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Settlement reached in Episcopal misconduct cases: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 6. January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiastical Trials, Ecclesiology, Fort Worth, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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A settlement agreement has been reached in the disciplinary proceedings of 9 American bishops accused of misconduct for holding and propounding contrary views on church history and polity to those of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Last week representatives of the accusers: Bishops C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., and John Buchanan, met with representatives of the accused: Bishops Peter H. Beckwith, Maurice M. Benitez, John W. Howe, Paul E. Lambert, William H. Love, D. Bruce MacPherson, Daniel H. Martins, Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and James M. Stanton, three observers from the House of Bishops: Mary Gray-Reeves, Edward S. Little, Michael Milliken to sign a “conciliation” agreement.

The nine had been charged with fraud, financial misconduct, teaching false doctrine and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.  The form the misconduct took was in having endorsed an amicus brief filed in the Texas Supreme Court in the Diocese of Fort Worth case and signing an affidavit in the Diocese of Quincy case.

The text of the settlement agreement — mediated by Prof.  John Douglass of the University Of Richmond School of Law following a 8-9 Jan 2013 meeting — has not been released so far as it must be signed by all parties and received the imprimatur of Bishop Jefferts Schori.

A statement from the national church’s press office noted the proceedings were closed and no news bulletins would be released by the parties, however sources at the meeting report the final document is an “amicable” resolution to the dispute.

Canadian ‘no’ to repeal of the Act of Settlement: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 28, 2011 p 8. January 30, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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MP Keith Vaz holding aloft his bill to repeal the Act of Settlement

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Canadian government has rejected the pleas of Labour MP Keith Vaz to support his bill to repeal the 1701 Act of Settlement.

On Jan 23, Mr. Vaz, the member for Leicester East, presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House of Commons calling for the “removal of any distinction between the sexes in determination the succession to the Crown” and to remove prohibition that the monarch and his or her consort be members of the Church of England.

In a statement released this week on his website, Mr. Vaz stated that “with the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, we have a once in a generation opportunity to change the law. Prince William looks like a very modern Prince. If he has a daughter first, it is only right that she become Queen of England.”

Mr Vaz has sought the support of the Royal family, the government and the leaders of the 15 Commonwealth nations were the Queen is head of state for their support, and has claimed a majority of his constituents support “equal rights in succession” for the monarch.

However the coalition government and past Labour governments have not taken up the issue.  In a written answer given to the House of Commons on June 30, Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper stated “there are no current plans to amend the laws on succession.”

Passed by Parliament in 1701 to govern the succession of the monarch, the Act requires the sovereign to “join in communion with the Church of England” and forbids marriage to a “papist.”  It also adopted the principle of primogenitor, giving the eldest male child of the monarch precedence over any older sisters.

In 2001 Prime Minister Tony Blair raised the issue but did not take the matter forward while Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2008 stated that “most people recognise the need for change. Change can only be brought about by not just the UK but all realms where Her Majesty is Queen making a decision to change.”

However, he took no further action and did not raise the issue during the 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key reported at the time.

Altering the Act of Succession must be approved by the governments where the Queen is the constitutional monarch and sovereign: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tuvalu.

While a popular sentiment would support a change, the political costs make its repeal unlikely.  In Canada, the provinces must endorse a change to the country’s constitution—including the status of the monarch.  Amending the Canadian constitution would reopen the intractable debate over the status of Quebec, and possibly led to the unraveling of the country.

A spokesman for the Canadian prime minister told Postmedia News last week “this issue is not a priority for the government or for Canadians without further elaboration on the merits or drawbacks of the proposed reforms.”

Sydney synod backs lay presidency of the Eucharist: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 22, 2010 p 8. October 23, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Sydney’s diocesan synod has reaffirmed its support for diaconal administration of Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, for the fourth time.

By a strong voice vote, the synod adopted on Oct 15 a resolution proposed by Bishop Glenn Davies of North Sydney that said while it noted the “advisory opinion of the Appellate Tribunal” synod reaffirmed its 2008 declaration that “lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture,” and that “affirms that the Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters.”

The vote follows in the wake of an August 10, 2010 opinion that ruled the 1985 Ordination for Deacons Canon did not permit diaconal administration of the Eucharist.  Unlike the Church of England, the Episcopal Church and other churches that have reintroduced the permanent diaconate, in Sydney deacons and priests obtain the same level of theological qualification. As of the start of synod, 36 per cent of the clergy in Sydney, 215, were deacons.

In an account of the debate printed by Anglican Media Sydney, Dr. Davies opened the debate by stating that it was permissible for synod and the Appellate Tribunal to hold contrary opinions on this issue, adding the language of the resolution was permissive, not mandatory.  “There is a lot of power in the word ‘may’,” administer the sacrament, he said.

Archdeacon Narelle Jarrett stated there was no Scriptural warrant for the argument that only priests may administer Holy Communion, adding that it was “pastorally appropriate that deacons who are chaplains in schools, prisons and hospitals be allowed to administer the Lord’s Supper.”

Three amendments that sought to soften the resolution were defeated, as was a motion to defer discussion, and the resolution was carried.

The August tribunal ruling came under criticism during the debate, with speakers deriding the theological rationale used by a majority of the court to reach its decision.  The tribunal also up-ended the legal principle that it had used to permit women bishops in 2007, prompting concerns its deliberations were tainted by political considerations.

In ruling against diaconal presidency, the tribunal in 2010 held that it is not the language of a canon, but the legislative intent in its creation that provides its meaning.

In its 2007 ruling the court came to an opposite conclusion, finding that while women bishops were not contemplated in the drafting of the canons governing the episcopate, its language could be construed to allow the innovation.

The Sydney synod vote is the latest step in a 30 year push for lay and diaconal presidency with the first committee chartered to examine the issue in 1983.   In 2008 the synod adopted by an overwhelming majority, Resolution 7.2 which contained the same language on lay and diaconal presidency as found in the 2010 resolution.

A report prepared by a committee led by Bishop Paul Barnett in 1993 concluded there “are no sound doctrinal objections to, and there are significant doctrinal reasons for, lay presidency at the Lord’s Supper.  There are also sound reasons based on our received Anglican order for allowing lay presidency.”

The Barnett committee concluded that “prohibition of lay presidency at the Lord’s Supper does not seem justifiable theologically.”

On Oct 19, 1999 Sydney adopted an Ordinance permitting diaconal and lay presidency at the Eucharist, by a vote of 122 to 66 amongst the clergy, and 224 to 128 amongst the laity.

However, the following day the Primate, Archbishop Keith Rayner, urged Sydney Archbishop Harry Goodhew to withhold his assent writing the vote represented a “fundamental break with catholic order” which would place the diocese at odds with the “constitution and canons of our church.”

On Nov 10, 1999 Archbishop Goodhew declined to give his assent as approving lay presidency would have ramifications for Sydney and the wider Anglican Communion.  Following his election as Archbishop in 2001, Dr. Peter Jensen said, “Lay administration, should it be legal, would be a contribution to the common task of bringing the gospel to Australia,” adding that “it is strange not to allow for this ministry in an ordered way.”

In 2003 the Sydney Synod began the legal steps to clear the path for diaconal administration, rescinding Section 10 of the 1662 Act of Uniformity, which stated that “only episcopally ordained priests may consecrate the Holy Communion.”

However, Dr. Jensen has never authorized lay administration, and last week’s vote does not compel him to do so.

New bishop raises questions about the ACNA’s commitment to Anglicanism: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 27, 2010 p 6. August 27, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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Bishop Derek Jones

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Charges the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has abandoned the historic episcopate by receiving a bishop from the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) without re-consecrating him are unfounded, the traditionalist province-in-waiting tells The Church of England Newspaper.

On July 31, American church commentator Robin Jordan charged the ACNA with having abandoned the historic episcopate when its Provincial Council of Bishops voted on June 9 to receive the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones as a bishop in good standing.  Formed in 1995, the CEEC is an American Protestant denomination that has found a niche blending charismatic worship with liturgies drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, and is not normally numbered among the Anglican breakaway churches in the United States.

However, a review of Bishop Jones’ episcopal antecedents by the CEN finds that while a number of his consecrating bishops would not be recognized by Anglicans, his descent from a Brazilian bishop whose episcopal orders were recognized by Pope John XXIII places him within the apostolic tradition.

Mr. Jordan charged that Bishop Jones “was irregularly if not invalidly consecrated,” adding that the CEEC’s “episcopal line of succession is derived from Eastern Orthodox and Old Catholic lines of questionable validity.”

The ACNA’s newest bishop was therefore an episcopi vaganti he said, adding that Bishop Jones’ reception violated traditional Anglican teaching on the episcopate as stated at the 1958 Lambeth Conference.  Resolution 54 of Lambeth 58 stated the Anglican Communion “cannot recognize the Churches of such episcopi vagantes as properly constituted Churches or recognize the orders of their ministers’.”

The reception of Bishop Jones further appeared to violate Article I Section 3 of the ACNA constitution which states “the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.”

Mr. Jordan concluded the ACNA was perhaps “no longer pursuing Anglican Communion recognition” or was moving “away from Anglicanism to become a Convergence church.”

The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, the chairman the Episcopal Task Force for ACNA, told CEN the objections to Bishop Jones were “superficial.”  The ACNA required a “significant standard concerning Christian testimony, character and manner of life, Biblical qualification, evidence of call, and demonstration of apostolic fruit for any candidate that is considered by the College of Bishops.”

Bishop Jones told CEN his journey to the ACNA began in 2007, when he was contacted by Bishop David Bena of the Church of Nigeria’s Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and asked to endorse a CANA chaplain for the US military.  As a “recognized Endorsing Agent with the Department of Defense  [I] had agreed to help CANA,” he said.  In 2009, Bishop Bena and CANA head Bishop Martyn Minns “spoke with me privately about a jurisdictional transfer” to oversee CANA’s chaplains.  A review that year by CANA of his episcopal orders indicated there would be no ecclesiastical difficulties in bringing him on board, he said.

Bishop Jones said he was released by the CEEC in 2009 and “made application to CANA” to be received as a bishop.  “However, since only the House of Bishops for the Church of Nigeria could approve an Episcopal reception and their full attention was on the retirement of Archbishop Akinola, the idea of working my reception through ACNA was championed as a more appropriate course,” he said.

Bishop Jones stated that “once I had officially left the CEEC, I no longer performed any Episcopal duties, that is, until such time that I was approved for reception into the ACNA House of Bishops” on June 9, 2010.  “This was to specifically avoid the type criticism” raised by Mr. Jordan, he said.

A review of Bishop Jones orders finds that while some of his antecedents are episcopi vagantes, succession through the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil would validate his orders.  As defined by the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church episcopi vangantes are “persons who have been Consecrated bishop in an irregular or clandestine manner or who have been excommunicated by the Church that consecrated them and are in communion with no recognized see.”

Several of Bishop Jones’ lines of succession, as Mr. Jordan has charged, pass bishops whose orders have been rejected by the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, including Joseph René Vilatte and Arnold Harris Mathew.

However, the episcopal orders of one of his consecrators were accepted as valid by the Vatican.  In December 1959, Pope John XXIII received a married ex-Anglican priest consecrated as a bishop of the schismatic Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira into the Roman Catholic Church.

Married with seven children, Bishop Salomão Barbosa Ferraz was not re-ordained upon his reception and upon being named Titular Bishop of Eleutherna on May 10, 1963 was not re-consecrated.  Active at the Second Vatican Council, Bishop Ferraz consecrated Manuel C. Laranjeira for the Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira in 1965.  While the orders flowing from the Laranjeira consecration would be considered irregular by the Vatican, they would not be void.

Australian church court bans diaconal presidency at the Eucharist: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 20, 2010 p 6. August 20, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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Dr. Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney

First published in The Church of England Newspaper

The Anglican Church of Australia’s highest church court has thrown out the legal principle behind its 2007 decision to allow the ordination of women bishops.  In an Aug 10 decision concerning the Diocese of Sydney and diaconal presidency at the Eucharist, the Appellate Tribunal held that it is not the language of a canon, but the legislative intent in its creation that provides its meaning.

In its 2007 ruling the court came to an opposite conclusion, finding that while women bishops were not contemplated in the drafting of the canons governing the episcopate, its language could be construed to allow the innovation.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Sydney declined to comment on last week’s ruling, stating “the advisory opinion of the Tribunal will doubtless receive attention at the Diocesan Synod to be held in October.”

The ruling on lay and diaconal presidency at the Eucharist came in response to a petition filed by opponents of the Oct 21, 2008 resolution adopted by the Sydney Synod that stated “lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture” and affirmed that the “Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters.”

The synod resolution followed a 1997 ruling by the Appellate Tribunal that held that deacons or lay people could administer Holy Communion so long as General Synod authorized the practice.  Some parishes in Sydney had authorized deacons to administer the Eucharist in the absence of a priest, but lay presidency has not been permitted in the diocese.

The Sydney Synod believed that three revisions to the Ordination Service for Deacons Canon passed by General Synod in 1985 “radically” reformed the Ordinal to allow diaconal presidency.  Under the new rite, deacons were charged to be “faithful in prayer, and take your place with bishop, priest and people in public worship and at the administration of the sacraments.”

In his question to the diaconal candidates for ordination, the bishop under the revised Ordinal asked, “Will you take your part in reading the Holy Scriptures in the church, in teaching the doctrine of Christ, and in administering the sacraments?”  And in his authorization of the new deacon the bishop stated “receive this sign of your authority to proclaim God’s word and to assist in the administration of his holy sacraments.”

These three portions of the 1985 ordination service “expressly authorizes the deacon to assist the priest in the administration of the sacraments,” a report accepted by the 2008 Sydney Synod held, adding that the word “assistance equally applies to Holy Communion as it applies to baptism; and there is no dispute that a deacon can administer baptism in its entirety.”

The authors of the Sydney report, led by the Bishop of North Sydney Dr. Glenn Davies, conceded that it may not have been the intention of the 1985 Ordinal to authorize diaconal presidency, but the principle that authorial intent does not bind interpretation of the canons had been set by the Appellate Tribunal the year before.

In a split 4-3 decision released on Sept 28, 2007 the Appellate Tribunal found the language of the Law of the Church of England Clarification Canon 1992 did not require a bishop to be male in order to meet the definition of ‘canonical fitness’ for the Episcopal ministry.  While the canon may not have contemplated women bishops, grammar allowed the canon to be construed to permit it, the court held.

Objections to the 2008 Sydney vote were submitted to the Appellate Tribunal in 2009 by 25 members of General Synod led by Dr. Muriel Porter of the Diocese of Melbourne.  In its opinion, the court said the objections to the Sydney vote arose from the view that the “1985 Canon and the service for making deacons contained in it, the deacon’s role is clearly to take his or her place in the administration and to assist the priest in the administration.”

The Diocese of Sydney did not participate in the Tribunal’s proceedings, while Bishop Davies appeared in a personal capacity to defend his committee paper on diaconal presidency and the 1985 Ordinal only.

The court by a vote of 6 to 1 rejected Bishop Davies argument, finding a distinction with the phrase “assist in” found in the canon, and the concept “assist by.”  As a deacon may only “assist in” it was “logically correct” to argue that a priest was necessarily present when a deacon could “assist in” administering the Eucharist.

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall wrote that he believed that Bishop Davies’ view that words “are to be given their plain and ordinary meaning” must be modified by context.

The archbishop argued that “there is a context that impacts upon the meaning of the words in the 1985 service, namely the BCP ordinal and the longstanding norms and practices governing the manner in which a deacon assists the priest in ministering the sacraments. That context impliedly limits the meaning of the words in the 1985 service and does not permit them to be construed in the manner submitted by Dr Davies.”

The effect of the Tribunal’s decision will be to halt the administration by deacons of the Eucharist in the Anglican Church of Australia, pending a canon authorizing the practice adopted by General Synod.

US bishop comes home from Rome: The Church of England Newspaper, May 7, 2010 p 6. May 9, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Albany, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Daniel Herzog

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A former American bishop, who quit the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church in 2007, has been restored to the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church.

However, the method used to restore the Rt Rev Daniel Herzog of Albany does not conform to church law, legal scholars note, and was accomplished by a questionable canonical legerdemain that leaves his current status in doubt.

On April 30, Bishop Herzog was received back into the Episcopal Church. US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated she had “issued an order” reinstating the Anglo-Catholic leader and was “delighted at his return to ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church.”

The news of Bishop Herzog’s return was made public earlier that day by Albany Bishop William Love at a diocesan clergy retreat in Greenwich, New York. “Though he has never really been absent from our common life, I want to formally welcome Bishop Dan and [his wife] Carol back to the full communion of the Diocese and the wider Church,” Bishop Love said.

“During the past three years, they have continued to support the work of the Diocese and to participate in a non-ordained capacity. His restored role will be of help in carrying out the work of the Church, and I will be asking him to assist in this Diocese under my direction as is true of any retired bishop,” Bishop Love said in a statement released by the diocese.

Bishop Herzog said he wished to thank Bishop Love and Bishop Jefferts Schori for their “kindness and pastoral solicitude. Carol and I are grateful for the continuing opportunity to serve our Lord and His church in the Diocese of Albany. My only plan is to assist in any way Bishop Bill directs. We are honoured to resume a fuller place among the clergy and laity of the Diocese.”

Four Episcopal Bishops in recent years have left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church. In March 2007, Bishop Herzog renounced his orders in the Episcopal Church under the terms of Canon III.12.7 and entered the Roman Catholic Church as a layman.

In September 2007 the Bishop of the Rio Grande, the Rt Rev Jeffrey Steenson resigned his see to enter the Catholic Church, while Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida who took early retirement due to ill health, announced in November 2007 he would be joining the Catholic Church. Both bishops were subsequently ordained in 2009 as Catholic priests.

In 1994 the former Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Rev Clarence Pope announced he was joining the Roman Catholic Church. Received into the Roman Catholic Church by Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, Bishop Pope applied for ordination as a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Baton Rouge but was refused. He returned to the Episcopal Church in 1995, but left for Rome a second time in 2007.

While conservatives have welcomed the return of Bishop Herzog to Anglicanism, canon lawyer Allen Haley noted that while Canon III.12.7 allows a bishop to renounce his orders in the Church, “it does not provide a means for him to be reinstated upon his “rescinding” his earlier renunciation.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori does not have the power to “retract” her acceptance of Bishop Herzog’s previous resignation and to rewrite the canons to “suit a desired outcome,” he said.

This “latest manoeuvre of the Presiding Bishop,” Mr Haley said, “sets one more precedent for failing to follow the canons. As a result, the Episcopal Church (USA) is now a Church with one sole gatekeeper, who decides which bishops shall leave, which shall stay, and which shall be allowed to return.”

Australians are first to take up Pope’s offer: CEN 2.17.10 p 8. February 25, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Roman Catholic Church, Traditional Anglican Communion.
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The Rt Rev David Robarts

Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an enclave for disaffected Anglican traditionalists has been taken up by Forward in Faith-Australia (FiFA), which has voted to begin work on creating a “Personal Ordinariate” for Australia.

On Feb 13, a special general meeting for the members of the Anglo-Catholic group held at All Saints Kooyong in Melbourne unanimously adopted four resolutions backing the move to Rome.

It empowered its National Council “to foster by every means the establishing of an Ordinariate in Australia”; welcomed the appoint of the Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne Peter Elliott as the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s envoy, endorsed the formation of a working group to “set in train the processes necessary” to establish the Ordinariate; and invited Catholic minded Anglicans to join them in their quest for corporate reunion with Rome.

In an open letter to those wishing to explore reunion, Bishop Elliott stated that he had been reared in the Anglo-Catholic movement. His father was an Anglican priest and it was while he was a student at St. Stephen’s House in Oxford that he was “reconciled to Rome” in 1968.

In explaining the pastoral provision, Bishop Elliott wrote “the Pastor of the nations is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church. United in communion, but not absorbed – that sums up the unique and privileged status former Anglicans will enjoy in their Ordinariates.”

“Catholics in full communion with the Successor of St Peter, you will be gathered in distinctive communities that preserve elements of Anglican worship, spirituality and culture that are compatible with Catholic faith and morals. Each Ordinariate will be an autonomous structure, like a diocese, but something between a Personal Prelature (as in Opus Dei, purely spiritual jurisdiction), or a Military Ordinariate (for the Armed Forces).”

“In some ways, the Ordinariate will even be similar to a Rite” like the Eastern Catholic Churches, he said, as the Ordinariate will have its own liturgical “use”.

Bishop Elliott said there was no “hidden agenda here, no popish trap.” By entering the Catholic fold “you will lose nothing – but you will regain an inheritance stolen from us four centuries ago.”

The vote by FiFA is the first move by a group within the Anglican Communion to take up the Pope’s offer. The National Chairman of FiFA, Bishop David Robarts told the Telegraph that those who did not believe in same-sex partnerships or allowing women to be ordained as bishops had no place in the “broader Anglican spectrum.”

“We’re not shifting the furniture, we’re simply saying that we have been faithful Anglicans upholding what Anglicans have always believed and we’re not wanting to change anything, but we have been marginalised by people who want to introduce innovations,” he said.

Submitting to Rome, he argued, would preserve FiFA’s Anglican heritage.

Dr. Carey — “Doctrine, not bureaucracy, must unite us”: CEN 4.24.09 p 5 April 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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THE ANGLICAN Communion should be “united by doctrine and a shared faith” and not subservient to its ecclesial structures, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey has said.

Speaking to approximately 200 clergy and lay leaders of the Communion Partners initiative, a centre-right American church association meeting at St Martin’s Church in Houston, Texas, Lord Carey gave his support to the work of “Dr Rowan Williams, and other Primates in their attempts to repair what has been damaged” in the fallout following the 2003 election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

He urged the Anglican Communion not to abandon the four “instruments of unity” as a vehicle for fostering church unity, and argued that further tinkering with the “bureaucratic structures” of the Anglican Communion would not resolve its problems.

“We can take the ‘New Labour’ route of throwing as many new initiatives as we want at the crisis, but the basic theological problem will remain-which is that of ‘authority’,” he said. “The Anglican Communion instruments are all we have to address the underlying ‘authority deficit’,” he noted as agreement about an Anglican Covenant “remains some way off. [But] in the meantime, the Anglican Communion has to be led and the Communion has to struggle to work as a united body.”

Lord Carey offered a sombre forecast of the Communion’s future in a wide-ranging speech that outlined the history of the creation of the “instruments of unity”: the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. “A realistic view might conclude” that it was “far from clear” if the instruments “have much of a future.” The boycott of over 300 bishops of the 2008 Lambeth conference was “an historically unprecedented event” that had “diminished” the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The boycott also “undermined the significance of the Lambeth Conference itself which was made to look additionally irrelevant by the fact it was allowed to take no decisions.” The ACC also was “an increasingly odd body” with “enhanced powers” but a miniscule budget hampered by questionable democratic legitimacy.

The “one instrument of unity that seems to have been emerging into a position of strength” has been the Primates’ Meeting, he said. But “predictably, making it more visible and authoritative” had led to vigorous resistance from the ACC, which “feels threatened by it.”

Poised against these international disputes were the struggles underway of provinces pressing for “total autonomy theologically” from the communion, while imposing “total canonical autocracy within their dioceses.” This had led to the creation of American “prince bishops” who “appear to have unfettered control over their rapidly diminishing flocks, from which all who dissent from the regnant liberalism are being driven out.”

Lord Carey proffered two questions to the group, asking what “should be done” about those provinces which have “dissented from the mind of the majority of the Communion? Can there be no hope of discipline, apart from mild reproof?” he asked.

He also asked the US House of Bishops and the General Convention to permit traditionalists a place within the Episcopal Church “without censure or opposition.” However, “all signs suggest that over time” conservatives are “likely to be cleaned out of The Episcopal Church.

“So, while the present situation is bleak, we gathered here do not give up hope,” he said, adding that the “present crisis” offers an opportunity for new leadership to arise in the US and Canada o those “who will value the Communion and align ECUSA and the Canadian Church with the rest of us. We will be waiting in hope,” he said.

Lambeth faces Chicago test: CEN 11.21.08 p 1. November 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, GAFCON.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The leaders of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) are set to endorse a draft constitution to govern the loose coalition of breakaway dioceses, congregations and Anglican jurisdictions in the United States.

In a statement released on Nov 17 by the American Anglican Council on behalf of the CCP, AAC spokesman Robert Lundy said the “the draft constitution of an emerging Anglican Church in North America” will be released on Dec 3. The leaders of the CCP will “formally subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) and affirm the Gafcon Statement on the Global Anglican Future.”

The Dec 3 ceremony will not launch a new province, CCP moderator Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said, but will be an “an important concrete step toward the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America.”

Speaking in Boston on Nov 15 in a sermon broadcast by Anglican.TV, Bishop Duncan said the CCP leaders will “receive and god-willing commend a draft constitution” for the “Anglican Church in North America.”

We want to “bring Jerusalem to American” and “claim our place as members of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans,” he said.

A final draft of the CCP constitution was completed on Oct 31 following meetings in Northern Virginia. The CCP Council is scheduled to meet Dec 1-3 in Wheaton, Illinois at the Billy Graham Center and is expected to ratify the constitution and governing documents of the coalition of American and Canadian Anglican churches that draw over 100,000 worshippers every Sunday. Statistics released by the national offices of the Episcopal Church state that in 2007, the average Sunday attendance for the Episcopal Church was 727,822.

Once the CCP constitution is ratified, it will then be forwarded to the Gafcon primates’ council comprising Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Henry Orombi of Uganda, Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Justice Akrofi of West Africa, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, and the group’s secretary, Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney.

[Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania is also a member of the Gafcon primates' council and his name was inadvertently omitted from this list in the print edition.  GC]

The primates are expected to formally accept the CCP proposals and begin the process of creating a Third Province in North America for the Anglican Communion. Meetings have been tentatively scheduled with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams before the Jan 31 to Feb 5 primates meeting in Alexandria.

However, Dr. Williams’ approval is not a prerequisite for creating a new Province for the Anglican Communion. Article 3 of the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council vests this authority with the primates: “With the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the council may alter or add to the schedule” of members.

The Gafcon primates are expected to bring the matter of the Third Province to the Alexandria meeting in February, where a majority already exists sympathetic to the aspirations of Bishop Duncan and the CCP. Should the primates endorse the request, it will then be forwarded to the ACC’s May meeting in Jamaica for implementation.

Sydney allows deacons to administer Communion, on a point of grammar: CEN 10.31.08 p 5. October 30, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The Diocese of Sydney’s Synod has reaffirmed its longstanding support for diaconal administration of Holy Communion.

However, the adoption of Resolution 7.2 “Lay and diaconal administration” leaves the diocesan canons intact and creates no new laws: the licensing of Eucharistic ministers remains in the hands of Sydney’s Archbishop, Dr. Peter Jensen. The Synod vote affirmed the legal principal enacted last year by the Anglican Church of Australia’s highest court, which held that the language of a canon, not the legislative intent in its creation, provides its meaning.

The plain meaning of the current canons of the Australian Church already provide for diaconal celebration, Synod concluded—however, the ban on lay celebration remains in effect.

The Oct 21 vote is the latest step in a 25 year push for lay and diaconal presidency in Sydney. Adopted by an overwhelming majority, Resolution 7.2 accepted a report on the current state of canon law on diaconal and lay presidency prepared by a committee led by North Sydney Bishop Glenn Davies; affirmed Synod’s “conviction that lay and diaconal administration of the Lord’s Supper is consistent with the teaching of Scripture” and affirmed that the “Lord’s Supper in this diocese may be administered by persons other than presbyters.”

In presenting the resolution for consideration Bishop Davies said it would not “make law or change law” but would “merely express” Synod’s view on this issue.

Legal authority already existed for deacons to celebrate the Eucharist, Bishop Davies’ committee report argued. In 1997, the church’s highest court, the Appellate Tribunal, ruled that deacons or lay people could administer Holy Communion so long as General Synod authorized the practice.

The Davies committee concluded that the Ordination Service for Deacons Canon passed by General Synod in 1985 and subsequently adopted by all of Australia’s dioceses gave this permission.

In the reformed 1985 Ordinal, bishops charge deacons to be “be faithful in prayer, and take your place with bishop, priest and people in public worship and at the administration of the sacraments.”

In his question to the diaconal candidates for ordination, the bishop asks “Will you take your part in reading the Holy Scriptures in the church, in teaching the doctrine of Christ, and in administering the sacraments?”

And in his authorization of the new deacon the bishop states, “receive this sign of your authority to proclaim God’s word and to assist in the administration of his holy sacraments.”

These three portions of the 1985 ordination service “expressly authorizes the deacon to assist the priest in the administration of the sacraments,” the committee said. The immediate effect of the 1985 ordinal change had been to permit deacons to baptize and preach without recourse to prior permission from their bishop. The word “assistance equally applies to Holy Communion as it applies to baptism; and there is no dispute that a deacon can administer baptism in its entirety,” the Davies paper said.

“It is therefore competent for the Archbishop of Sydney to license a deacon to assist the priest in the administration of Holy Communion as well as baptism, if the deacon has been ordained in accordance with the schedule of the 1985 Canon,” the Davies committee concluded.

Given this interpretation of the canons Bishop Davies told Synod, there is “nothing the Archbishop can do to prevent a deacon administering the Lord’s Supper”.

However, “it would require a bishop’s license” for a lay person to administer Communion, he said. And Dr. Jensen “will not license a lay person at this time.”

The question of lay and diaconal presidency at the Eucharist has been a topic of debate for over a generation, with the first committee chartered to examine the issue in 1983.

A report prepared by a committee led by Bishop Paul Barnett in 1993 concluded there “are no sound doctrinal objections to, and there are significant doctrinal reasons for, lay presidency at the Lord’s Supper. There are also sound reasons based on our received Anglican order for allowing lay presidency.”

The Barnett committee concluded that “prohibition of lay presidency at the Lord’s Supper does not seem justifiable theologically.”

On Oct 19, 1999 Sydney adopted an Ordinance permitting diaconal and lay presidency at the Eucharist, by a vote of 122 to 66 amongst the clergy, and 224 to 128 amongst the laity.

However, the following day the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Keith Rayner, urged Sydney Archbishop Harry Goodhew to withhold his assent writing the vote represented a “fundamental break with catholic order” which would place the diocese at odds with the “constitution and canons of our church.”

On Nov 10, 1999 Archbishop Goodhew declined to give his assent as approving lay presidency would have ramifications for Sydney and the wider Anglican Communion. Archbishop Goodhew wrote that following the 1998 Lambeth Conference, he had joined other church leaders working to block “unilateral action over crucial moral issues and attendant theological norms. To act unilaterally myself and without wide consultation would undermine my credibility in those ongoing debates,” he said.

Mindful that “Synod has delivered a clear verdict” in favor of lay presidency, Archbishop Goodhew said he was inclined not to support the Ordinance in light of the tribunal’s ruling. He had to consider his “constitutional responsibilities” to the wider church, he said, adding that “as a bishop I have both the right and the duty to accept the opinion of the body established by this Church for giving an opinion on such an issue. This opinion cannot be taken lightly.”

Following his election as Archbishop in 2001, in his Presidential Address to Synod Dr. Jensen said, “Lay administration, should it be legal, would be a contribution to the common task of bringing the gospel to Australia,” adding that “it is strange not to allow for this ministry in an ordered way.”

In 2003 the Sydney Synod began the legal steps to clear the path for diaconal administration, rescinding Section 10 of the 1662 Act of Uniformity as it applied to the diocese. A vestige of the diocese’s Church of England roots, Section 10 stated that “only episcopally ordained priests may consecrate the Holy Communion.”

In light of the Appellate Tribunal’s 2007 decision finding a right to the ordination of women to the episcopate within the existing canons of the Anglican Church of Australia even though this right was not envisioned when the language of the canons was drafted, the Davies committee stated a precedent had been set that set aside the notion of legislative intent in the interpretation of church canons.

The Appellate Tribunal had “expressed the view that legislation is to be interpreted by the meaning of the words used and not on the basis of any supposed intention of the promoters of legislation,” the Davies committee observed. If doctrine could be developed by resort to grammar in the case of women bishops, such a tool could not logistically be denied to diaconal presidency at the Eucharist, it noted.

Clergy are employees, says Botswana judge: CEN 10.24.08 p 9. October 24, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Ecclesiology.
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Clergy are church employees and are subject to the protection of state labour and contract laws, a high court judge in Botswana has ruled. In a case brought by seven suspended priests, Judge Key Dingake held that the Diocese of Botswana must comply with its internal constitution as well as state law in clergy disciplinary proceedings and ordered Bishop Trevor Mwamba to restore them to office.

Last year, Bishop Mwamba suspended the seven priests, stopping their pay and ordering them to vacate their rectories, after they turned to former Harare bishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga for aide.

The seven, ethnic Batswanas-the dominant tribal group in Botswana-had charged Bishop Mwamba, a native of Zambia, with favoring foreigners in church patronage appointments. On Aug 25, 2007 six of the seven priests, wrote to the Primate of Central Africa, Archbishop Bernard Malango, stating they had no confidence in Bishop Mwamba’s leadership.

They charged Bishop Mwamba with being profligate with church funds, and for having brought “shame” onto the diocese by appearing in a BBC film adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s 1998 best-seller, “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” which was filmed in Botswana. They also charged their bishop with backing the line on “homosexuality as propounded by the American Anglicans.”

Dr. Kunonga came to the aide of the seven priests at the 2007 provincial synod, denigrating Bishop Mwamba in a speech to the gather, while his surrogates in Harare attacked the bishop through the state controlled press.

However, when the Province removed Bishop Kunonga from office, Bishop Mwamba revoked the licences of the seven rebel priests prompting the lawsuit.

In testimony before the High Court in Gabarone in February, Bishop Mwamba stated diocesan canons granted him the authority to “grant, withhold, revoke or renew” a priest’s license “as he may see fit.” The seven had been engaged in “factionalism in association with a certain Dr Kunonga, who is a schismatic and not recognized in the Province and the Anglican Communion Worldwide,” he said.

However in his ruling, Judge Dingake held that the diocese had not complied with the government’s laws regulating charitable organizations nor its own constitution in suspending the seven priests. The judge further held that the bishop should have granted a hearing to the seven priests to respond to the charges leveled by Bishop Mwamba.

Judge Dingake rejected the argument proffered by the diocese’s lawyer that “because the church is a voluntary association, the principles of natural justice do not apply to it.” Voluntary associations were obligated to treat their members fairly by conforming to their constitutions.

The judge also rejected Bishop Mwamba’s third defense, saying that priests were church employees, not independent contractors employed at will.

“The decision by the bishop to withdraw and revoke applicants’ licenses to practice as priests of the Anglican Church is hereby set aside as being contrary to the Acts of Diocese of Botswana and or the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church,” Judge Dingake said.

Uganda synod gives backing to US traditionalists: CEN 10.10.08 p 8 October 9, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, Ecclesiology.
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The general synod of the Church of Uganda has backed the call for the creation of a second Anglican province in the United States and Canada for traditionalists.

Meeting from Aug 26-28 at Uganda Christian University in Mukono, clergy and lay delegates to the 19th Provincial Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed Archbishop Henry Orombi’s participation in the Gafcon primates’ council, affirmed the Jerusalem Declaration, and pledged to support the Common Cause Partnership in North America’s transition into the 39th province of the Anglican Communion.

The synod also took up Archbishop Orombi’s call for a “Decade of Mission,” while approving in principle proposed changes to the church’s Anglican ecclesiology—making shared doctrine rather than communion with Canterbury, the defining relationship of the church.

In his charge to the province, Archbishop Orombi noted the Anglican Communion’s Decade of Evangelism from 1990 to 2000 produced mixed results. “While America and Canada debated homosexuality and watched their churches decline, we in Africa took the challenge of evangelism seriously. The Church in Nigeria grew dramatically, chiefly through planting churches and creating new missionary dioceses in northern Nigeria.”

The Church of Uganda grew through a “strong emphasis on evangelism.” While “we continue to grow numerically each year,” he noted, “our percentage of the population is stagnant.”

Archbishop Orombi proposed a five-fold mission programme that would focus on personal regeneration, revitalization of the churches and community, transformation of the nation, and the reform and renewal of the Anglican Communion.

While the social and economic needs of Africa and the world were staggering, they could not be productively addressed until there had been a personal transformation of the individual—beginning with the “work ethic.”

“Your work is sacred. It should be done to the glory of God,” he said. While Uganda was 85 percent Christian, it had “one of the highest levels of corruption in the world. I have come to the conclusion that the word ‘corruption’ is too polite a word. Brothers and sisters, we need to call corruption what it is…it is theft. It is stealing. It is seeking first my own kingdom, and not seeking first the Kingdom of God.”

To transform the church and world, Archbishop Orombi said a Christian must first allow God to transform his sinful heart. “We need a massive commitment on the part of all Christians to agree together to seek first, not our own kingdom, but God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. If we are faithful in this, then God will be faithful to add unto us everything we need,” he said.

The call to faithfulness also applied to the controversies dividing the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Orombi said. “Many of the churches in the Western world seem to be unrepentant in their promotion of unbiblical faith and practice,” he said, singling out the Anglican Churches in America, Canada, England and Scotland for “permitting the blessing of same-sex unions.”

The 2008 Lambeth Conference failed to address these issues and the Anglican Communion “may be in a worse place now than before Lambeth.” However, the Gafcon movement, he argued, “will help us return to our Biblical roots.”

Delegates to the synod also continued work on the revision of the provincial constitution, with an eye towards redefining the Church of Uganda’s ecclesial ties of communion in terms of a shared “adherence to doctrine and upholding the Bible,” and ending the Nineteenth century tie of communion through the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Synod affirmed the broad principles behind the changes to the Church of Uganda’s ecclesiology, backing Archbishop Orombi’s position “that as a Church we declare that ‘we are in full communion with all Churches, Dioceses and Provinces of the Anglican Communion throughout the world that receive, hold, and maintain the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the Word of God written and the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God, and containing all things necessary for salvation’.”

Wales drops flying bishop: CEN 9.26.08 September 28, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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The Church in Wales will not appoint a new “flying bishop” for traditionalists, Archbishop Barry Morgan said on Sept 17, saying the position was no longer necessary nor was such a post consistent with Anglican ecclesiology. Those opposed to the ordination of women still had a place with the Church in Wales, he said and asked traditionalists to trust the bishops to look after their interests.

The decision comes as a repudiation of the work of Dr. Rowan Williams, traditionalists charged, as the former Bishop of Monmouth was instrumental in creating the post of “flying bishop” 12 years ago, and marks a hardening of positions in the Welsh Church.

Traditionalist leaders took little comfort from the bishops’ assurances of continued support. The Rev. Alan Rabjohns, Chairman of Credo Cymru, Forward in Faith Wales said “this is a disappointing and sad statement.”

“We reject the claim that such an appointment is unnecessary and do not regard what was said yesterday as the final word on this subject,” he said on Sept 18.

Following the introduction of women priests in the Church in Wales in 1996, the position of provincial assistant bishop was created to offer delegated episcopal oversight to those who could not accept the innovation. In June the Welsh “flying bishop”, the Rt. Rev. David Thomas retired and traditionalists were expecting a replacement to be appointed.

However in a speech to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales meeting at the University of Wales, Lampeter, Dr. Morgan said, “We reaffirm as Diocesan Bishops our commitment to securing a continuing place in the life of the Church in Wales for those who cannot in conscience accept the ordination of women to the priesthood. However, we no longer consider that the continuation of additional episcopal provision for one part of the Church on grounds of belief or doctrine on one particular issue is either necessary or consistent with Anglican ecclesiology.”

He explained that clergy are in communion with their diocesan bishops regardless of “whether or not they agree on every issue. Episcopal oversight and care for all within each Diocese is the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop.”

“There remains a continuing place in the Church in Wales for those unable to accept the ministry of women priests, but we do not believe that this is contingent upon appointing another Provincial Assistant Bishop and it is therefore our decision not to appoint. Whilst bringing a particular arrangement to an end, we remain committed to serving every person and every parish within our respective Dioceses and we will continue to be sensitive in our appointments, both in terms of the views of parishes and in ensuring that clergy from different parts of the Church are given the opportunity to progress in their ministry,” he said.

The bishops’ decision not to appoint a new flying bishop comes in a midst of change with three of the dioceses electing new bishops this year. Forward in Faith Wales said they “particularly regret” the decision not to name a successor to Bishop Thomas as “it comes from an incomplete [Bishops'] Bench, giving those to be appointed to the dioceses of Bangor and St Asaph over the next months no say in the matter.”

The Rev. Geoffrey Kirk, secretary of Forward in Faith UK argued the Welsh decision will have consequences for the Church of England. “We are repeatedly told that the future for those opposed to women’s ordination is one of trust in provisions made and confidence that our position will be respected and upheld by the majority,” he said.

“To describe the role of a provincial assistant bishop – one effectively brokered by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he was Bishop of Monmouth – as ‘unnecessary and inconsistent with Anglican ecclesiology’, as the Archbishop of Wales has done, is deliberately to undermine both that trust and Dr Williams’ leadership of the Anglican Communion during this time of crisis,” Fr. Kirk said.

US General Convention heralded as magisterium: CEN 6.27.08 p 7 June 29, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, The Episcopal Church.
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The fullness of God’s revelation is expressed in the councils of the Episcopal Church, the president of the US General Convention’s House of Deputies told reporters last week.

In a briefing on the forthcoming Lambeth Conference held on May 30, Bonnie Anderson explained the “the joint work of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is the highest institutional expression of our belief that God speaks uniquely through laity, priests and deacons and bishops.”

The assertion of a magisterial authority for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church by Mrs. Anderson follows upon a letter she sent on April 21 to deputies to the triennial gathering of the church’s synod.

“In the Episcopal Church the belief that God speaks uniquely through bishops, laity, priests and deacons, enables our participatory structure and allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment,” Mrs. Anderson wrote, adding “the joint work of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is the highest institutional expression of this belief.”

Critics of the American church’s liberalizing tendencies argue this usurpation of authority by General Convention—the gathering of clergy and lay deputies and bishops—has led to the church’s present theological and ecclesial morass.

Writing in his blog site, Confession Reader, Anglican commentator Dr. Todd Granger notes Mrs. Anderson’s teaching of what constitutes the teaching authority of the church “goes well beyond what the Catholic Church teaches.”

While the Roman Magisterium “interprets the Word of God” as revealed in Tradition and Scripture, the “Episcopalian construal apparently creates a magisterium as an independent authority, uniquely receiving God’s Word,” Dr. Granger notes. Such an understanding of authority not anchored in Scripture or Tradition but finding its revelation “uniquely” in the workings of General Convention offers a new understanding of the foundations of authority that bears little relation to traditional Anglican dogma, he said.

Dr Williams says Anglican structures are incoherent: CEN 6.27.08 p 6. June 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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The structure of the Anglican Communion is incoherent and lacks “theological seriousness,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a paper presented to the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius at their annual meeting in New York.

The Rev. Jonathan Goodall, Dr. Rowan William’s ecumenical advisor read the address entitled “Rome, Constantinople, Canterbury: Mother Churches?” prepared by Dr. Williams to the meeting of Anglican and Orthodox scholars and churchmen on June 5 at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York.

Addressing the theme of primacy within the church, Dr. Williams offered his views on the “many-layered issue” of the relationship between the local and denominational church and the charism of the episcopacy. While not directly addressing the divisions within the Anglican Communion, his remarks illustrate the reasons for his actions in relation to the Bishop of New Hampshire and the American bishops under African jurisdiction.

In its essence, “the life of the local congregation is founded on something received, not discovered or invented” he said, for local churches come into being as “part of a continuous stream of life being shared” in Christ.

The local church can therefore not lay claim of being “complete and self-sufficient,” in itself, but must be in relation with a wider body. “A local church is indeed at one level a community to which is given all the gifts necessary for being Christ’s Body in this particular place; but among those gifts is the gift of having received the Gospel from others and being still called to receive it,” he said.

Following upon Tertullian’s dictum that ‘one Christian is no Christian,’ Dr. Williams argued that we should say that “one bishop is no bishop” and “one local church alone is no church.”

A bishop does not represent the local church as if where were acting as “politician for his constituency. The bishop is above all the person who sustains and nourishes within the local church an awareness of its dependency on the apostolic mission, on the gift from beyond its boundaries.”

This understanding of the nature of primacy or Episcopal leadership “is why it is problematic if a local church so interprets the gift it has received that it cannot fully share it beyond its own cultural home territory – an issue for both ‘left’ and ‘right’ in our churches,” Dr. Williams said.

This is why the “local assembly and its chief pastor” must not act in such a way so as to “lose its recognisability or receivability to other communities – across the globe and throughout history,” he said.

The Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican understandings of primacy were incomplete. The Vatican was “still labouring to discover how to disentangle the missionary apostolic charism of the See of Peter from juridical anomalies and bureaucratic distortion.”

Orthodox have often ‘frozen’ the concept of primacy in an antiquarian defence of the ‘pentarchy’ as the structure of the church, thus allowing non-theological power struggles rooted in nationalism and ethnocentrism to flourish with damaging effect,” he said.

Anglicans, Dr. Williams observed, had “failed to think through primacy with any theological seriousness.” This had given us a “not very coherent or effective international structure that lacks canonical seriousness and produces insupportable pluralism in more than one area of the church’s practice.”

The archbishop urged all to “rethink the meaning of primacy in relation to mission and in relation to what episcopal fellowship really means.”

New partners plan for USA: CEN 6.20.08 p 7. June 20, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, The Episcopal Church.
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The Archbishops of Tanzania, Burundi and the West Indies have agreed to serve as “Communion Partner Primates”, offering delegated Episcopal oversight to US traditionalists under a plan brokered by the Anglican Communion Institute.

Thirteen American diocesan bishops, along with the rectors of a score of major congregations across the US announced the “Communion Partners Plan” last week, which seeks to work within the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church, while offering support for those alienated from the prevailing liberal ethos of the church’s hierarchy.

“Many within our dioceses and in congregations in other dioceses seek to be assured of their connection to the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana, a partnership spokesperson. “Traditionally this has been understood in terms of bishop-to-bishop relationships. Communion Partners fleshes out this connection in a significant and symbolic way.”

The Rev. Russell Levenson, rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston and a spokesman for the Communion Partners Plan, said the organizers had drawn their inspiration from the example of Charles Simeon. Faced with a “dying Anglican church” in the early Nineteenth century, with many “fleeing” to the Methodist movement, Simeon stayed faithful to the Church of England.

“He stayed put; he preached with fervor and passion,” such that by the end of his “long, faithful, persistent and consistent commitment, the face of Victorian Anglicanism began to slowly shift,” and may well have prevented “its last step toward extinction.”

The Communion Partners Plan, Mr. Levenson argued, would not compromise their integrity or beliefs in the face of the prevailing church culture, but would “give others who are not called to leave a solid place to cling to one another. We remain to say that the orthodox voice is an authentic piece of the Anglican/Episcopal tapestry.”

Traditionalist waiting for Vatican ruling: CEN 6.06.08 p 8. June 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Roman Catholic Church.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

An announcement on the Vatican’s relationship with the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) may be made following the July 16-Aug 3 Lambeth Conference, sources in Rome tell The Church of England Newspaper.

Leaders of TAC, home to over 400,000 Anglo-Catholics who have left the Episcopal and Anglican churches over the past thirty years, have been in talks with the Vatican over creating an Anglican-rite enclave under the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

While the curia under Pope John Paul II had opposed attempts to bring Anglicans en masse into the Roman Catholic fold, under Benedict XVI the Vatican appears to have adopted a different line. Anglicans wishing to be received into the Catholic Church are welcome to do so, as individuals, rather than as part of a larger ecclesial body. The talks between TAC and Vatican, however, have focused on allowing whole groups to enter the Catholic Church while maintaining their own orders and liturgy.

The National Catholic Register reported in its June 1 issue, that “discussions at the Vatican on devising a possible structure for [TAC] to come into communion with Rome are understood to be nearing completion.” It added that during their May 5 meeting, Archbishop Rowan Williams asked Benedict that “any potential announcement be delayed until after the Lambeth Conference.”

However, a spokesman for Dr. Williams told CEN the report was untrue. The TAC issue “didn’t come up with the Pope,” a press spokesman for the Archbishop said.

The Rt. Rev. David Moyer, former president of Forward in Faith USA and a Bishop in TAC, also declined comment on the negotiations with Rome, stating only that “We in the TAC are on our knees for something positive to happen. We remain very hopeful.”

The Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Jack Iker—who is currently in Rome on study leave—told The Church of England Newspaper “conversations with TAC – and others – have taken place at high levels in the Vatican and that it is thought that the Pope is sympathetic to the dilemma of traditionalists in the Anglican way.”

However, no formal dialogue exists between TAC and the Congregation for Promoting Christian Unity—the Vatican agency tasked with ecumenical relations—observers note. Those backing TAC’s cause for corporate reunion are found in other department, not directly charged with church relations.

Speculation on a possible Anglican enclave within the Catholic Church comes amidst a tightening of views on women bishops within the Church of England. One traditionalist leader speculated that the House of Bishops’ decision to go ahead with women bishops without providing safeguards for those opposed, may have been predicated on the calculation that the Catholic Church would resolve the women clergy issue for the Church of England.

Ecumenical bishop proposed: CEN 5.23.08 p 8. May 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Old Catholic Union of Utrecht.
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A proposal for an ecumenical bishop shared by Anglicans and Old Catholics in Europe animated the discussions of last month’s Anglican – Old Catholic International Coordinating Council (AOCICC) meeting in Germany.

Anglican delegates led by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Gledhill met with representatives of the Old Catholic Church in Schloss Beuggen from April 14-18 to review the state of ecumenical affairs between the two churches.

In 1931 the two Churches endorsed the Bonn Agreement establishing “inter-communion”, and in 1958 entered into “full communion.” While the Bonn Agreement does not enumerate common theological beliefs, it does affirm the catholicity and autonomy of each church. A bishop representing the Old Catholic Churches historically has attended the Lambeth Conferences, while Anglican and Old Catholic clergy have been cross-licensed in Europe.

At the Schoss Beuggen meeting the delegates reviewed a draft statement of common ecclesiology and debated a proposal for the vacant Old Catholic see of Deventer in the Netherlands to become a shared episcopate. Details of the joint episcopate were not released, however.

While the Bishops of the United Churches of North and South India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are members of the Anglican Communion and other world reformed bodies, they are bishops of churches that belong to more than one jurisdiction. The joint Anglican-Old Catholic bishopric would place the office of bishop in the dual role—a project not attempted since the short-lived Anglican-Lutheran bishop in Jerusalem.

From 1841 to 1881 Prussia and Britain shared a common bishop for mission stations in the Ottoman Empire, with the appointment of the bishop alternating between London and Berlin. The Anglo-Prussian Union lapsed, however, due to political tensions between the two countries and Anglo-Catholic concerns over the apostolic succession of Prussian Lutheran episcopal orders.

Presiding Bishop challenges Orombi: CEN 5.23.08 p 7. May 24, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, Ecclesiology, The Episcopal Church.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican bishops exercise universal jurisdiction over the geographical territories that lie within their dioceses, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has argued.

This proprietary ecclesial oversight covers all parts of the geographic territory of a diocese, Bishop Schori said, and extends to entities outside of the Episcopal Church—an opinion not shared by other leaders of the Anglican Communion.

While the concept of territorial episcopal inviolability has been active in Anglicanism since the debates over the restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England in 1850, it has taken on a new life within the Episcopal Church in recent years as a tool to stifle dissent, conservatives claim.

The former Bishop of Quincy was brought up on charges by the Bishop of San Diego earlier this year when he made a visitation to a non-Episcopal parish in San Diego, while the former suffragan bishop of Oklahoma was accused of violating the “ancient customs of the church” for performing an ordination in Kansas on behalf of the Archbishop of Uganda without the permission of the Bishop of Kansas.

On May 12, US Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori released a public letter addressed to Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi, protesting his “unwarranted incursion” into the Episcopal Church by visiting a former parish of the Diocese of Georgia.

Bishop Schori said she was “concerned that you seem to feel it appropriate to visit, preach, and exercise episcopal ministry within the territory of this Church, and I wonder how you would receive similar behavior in Uganda. These actions violate the spirit and letter of the work of the Windsor Report, and only lead to heightened tensions. “

Archbishop Orombi responded on May 14, that were he to visit a parish of the Diocese of Georgia he would “observe the courtesy” of contacting the local bishop. “However, I am visiting a congregation that is part of the Church of Uganda, I feel very free to visit them and encourage them through the Word of God.”

If there was any blame to be apportioned, Archbishop Orombi said, it fell on the Episcopal Church which had persisted in an “unbiblical” course of action in “defiance of repeated warnings by all of the Anglican Instruments of Communion.”

It was “ironic for you to be quoting the Windsor Report to me,” Archbishop Orombi said in light of the Episcopal Church’s conduct.

“Nowhere in the Windsor Report or in subsequent statements of the Instruments of Communion is there a moral equivalence between the unbiblical actions and decisions of TEC that have torn the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level and the pastoral response on our part to provide ecclesiastical oversight to American congregations who wish to continue to uphold the faith once delivered to the saints and remain a part of the Anglican Communion. Your selective quoting of the Windsor Report is stunning in its arrogance and condescension,” he said.

Archbishop Orombi said Bishop Schori’s own conduct was not above reproach either. He reminded her that she had given her “verbal assent” to the provisions of the Dar es Salaam communique and to forswear further litigation against breakaway congregations.

“Yet you have initiated more legal actions against congregations and clergy in your short tenure as Presiding Bishop than all of your predecessors combined,” he said and urged the presiding bishop to honor her pledge, “suspend litigation and follow a more Christ-like approach to settling your differences” within the US Church.

Archbishop’s warning to conservatives: CEN 12.21.07 p 7. December 19, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Lambeth 2008.
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rowan-williams-portrait.jpgThe 2008 Lambeth Conference will craft an Anglican Covenant that will set the boundaries of Anglican Church order and discipline, the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated in his Advent letter to the Primates.

But these parameters will not include gay bishops or blessings, Dr. Rowan Williams wrote on Dec 14 in a 4500 word theological tome/political manifesto outlining the ordering of Anglicanism.

The Advent letter will satisfy neither wing of the Communion, as liberals will be outraged at his rejection of the “prophetic” gay agenda, while conservatives will take umbrage that while he acknowledges the problems created by the gay agenda, Dr. Williams will not take action to correct it, preaching continued dialogue and conversation.

Dr. Williams told the primates there was “no consensus” on the merits of the American Church’s response to the Windsor Report and the Primates’ communiqués. The call for clarification had not been met, and had resulted in further questions about the Episcopal Church’s understanding of the nature of the episcopate and its views of its place within the wider catholic church.

The Episcopal Church, as part of the Anglican Communion, was not free to push forward with the innovations of gay bishops and blessings, as the current consensus was “not in favour of change in our discipline or our interpretation of the Bible” on this point.

The 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution on sexuality “is the only point of reference clearly agreed by the overwhelming majority of the Communion. This is the point where our common reading of Scripture stands, along with the common reading of the majority within the Christian churches worldwide and through the centuries,” Dr. Williams wrote.

However, the Global South response of consecrating bishops to oversee North American traditionalists opposed to these innovations was not the way forward either. Dr. Williams objected to the creation of new ecclesial structures formed in response to the American crisis, but supported the “radical” response of San Joaquin and other traditionalist dioceses.

African-consecrated American bishops and structures create “a seriously anomalous position” but those existing dioceses that had “looked for more radical solutions” had not gone too far.

“If their faith and practice are recognised by other churches in the Communion as representing the common mind of the Anglican Church, they are clearly in fellowship with the Communion.”

The way forward was to go to Lambeth, which he described as “a meeting of the chief pastors and teachers of the Communion, seeking an authoritative common voice.”  Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire and the African-American bishops would not be seated but all others would be, he said.

Dr. Williams conceded that some invited to Lambeth espoused heterodox theological positions in relation to the Church’s common core teachings. An invitation was not a “certificate of orthodoxy” but an invitation to participate in an authoritative conversation that would shape the future of the church.

However, those accepted the invitation to Lambeth must be willing “to work with those aspects of the Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a Covenant,” he said.

Not coming to Lambeth would be a “refusal of the cross – and so of the resurrection. We are being asked to see our handling of conflict and potential division as part of our maturing both as pastors and as disciples,” he said.

Dr. Williams said he would “pursue some professionally facilitated conversations” in the run up to Lambeth, and would convene a “small group of primates and others” to work on the “unanswered questions arising from the inconclusive evaluation of the primates to New Orleans and to take certain issues forward to Lambeth.”

Dr. Williams urged the Primates to hold fast, and not prejudge his attempts a failure. It was wrong to think that a resolution of the “current deadlock” was impossible or that “division is unavoidable and that any such division represents so radical a difference in fundamental faith that no recognition and future co-operation can be imagined.”

“I cannot accept these assumptions, and I do not believe that as Christians we should see them as beyond challenge,” Dr. Williams said.

Bishop Cavalcanti in move to Southern Cone: CEN 12.14.07 p 6 December 14, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.
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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti along with the congregations and clergy of 44 parishes in Northeastern Brazil were received last week by Bishop Gregory Venables as an extra-territorial diocese of the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.

The reception marks a shift in the status of the traditionalist Brazilian congregations from a personal prelature of Bishop Venables over individuals in Recife to a formal ecclesial entity within the Province.

In 2005, Bishop Venables extended his personal primatial oversight to Bishop Cavalcanti and 40 priests of the Diocese of Recife after they were deposed by the Brazilian church for contumacy.

While a new bishop was appointed to oversee the remaining clergy, over 90 per cent of the diocese’s members backed Bishop Cavalcanti and withdrew from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) to form the Anglican Diocese of Recife (DAR).

Bishop Venables issued a “statement of support” to the DAR clergy recognizing their “ordinations and ministries, and provide[d] a special status of extra-provincial recognition by my office as Primate of the Southern Cone until such time as the Panel of Reference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Anglican Communion has, in some way, adequately addressed this crisis.”

Following last month’s vote by the South American synod to welcome ecclesial entities into the Province, delegates to the 37th annual DAR synod on Dec 8 asked to be received as an “extra-territorial” diocese, and adopted legislation conforming the diocese’s constitution and canons to those of the Southern Cone.

Bishop Cavalcanti said synod had sought to “find the language necessary to bring the diocese of Recife into formal relations with the Southern Cone” and into “normal provincial life.”

Bishop Venables welcomed DAR into the Southern Cone and assured them of the Province’s “united support and prayers for you and particularly for my deep sense of privilege as your brother and Primate.”

Brazilian Diocese Received Into Province of the Southern Cone: TLC 12.11.07 December 14, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Ecclesiology, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, Living Church.
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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, along with the congregations and clergy of 44 parishes of the Diocese of Recife in northeastern Brazil, were received last week by Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables as an extra-territorial diocese of the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.

 

The reception marks a shift in the status of the traditionalist Brazilian congregations from a personal prelature of Bishop Venables over individuals in Recife to a formal ecclesial entity within the province.

 

In 2005, Bishop Venables extended his personal primatial oversight to Bishop Cavalcanti and 40 priests of the Diocese of Recife after they were deposed by the Brazilian church for contumacy. Approximately 90 percent of the diocese backed Bishop Cavalcanti and withdrew from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) to form the Anglican Diocese of Recife (DAR). The IEAB appointed a new bishop to oversee the remaining clergy.

 

Following last month’s vote by the Southern Cone synod to welcome ecclesial entities into the province, delegates to the annual synod in the DAR voted on Dec. 8 to ask to be received as an “extra-territorial” diocese, and adopted legislation conforming the diocese’s constitution and canons to those of the Southern Cone.

 

Published in The Living Church.

First diocese quits the Episcopal Church: CEN 12.14.07 p 1. December 12, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, San Joaquin.
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The Diocese of San Joaquin has voted to secede from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.

Saturday’s vote marks the first secession of an American diocese from the Episcopal Church since 1862, when the southern dioceses seceded to form the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. Four more dioceses are expected to follow suit over the coming year. However, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has vowed to fight the secession, saying there will be legal and canonical ramifications for the separatists.

Delegates to the diocesan synod on Dec 8 passed a second reading of a constitutional amendment, nullifying its accession to the national church. Secession passed in a vote by orders, 72 to 12 amongst the clergy and 103 to 10 in the lay order. Synod also voted to accept the invitation to affiliate with the South American Church.

“Welcome Home. And welcome back into full fellowship in the Anglican Communion,” Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables said to the diocese in a statement read to synod by Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia.

In his Presidential Address to the Convention on Dec 7 from the pulpit of St James Cathedral in Fresno, California, Bishop John-David Schofield said delay would not answer. A ‘no’ vote to secession would not restore the status quo nor bring peace to the diocese. “Timing matters,” he said. “God’s timing is essential. Delayed obedience in scripture is seen as disobedience when opportunities and blessings are lost.”

He also promised congregations loyal to the national church would be permitted to secede from the diocese along with their property upon payment of any outstanding debts. Five of San Joaquin’s 47 parishes are expected to remain with the national church.

Reactions to the secession have been mixed. Bishop Schori stated she was saddened by the news, but noted the Episcopal Church would continue in San Joaquin, “albeit with new leadership.”

“We deeply regret [San Joaquin's] unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness,” she said.

Leaders of the Global South Coalition of Primates meeting in Nairobi this week are expected to back the move, while the Archbishop of Canterbury has given mixed signals.

In a meeting with Bishop Venables in September, Dr. Williams was informed of the plan to bring the US traditionalist dioceses on board. At last month’s Fort Worth synod meeting Bishop Lyons of Bolivia reported the plan had the tacit approval of Lambeth Palace.

ACC general secretary Canon Kenneth Kearon confirmed Dr. Williams had been sighted on the South American plans but in an email to an American Episcopalian questioned if “the Archbishop would formally support such a development which is contrary to the Windsor Report (especially paragraph 155).”

A spokesman for the ACC released a statement on Dec 10 saying “Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has not in any way endorsed the actions of the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables, in his welcoming of dioceses, such as San Joaquin in the Episcopal Church, to become part of his province in South America.”

The South American Church leadership told The Church of England Newspaper there was no contradiction between Bishop Lyons remarks and the clarification from Lambeth Palace and agreed that Dr. Williams had not given his formal support nor overt blessing to the secession plan.

Primacy of the Pope agreed: CEN 11.30.07 p 7. November 30, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Orthodox, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Orthodox Churches have acceded, in principal, to the primacy of the Pope.

On Nov 15 the Vatican released “Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Ecclesial Communion, Conciliarity and Authority”: the communiqué of the Oct 8-14 meeting of Roman Catholic and Orthodox leaders led by Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan John of Pergamum.

The document was a “first step” Cardinal Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity leading toward the reunion of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, divided since the great schism of 1054.

Whether a second step is taken, however, depends upon the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Moscow Patriarchate walked out of the talks on the second day, while the vexing issue of the Pope’s powers, prerogatives and jurisdiction has yet to be discussed.

“For the first time the Orthodox Churches have said yes, this universal level of the Church exists and also at the universal level there is conciliarity, synodality and authority; this means that there is also a primate; according to the practice of the ancient Church, the first bishop is the Bishop of Rome,” Cardinal Kasper told Vatican Radio.

However “we did not talk of the privileges of the Bishop of Rome, we merely indicated the praxis for future debate. This document is a modest first step and as such it gives rise to hope, but we must not exaggerate its importance,” he said.

Pope Benedict XVI also welcomed the progress towards reunion, telling a gathering of cardinals on Nov 23 that “ecumenism is not an option but a sacred duty. It is the mandate of Our Lord.”

In his Vatican Radio interview, Cardinal Kasper glossed over the split within the Orthodox delegation, saying it was “a political issue between Constantinople and Moscow, not a theological one.”

In 1996 the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I recognized the Estonian church as an autocephalic branch of the Orthodox community. Moscow objected saying the former Soviet Republic was already served by the Russian Orthodox Church.  Moscow walked out of the Ravenna talks in protest to the presence of an Estonian delegation, arguing that the Baltic church’s participation was a fait accompli that resolved the territorial dispute in favor of Estonia.

Cardinal Kasper offered to “facilitate” a resolution to the impasse, but noted, “we do not want to dialogue without the Russians and we wish to work to achieve this aim.”

Moscow’s man in Ravenna said the final communiqué was rife with “doubtful conclusions” and “assertions not born out by historical truth.”  Bishop Hilarion of Vienna told the Interfax news agency a commission would study the document and present its findings to the church’s Holy Synod.

Fort Worth Moves to Quit: CEN 11.23.07 p 6. November 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Fort Worth, Property Litigation.
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iker.jpg

Bishop Jack Iker addressing his diocesan convention in Fort Worth. Bishop William Wantland looks on from his left. ENS photo.

The Diocese of Forth Worth’s annual synod voted last week to begin the process of quitting the Episcopal Church.

By margins of 4 to 1 in both the clergy and lay orders, on Nov 17 Fort Worth approved six amendments to its constitution and canons that provide the legal and canonical foundations for its withdrawal from The Episcopal Church. A second reading and passage at the 2008 convention is required for the changes to come into legal effect.

Bishop Jack Iker said the voted “marked a firm resolve about moving forward together, recognizing that there are parts that are not fully behind the path we’ve chosen, but the debate is always characterized by respect and honesty.”

Delegates also unanimously thanked the Province of the Southern Cone for its offer of a safe haven. Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia addressed the gathering, answering questions from delegates about the implications of a possible transfer to the South American province.

Bishop Lyons noted the canonical structure of the South American church closely mirrored the model envisioned by Archbishop Rowan Williams, where the diocese, not the province was the primary ecclesial entity of the church. The South American church, spread over six countries historically had developed a de-centralized federated model of church polity, allowing dioceses to adopt canons and policies that reflected the national character of each diocese.

Church canonist and retired bishop of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Bishop William Wantland gave a canonical and legal analysis of the Episcopal Church’s constitution, noting that claims of national church sovereignty over all aspects of church life were foreign to the Episcopal Church’s history and canons.

Objections that while people may leave the Episcopal Church, but parishes and congregations may not, were rejected as specious by Bishops Iker and Wantland.

“You will find that statement no place anywhere in the constitution and canons,” Bishop Iker said, that supported this assertion by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

“That statement comes from the communications officer of [former Presiding Bishop] Frank Griswold who circulated it as a memo shortly after the 2003 General Convention where Gene Robinson was confirmed as Bishop of New Hampshire,” he said.

“Since when does a memo from the communications officer of the Presiding Bishop set policy for The Episcopal Church?” he asked. “It is my belief that we voluntarily form an association with the General Convention,” he said. “If we decide to end that association, we shall.”

Bishop Iker told a press conference after the meeting the diocese would be able to support the costs of litigation, if Bishop Schori made good upon her threats and brought suit.

“Several key families of the diocesan family have come forward and assured us of their financial support in the event of litigation,” he said, however, “the first and most important goal is to avoid litigation.”

‘This is not about us, it is about the Gospel’: CEN 11.16.07 p 9 November 15, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Ecclesiology, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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akinola.jpgThe Church of Nigeria is not interested in territorial aggrandisement, but in preserving the catholic faith, Archbishop Peter Akinola said last week in an open letter to the Primates.

Continued inaction on the American crisis was crippling the Communion. “We are losing members. We are losing time. We are losing our integrity as an important part of the One, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,” Archbishop Akinola said.

Released upon his return from Shanghai from a meeting of the Global South primates’ coalition, Archbishop Akinola defended his church’s intervention in the United States.

“Although they have variously been described as ‘interventions,’ ‘boundary crossing,’ or ‘incursions,’ they are a direct and natural consequence of the decision by The Episcopal Church to follow the path that it has now chosen,” he said.

These pastoral initiatives were “undertaken to keep faithful Anglicans within our Anglican family” and have been undertaken at a “considerable cost of crucial resources to our province.”

He rejected any notion of “moral equivalence” between the border crossings and the innovations of doctrine and discipline taken by the American Church, saying Nigeria had responded to a “heartfelt” cry for help from persecuted traditionalists.

Archbishop Akinola also rejected assertions that the creation of flying bishops for the US violated “historic Anglican polity” and the canons of the Council of Nicaea. This suggestion, he said employed “bad faith” and bad history, noting that the Council of Nicaea placed right doctrine over the sanctity of jurisdictional boundaries.

Patristic scholars have supported Archbishop Akinola’s observation that the Windsor Report and subsequent statements by US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori have not accurately recounted the actions of the Council of Nicaea. Writing in the April 2005 issue of Touchstone magazine, Prof. William Tighe wrote in ‘Abusing the Fathers’ “any attempt to construct a theory of the inviolability of diocesan boundaries cannot find any support in the theory and practice of the early Church.”

Archbishop Akinola stated that at its heart, the conflict was not about “structure or conferences but about irreconcilable truth claims.”

“Until the Communion summons the courage to tackle that issue headlong and resolve it we can do no other than provide for those who cry out to us,” he said. “One thing is clear we will not abandon our friends.”

Archbishop’s letter to Florida prompts mixed reactions: CEN 11.02.07 p 7. November 1, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter to the Bishop of Central Florida on the ecclesiology of the Church has sparked mixed reactions in the United States.  Liberals have roundly condemned the letter, while conservatives have offered mixed responses, breaking along church party lines.

The Episcopal Church’s national hierarchy has remained silent in the wake of the Oct 14 letter, and at this week’s meeting of the Church’s Executive Council, no public discussion on the implications of the letter took place.

Immediate reactions from the left to the letter were sharp.  The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton, a deputy to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention and a frequent contributor to the discussion list for the church’s bishops and deputies called the letter a “great betrayal.”

“Any respect I have been able to maintain for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and any hope for the survival of the Anglican Communion as we currently know it, died,” he stated.

Canon Mark Harris of Delaware, a member of the Church’s executive council and respected liberal commentator noted that Dr. Williams’ “comments to Bishop Howe, however pastoral they might have been, increase the thin and wispy, and perhaps irrelevant, character of the Communion.”

From the right the Anglo-Catholic diocese of Fort Worth welcomed Dr. Williams’ letter finding in it a support in its battle with the national church.  Citing Lambeth Palace’s clarifying statement that “the diocese is more than a ‘local branch’ of a national organization,” Fort Worth commented: “Clearly, provincial alignments are intended for the benefit of the dioceses, and not the reverse.”

“As the realignment of the Anglican Communion continues to unfold and take shape in the months ahead, we pray for the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit for all those who seek truth and unity in Jesus Christ, and we urge that such separations as must take place may be accomplished without rancor and litigation,” the diocesan leadership stated.

Evangelical leader, Prof. Stephen Noll, however warned the letter “asserts the primacy” of the Archbishop of Canterbury over the primates.  It advances a theory that “being Anglican in the fullest sense means being in communion with Canterbury, which is no doubt what he considers an essential of ‘Catholic’ ecclesiology.”

By giving primacy to “Catholic ecclesiology”, Prof. Noll argued, Dr. Williams was privileging process over substance, and “ignoring the actual culture and polity of The Episcopal Church” in its relations with traditionalists.

A spokesman for the Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh told The Church of England Newspaper the Anglican Communion Network viewed Dr. Williams’ comments with interest, but noted at this late stage of the Anglican crisis it would not sway many minds.

Archbishop’s Letter Angers Liberals: CEN 10.26.07 p 1. October 24, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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The Diocese, not the national church or province, is the primary ecclesial entity within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated in a letter written to an American bishop.

Dr. Williams’ elucidation of his views on the ecclesiology of the Communion has sparked outrage from liberals in the US, who have condemned the letter as undermining the special “polity” of the Episcopal Church. The letter has also prompted conservatives to rethink plans for secession, as the letter shifts the political dynamic within the American church by undermining the importance of left’s long march through the Church’s central administrative apparatus.

However a spokesman for Dr. Williams told The Church of England Newspaper the letter was not an ex cathedra statement but a pastoral response to a particular local situation that broke no new ground.

On Oct 14 Dr. Williams sent an email to the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, in response to a note outlining the strife within his conservative evangelical diocese.

Dr. Williams told Bishop Howe traditionalist secessions from traditionalist dioceses were misguided. Central Florida’s place within the Communion was not at risk, he said.

“Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church,” he said.

“The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such,” Dr. Williams said.

“Separatist solutions” would weaken “that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing.”

“The Bishop and the Diocese” were the “primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’,” he said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury urged traditionalists to hold fast.

“Action that fragments their Dioceses will not help the consolidation of that all-important critical mass of ordinary faithful Anglicans in The Episcopal Church for whose nurture I am so much concerned. Breaking this up in favour of taking refuge in foreign jurisdictions complicates and embitters the future for this vision.”

While noting the stresses the current environment had placed on faithful priests, Dr. Williams called upon the Central Florida clergy to exercise discipline and obey their bishop.

“Priests in a diocese such as yours ought to maintain their loyalty to their sacramental communion with you as Bishop,” he said.

A statement issued by Lambeth Palace clarified Dr. Williams’ email, explaining it was “neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future but a plain response to a very urgent and particular question about clergy in traditionalist dioceses in TEC who want to leave TEC for other jurisdictions.”

“A priest is related in the first place to his/her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church; that structure serves the dioceses,” the statement said.

Archbishop Williams’ Letter ‘Not a Roadmap for the Future’: TLC 10.23.07 October 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Ecclesiology, Living Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Oct. 14 letter to Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida was not a statement of Anglican Communion policy but a particular response to a local situation.

In a formal statement released on Oct. 23, Archbishop Rowan Williams said the letter “was neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future but a plain response to a very urgent and particular question about clergy in traditionalist dioceses in TEC who want to leave TEC for other jurisdictions, a response reiterating a basic presupposition of what the Archbishop believes to be the theology of the Church.

“The primary point was that – theologically and sacramentally speaking – a priest is related in the first place to his/her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church; that structure serves the dioceses. The diocese is more than a ‘local branch’ of a national organisation,” the statement noted.

Archbishop Williams responded to a note from Bishop Howe concerning strife within the diocese. Nine congregations have entered into formal secession talks with Bishop Howe, in response to what they see as The Episcopal Church’s rejection of traditional Anglican doctrine and discipline.

Archbishop Williams told Bishop Howe traditionalist secessions from traditionalist dioceses were misguided. Central Florida’s place within the Communion was not at risk, he said.

“Any diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer term result for others in The Episcopal Church,” Archbishop Williams wrote. “Those who are rushing into separatist solutions” were “weakening that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing.”

The Archbishop’s letter offered a theological rationale for conservatives to hold fast and not quit the church. “The organ of union with the wider church is the bishop and the diocese rather than the provincial structure as such,” according to Archbishop Williams.

“Dr. Williams is clear that, whatever the frustration with the national church, priests should think very carefully about leaving the fellowship of a diocese,” according to the statement. “The provincial structure is significant, not least for the administration of a uniform canon law and a range of practical functions. Dr. Williams is not encouraging anyone to ignore this, simply to understand the theological priorities which have been articulated in a number of ecumenical agreements, and in the light of this not to increase the level of confusion and fragmentation in the church.”

Published in The Living Church.

Doctrine Committee Reports: CEN 10.19.07 p 3. October 19, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology.
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The Inter Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (IATDC) has announced that it has fulfilled its mandate and will present a report on the ministry of the Episcopacy to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.  Meeting in Kuala Lumpur from Sept 10-16 the IATDC completed its study on begun in 2001, and finalized its paper “The Anglican Way: The Significance of the Episcopal Office for the Communion of the Church.”

The report will be published this winter and presented to the Bishops at Lambeth next year for review. The Commission stated the paper had been produced to address a “particular need, with the provision of resources for the Lambeth Conference in mind, and to link particularly to the bishop’s role in fostering and upholding Communion.”

Participating in the final session of the Commission were Bishop Stephen Pickard and Dr. Bruce Kaye of Australia, Dr. Victor Atta-Baffoe of West Africa, Bishop Samuel Cutting of North India, Bishop Lim Cheng Ean of Southeast Asia, Canon Luke Pato of Southern Africa, Bishop Paul Richardson, Dr Nicholas Sagovsky and Canon Philip Thomas of the Church of England, Dr Eileen Scully of Canada, Dr Jenny Te Paa of New Zealand, Bishop Tito Zavala of the Southern Cone of America and Mr. Wen Ge of Nanjing Theological Seminary, China..

Illness prevented the commission chairman Bishop Stephen Sykes from participating in the final round of talks, the commission noted.

Primates are the ‘logical centre of authority’: CEN 8.24.07 p 8 August 25, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.
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The Primates are not an Anglican Curia but are the logical center of authority for the Communion in difficult times, South American Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables has said.

“Common sense and biblical concepts” would say the Primates “are at that highest level of authority, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury by tradition” within the Anglican Communion, Bishop Venables said at a press conference on July 31 at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas at the close of the Anglican Communion Network council meeting.

“We are an episcopal church,” he noted. “Bishops have authority within their dioceses,” the “House of Bishops is very significant within a Province,” a “Presiding Bishop or Archbishop has authority within a Province,” the difficulty is “that nobody has ever said what happens after that.”

“We’ve got authority, we’ve got structure, we’ve got canons, we’ve got rules, up until that level,” Bishop Venables said.

“Because we don’t have written rules, you can say what you like” about the Primates authority without fear of contradiction. “That is the problem” and “I don’t see the Anglican Communion finding a place to solve that problem” at the present time.

However, the majority of Anglicans believe “we are an Episcopal Church and expect our church to be overseen by the episcopacy in the Anglican way, expecting the church to be led by those so set apart.”

Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker told the gathering the Primates’ enhanced authority arose from the actions of the 1998 Lambeth Confernce. Resolution III.6 he noted gave the Primates Meeting the authority to intervene in cases of exceptional emergency which are incapable of internal resolution within provinces.

Bishop Venables observed that what lay behind this problem was that the “primates are very clear about what they think.”

“There is some confusion when the rubber hits the road on this issue,” that appeared to be fueled by objections to what the Primates were saying. “People are still living in a 1960′s post modern dream” he noted.

“In my youth, I really thought that songs like Strawberry Fields meant a great deal, but as I grew older I realized it had a number of interesting concepts but really didn’t work,” he said.

The Communion must “keep the Biblical concept that truth means reality” and structure its mission and ministry accordingly, he said.

Vatican Rebuff: CEN 7.13.07 p 7. July 11, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Church of England is not a proper church, the Vatican stated on July 10. Churches born out of the Reformation were not proper churches as they held defective teachings on the Eucharist and did not have a valid priesthood, the Roman Catholic Church said in a document released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith entitled “”Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church.”

Written in a series of five questions and answers, the document said Christ established here on earth only one Church and “this Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him. “

 

The document noted that it was possible to “affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them. Nevertheless, the word ‘subsists’ can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone.”

The text said the Second Vatican Council used the term “church” in reference to Orthodox churches because, although separated from the Catholic Church, they have preserved apostolic succession, the ordained priesthood and the Eucharist. Nevertheless, they “lack something in their condition as particular churches” because they are not in union with the pope.

The Christian communities born out of the Reformation, which in the Roman Catholic view include the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, “do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called ‘Churches’ in the proper sense.”

However, the document noted that though these churches suffer from “defects,” the Holy Spirit “has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation.”

The World Council of Churches released a statement expressing its disappointment with the document, noting that at its Feb 2006 Assembly in Brazil, it had affirmed that “Each church is the Church catholic and not simply a part of it. Each church is the Church catholic, but not the whole of it. Each church fulfils its catholicity when it is in communion with the other churches.”

Retired North Dakota Bishop Joins Ugandan Church: TLC 6.27.07 June 27, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of the Province of Uganda, Ecclesiology, Living Church, North Dakota.
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The Rt. Rev. Andrew H. Fairfield, retired Bishop of North Dakota, has joined the Church of Uganda and will assist bishop-elect John Guernsey in overseeing the church’s 26 US congregations, according to an announcement this morning by the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda.

“Now, although I am ‘retired’ from a jurisdictional and financial point of view, I seek further Christian service, especially in the process of this transition in Anglican orthodoxy,” Bishop Fairfield stated, noting that he had written to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, resigning from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

Archbishop Orombi said it was an honor to receive Bishop Fairfield into the Ugandan Church, adding he would be a “great support to Bishop-elect John Guernsey and all the congregations in America that are under our care.”

Elected Bishop of North Dakota in 1989, Bishop Fairfield retired in 2003. Prior to his consecration he served as an assistant to the Bishop of Alaska.

Bishop Fairfield is the fourth member of the House of Bishops to quit The Episcopal Church this year. In March, the Rt. Rev. William Cox, a retired Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma, moved to the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone; the Rt. Rev. David Bena, retired Suffragan Bishop of Albany, was received by the Church of Nigeria and serves as an assistant bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; and the Rt. Rev. Daniel W. Herzog, retired Bishop of Albany, was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

Published in The Living Church.

Resolutions Arose From Bishops’ Concern Over Pastoral Council Nominations: TLC 3.22.07 March 22, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Ecclesiology, House of Bishops, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Living Church, Primates Meeting 2007.
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The House of Bishops’ rejection of a pastoral council is not The Episcopal Church’s final word on the primates’ communiqué, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said during a telephone conference call with reporters on March 21.

The conference occurred during an afternoon break on the final day of the spring House of Bishops’ meeting at Camp Allen near Navasota, Texas.

Read it all in The Living Church.

The Parish as the basic unit of the Church March 2, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Ecclesiology, Property Litigation.
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The Parish as the basic unit of the Church

Below is an edited version of a paper I prepared in 2003. I wrote a longer, more academic piece, and the version below was edited and revised for parochial use by the Rev Tim Smith, who also wrote the introduction and conclusion.

Summary Points

The Parish is the basic unit of the church in American Anglicanism. Local property rights prevailed throughout early American Anglicanism. Centralization of control using the corporate model which began to be used in the early 1900s – has failed the purposes of the Church. Any new order should return to the foundational roots of American Anglicanism.

Introduction

In the life of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA), the basic unit has historically been the local parish. With the parish being – and not the diocese or the national church – the basic unit of the church in the United States, property rights of the lands and buildings of a parish from the inception of ECUSA were held by the local church which had purchased those lands and constructed those buildings.

At its outset and for more than a century and into the Twentieth Century, property rights in American Anglicanism were not vested in higher ecclesial bodies, such as a diocese or the national church. The first serious challenge to this foundational polity did not come until the Civil War and that precedent served to confirm that the local parish was still the basic unit of the American Episcopal church and that the local parish was the owner of its property and buildings.

Organizationally, it was not until the first quarter of the Twentieth Century that a move toward centralization of managerial functions within the Episcopal Church with the creation of the Presiding Bishop’s Office to help manage the growth. The most recent quarter century has witnessed further centralization at the national level which has been designed to assert over control assets and usurp the authority of the dioceses and local parishes. The first efforts toward centralization were a function of prosperity, the second a function of decline and a lack of spiritual dynamism. This corporate model and the failure on many within it to guard the Faith once received has, in many instances, not served godly purposes.

These underlying principles are important now that Anglicans are once again divided and face gravely serious doctrinal challenges. As a result, questions concerning polity and ecclesiology have arisen to the forefront throughout the United States.

Following (1) the affirmation of the election of Canon Gene Robinson to be bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, (2) the formal provision for local option for same-sex “unions” and (3) the refusal to affirm the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, all by the ECUSA 2003 General Convention, many leaders and provinces of the international Anglican Communion have condemned the Episcopal Church for these and numerous other actions. Orthodox Anglicans – both still in ECUSA and outside of it – have declared that they cannot accept these actions of the 20003 General Convention which constitute heresy and schism, abrogate 2,000 years of accepted Christian teaching, reject the plain words of Holy Scripture and usurp “officially” adopted church doctrine at the behest of a vocal and politically powerful minority.

A new order is being sought. But how and on what principles will a new order be shaped? Isn’t there a need to return to the historic roots of American Anglicanism?

Summary of Underlying Precepts of Anglicanism in the United States of America

A. The Parish Is the Basic Unit of the Church in American Anglicanism

Since its founding and in the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, its basic unit has been the local parish. The federal system of church government -or, more properly speaking, the confederated system – is the hallmark of Anglicanism in the United States. This is a chief difference between the Anglicanism of the Church of England and the Anglicanism of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

William White, the first Bishop of Pennsylvania and the very first Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, was the primary advocate for the parish-based ecclesiology which was actually adopted by ECUSA. Thereunder, governing authority rested with the parish and thereupon was delegated by the parish to any other body, such as the diocese or the national church.

Between 1782 and 1789, the Episcopal churches met in state conventions. They also met in national conventions on three occasions before the two national Conventions of 1789. During this period, a series of compromises were reached that, by 1789, allowed the two national conventions to be united.

The conclusion was reached whereby Bishop White’s system of government, with a few minor and unrelated changes, was enacted by and for the Episcopal Church in the United States while Bishop Samuel Seabury’s orders were accepted by the whole American Episcopal Church and the revisions to the Book of Common Prayer were kept to a minimum. As a result, noted historian Loveland has cogently observed that “The basic unit in the government of the Church is not the diocese as in England, but the parish.” Clara O. Loveland, The Critical Years: The Reconstitution of the Anglican Church in the United States of America: 1780-1789 (Greenwich, CT: The Seabury Press, 1956) 284.

John Booty, historiographer of the Episcopal Church writing in the Church Teaching Series in 1979 has clearly stated the classical American understanding of Anglican church government is that temporal authority flows from the parish. “The result of all the maneuvering in 1789 was a church government based upon local control by voluntary associations of persons in parishes. Dioceses and national convention possessed power in relation to and for the sake of parishes. The larger organizations functioned as agencies preserving and strengthening the unity of the church. White agreed that ‘the great art of governing consists in not governing too much’.” John Booty, The Church in History, The Church’s Teaching Series (New York: The Seabury Press, 1979) 71.

Roger Beckwith, an English scholar of Anglicanism, in his introduction to Anglicanism writes, “In practice at least, the parish is the basic unit of Anglican Church life, to which the diocese is accessory (not vice versa).” Roger T. Beckwith, The Church of England: What it is and what it stands for. (Oxford: Latimer House, 1992) Sec. 6.

Dr. Louis Tarsitano, writing in An Outline of an Anglican Life, in 1994 states, “The basic unit of the Church is the ‘congregation’, a ‘group of people gathered’ in Christ’s Name (Matthew 18:20).” Louis Tarsitano, An Outline of an Anglican Life: Lessons in the Faith and Practice of the Anglican Church (Charlottesville, VA: Carillon Books, 1994 3rd ed.) 87.

In the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America from its founding, the basic unit of the Episcopal Church in America has been and is the local parish.

B. Local Property Rights Prevailed in Early American Anglicanism

In no instances in Colonial America prior to the establishment of the Episcopal Church in the United States did the Bishop of London hold title to congregational property. Spiritual authority was separate from temporal authority on American shores at its inception.

As originally organized, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America deliberately adopted a policy based upon the consent of the governed. The parish, not the diocese or the national church, was the basic unit of the church. Deriving from these cardinal principles, property rights lay with the local church which held title to its property which it had purchased and thereupon constructed buildings, all with its own monies. Ownership of these lands and buildings was not vested in other ecclesial body, like a diocese or the national church. In fact, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, as a corporate entity, did not even exist until 1820 and thus, at the beginning of American Anglicanism could not have held title to local properties.

The first serious challenge to this polity of parish-based property ownership did not occur until the 1860s with the Civil War. The result of that precedent only confirmed the reality that the local parish was the owner of its property and buildings. White’s polity still held. As the historians have noted, the Episcopal Church in America was a voluntary association where authority was delegated by the parish to the diocese, and the diocese to the national church. And under this legal arrangement, the parish retained ownership of its property.

Up to the Dennis Canon in 1979, civil legislation was required for the diocese or national church to retain property otherwise. Canon law had been acknowledged to be insufficient for the diocese or national church to hold parish property if there was no specific legislation (state by state) or some instrument of express trust in favor of the diocese or the national church.

The parish, not the diocese or the national church, held title to its own property. That is another central historical distinctive woven into the fabric of American Anglicanism at its beginning.

C. Centralization of Control Using the Corporate Model – Not Beginning until the 1900s – Has Failed the Purposes of the Church

Historically, the Presiding Bishop took the chair as President of the meetings of the House of Bishops. He was a diocesan bishop with no other special powers, authority or privileges as Presiding Bishop. He was the bishop senior to his peers by virtue of the date of his consecration. He was not a manager or chief executive of the national church, but was responsible only for his own diocese. Outside of General Convention and its House of Bishops, the office had no function or activity. The functions and duties of the Presiding were not even enumerated under the initial Constitution and Canons adopted by the Episcopal Church in the United States.

It was not until the first quarter of the Twentieth Century – well past its first hundred years of existence – that one began to see a move toward centralization of managerial functions within the Episcopal Church with the creation of the Presiding Bishop’s Office to help manage the growth. The most recent quarter century has witnessed further centralization at the national level which has been designed to assert over control assets and usurp the authority of the dioceses and local parishes. The first efforts toward centralization were a function of prosperity, the second a function of decline. The 1979 Dennis Canon, which seeks to place all Church property in trust for the national hierarchy, is but one example of a declining church turning in on itself and against its basic unit of ecclesiology by attempting to control its ever-dwindling human resources and lack of spiritual dynamism. This corporate model and the failure on many within it to guard the Faith once received has, in many instances, not served godly purposes.

Ecclesiology Is Part of the Task Facing American Anglicanism Today

Recently commenting in an article entitled “The Structures of Unity” on the theological ramifications of the current doctrinal dilemma within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has noted, “Staying together is pointless unless it is staying together because of the Body of Christ.” Dr. Williams observed that the theological task awaiting the Primates and leaders of the Anglican Communion is ecclesiological in nature. “I think it worth working at structures in Anglicanism that don’t either commit us to a meaningless structural uniformity or leave us in mutual isolation” (emphasis added). These structures might include rival, overlapping jurisdictions. “I suspect that those who speak of new alignments and new patterns, of the weakening of territorial jurisdictions and the like, are seeing the situation pretty accurately.” Rowan Williams, “The Structures of Unity” New Directions No 100 (September 2003) 3-4.

What does the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ call for a new ecclesiology of Anglicanism mean for the “man in the pew,” for the local parish or for the parish priest? What is at stake here in a new order?

The Principle that the Parish Is the Basic Unit of the Church in American Anglicanism

The question raised by Rowan Williams is essentially, “What is the fundamental or basic unit of the Church?” From this matter flow questions of how the Church should organize itself, how it should govern itself, who should control its property, what should its teachings be and how should its teachings be changed?

In the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, the basic unit of the American Episcopal Church has been the local parish. The federal system of church government – or, more properly speaking, the confederated system – has been the hallmark of Anglicanism in the United States. It is the chief difference between the Church of England and the American Episcopal Church. Recent efforts at centralization of authority, of privileging General Convention over the diocese, or the diocese over the parish find scant basis in classical Anglican doctrine or church history.

The basic governmental principle of the Episcopal Church in America is of delegation of powers: from the parish to the diocese to the national church. The parish or diocese reserves power not specifically delegated to a “higher” body. The model upon which the Episcopal Church’s Constitution was based was not the United States Constitution but the Articles of Confederation. In recent years, the theology, polity and history of the Episcopal Church in America has been subject to inaccurate assumptions which distort historical reality.

In the historical American Episcopal ecclesiology which is parish-based, the authority of church order flows from the parish to the bishop. The head of the Church is not the bishop, but Jesus Christ. The parish places itself under the spiritual authority and direction of the bishop, and not the other way around. The parish – through its officers, the vestry, owns property and manages the affairs of the local parish. The parish sends delegates to diocesan conventions. These conventions set budgets, pass canons or laws, and elect bishops. Civil law governs the business affairs of the parish. Bishops have spiritual, sacramental and teaching authority; yet they are bound by canons, custom and civil law in the exercise of their authority.

Bishops, churches and clergy have been at odds over property, and in the law courts, from the very beginning of the Christian Church. Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History records a lawsuit brought in the Roman civil courts by the clergy of Antioch against their Bishop over control of parish property. The local clergy won. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, VII:30, “The Epistle of the Bishops against Paul.

As The Rt. Rev. Dr. FitzSimons Allison noted as to doctrine in his book, The Cruelty of Heresy, the “new” ideas of many progressive churchmen are but the old heresies repackaged. The fight over the nature of the church is no different.

Following upon Bishop Allison’s observation, that which has been different in recent years has been the use of revisionary church history in the law courts to attempt to seize the property of parishes unwilling or unable to accept the revisions of doctrine and discipline in the Episcopal Church. This effort at historical revisionism flies directly in the face of the founding history the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The fact of the matter is that William White, first Bishop of Pennsylvania and first Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, was the initial primary advocate for the parish-based ecclesiology as adopted by ECUSA. White applied Locke’s reasoning to the church, proclaiming that authority in the church originated from the people. On the other hand, Samuel Seabury believed that the diocese was divinely ordered and its ministers divinely empowered. White believed that the basic unit of the church was the parish; Seabury argued unsuccessfully that it was the diocese. William White, The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered, Richard Solomon, ed. (Philadelphia: Church Historical Society, 1954).

Bishop White was the driving force behind the formation of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. He believed as a matter of church government and ecclesiology that the parish was central to the Episcopal Church. White’s view of church polity that the Anglican church in America is parish-based – and not Seabury’s polity favored by the liberal establishment today – prevailed in the writing of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church in 1789.

Bishop White made his mark. The consensus of modern historical fact and scholarship stands firmly behind the parish as the primary unit of the Church in American Episcopal history.

John Booty, historiographer of the Episcopal Church writing in the Church Teaching Series in 1979 states the classical Episcopal understanding of Church government is that temporal authority flows not from the parish. “The result of all the maneuvering in 1789 was a church government based upon local control by voluntary associations of persons in parishes. Dioceses and national convention possessed power in relation to and for the sake of parishes. The larger organizations functioned as agencies preserving and strengthening the unity of the church. White agreed that ‘the great art of governing consists in not governing too much’.” John Booty, The Church in History, The Church’s Teaching Series (New York: The Seabury Press, 1979) 71.

In 1956, Clara Loveland, author of The Critical Years, the leading historical treatment of the formation of the Episcopal Church, concluded, “The basic unit in the government of the Church is not the diocese as in England, but the parish.” Clara O. Loveland, The Critical Years: The Reconstitution of the Anglican Church in the United States of America: 1780-1789 (Greenwich, CT: The Seabury Press, 1956) 284.

Roger Beckwith, an English scholar of Anglicanism, in his introduction to Anglicanism writes, “In practice at least, the parish is the basic unit of Anglican Church life, to which the diocese is accessory (not vice versa).” Roger T. Beckwith, The Church of England: What it is and what it stands for. (Oxford: Latimer House, 1992) Sec. 6.

Dr. Louis Tarsitano, writing in An Outline of an Anglican Life, in 1994 states, “The basic unit of the Church is the ‘congregation’, a ‘group of people gathered’ in Christ’s Name (Matthew 18:20).” Louis Tarsitano, An Outline of an Anglican Life: Lessons in the Faith and Practice of the Anglican Church (Charlottesville, VA: Carillon Books, 1994 3rd ed.) 87.

Article XIX Understands that the Parish Is the Basic Unit

A difficulty with the revisionist belief is that it contravenes Article XIX of the Articles of Religion in attempting to assert the diocesan-based polity. Article XIX specifically holds that: “The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.”

The Articles of Religion do not deny the existence to the church beyond the local congregation. They do, however, state that the visible Church of Christ is the local congregation engaged in specific activities. The church has an existence, of course, when it is not actively engaged in worship. Yet, the revisionist view of “a fellowship of Churches in an area in communion with their bishop” is a mere ideal and not visibly the church because it never meets as an entirety to hear God’s word and receive his sacraments.

Article XIX refers not to the idealized church but to the visible Church – the tangible, visible congregation. It is not the bishop who is physically present in every congregation, but Christ Himself. The Book of Common Prayer declares Christ, not the bishop, as the head of the Church through His gracious and efficacious ministry in and through the physical congregation, the basic unit of the American Anglican ecclesiology.

The Nature of the Episcopate

The different interpretations given to these to the Articles of Religion – whether the bishop is of the plene esse (William White) or esse of the Church (Samuel Seabury) and whether the Church is the visible congregation of faithful men (William White) or the mystical body of Christ (Seabury) – animates the early history of the American Episcopal Church. An additional theory is that of bene esse. These three theories of the episcopate underlay the discussions, and it is necessary to diverge from the historical record to explain the theological terminology being used.

A. The Esse Theory Summarized

The esse theory, as stated previously, can be reduced to the phrase “no bishop, no church” and vice versa. Thereunder, some would argue that the parish is a creature of the diocese. Without a bishop, there can be no parish.

The consequences of such thinking are that the parish has no authority or life independent of the bishop. Doctrinal change, organizational change, moral change and control of property flow from “the top down.” Traditionally, this doctrine has been known as the esse theory of the episcopacy. Bishops are thereby viewed as essential for the very being of the church: “no bishop, no Church” and vice versa sum up this theory. Understandably, a number of bishops and dioceses across the Anglican Communion and in the United States prefer this erroneous argument.

If a bishop and a parish disagree, in this particular view of church order, the bishop can seize assets, hire and fire clergy, and replace recalcitrant lay leaders because he is empowered by the canon law to do so. A contemporary example of this authoritarian philosophy in action was demonstrated on September 6, 2003 in Vancouver, Canada when the Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, sent a locksmith to St Michael’s Parish, a congregation at odds with that bishop over his advocacy of the gay agenda, and attempted to change the locks on the building. The Parish Vestry intervened and drove off the intruder. Rebuffed in his physical attempt to gain control of the property, the following day Bishop Ingham resorted to the canon law, removing the wardens from office and replacing them with a group amenable to his wishes. Jack Keating, “Anglicans Clamp Down on North Shore Parish” The National Post (9 September 1998) http://canada.com/national/story.asp?id=C9AF2F20-564E-42E3-86BA-475F1C6FF0E6.

A particularly full-blown Nineteenth Century American explanation of this theory states,

“In the State, under our form and theory of government, power ascends form the people whereas, in the Church, it descends from above to the bishops and, in some respects, through the bishops, into the subordinate ministry. The bishops are the governing order. Neither priest nor layman possesses any inherent power of legislation. Their counsel and advice is taken by the Bishops, as was the case in the Primitive Church; and in ‘this church’ the Bishops have granted to them, as represented in National Synod, the constitutional right of initiating and vetoing measures. In other words, the Bishops have consented and in legal form agreed not to exercise certain of their inherent functions, except so far as advised and approved by the House of Deputies in General Convention. The powers of the a Bishop in his Diocese are not merely and only those flowing from his individual functions, but those flowing from the authority and functions of the College of Bishops, of the Bishops of the Province, through whom his individual functions are derived there can be no such thing as an ‘independent’ church or diocese. The National Church is not a Church of delegated powers at all, but one possessing in and through the Bishop, or college of Apostles, inherent authority of government and discipline, the constitution of the National Church being simply an instrument under the terms and conditions of which organization was effected and jurisdiction recognized, and not conferring or attempting to confer any law-making or governing power. ? The fact is known to all that, nevertheless, the General Convention legislates in ecclesiastical matters without reserve or hindrance, except so far as restrained by the limitations of the Constitution, and in subordination to Divine and Catholic law.” S. Corning Judd, “By what laws the American Church is governed, and herein chiefly, how far, it at all English Ecclesiastical Law is of force as such in this Church” Church Review 37 (1882) 194-7.

B. The Bene Esse Theory Summarized

Bene esse argues that bishops are desirable for the well being of the Church. They are not essential to the church, but merely historical and desirable. Germany’s Lutheran bishops or Methodist bishops in the United States serve as an example. Bishops are chosen to be overseers, following the example in Holy Scripture. They have no especially distinctive ecclesiastical functions save for confirmation or ordination. Though they are responsible for the continuation of the priesthood through their powers of ordination, they do not embody or continue in themselves the Church. Walter Ayrault, “Proper Place of Episcopacy in the Church” Church Eclectic 10 (1883) 961-8.

C. The Plene Esse Theory Summarized

The plene esse theory of the episcopate, as distinct from the bene esse, states bishops are necessary for the “full being” or “fullness” of the Church. Though this theory was not thoroughly articulated until the Twentieth Century and would be an anachronism if applied to the White-Seabury debate, it does encapsulate White’s theory of the episcopacy as seen through the prism of the Thirty-nine Articles. Bishops are one necessary mark of the true church.

But even though bishops may abound, heresy can still be present. The mere presence of even validly consecrated bishops does not mean a true church by definition. Though no church can be perfect, or in fullness of being without a bishop, some churches at some times, wholly without bishops, have more nearly been true to the faith than some churches with bishops. Bishops are necessary for the fullness of perfection, but no more. Kenneth Carey, ed., The Historic Episcopate (London: Dacre, 1954) 105-27.

The Foundation of the Episcopal Church in the United States

To fully develop the understanding that the parish, not the diocese, is the basic unit of the American Episcopal Church it is necessary to look at the actual circumstances surrounding the founding of the Episcopal Church. The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence of 1776 severed the bonds of the American churches with the Church of England. It is quite important to stress the plural, churches, and not Church. The churches in America had no synod or convention and were tied together only by a common Prayer Book and common discipline under the authority of the Bishop of London. King’s Chapel, the largest parish in Boston had no tie to Christ Church in Philadelphia or Trinity Parish in New York let alone with the churches of South Carolina or Virginia.

The ties that bound the churches were personal friendships among the clergy. As Edgar Pennington has noted, “The few clergy-conventions that were held were almost all intra-colony. ? The Conventions were more or less informal. This was to be expected since the conventions lacked authority and remained voluntary to the end. No one was empowered to enforce their decisions.” Edgar Pennington, “Colonial Clergy Conventions” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 8 (1939) 217.

Only one organization in the pre-PECUSA era crossed colonial boundaries, i.e., the Corporation for the Relief of Widows and Children of Deceased Clergy of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Widows’ Corporation was a mutual insurance company chartered by the colonial legislatures of the three states and remains in existence to this day.

The stockholders meeting of 1784 in New Brunswick, New Jersey was the first multi-state meeting of clergy in the wake of the Revolution. According to William White, this meeting”was the first step towards the forming of a collective body of the Episcopal Church in the United States.” The clergy met “not only for the purpose of reviving the said charitable institution, but to confer and agree on some general principles of a union of the Episcopal Church throughout the states.” William White, Memoirs of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1880 3rd ed.) 19.

The differences among the churches in the New World were by no means confined to geography. In Virginia, the House of Burgesses established the Church of England under law. The clergy held the same privileges in Virginia society as they did in English society. The only lawful marriages, for example, were those performed by Episcopal clergy. The Commonwealth, patrons, vestries, or Mission Societies, held title to the buildings and glebe lands and the stipends of parish clergy were paid by the State. In Maryland and South Carolina the Church was also established but property was vested directly with the proprietors or patrons of the parish, or if the parish were independent or chartered by the state legislature, in the vestry. In Maryland, the Governor, acting on behalf of the proprietor, Lord Calvert, reserved the right to appoint the clergy.

In the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, the church was not established, but was one of many competing in a pluralistic Christian environment. Title to parish property lay either in the hands of the London-based missionary societies who paid the stipends of the clergy, as was the case in North Carolina or in Pennsylvania outside of the City of Philadelphia or with the vestry as in the case of William White’s parish, Christ Church in Philadelphia, or in the case of Trinity Church in New York.

In New England, the Episcopal churches were a tolerated but were in effect a discouraged minority. Congregationalism was the established church of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Parish vestries or proprietors or mission societies owned the property of the congregation. In Boston, ownership of King’s Chapel, the largest of Boston’s Episcopal Churches lay in the hands of those who owned the pews.

In no instances in Colonial America did the Bishop of London hold title to congregational property. This comports with the understanding that the parish, not the diocese, is the basic unit of the Anglican, now called the Episcopal Church on American shores.

Spiritual authority was clearly recognized as separate from temporal authority. The clergy owed their political allegiance to the Crown, their spiritual obedience to the Bishop of London, and their financial loyalty to their vestries or to their sponsoring missionary society.

Governed by the Prayer Book, Formularies and Articles of Religion, the colonial church system was Episcopal in doctrinal and spiritual matters. Its clergy ordained by Bishops in England.

However, the colonial churches were congregational in temporal matters. Property was held by the congregation or the sponsoring mission society. The day-to-day affairs, not touching upon matters of the Faith, lay in the hands of the local vestry.

At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Anglicans in America (the term is a precursor in this case since it was not coined until the 1840’s but is used here merely in a descriptive sense) found themselves on both sides of the political dispute. Some like Samuel Seabury were ardent advocates of the “Tory” or loyalist position. Seabury served as a chaplain to a Loyalist regiment in New York. Bruce Steiner, Samuel Seabury, 1729-1796: A Study in the High Church Tradition (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1972) 159-67. Against these loyalists were the “Patriots” such as William White who served as Chaplain to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

The Tory clergy who did not emigrate or who found themselves in “hostile” territory either withdrew from the active ministry or braved the wrath of patriots. The point of dissension was often the obligatory prayers read for the monarch found in the Morning Prayer Service.

The Patriot clergy omitted the prayers for the monarch or substituted prayers for the new “lawful” political authority, the Continental Congress, or the state government. In Maryland, the Patriot legislature ordered the Episcopal clergy to substitute prayers for the new “monarch” by referencing “the Legislature” instead of the King.

When the Revolutionary War ended, the church with its English origins was devastated. Many of its churches were destroyed in the fighting or were abandoned by fleeing Tories. Though many of the Founding Fathers of the new nation were Episcopalians, the clergy were viewed with suspicion for holding a residual loyalty to the English Crown.

William White and the Pennsylvania Plan for Church Union

Into the void left by the War stepped the Rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia, William White. Generally considered to be the founding father of the American Episcopal Church, White offered a confederated plan of organization for the remnant of the Church of England residing in America. White’s first priority was to organize the churches in the midst of hostile circumstances. And when it could be so arranged, procure a bishop. Loveland, 63.

The theoretical basis of White’s plan, according to Loveland, was that “the authority to govern the Episcopal Church in America had to be derived from elected representatives from all the Churches throughout the United Stated, united by the voluntary acceptance of a Federal Constitution.” Loveland, 62.

White outlined his proposals in The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered. Written during the summer of 1782 before the end of hostilities at a time when White believed England would not recognize the independence of the American States, White’s Case was concerned with delineating a practical form of union for the churches in the United States.

White assumed that it would be impossible to secure consecration of an American Bishop from the English line. Given this political reality, White suggested that a continuing witness to the Christian faith dictated the reorganization of the former Church of England in America be conducted, by such necessity, in the absence of a Bishop. White, Case, 29f.

Political events moved rapidly at the close of the Revolutionary War and by August 1782, Parliament was willing to recognize American Independence. White, Case, 9. Emboldened by the prospects of peace, White distributed the Case across the American Church.

In the third chapter of White’s Case outlines a “Sketch of a Frame of Government,” it is declared that,

“As the churches in question extend over an immense space of country, it can never be expected, that representatives from each church should assemble in one place; it will be more convenient for them to associate in small districts, form which representatives may be sent to three different bodies, the continent being supposed divided into that number of larger districts. From these may be elected a body representing the whole.

In each smaller district, there should be elected a general vestry or convention, consisting of a convenient number (the minister to be one) from the vestry or congregation of each church, or of every two or more churches, according to their respective ability of supporting a minister. They should elect a clergyman their permanent president; who, in conjunction with other clergymen to be also appointed by the body, may exercise such powers as are purely spiritual, particularly that of admitting to the ministry; the presiding clergyman and others to be liable to be deprived for just causes, by a fair process, and under reasonable laws; meetings to be held as often as occasion may require.

The assemblies in the three larger districts may consist of a convenient number of members, sent from each of the smaller districts severally within their bounds, equally composed of clergy and laity, and voted for by those orders promiscuously; the presiding clergyman to be always one, and these bodies to meet once in every year.

The continental representative body may consist of a convenient number from each of the larger districts, formed equally of clergy and laity, and among the clergy, formed equally of presiding ministers and others; to meet statedly once in three years. The use of this and preceding representative bodies is to make such regulations, and receive appeals in such matters only, as shall be judged necessary for their continuing religious communion.” White, Case, 25

White’s plan for church union is considered in the scholarly literature to be substantially identical with the final form of the Episcopal Church’s polity. “The Constitution of the American Church to this day bears the imprint of his hand, more so than of any one man.” Walter H. Stowe, “William White: Ecclesiastical Statesman” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 22 (1953) 374. The preface of the 1954 reprint of White’s Case states, “It contains the first draft of the organization of the Church as it is today.” White, Case, 1.

One of the underlying principles of White’s Case was to limit the powers of church bodies external to the congregation. “The use of this and proceeding representative bodies is to make such regulations, and receive appeals in such matters only, as shall be judged necessary for their continuity one religious communion.” White, Case, 26.

Governing authority rested with the parish. Other authority was delegated by the parish to other bodies, e.g., a diocese or the national church. It was deemed necessary “to retain in each Church every power that need not be delegated for the good of the whole.” White, Case, 25. Thus, it was not the United States Constitution that served as a model for the Episcopal Church’s Constitution, but rather it was the Articles of Confederation which are embodied in the governing documents of ECUSA.

In the annotated 1954 edition of White’s Case the editor, Richard Solomon, cites the Articles of Confederation as the influence upon White’s thinking in this matter. Solomon cites Article 2 thereof that states, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” The polity of the Episcopal Church in America emulated this model of delegated powers, and not the more centralized Constitution.

White also quoted with affirmation the words of the Bishop of St Asaph, “The great art of

governing consists in not governing too much.” White, Case, 29; this is the source of Booty’s quote above. White’s concern was to protect the individual churchman from “too much” ecclesiastical legislation by setting up an elaborate system of representatives. This system was built from the local parishioner, through a series of representative bodies, to a final group continental in composition and scope.

White’s theory of Church government was based upon the governmental theories of John Locke. White was a “Lockian” as noted by Loveland. “His firm support of a contract theory of government was derived from his belief in the importance of natural as well as revealed religion.” Loveland, 9.

Sydney Temple writes, “The American Episcopal Church took its form from an outline laid down in White’s Case, which likewise found its basis in Locke’s Theory of Government.” Sydney Temple, The Common Sense Theology of Bishop White (New York: King’s Crown Press, 1946) 23. What this meant was that religious government was founded on the principle of the consent of the governed and by voluntary association rather than by autocratic rule. Spiritual order and church order were separate issues.

An Early and Practical Example of Parish Property Ownership under White’s Polity

Parenthetically, White’s views of congregational rights were not open-ended however. In 1785, White began a correspondence with the minister of King’s Chapel-Boston over that congregation’s adoption of theological innovations. During the Revolution, the rector and many of the members of King’s Chapel fled to Nova Scotia. A new congregation with a Unitarian caste of mind called James Freeman, a Harvard student, to be its lay pastor. Freeman applied to White for assistance in ordination. In support of this action, the vestry forwarded to White a copy of the congregation’s revised Book of Common Prayer.

White voiced two objections to the revisions which he found in the proposed King’s Chapel Prayer Book. One was doctrinal, and one was a matter of polity. The revised liturgy left out “every invocation of the Redeemer,” and it had made “the alterations of the liturgy a congregational act.”

White wrote, “The invoking of the Redeemer has been too conspicuous a part of our services to be set aside by some of us, consistently with any reasonable expectation of continuing of the same communion with the rest.”

The second action “was inconsistent with the whole tenor of the ecclesiastical government of the Church of England.” To leave each church to its own congregational government “would be foreign to every idea of Episcopal government, which supposes, let the authority of bishops be more or less, that the flock is under a diocesan, and not under congregational discipline. But that this can be the case, and yet each congregation be left to model its liturgy, I cannot conceive possible.”

Any such diversity was not a source of strength for White. King’s Chapel could not claim the Episcopal mantle if it adopted non-Episcopal doctrines. It must reform or leave.

If it chose to leave, White asked the congregation to vacate the King’s Chapel as it had been

established as an Episcopal congregation. To leave with the property would be a betrayal of the original intent of the founders of the parish. He acknowledged, however, that he was powerless to prevent the departure of King’s Chapel from the possession of Episcopal Church however, since legal control of the property resided with the vestry and pew-owners. White never disputed ownership of King’s Chapel (no locksmiths were sent round); yet he vigorously disputed the spiritual and doctrinal path taken by the congregation. Loveland, 162-3; See also F.W.P. Greenwood, A History of King’s Chapel (Boston: Carter, Hendee & Co., 1833).

This incident illustrates the boundaries of White’s notion of church polity and church government. Matters of doctrine and discipline were not proper matters for a congregational polity while control and disposition of physical assets, such as land and buildings, were.

Historical Backdrop Presses the Issue of the Form of Governance

Upon Bishop Seabury’s return from Scotland in 1785, two schools of thought contended for control. His Connecticut Plan held that the organization of the American churches could not be achieved until a bishop was in place. White’s Pennsylvania Plan sought to achieve unity first, and then secure a bishop as soon as was practicable.

Seabury objected to plans to allow lay representation in Convention and to changes in the Prayer Book that would remove the Athanasian and Nicene Creed and the passage “He descended to Hell” from the Apostles Creed. Loveland, 181. Seabury also saw no need to incorporate the Articles of Religion into the new church, believing the Prayer Book held sufficient theological grounding for the church. However, White wisely saw the Articles as a guard against heterodoxy and as a link to the Church of England. Loveland, 269.

White’s supporters responded by refusing to recognize Seabury’s consecration and by not recognizing the validity of any ordinations which he performed. Seabury’s Scotch pedigree and his attempt to incorporate portions of the Scotch Communion Office in place of sections of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Communion Office as well as High Church views of the episcopacy divided the American Church into competing camps.

Events soon took a new twist when the American Minister in London, John Adams, equipped with testimonials from two leading Episcopalians in the new United States, John Jay of New York and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, approached the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of White’s party and began the slow process of negotiations towards changing English law. Loveland, 173.

On June 26, 1786, Parliament passed an Enabling Act that granted English bishops the authority to consecrate candidates from “countries out of his Majesty’s Dominions” without requiring the oath of allegiance and supremacy to the King or the oath of obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Samuel Provoost of New York and William White were elected bishops by their state conventions; on February 4, 1787, they were consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Old Chapel in Lambeth Palace. White, Memoirs, 367-9, 27.

Though there were now three Bishops in the United States, Seabury in Connecticut, White in Pennsylvania and Provoost in New York, the Episcopal Church was no nearer to forming a united church. Provoost would not recognize Seabury’s Scotch orders while Seabury continued to object to the proposed liturgical revisions of the Prayer Book and to White’s system of church government.

The Compromise of 1789 Established the Parish as the Primary Unit

The Episcopal Churches met in state conventions between 1782 and 1789. It met in national

conventions on three occasions before the two national Conventions of 1789. During this period of time, a series of compromises were reached that, by 1789, allowed the two bodies to be united. The essence of the compromise was that Seabury’s orders would be accepted by the whole church, that White’s system of government would be adopted, with a few minor and unrelated changes, and Prayer Book revision would be kept to a minimum. This is precisely what transpired.

At the 1789 Convention, Seabury’s objection to seating the Bishops as members ex officio of Convention was resolved by creating two houses of government, i.e., a House of Bishops and a House of Deputies. The bishops were to constitute “a House of revision; and when any proposed act shall have passed in the General Convention, the same shall be transmitted to the House of revision for their concurrence.” Article 3 of the Constitution of 1789.

The New England clergy proposed a compromise. “If the third article of that Constitution may be so modified as to declare explicitly the right of Bishops, when sitting in a separate House, to originate and propose acts for the concurrence of the other House of Convention, and to negative such acts proposed by the other House as they may disapprove”, then the Seabury faction would ascent to the proposed Constitution.

The disagreements over the Creeds were resolved by compromise and by passing the responsibility for final revisions to a committee. The Athanasian Creed would be removed but not the Nicene. No changes would be made to the Apostles Creed. Portions of the Scotch Communion Office would be introduced into the new prayer book, but the balance, less the politically necessary changes, would come from the English Prayer Book.

Earlier objections to Seabury’s Scotch orders were thereupon laid aside. Political expediency and the death of the last Stuart pretender in 1788 allowing the Scottish Episcopal Church to give allegiance to George III removed the legal impediment between the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

This resolved the question of the legitimacy of Seabury’s episcopal orders for many in the Convention. Loveland, 237. White also defused a crisis surrounding Seabury’s pension from the British government. White noted the money received by Seabury was for past services and had nothing to do with present loyalties. Bishop White finally settled the matter by offering a resolution which the Journal of Convention recorded as, “Resolved unanimously, that it is the opinion of this Convention, that the consecration of the Right Rev. Dr. Seabury to the Episcopal office is valid.” William S. Perry, ed., Journals of General Conventions of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, published by authority of General Convention. Vol. I and II of A Half Century of the Legislation of the American Church (Claremont, NH: Claremont Manufacturing Company, 1874) 1:60-83.

Not all of the contentious issues that divided the Church in 1789 were resolved by that Convention. Nevertheless, by accepting Seabury’s orders, adopting White’s polity for ECUSA, and keeping the Prayer Book and Articles essentially unchanged, the churches were able to achieve union. The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America was now formed.

Loveland’s pertinent conclusion summarizes the important points at issue: “Before the end of the Revolutionary War, it was evident that the American Church must break with the English politico-ecclesiastical system. The organization of the Protestant Episcopal Church today [1956] is essentially the same as that suggested by Bishop White in 1782. ? Not Parliament, but its own representative General Convention constitutes its final legislative body. The basic unit in the government of the Church is not the diocese as in England, but the parish. Every parish sends representatives to its annual diocesan conventions, at which diocesan representatives to the triennial General Convention are elected. Thus, every parish is represented in the General Conventions, by which the Church is governed.

Another break with the English system ? was the change in the status of bishops. ? American bishops have no political power or prestige. Each one is elected by the church members of a specific region, solely to supervise and administer their ecclesiastical affairs. ? The power and prestige of each American bishop lies in his control of the affairs of the Church in his own diocese. The purely ecclesiastical bishop, considered an impossibility in 1772, but a necessity in 1784, is a continuing reality today.

The third innovation adopted by the Protestant Episcopal Church during the period of reorganization, which has remained a vital part of the American Church, is the principle of lay representation. ? The struggles of the years 1780-1789 ended in real achievement. In 1789, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America was established with a new form of government suited to its new political situation, but universally recognized as continuous in thought and feeling with the Church of England. Loveland, 284-8 (emphasis added).

The Global Christian View Supports the Parish as the Basic Unit

Outside of the precincts of the Episcopal and Anglican churches, the Christian churches world-wide have been acknowledged the important on the local parish. Even Orthodox theologians such as John Zizoulas have explored the theological nature of the local congregation as the fullness of the Church. Zizoulas, in a passage that finds perfect harmony with Articles XIX and XXIII writes: “The basic ecclesiological principle applying to the notion of the local Church ? is that of the identification of the Church with the eucharistic community. Orthodox ecclesiology is based on the idea that wherever there is the eucharist there is the Church in its fullness as the Body of Christ. The concept of the local church derives basically from the fact that the eucharist is celebrated at a given place and comprises by virtue of its catholicity all the members of the Church dwelling in that place.” John Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and Church (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985) 247.

The Ecumenical Movement has also taken a strong theological and ecclesiological interest in the priority of the local church. The New Delhi Assembly of the WCC in 1961 focused on the local congregation as the basic unit of the Church and asserted that the local congregation was the primary vehicle for mission. “Every Christian congregation is part of that mission, with a responsibility to bear witness to Christ in its own neighborhood and to share in the bearing of that witness to the ends of the earth.” The New Delhi Report: Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches, 1961 (London: SCM Press, 1962) 249.

Property Rights in Early American Anglicanism

The Episcopal Church, as organized, deliberately adopted a policy based upon the consent of the governed. This is a critical understanding for the consideration of the property ownership issue.

As has been made clear, the parish – not the diocese or the national church – was the basic unit of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Property rights lay with those holding title to the property and were not vested in other bodies, e.g., dioceses or the national church. Scant evidence of the system of church laws in England did not make across the Atlantic Ocean and was not extended to the Colonies and what did transverse the waters permitted the local parish to hold title to its properties.

This fits into the context that reflects that in no instances in Colonial America had the Bishop of London hold title to congregational property. This corollary to the policy based upon the consent of the governed was continued in actual practice.

As noted earlier, the differences among the churches in the New World were by no means confined to theology or geography. But the end result as to property ownership was carried over into local ownership of local lands and buildings.

In Virginia, the English-established Commonwealth, patrons, vestries, or Mission Societies, held title to the buildings and glebe lands and the stipends of parish clergy were paid by the State, but not the diocese. In Maryland and South Carolina, the church was also established, but property was vested directly with the proprietors or patrons of the parish or if the parish was independent or chartered by the state legislature, in the vestry.

In the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, the church was not established. It was one of many competing in a pluralistic Christian environment. Title to parish property lay either in the hands of the London-based missionary societies who paid the stipends of the clergy, as was the case in North Carolina or in Pennsylvania outside of the City of Philadelphia or with the vestry as in the case of William White’s parish, Christ Church in Philadelphia, or in the case of Trinity Church in New York.

In New England, the Episcopal churches were a tolerated, but they were in effect a discouraged minority. Congregationalism was the established church of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Parish vestries or proprietors or mission societies owned the property of the congregation. In Boston, ownership of King’s Chapel, the largest of Boston’s Episcopal Churches lay in the hands of those who owned the pews. Matters of control and disposition of physical assets, such as land and buildings, were proper matters for a congregational polity.

In fact, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, as the only corporate entity of the Episcopal Church in the United States, did not even exist until 1820. Thus at the beginning of American Anglicanism, ECUSA could not have held title to local properties because it had no corporate entity into which to vest legal title.

Despite what is often assumed, a denomination’s hierarchical polity does not guarantee property ownership for the central church authority. The Roman Catholic trusteeship controversy after the independence of the United States exemplifies this reality. See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07719b.htm. The Roman Catholics do not, as a matter of fact, hold property in the Unites States by virtue of their hierarchical polity. The Roman Catholic Church holds property in the same way that any American or American corporation holds property, i.e., by deeds and acts of state legislatures, and not because of its ecclesiastical structure. In fact, the Pope himself in the early 1800s admitted that the only way for the Roman Catholic Church to hold property absolutely in the USA was for the property to be conveyed to it.

For many decades, property rights lay with those holding title to the property and were not vested in other bodies, i.e., not in a diocese or the national church. The first serious challenge to this polity came with the Civil War.

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States in America

The secession of the Southern States during the American Civil War saw the only instance, so far, of dioceses withdrawing from the national church. The actions and statements of conventions and of the bishops illustrate the acceptance of White’s polity within the Episcopal Church.

Following the outbreak of armed conflict and the creation of the Confederate States of America, the Southern dioceses withdrew from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. The first to speak was Leonidas Polk, Bishop of Louisiana. Polk believed that a church followed its nation. When Louisiana seceded from the Union in January 1861, Polk issued a pastoral letter stating that the Diocese of Louisiana was necessarily independent from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and from all other dioceses of that Church.

“We have, therefore, an independent diocesan existence. ? Our separation from the brethren of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America has been effected because we must follow our nationality; not because there has been any difference of opinion as to Christian doctrine or catholic usage. Upon these points we are still one. ? Our relations to each other hereafter will be the relations we both now hold to the men of our mother-church of England.” William Polk, Leonidas Polk: Bishop and General, II vol. (New York: Longmans, Green 1915) 1:304-6.

Though none of the other Southern Bishops followed Polk’s reasoning, they all came to the same conclusion. The bishops of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina argued that the Constitution of the American Episcopal Church only applied to those dioceses “in the United States” pursuant to Article 1 of the Constitution or the language “in any of the United States” found in Article 5. Since the dioceses in the South were no “longer in the United States,” they could not constitutionally be part of that Episcopal Church. Joseph Cheshire, The Church in the Confederate States (New York: Longmans, Green 1912) 20-5.

Bishop Atkinson of North Carolina and Bishop Ottley of Tennessee took a third route to secession. Bishop Atkinson declared that the secession of the Southern states from the United States had no effect on the Episcopal Church. The Southern dioceses remained a part of the Episcopal Church unless they were either forced to withdraw or voluntarily withdrew from the Episcopal Church. Edgar Pennington, “The Organization of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 17 (1948) 315-8.

“We do not lose our rights and interests, then, in that Church by ceasing to be citizens of the United States, but only when we voluntarily withdraw from that Ecclesiastical organization, and establish another for ourselves. This, I conceive, we had the right to do, even if the United States had not been divided, were there sufficient causes for it; and that division does itself furnish sufficient cause.” Cheshire, 34. The dioceses, in Bishop Atkinson’s view, possessed the right to secede at will. G. MacLaren Brydon, “The Diocese of Virginia and the Southern Confederacy” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 17 (1948) 395.

Opinion in the Northern dioceses was divided. The Presiding Bishop, Hopkinson of Vermont, opposed the secession of the Southern States and Dioceses. Another group argued that the Southern dioceses were schismatic and should be condemned by the Church. Murray Hoffman, What is Schism? (New York: E. Jones, 1863).

A Resolution was introduced into the 1862 General Convention to this effect seeking condemnation of those who left ECUSA. The measure was defeated, and a substitute resolution expressing concern and reproof was passed in its place. Journal of the General Convention, 1862, 37-40, 51-4, 92-4.

Officially, General Convention took no notice of the secession. It began the roll call of dioceses at the 1862 Convention with “Alabama.” Addison, 198. When the war was over, one of the key factors in reunion was the acceptance by General Convention of actions taken by the Southern Church which, strictly speaking, were unconstitutional. Journal of the General Convention, 1865, 45, 56f, 167f.

With end of hostilities, the individual Southern dioceses reevaluated their relationships with the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Texas believed that the end of the war saw the end of the Confederate Church. The division of the states by war by necessity led to a division of the Church while the reunion of states resulted in a reunion of the Church. The Diocese of Texas chose to attend the 1865 General Convention and did not send deputies to the Confederate Church’s convention of that year. DuBose Murphy, “The Protestant Episcopal Church in Texas during the Civil War” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 1 (1932) 98-100.

Bishop Atkinson of North Carolina urged his diocese to return to the Episcopal Church. As a diocese had the right to secede at will, it also had the right to rejoin at will, he argued. Atkinson and North Carolina along with deputies from the now bishop-less Diocese of Tennessee joined Texas in attending the 1865 General Convention. DuBose Murphy, “The Spirit of Primitive Fellowship: The Reunion of the Church” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 17 (1948) 438.

The remaining Southern dioceses attended the Convention of the Southern Church in November 1865. In the first year after the war, South Carolina and Virginia urged the Southern Churches keep themselves apart form the Northern Church. However, the mind of the Confederate Convention was expressed in a resolution of November 8: “That in the judgment of this council it is perfectly consistent with the good faith which she owes the Bishops and Dioceses with which she has been in union since 1862, for any Diocese to decide for herself whether she shall any longer continue in union with this council.” Pennington, “Organization of PECCSA”, 335. On May 16, 1866 the convention of the Diocese of South Carolina voted to rejoin the Episcopal Church and the last of the Confederate Church “renewed their connection with the Church in the United States.” Cheshire, 252.

The history of the Confederate Church, though colorful in its own right, illustrated the consensus of the polity of Anglicanism on the American shores through the middle years of the Nineteenth Century. The National Church had no claim to the property of the local parishes. It was a voluntary association of dioceses which could, at will, come and go. The question of “nullification” never arose in the course of the Civil War and the Reconstruction period which followed.

White’s polity still held. The Church was a voluntary association where authority was delegated, and reserved from the parish to the diocese, and the diocese to the national Church. The National Church and the dioceses had no claim to the property of the local parishes.

Property Ownership in the Late Nineteenth Century

Until the early 1870s. There was little or no question that the local parish held its own property. In 1871, then Canon 25 entitled “Of the Consecration of Churches” was revised in an effort to begin to seek consolidation of property ownership at the national level as a result of an Illinois court case. The Cheney case confirmed local ownership.

The 1954 edition of White and Dykman (Vol. 1, 427-431) discusses and explicates this effort. The commentary reads: “Exposition of Canon 25 The consent of the bishop and standing committee should be acknowledged and proved the same as a deed, and such consent so acknowledged be filed with the deed of alienation.

That the General Convention of 1871 which amended the canon recognized this necessity in order to make legal the requirement of the consent of the bishop and standing committee is evidenced by the resolution adopted by the Convention as follows: ‘Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That it be recommended to the several Diocesan Conventions to take such measures as may be necessary, by State legislation or by recommending such forms of devise or deed or subscription as may secure the Church buildings, grounds, and other property, real or personal, belonging to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, to those who profess and practice the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the said Church; and to protect such buildings, lots, and other property, from the claims of those who abandon the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the said Church.’

Many of the states have enacted statutes giving force to the requirements of this canon, to make valid and legal such alienation of Church property. The amendment to this canon made by the Convention of 1871, and the resolution adopted by the same Convention, were due to the outcome of the celebrated Cheney Case in the Diocese of Illinois (now Chicago).

The Rev. Dr. Cheney had been deposed by the bishop in June 1871, but still continued to officiate as rector of Christ Church in the city of Chicago. It was feared that the property of Christ Church would become alienated from the Protestant Episcopal Church, a fear which was afterwards realized. When Dr. Cheney went into the Reformed Episcopal Church, he took the property of Christ Church with him, and the courts sustained the transfer, holding that there was no law to prevent it.

The Convention of 1871, in enacting the amendment to the canon, providing that before the consecration of a church, the bishop was to be satisfied that the building and grounds thereof are secured from ‘danger of alienation from those who profess and practice the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church,” recognized that while this was as far as the Convention could legislate in this matter, it was not sufficient to prevent such alienation, and the Convention therefore adopted the resolution, recommending that the several diocesan conventions take steps to procure legislative action by which such alienation could be prevented.(Vol. 1, 430-431).

This explanation in the 1954 edition of White and Dykman expresses the General Convention’s own opinion – in 1871 and right through its approval of the 1954 White and Dykman – that civil legislation was required to retain property and that canon law was insufficient to hold property if there were no specific state legislation or some instrument of trust in favor of the diocese or the national church. The bishops of the various dioceses were left to obtain civil legislation in their favor or to demand deeds of trust from the local congregations, as the Roman Catholics were forced to do in their earlier controversies. Either action would have been controversial.

Concerns nationally about obtaining property ownership arose in earnest in the 1970s with several changes. Beginning in the early 1970’s parishes across the country began to leave ECUSA over issues surrounding the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church. Issues ranging from Prayer Book revision, female clergy, the gay agenda, and the abandonment of classical Anglican doctrines, spawned a wave of secessions from ECUSA. Many of these secessions found their way into the state and federal Court systems as dioceses and parishes grappled over the control of property.

At the same time, the United States Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf, 443 US 595 (1979) adopted a new means for deciding such cases. It approved the neutral principles of law criteria in awarding the property to the local church majority because there was no express trust in any of the relevant documents in favor of affiliation, even though the church was in fact a member of a hierarchical church. Justice Blackmun stated, “Rather than deferring to the congregational majority or hierarchical tribunal, the neutral approach looks at the constitutional documents, bylaws, property deeds, and even canons of the church. If the entitlement to property can be determined from these documents, without any reference to disputed matters of religious doctrine or governance, a court may do so. But if the dispute is essentially about a departure from an express doctrinal trust, or the documents are riddled with religious concepts the neutral principles method is inappropriate, a court must fall back on deference or abstain altogether.”

In affirming the use of neutral principles as an option, Justice Blackmun J. noted the limitations of this approach: “The neutral principles method … requires a civil court to examine certain religious documents, such as a church constitution, for language of trust in favor of the general church.” Wolf at p. 604.

This language spurred the powers of the national to press for the adoption of the now-notorious Dennis Canon as an effort to accomplish that which it had been unable to do otherwise. If anything, the passage of the Dennis Canon was necessitated by the legal reality that without express language, the claim of a diocese or the national church was weak, as indicated by the California decision in Protestant Episcopal Church in the diocese of Los Angeles v. Barker, 171 Cal. Rep. 541 (ct App. 1981). In Barker, three churches which left ECUSA were able to retain their properties because they had never acceded to any claim by the diocese or the national church in any legal documents able to be considered under the neutral principles of law doctrine. The Dennis Canon was introduced in 1979 in order to assert the interests of the national church to overcome the effect of the United States Supreme Court case of Jones v. Wolf.

Historically, the parish, not the diocese or the national church, held title to its own property. The facts before, at and after the establishment of ECUSA evidences that property rights lay with the entity holding title to the property and were not vested in other bodies, e.g., dioceses or the national church. Up to the controversial Dennis Canon in 1979, civil legislation was required to retain property otherwise. Canon law was acknowledged to be insufficient for the diocese or national church to hold parish property if there was no specific state legislation or some instrument of trust in favor of the diocese or the national church. Parish property ownership is another central historical distinctive woven into the fabric of American Anglicanism at its beginning.

The Twentieth Century: Centralization and Decline

In the history of ECUSA from its founding, the basic unit of the Episcopal Church in America has been the local parish. As originally organized, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America deliberately adopted a policy based upon the consent of the governed. White’s polity became the polity of the Episcopal Church.

Until 1901, there were only two places in the Church Constitution where the Presiding Bishop was mentioned. In 1823, the Constitution was amended to allow the “Presiding Bishop” to have the power to appoint an alternate place for General Convention to meet if some “good cause” made it necessary not to meet in the chosen place. Perry, 2:17, 19, 66, 95. In 1844, Article 10 was added to the Constitution that, in part, allowed the “Presiding Bishop” under certain circumstances to take order for the consecration of bishops for foreign countries. Journal of the General Convention, 1844, 26ff.

Historically the Presiding Bishop took the chair as President of meetings of the House of Bishops. He was a diocesan bishop with no special powers, authority or privileges. The Presiding Bishop was the bishop senior to his peers by virtue of the date of his consecration. He was not a manager or chief executive of the National Church, but responsible only for his own diocese. Outside of General Convention, the office had no activity outside of General Convention. His functions and duties were not enumerated under the Constitution and Canons of the Church.

Section 3 of the new Article I in 1901 was finally added in an effort to define constitutionally the office of the Presiding Bishop. The office was to be determined by seniority from point of consecration among bishops having jurisdiction in the United States. He was “to discharge such duties as may be prescribed by the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention.” Journal of the General Convention, 1901, 35.

In 1919 General Convention amended the Constitution making the office of Presiding Bishop elective by the House of Bishops and subject to confirmation by the House of Deputies. Edwin White and Jackson Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (Greenwich, CT: The Seabury Press, 1954) 1.18-22. The Presiding Bishop was also made executive head of the National Council in 1919. In 1922, he was made administrative head of that body as well. Journal of the General Convention, 1919, 165-70; Journal of the General Convention, 1922, 159; Canon 61.1.1. In 1943, there were subsequent changes in the Canons which required the Bishop to resign his diocesan see. Journal of the General Convention, 1943, 153f.

In tandem with the creation of the Office of an elected Presiding Bishop was the establishment of the National Council by the 1919 General Convention. The National Council, now known as the Executive Council was a revolutionary development in its day as it created a “board of directors” of the Church who were not directly accountable to the people in the pews. It essentially created an entity that existed outside of the meetings of General Convention and created a mechanism for Convention to extend its reach giving itself powers and authority hitherto reserved to the dioceses. C. Rankin Barnes, “The General Convention of 1919″, Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 21 (1952) 238-42.

As the Church increased in numbers, influence and wealth, the role the National Council gave to itself was “managing” a growing non-profit corporation. Accountability lay not with the parishes or the dioceses which provided the funding, but to General Convention which selected the members of the Council. With the changes of the 1960s and 1970s, an era that saw the decline of the church by a third. The Executive Council, formerly the National Council reflected its new “authority” ECUSA strayed from its own founding principles. This has led to the legal strife and dissension that still plagues the Episcopal Church.

Conclusion

A. The Parish Is the Basic Unit of the Church in American Anglicanism

Since its founding and in the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, its basic unit has been the local parish. The federal system of church government -or, more properly speaking, the confederated system – is the hallmark of Anglicanism in the United States. Governing authority rested with the parish and thereupon was delegated by the parish to any other body, such as the diocese or the national church. This is a chief difference between the Anglicanism of the Church of England and the Anglicanism of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

A compromise was reached in 1789 whereby Bishop White’s system of government, with a few minor and unrelated changes, was enacted by and for the Episcopal Church in the United States. John Booty, historiographer of the Episcopal Church writing in the Church Teaching Series in 1979 clearly observed that the classical American understanding of Anglican church government is that temporal authority flows from the parish. Booty, p. 71. Also, noted historian Loveland has cogently stated that “The basic unit in the government of the Church is not the diocese as in England, but the parish.” Loveland, p. 284. Further, Roger Beckwith, an English scholar of Anglicanism, in his introduction to Anglicanism writes, “In practice at least, the parish is the basic unit of Anglican Church life, to which the diocese is accessory (not vice versa).” Beckwith, Sec. 6.

In the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America from its founding, the basic unit of the Episcopal Church in America has been the local parish.

B. Local Property Rights Prevailed in Early American Anglicanism

The Episcopal Church in the United States of America deliberately adopted a policy based upon the consent of the governed. The parish, not the diocese or the national church, was the basic unit of the church. From these cardinal principles, property rights lay with the local church which held title to its property which it had purchased and thereupon constructed buildings, all with its own monies. Ownership of these lands and buildings was not vested in other ecclesial body, like a diocese or the national church. The first serious challenge to this polity of parish-based property ownership did not occur until the 1860s with the Civil War. The result of that precedent only confirmed the reality that the local parish was the owner of its property and buildings.

Up to the Dennis Canon in 1979, civil legislation was required for the diocese or national church to retain property otherwise. Canon law had been acknowledged to be insufficient for the diocese or national church to hold parish property if there was no specific state legislation or some instrument of express trust in favor of the diocese or the national church.

The parish, not the diocese or the national church, held title to its own property. That is another central historical distinctive woven into the fabric of American Anglicanism at its beginning.

C. Centralization of Control Using the Corporate Model – Not Beginning until the 1900s – Has Failed the Purposes of the Church

It was not until the first quarter of the Twentieth Century – well past its first hundred years of existence – that one began to see a move toward centralization of managerial functions within the Episcopal Church with the creation of the Presiding Bishop’s Office to help manage the growth. The most recent quarter century has witnessed further centralization at the national level which has been designed to assert over control assets and usurp the authority of the dioceses and local parishes. The first efforts toward centralization were a function of prosperity, the second a function of decline. The 1979 Dennis Canon, which seeks to place all Church property in trust for the national hierarchy is but one example of a declining church turning in on itself and against its basic unit of ecclesiology by attempting to control its ever-dwindling human resources and a lack of spiritual dynamism. This corporate model and the failure on many within it to guard the Faith once received has, in many instances, not served godly purposes.

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