Talk about the possibility that a second Anglican province might emerge in the United States has been generating some discussion at the ACC Members List over on Yahoo. It stems, in part, from my observation, as made here, that the continuing movement is not in a very good position to provide a common welcome mat to those orthodox Episcopalians who cannot, in good conscience, affiliate with such a province.
That has led to talk about a first step toward doing that as being a unification of the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Province of Christ the King. Running almost in parallel to that discussion has been one on the assertion that the ACC and the APCK are already in communio sacris.
I am still new to the continuum and do not understand why the two jurisdictions have not been one since the beginning, or if they are effectively in communion, and any enlightenment on that issue would be welcome.
In this post, however, I would rather focus on something else.
I am starting from the premiss that there is no good ecclesiological or theological reason why separation should continue, and that unification is, by definition, a desirable thing.
Given that, I have come up with the following suggestions of how we could begin to move toward unity. I welcome others.
+ If unity is to come about, it will be best and most quickly achieved it it comes both "from above" and "from below" ie by cooperation among the bishops of both jurisdictions and among parishes.
+ A first step could be agreement by bishops that, in any given geographical area, neither jurisdiction will plant a mission where the the other jurisdiction already has a presence. A corollary to that would be that officials in each jurisdiction, when approached by someone seeking a place to worship, or even proposing the creation of a mission, be directed to the mission/parish of the other.
+ A parallel step would be for the clergy and people of ACC and APCK parishes that overlap geographically, entirely or in part, to take active steps to work and worship together. The former would entail agreeing on joint outreach and pastoral care projects, while the latter would be fixed annual occasions for coming together at the altar, beginning perhaps with the patronal festival of each church.
+ Much farther in the future, in eventual discussions on organic unity, it could be agreed that the older of the two jurisdictions' primates would become primate of the unified church, with the younger becoming coadjutor. Once the younger took office, the oldest of the other old jurisdiction's bishops would become his coadjutor. That should conceivably give the "two sides" enough years to grow beyond a sense of separation and into one of unity.
+ A similar arrangement could be done at the diocesan level. New dioceses of the unified church would be fashioned, to a certain extent, by combining existing ones. There, the same procedure could apply, with the older of the two bishops becoming the ordinary, and the younger his coadjutor, etc.
We are blessed to have as co-hosts of this blog priests from the ACC and the APCK, respectively, Fr Matthew Kirby and Fr Robert Hart. I also know that bishops from both jurisdictions have been introduced to The Continuum, and hope they are at least occasionally reading. We undoubtedly also have lay people from both jurisdictions as readers.
I would welcome all of you to become active participants in this thread.
The harvest is ripening. Are we going to be ready?