Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Appeal from the Continuing Anglican Churches to the ACNA and Associated Churches


The Continuing Anglican Church movement began with the Congress of Saint Louis in 1977.  The Anglican Church in North America was born in 2010.  Between these two ecclesial movements there are points of contact, but there also is a great gulf fixed. 

 
In regard to points of contact, both of the entities concerned are movements composed of a number of imperfectly united ecclesial jurisdictions rather than perfectly united dioceses or Churches.  Both understand themselves to be Anglican and to relate in positive ways to a common history and shared theological and cultural influences.  Both understand themselves to have left former Church homes as an act of fidelity to the teaching of Scripture and in the face of grave aberrations in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.  Both are challenged by the need to present the gospel in compelling and attractive ways to an increasingly secular and indifferent Western society.
 
The gulf between us concerns mostly the changes accepted in the Episcopal Church (and the Canadian Church) between the mid-1970s and 2010.  Those of us who left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada in the 1970s did so due to the adoption in those years of the ordination of women to the priesthood by General Convention (1976) and General Synod (1975).  More generally, in the roughly 30 years between the Congress of Saint Louis and ACNA’s formation, the people who eventually formed ACNA lived in ecclesial bodies which increasingly abandoned elements of classical Anglicanism.  The precipitating cause of the founding of the ACNA was TEC’s abandonment of orthodox Christian teaching concerning homosexuality.  But prior to 2010 many of those now in ACNA accepted liturgies and prayer books with few connections to classical Anglican worship and accepted female deacons, priests, and bishops contrary to the mind of all Anglicans prior to the mid-20th century. 
 
One of our number, in an earlier letter to Archbishop Duncan of ACNA, wrote in regard to these matters as follows:
The notion that women can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders in any of its three parts constitutes, in our view, a revolutionary and false claim:  a claim false in itself; a claim destructive of the common ministry that once united Anglicans; and, finally, a claim productive of an even broader and worse consequence.  That worse consequence is the claim that Anglicans have authority to alter important matters of
faith and order against a clear consensus in the central tradition of Catholic and Orthodox Christendom.  Once such a claim is made it may be pressed into service to alter any matter of faith or morals.  The revolution devours its children.  Many of the clergy represented at GAFCON and now joining the ACNA seem to us to accept the flawed premise and its revolutionary claim in one matter while seeking to resist the application of the premise in the matter of homosexuality.  This position seems to us to be internally inconsistent and impossible to sustain successfully over time.
All Continuing Anglicans accept this analysis.  We note that ACNA has not abandoned the putative ordination of women and that this issue deeply divides the dioceses which compose ACNA. 
 
While we recognize that the Churches through history and today are free to adopt a variety of liturgical forms, as they are not free to accept the ordination of women, yet we also agree that any sound Anglican body today needs to relate more positively to the classical Books of Common Prayer than is the case in many ACNA dioceses. 
 
Many in ACNA effectively accept elements of the revolution since the 1970s.  If orthodox Anglicanism in North America is again to unite, then it can only do so on the basis of the pre-1976 state of the Church, without women clergy and with classically Anglican liturgies.

We recognize that the Continuing Church has failed to present a united front, has failed to grow as we should, and in general has failed to present an attractive alternative to the growing heresy and absurdity of the Episcopal Church.  However, we also note that against furious opposition, and often against obstacles set up by those who later formed ACNA, we have built hundreds of congregations in North America, many of which are thriving.  We have established works of mercy, publications ministries, and international missions, and we have trained and ordained a new generation of able clergy. 
 
The Continuing Churches are said to be riven by constant conflicts and to be increasingly divided.  This is not true.  Those of us who are undersigned below represent the great bulk of the Continuing Church.  We have among ourselves cordial relations.  We cooperate on many levels and have at least as great a level of
communion as that which exists amongst the disparate groups of ACNA.  Our tendency is towards greater unity and cooperation, whereas we observe within ACNA a tendency, just beneath the surface, to divide along the fault line we have identified above (between many in ACNA and classical Anglicanism).  We have no wish to deny or to minimize our own failures or divisions.  But our divisions are largely matters amenable to improvement.  The divisions facing ACNA are fundamental and essential.
 
We call upon ACNA to heed our call to return to your classical Anglican roots.  We commend to your prayerful attention the Affirmation of Saint Louis, which we firmly believe provides a sound basis for a renewed and fulfilled Anglicanism on our continent.  We urge you to heed the call of Metropolitan Jonah, whose concerns we share.  Anglicanism in North America cannot be both united and orthodox on a partially revolutionized basis.  We call upon you to repudiate firmly any claim to alter doctrine or order against the consensus of the Catholic and Orthodox world.  We call upon you to embrace the classical Prayer Book tradition.  The 30 years between our formation in 1977 and yours in 2010 were years of sharp decline in TEC numbers and of growing aberrations in all areas of Church life.  We call upon you to look upon all the works of those years with a much more critical eye, and to join us in returning to the doctrine, worship, and orders that preceded the intervening decades.
 
Yours in Christ,
 
The Right Reverend Paul Hewett, SSC
Diocese of the Holy Cross
 
The Most Reverend Walter Grundorf
Anglican Province of America
 
The Most Reverend Brian Marsh
Anglican Church in America
 
The Most Reverend Mark Haverland
Anglican Catholic Church
 
The Most Reverend Peter D. Robinson
United Episcopal Church of North America

21 comments:

Mr. Mcgranor said...

This has informed me, so much that i think i have questioned the Anglican Church of North America for good reason; regarding women clergy, Ecumenism with Rome, and less of a Western/American position. I have located what i believe to be a Continuing Anglican Church a few miles from my general locale, and i will visit it soon.

Ioannes said...

Was the Orthodox Anglican Communion (http://orthodoxanglican.net/) invited to sign this appeal to the ACNA? If not, then why not? If yes, then why didn't it sign?

Does the Anglican Continuum recognize the OAC which formed before the Continuum (1964 versus 1977)? If yes, then what are the current state of relations between the two? If no, then why not?

Thank you.

Ioannes said...

PS, The Affirmation of St. Louis signed by members of the Anglican Continuum (in 1977?) appears to no longer be valid because of its recognition of the primacy of the See of Canterbury which has devolved into heresy and apostasy with female ordination. Therefore, if the OAC (founded in 1964) did not sign this affirmation, then that is to its credit. Nevertheless, this whole thing makes me sad. :-(

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised APCK did not join. But it is good to see the Continuing Churches reach out to the ACNA. I hope both ACNA and Continuing Churches start a dialogue to help bring a true and good unity based on the classical Anglicanism America desperately needs.

On a similar note, has the Continuing body of churches reached out to the Orthodox? I am curious as to our dialogue, if any, that has occurred or is occurring?

Awkward Aardvark

Fr. Robert Hart said...

No Ioannes. The Affirmation of St. Louis has been amended to say that Canterbury's decision has made them irrelevant.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

It now says, "The Continuation of Communion with Canterbury
We affirm our continued relations of communion with the See of Canterbury and all faithful parts of the Anglican Communion. [Note: Because of the action of General Synod of the Church of England, Parliament, and the Royal Assent, the College of Bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church is obliged no longer to count the See of Canterbury as a faithful part of the Anglican Communion.]"

Fr. Robert Hart said...

...and the others agree.

Ioannes said...

Thank you, Fr. Hart.

I am curious to see is anything will come out of Awkward Aardvark's suggestion above. Right now what we have is:

(1) Rome,
(2) The divided Eastern Orthodoxy
(3) A heretical and apostate Canterbury and ECUSA / TEC.
(4) The divided Anglican Continuum with the OAC on the outskirts even though it started first.
(5) 33,000 + Protestant denominations.

As I said, it makes me sad. :-(

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Ioannes:

Look at this document and see the bright side. Two years ago the APA was in its own world, and the ACA was under the thumb of John Hepworth who exerted pressure to convert to the RCC. This much unity was impossible then. God is at work.

wyclif said...

Ioannes:

Note that the OAC was NOT founded in 1964. You are talking about the Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC) which was founded by Bp. James Parker Dees and is now headed by Bp. Jerry Ogles. The OAC was a split from the AOC under Scott McLaughlin.

The OAC was thus formed in the late 1990s after Dees died.

Bruce B. said...

I have had conversations with the Rector of a local ACNA parish and he told me that ordination with Apostolic Succession is not necessary. If this position is allowed within ACNA (I have no idea if it is) then it seems that there’s others things just as serious as WO dividing us.

Bruce said...

I’m constantly learning about new Anglican jurisdictions that I didn’t know existed. SEC was a recent one I learned of. There’s an OAC and an AOC? Good grief!

+ Peter said...

I would like to distance myself from the idea that the UECNA regards the Affirmation of St Louis as being of permanent significance. If included in the formularies of any future united Continuing Anglican Church it has to be firmly subordinated to the historic formularies - the 1662 BCP and the 39 Articles as its primary function was to provide a road map to guide the Continuum away fromnn the errors of AC of Can, and ECUSA, not to provide a charter for the remodelling of Anglicanism - which is the sense that some folks have attached to it.

The Embryo Parson said...

A big thumbs up to Abp. Robinson's comment at 12:22 AM.

The Embryo Parson

Fr. Wells said...

Many who refer to the Affirmation as if it were on a par with the Chalcedonian Formula need to read the Affirmation more carefully. This is especially the case for those who try to drive a wedge between the Affirmation and the 39 Articles. It is commonly overlooked that the Affirmation actually cites the Articles as authoritative:

"We recognize that man, as inheritor of original sin, is "very far gone from original righteousness," and as a rebel against God's authority is liable to His righteous judgment."

Anonymous said...

We attended an ACNA group headed by a bishop who turned out to be very left wing and anti Israel (out of the Reformed Episcopal Church of all things). They also had a "deaconess." Most of us left the Episcopal Church due to female ordination and the pro-homosexual stance. With the ACNA's acceptance of women priests, what is next? We now attend an AEC group.

Anonymous said...

AEC? Wasn't that Clavier's group that merged with part of the ACC to form the ACA? Was there a rump left that still functions as the AEC? Or is this a new AEC?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I think it's the Anglican Episcopal Church and has some HQ in Tucson, AZ. I could have it wrong though.

Anonymous said...

The Orthodox Anglican Church (OAC)~WAS~ founded in 1964. Anybody can go to the NC Secretary of States website and verify that fact.

The current Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC) was incorporated a little over a decade ago. A fact which can also be verified on the NC Secretary of States website.

Tony Seel said...

I am a cradle Episcopalian and a CANA priest. I note that in the appeal sent to Abp. Duncan there is a statement about the Continuing Anglican Churches thriving. In the areas that I have lived in nine states, if there was any CAC presence it was a small church. How do you define thriving? How many communicants are in the CAC churches?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Obviously, you have not been in the same places I have.