 1977, the Ordinal, the Thirty-nine Articles (3), and the two Books of Homilies. The UECNA has been approached several times by overseas groups, but, so far, none of them have been able to fulfill the requirements for full inter-communion(4).

So to summarize. The United Episcopal Church of North America confines its jurisdiction to the USA and Canada. However, our Constitution and Canons permit the UECNA to ordain clergy for suitable jurisdictions abroad, and to enter into full Communion with other Continuing Anglican Churches both within, and outside of, the United States and Canada. As a statement of policy, it is accurate to say that the UECNA House of Bishops remains receptive to any approach from Continuing to Anglican bodies overseas with a view to entering into full Communion as equal partner Church within the Anglican tradition.

+Peter D. Robinson,
Archbishop-Coadjutor, UECNA

Notes:
(1) UECNA Constitution makes no specific provision limiting the UECNA to North America other than only Bishops having jurisdiction, or resident, in North America can be voting members of the House of Bishops.

(2) UECNA Canon 44.

(3) The concordat with the ACC is based on the Affirmation of St Louis rather than the Articles due to our common origin in the St Louis Congress (1977) and the Denver Consecrations (1978).

(4) The stumbling block in relations with churches overseas has usually been orders. The applicant churches have had doubtful TEC, or Old Catholic, orders and have been unwilling to submit to 'sub conditione' ordination to remove the element of doubt from their Orders.

30 comments:

Canon Jerome Lloyd OSJV said...

Ahem... the PNCC are not the only "orthodox" Old Catholics around (and that depends on what you mean by "orthodox" if you look more deeply at their theology). True, there are very few of us around, but since when have numbers been important for orthodox faith and praxis?!

Anonymous said...

Dear Bishop Robinson,
It seems to me that the UECNA's affirmation of local orthodox Prayer Books is exactly the right methodology in the preservation of the continuing Anglican character of liturgy and doctrine.Please God the ACC will be willing to learn something from this in the UK situation.

Pelican

Anonymous said...

Bishop Robinson,

I think it would be helpful if you could give some idea of what exactly the presence of the UECNA in Canada and the USA is. I read an article some time ago by Mr. Bill Tighe that described about 5-600 members total at that time. I know the ACC publishes it's membership numbers does UECNA do the same? I know the APCK is very secretive about it's numbers. If that is still the case, more or less, and the Jurisdiction has not grown in the last couple decades can it truly be a viable option?

Would it not be better to find common ground and put away the divisions that the Concordat signed by UECNA, APCK with the ACC seemed to indicate would be the case?
The separation surely puts all parties at a disadvantage in many respects.

And why does it make any difference to say "Whilst this is true today" if in fact the UECNA has lost ground? It does not seem like a reasonable way of correcting the assumption I read into Fr. Harts post that precedes this post.

Wondering.

Fr. Dcn. David Gould said...

Your Grace
I hope and pray that the UECNA will seek to enrich the ACC with organic reunion. This will help attract evangelicals, but most of all will be a sign of the grace of God, of the commitment to Anglican Christian unity and will be one in the eye of those mainstream Anglicans who decry as as sectarians.

Of course while Anglicans create yet more and more jurisdictions like the ACNA our problems will only grow.

Anonymous said...

Bp Robinson, can you say something of your experience ministering to a congregation in Barton-on-Humber that used the 1662 BCP?

Anon

William Tighe said...

"I read an article some time ago by Mr. Bill Tighe that described about 5-600 members total at that time."

600, I think I wrote. It was a figure given to me by Archbishop Reber himself, and stands in contrast to some of the amazing figures I had from those in other jurisdictions whom I consulted (with the exception of Archbishop Falk, who gave me a precise figure of 5245 or 4285 "registered communicant members" of the ACA).

I have always found Archbishop Reber a frank and straightforward informant, as when he recently conformed to me the recent consecration of a divorced-and-remarried man as a bishop in the UECNA.

+ Peter said...

I could not actually tell you what the precise membership of the UECNA is at the moment because the relevant data has not been collected since 2008. My estimate would be 'at least' 600 communicants. I will publish the new number when I get "the greens" back in February 2011.

A couple of other things:

Firstly, the UECNA is growing. We started 2010 with twenty churches, as of today we have twenty-three, and by the end of the year we should have 25 churches in operation.

Secondly, all of this is new work from our own resources, not transfer growth from other jurisdictions.

Thirdly, we are running at "better than replacement" rate with clergy. In the past year we have had four ordinations and only one retirement.

Does that look like a dying church? It does not to me.

I should also mention that, like the APCK, we have had a difficult couple of years in 2008/9. Much of this was due to a strong adverse reaction by some in the jurisdiction to closer ties with the ACC. However, we now have the situation stabilized, and we have returned to the growth pattern we had in the early 1990s.

Lastly, just to keep the record straight, according to Archbishop Reber, the divorced and remarried priest who was consecrated a bishop recently did get an ecclesiastical annulment before ordination to the diaconate.

John A. Hollister said...

Whenever someone is tempted to refer to a member of the clergy with the phrase "a divorced-and-remarried man", then, in the interests of accuracy, I think that should be rephrased to be "a secularly-divorced-and-later-ecclesiastically-married man".

It would also be helpful if, each time someone refers to that issue, he or she would stop and explain precisely how it is relevant to the discussion of the moment.

John A. Hollister+

charles said...

Dear Fr. Dc. David,

" This will help attract evangelicals, but most of all will be a sign of the grace of God, of the commitment to Anglican Christian unity and will be one in the eye of those mainstream Anglicans who decry as as sectarians."

The problem with this proposition is it would return the UEC to the same 1979-1981 predicament regarding ACC C&C which were the very reason +Doren and "phalanx" originally left.

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Robinson,

Opening new churches is a good thing of course but I wonder about any real gain since I have observed the UECNA recently ordain 2 new bishops (this blog posted on the event) and then they left for other pastures. One of those churches, if I am not mistaken is very close to an ACC church in MD. So rather than building towards unity it seems as if the Continuing Church is still playing push pins on the map game rather than taking seriously a real effort to combine resources and move ahead together.

I know Bishop Reber has a reputation for ordaining anyone who knocks at the door including a couple in Virginia, one of which after being part and parcel to three local schisms, has since moved his rented church to another jurisdiction. So there is at lease a net gain but is that really the point? While size certainly does not equal 'right', a national jurisdiction the size of a small baptist congregation surely could do better merging with a sister church.

The ACC certainly could do a better job at providing some wiggle room for those who accept the Affirmation and BCP as formularies and are legitimate Anglicans to find common ground and fulfill the spirit of the Concordat that was signed as a step towards reunion of all the splinters. "My way or the highway" is no effort at reunion it is a prelude to triumphalism.

At the end of the day- it's a burden on the laity to support redundant Bishoprics and jurisdictions, separation hinders everything from building new seminaries to cost effective benefits packages for clergy. Is separation really something one should be proud of?

The fault line here seems to be party type emphasis it's really scandalous for all parties involved.

Wondering

Canon Tallis said...

Thank you, thank you, Canon Hollister. I have known far too many young men who in the years before they became Christians or even Anglicans married someone with no idea of a Christian marriage only to realize that a divorce was a necessity because no real marriage much less a Christian one was possible.

David said...

Why would there be adverse reaction to the ACC, I admit as demonstrated here on this blog I am ignorant in comparison to most of you but I would think the ACC would be a standard in terms of belief that Anglicans would be working to. Granted I am Orthodox leaning and get an ill feeling from contemporary evangelicals of the Anglican flavor.

+ Peter said...

In reply to one of our anonymous posters is using his lack of a name as a cover for venting his spleen:

1. The parish in MD to which is alluding has been there for many years.
2. The priest in Richmond, VA to whom he is allude was not ordained in the UECNA but in ACOVA and has now moved on to the OAC (I think) as he was facing the prospect disciplinary action for unauthorized liturgies.
3. None of the latest crop of missions is within half an hour's drive of an ACC or APCK church.

Now can we please stop slinging manure! (And believe me it was very difficult for this country boy to type manure - which is actually a useful commodity!)

AFS1970 said...

While there are always going to be specific details depending on civil vs religious marriages and the life or death of existing ex-spouses. Such details are often the exception not the rule. The issue for all of us is that man can not break apart what God joins together. The issue to clergy is that they are required to be the husband of only one wife. Not one wife at a time, but one wife.

Where people are sometimes suspicious of annulments is because they are basically for sale from Rome. I had a coworker who went for one several years after his secular divorce, because he now wanted to marry a RC girl who insisted on a church wedding. From the stories he told me the status of his parish donations was more of a factor than any details of his marriage. Sadly this has lead the whole process to being suspect.

I think in smaller jurisdictions this is more the case because as much as the Roman process is suspect, people tend to be even more skeptical of smaller churches and how they do things. However not being a party to either of the marriages or the ecclesiastical annulment, all any of us can do is take the situation at face value.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Wondering wrote:

The ACC certainly could do a better job at providing some wiggle room for those who accept the Affirmation and BCP as formularies and are legitimate Anglicans to find common ground and fulfill the spirit of the Concordat that was signed as a step towards reunion of all the splinters. "My way or the highway" is no effort at reunion it is a prelude to triumphalism.

So, what about Fr. Wells and what about me, and what about a few others? To have only one of us might qualify as a gesture, having a "token Protestant." But, we are more than one, and none of us has been told to get on the highway.

+ Peter said...

The trouble with being dependent on 'wiggle room' for one's survival in a jurisdiction is that such wiggle room is apt to disappear a moment's notice. Having had two nasty experiences - one in the ACC and the other in the ACA - of precisely that description, I think you might be able to understand why I want things discussed, agreed upon, and written down before we all get together and sit around the campfire singing 'Michael, row the Boat Ashore.'

Archbishop Haverland is good at allowing people to be themselves and allowing 'wiggle room.' However, no bishop lives forever, and there is always a strong likelihood that one's successor is going to be a totally different kettle of fish.

Being the sort of Anglican who is utterly unembarrassed by the Reformation, I find those among us who want to pretend it never happened perplexing. However, I don't think that is a valid reason for schism. It is more than likely that the ACC, APCK, and UECNA will resolve their differences over the next few years, but that is more likely to take place in the context of some pretty free and frank discussions in private than in the blogosphere.

The UECNA and the ACC have already agreed that there are no significant doctrinal barriers to unity. However, given what happened when the ACC and AEC attempted merger in 1991, it is probably best that we address honestly the differences between our Constitutions, Canons, and Cultures honestly before going on to the next stage. Until we get around to doing that, the unity process is not going to progress further.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I don't believe that "wiggle room" is accurate, nor that it depends strictly on Archbishop Haverland.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "nasty experiences," I'll put my scrapbook of war-stories in the EMC and ACA up against anyone's. (My experiences in the early EMC under Bp A Donald Davies and in DHC under Bishops Waggener and Hewett were entirely positive.) But the ACC is home.
LKW

Anonymous said...

"WIggle room" might not be the greatest phrase to have used and I concede that in the CC certain Bishops have wanted to remake Anglicanism in their own image and having heard the phrase "Morsian Anglicanism" some years ago I can understand the caution but as you know as a farm boy if you are afraid of changing weather you'll never plant a crop.

In regards to the Bishop's reply: "2. The priest in Richmond, VA to whom he is allude was not ordained in the UECNA but in ACOVA and has now moved on to the OAC (I think) as he was facing the prospect disciplinary action for unauthorized liturgies."
This is factually incorrect. I have to assert this priest was hastily ordained and was without any formation and was in fact ordained by Bishop Reber not said Bishop Johnson. His church, if you look at a google map is only a couple miles from the ACC church in that town.


Wondering

Fr. Dcn. David Gould said...

Charles thanks for the clarification. Whatever the reasons in the past to an Australian the US Continuing Anglican Church's divisions are a great cause for sadness. Too many bishops, too many parallel diocese and frankly the Unites States-centric nature of the non ACC Churches makes their relevance to continuing Anglicans in the old British Empire minimal.

AFS1970 said...

The lack of expansion outside the U.S. by continuing churches is hardly surprising. Historically the continuum (even those groups that left before 1976) were formed in response to specific American problems and concerns. They were created to serve specific American parishes.

The fact that the ACC has expanded is wonderful, but it is because they saw a new mission, not because of the old or existing mission. One can hardly find fault with APCK, UECNA or any of the other bodies that have stayed close to home in terms of mission. Although I now see that APCK is moving up into Canada. To parts of the church that were once part of the (original) ACNA before the continuum split.

Fr. Steve said...

To me, it seems like "Wondering" is itching for some kind of a fight.

Unity will come in God's time, not our time. I, too, pine for the day when we can all be together in one jurisdiction. However, as Bishop Robinson said, there has to be a discussion on the Canons and Constitutions of the ACC and the UECNA, as the original issue that caused the division has not been resolved.

Just because the ACC is international, and has more parishes does not mean it can offer the parishes of the UECNA proper oversight. If we were to just jump aboard the ACC train without any thought about it, we would likely loose 500 or more of the 600 communicants, and all of the parishes we could prospectively bring to the ACC.

I agree that in the future, we don't need to start a new church where there is an existing one from any of the three jurisdictions. But we can do nothing about the past.

"Wondering" seems to have a big problem with Archbishop Reber. Might I suggest he call Archbishop Reber and hack it out with him after he returns from his sabbatical in August. Or maybe he should wait until the Archbishop retires in September.

My point here is, some time in September, the UECNA will have a new Presiding Bishop... Bishop Robinson. And as the good Bishop said, each prelate has a different philosophy on how to run things.

Right now, it is an exciting time to be in the Continuum. In the next decade, I think we will start seeing the unity people are pining for. However, the discussion needs to happen... in private (or in council or both)... that will bring that unity about without causing more division.

Personally, I think we need to have another "Congress of St. Louis", whether its in St. Louis or not, to hash out these issues. In fact, perhaps we should have two or three such conferences, as one would probably not be long enough to rough out all the edges.

Whatever happens, we need to look forward, not back. Looking back only reopens old wounds that should be left to heal.

+ Peter said...

One side issue which it might be worth ventilating is that it is far better for groups who would be uncomfortable with the ACC to go to the UECNA or the APCK than to place themselves outside the St Louis Continuum. I say this because firstly, there is an active reunion process between the St Louis Churches, and it seems totally pointless to add new jurisdictions to an already divided Continuing Anglican world.

If anonymous has an issue with Archbishop Reber, have it out with him. I am sorry that I made the assumption that he was ordained in ACOVA, I know he came from there, I had made the apparently erronous assumption that he was already in orders.

I should also note that the group in Richmond which Anonymous has such a problem with came to us before the ACC-UEC concordat was signed. Since that time we have avoided taking in, or starting new works close to existing ACC/APCK parishes. One group I am working with has suggested three potential locations for a mission and I made it quite clear to them that two of them were far to close to existing APCK parishes.

As a previous commentator remarked - it serves no useful purpose rehashing the past. We have all made mistakes in the past, it is what we do after we have discovered that something was a mistake that really counts.

AFS1970 said...

With unity in the works, and a key factor in lasting unity being a reconciliation of the various canons, does it really matter which of the three one joins? If one is uncomfortable with the ACC and joins APCK only to end up in the ACC (or some new joint entity)it seems like a bit of a circular journey.

While I would not be in favor of any new jurisdictions forming up. I would see no problem with someone joining any of the continuing bodies, no matter of St. Louis roots, although as more groups come into unity, they may find themselves on just as much of a circular journey.

William Tighe said...

I am sorry to post a comment do belatedly, but I did not notice Canon Hollister's barb until this morning:

"Whenever someone is tempted to refer to a member of the clergy with the phrase "a divorced-and-remarried man", then, in the interests of accuracy, I think that should be rephrased to be "a secularly-divorced-and-later-ecclesiastically-married man".

It would also be helpful if, each time someone refers to that issue, he or she would stop and explain precisely how it is relevant to the discussion of the moment."

My purpose in writing as I did was (1) to commend Archbishop Reber's frankness and honesty in my telephone conversations with him, and (2) to imply that many otherwise respectable "Continuing Anglican" bodies do not "continue" the historically Anglican practice, or discipline, on DaR. I have written on the historical aspects that subject here:

http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2010/06/divorce-and-remarriage-in-historic-anglicanism-part-i/

"Part II," when it appears, which, as it is written I trust will be soon, will discuss in detail the practice of the ACA, ACC-OP, APA, APCK and UECNA on this matter, giving also the numbers, if not the names of DaR bishops in these American jurisdictions.

+ Peter said...

I have to be up front about this and say that if it were left to me, there would be no "annulment Canon." However, it is there, as bold as brass, and so it has to be properly administered, even if one is personally uncomfortable with it.

The tension really seems to arise when those who have an ecclesiastical annulment subsequently discover a vocation to Holy Orders. In the UECNA there is no Canonical provision excluding men who have remarried after an annulment from the Postulancy process, then one ends up with clergy who, for good and proper reasons, have obtained annulments under the present Canons.

I happen to believe that annulments can all too easily become a racket, and, for this reason, would not like to see the Anglican Community go any further along the Roman road on this issue than we already have. However, when all is said and done, there is still a need to deal with divorced persons in a compassionate manner.

Fr. Steve said...

"Whenever someone is tempted to refer to a member of the clergy with the phrase "a divorced-and-remarried man", then, in the interests of accuracy, I think that should be rephrased to be "a secularly-divorced-and-later-ecclesiastically-married man".

My issue with the above statement is this. I was married in a Baptist Church with a service I got off the internet and tweaked for my purposes back in 2001 when I was in a Charismatic Church. Does this mean that, right now, as an Anglican Priest, I'm not Ecclesiastically Married. That my three children are illegitimate, and that I am living in sin with the mother of those three children?

What validates my marriage, yet invalidates someone else's marriage as "secular"? Is my marriage valid, or is it invalid? If it is valid, then the above statement is hogwash. If it is invalid, then I must be excommunicated for living in a state of sin. And does that now invalidate my orders?

Just look at the can of worms you opened with that simple statement.

Anonymous said...

*"Part II," when it appears, which, as it is written I trust will be soon, will discuss in detail the practice of the ACA, ACC-OP, APA, APCK and UECNA on this matter, giving also the numbers, if not the names of DaR bishops in these American jurisdictions.*

This seems like descending to the level of trash journalism. If you are into that sort of stuff perhaps this may be of interest to you and your Roman ilk:

http://www.riteofsodomy.com/index.php?pr=Paperbacks

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Perhaps Fr. Hollister will define what he means by "ecclesiastically married." For now, I assume he means nothing more than a valid marriage that the Church can bless, in light of the clear doctrine that the sacramental ministers are the bride and groom.

John A. Hollister said...

Firstly, my earlier comment on marriages was not intended as a "barb" thrown at Prof. Tighe; it was intended as an heartfelt sigh of resignation combined with a plea for clarity. My comment about relevancy was directed at the fact that this subject keeps cropping up in contexts in which it seems rather a non sequitur.

Secondly, and as I have remarked before elsewhere, I dislike the term "annulment" because it often suggests, erroneously, that the Church can undo something that was once done. Instead, I try to use and encourage others to use the term "declaration of nullity". That distinction might help alleviate misunderstandings such as those that seemed apparent from Fr. Steve's comment above.

By "ecclesiastically married" I meant no more, and assuredly no less, than a marriage that meets the traditional requirements for a Sacrament. Thus it must have two subjects who are each eligible to be married, i.e., not related within the prohibited degrees of affinity or consanguinity; not married Sacramentally to anyone else who remains alive; of full age; of sound mind; etc., etc., etc., through the whole list of diriment impediments. It must also have an adequate intention on the part of each of those parties to be married, as the Church has always understood marriage, and those parties must, explicitly or implicitly, express that intention. The physical sign of the Sacrament (what novelists like to refer to as "the consummation of marriage") must also be present.

While it is always desirable that there should be some form of public ceremony and that a representative of the Church should be present to witness and to bless the marriage, that is not, strictly speaking, essential. Thus Fr. Steve's concern about a charismatic service conducted in a Baptist venue is misplaced.

[It is true that, since the 16th Century only, the Roman Church has insisted that the marriages of its own members be conducted in the presence of its authorized representatives, in default of which it claims those marriages are invalid as sacraments, but we non-Romans can treat that members-only "requirement" just as we treat the former Roman declarations that eating meat on Fridays was a mortal sin or Rome's current contention that eating meat on Fridays has, since the 1970s, somehow lost that putatively sinful character. It is for this reason that we Anglicans cannot simply accept Roman declarations of nullity at face value but should always inquire into the grounds upon which they were issued.]

Nor, even when adequate investigation shows one or more of the requisite elements of a Sacrament to have been lacking, does that bastardize any children a union may have produced. Legitimacy is a creature of the civil law, not the Canon Law, so if a prior marriage was a valid civil union, its children were legitimate.

Actually, as a member of the Roman Law family of legal systems, Canon Law recognizes the concept of "putative marriage", under which, even where one or more of the essentials for a valid marriage per se (that is, those elements which precede considerations of sacramentality) were missing, if one partner was in good faith, then that partner is entitled to the benefits of the (otherwise invalid) marriage with respect to marital property, spousal support, legitimacy of children, etc. In this regard, the Civil Law (i.e., Roman Law) tradition is far more charitable than is the Common Law one.

John A. Hollister+