Earlier posts mentioned “ministry partnership” as an example of a third relationship for Anglican churches that neither wish “full-communion” nor strict a “non-involvement” with ACNA or like jurisdictions. Is it possible for Continuers to cooperate with ‘orthodox’ parishes, dioceses, and (sub)provinces who have ties to Canterbury yet themselves resist the ordering of women as priests and bishops, as Affirmation’s preamble suggests? The question sadly becomes polarized between two extremes (“full merger” or “ecclesiastical abstinence”) while graded possibilities exist with ACNA and even some TEC. Ministry partnership is used today among pro-unity continuers (i.e., FACA aligned churches like EMC, APA, ACA, and DHC) who are open to helping ACNA. However, what duties accompany Ministry Partnership (MP) is murky. This post is an attempt to define MP status by looking at ACNA (and related) documents.
The ACNA C&C actually gives something of a definition for Ministry Partnership. Highlighted are what I consider key words and this post will try to explore Ministry Partnership through two categories– the ‘Anglican Way’, as mentioned in Article I; and the ‘Kingdom of God’ found in the preamble to Canon 7, itself entitled “Of Ministry Partners”. Starting with Canon 7 (C. 1.7.1), it says,
“Ministry Partners, Affiliated Ministries, and Religious Orders work together with the Anglican Church in North America to extend the Kingdom of God. Those desiring admittance in one of these categories shall apply in writing to the Council to become associated with the Church. Applicants must subscribe without reservation to the Fundamental Declarations of the Church stated in Article I of the Constitution…”
ACNA’s “Anglican Way”:
ACNA’s Fundamental Declaration is basically a Solemn Declaration. Solemn Declarations began with Machray’s Canadian prototype of 1893 which has since been a means for the transmission of historical formulae to North Americans. “Formulae” should be understood as a summary of the protestant and catholic faith as received by the Church of England’s three articles. Twentieth century Solemn Declarations have been more or less loyal to the original 1893 type, and the seven elements found in the ACNA’s Fundamental Declaration are organized according to the original ACoC format, enumerating the three articles within plus the Creed and four councils.
However, what makes Ministry Partnership different from run-of-the-mill ecumenicism is the requirement to adopt the Anglican distinctive of historical formularies found in the Article I, namely, the 39 Articles, Quadrilateral, and Prayer book. However, the ACNA Fundamental Declaration adds a bit more, not found in the original 1983 Solemn Declaration, namely, a tacit acknowledgement of an “Anglican Way”, probably a concession necessary for a federated church. The ACNA’s version concludes its articles with this addendum,
“In all these things, the ACNA is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain, as the Anglican Way has received them, the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to our posterity.”
The original Solemn Declaration says nothing of an “Anglican Way”, so what is meant by the term deserves some discussion. Admittedly, most Anglicans can’t really define it. It is often described by the phrase ‘three streams, one river’ where each stream is rationalized as a style or emphasis within the Anglican method of “reason, tradition, scripture”, etc.. While “evangelical” and “catholic” are excusable and naturally derivative from the bible and fathers, the existence of a third stream coming from either reason or ‘experience’ (aka. the ‘liberal’ or ‘charismatic’ leg-stream) is less convincing. In the context of the ACNA, the Fundamental Declaration appears to have dropped the “liberal leg” in favor of nascent charismatic movement, inserting a ‘spirit-filled’ stream between older catholic and protestant identities, “The typology of three streams of Anglican faith and practice– evangelical, catholic, and charismatic– has been widely observed for more than thirty years, especially since the advent of charismatic movements inside the church (1)“.
The prevalence of so-called charismatic worship (especially in ACNA) can be noticed in Bishop Ilgenfritz’s diocesan report delivered to the FiFNA assembly in 2012. Surprisingly, even a number of anglo-catholics view themselves as ‘spirit-filled’. MDAS formed by the departure of six bishops from the Charismatic Episcopal Church(CEC) in 2007, creating an independent jurisdiction for a time (which described itself as sacramental, charismatic, and biblical) before joining APA in 2008 and finally ACNA in 2011. Ilgenfritz explains the variety of worship found in his “catholic” diocese (MDAS) accordingly:
“The missionary diocese of All Saints is constituted and embraces the ‘three streams’ of Anglicanism. We are a Diocese in which hands can be raised in praise; drums, guitars, and keyboards can provide worshipful music: the rosary can be prayed and Benediction and Adoration a regular part of our piety (the 39 articles not withstanding). Some of our congregations use he 1979 Book of Common Prayer while others are convinced their fingers would be burned if they even touched a copy. We are a fully Catholic Diocese, but our worship styles vary. We exist for those who wish to remain faithful to the Anglican Way within ACNA”.
Apparently, Bishop Ilgenfritz understands the Anglican Way as having specific doctrinal substance though considerable broadness in secondary matters, namely, worship. The Common Cause Declaration, which AMiA, FiFNA, REC, and FACA consented, intended “to create a unity in the essentials of our Anglican faith that respects our varied styles and expressions.” The original Common Cause Theological Statements (later to be omitted in the ACNA’s Fundamental Declaration) contained the epilogue, “To be an Anglican, then, is not to embrace a distinct version of Christianity, but a distinct way of being a ‘mere christian’, at the same time evangelical, apostolic, catholic, and Spirit-filled.” In other words, ACNA is predicated upon a generosity, allowing three-stream worship to pass by, at least for now, under the pretense of “style” rather than materialized belief.
How far does this go, and doesn’t worship often implicate faith or creed (2)? Keep in mind charismatic ‘styles’ of worship can vary widely — from use of lively music to full-blown glossolalia– some worship expressions being more recoverable than others. However, ceremonial laxity cuts both ways. What is good for anglo-papists (in the case of MDAS the benediction) is also usually good for charismatics. But this can turn the Anglican Way into hall-pass for revisionism.
Third Stream Churches:
Continuing churches have dealt with low and high worship by subordinating ‘style’– mostly Missal use– to the Book of Common Prayer. The APA C&C described such material, “in addition to, and subordination to, The Book of Common Prayer” (c.10). Bishop Robinson has argued a freedom in music for churches using the 1928, opening up a style that would basically be contemporary. Nor have continuing churches been utterly exclusive of charismatics or other types of loose liturgics, demonstrating a willingness to incorporate enthusiasm. Perhaps Bishop John T. Cahoon (a rare ‘comprehensive catholic’ in ACC) pioneered this kind of inclusiveness while exploring ecumenical links to the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) in 1999. Curiously enough, these talks immediately followed Bartonville (Bess, p. 223).
A more recent a foray into the charismatic world happened in 2008 when Bishop Grundorf oddly broke relations with Common Cause Partners in order to secure an intercommunion agreement with Communion of Christ the Redeemer (CCR). CCR was a charismatic-catholic group (formerly CEC) that ironically left APA, after Grundorf’s above excuse, for the Common Cause partnership, forming the Missionary Diocese of All Saints (MDAS). Nonetheless, it proves even the APA is willing to consider union with conservative charismatics (3):
“Our reputation as a positive witness has gotten the attention of a number of former Charismatic Episcopal Church bishops and clergy recently, and they have invited me to come to their next meeting to talk about a possible future with us”.
However, the ACNA’s theological lens isn’t oblivious to the pitfalls of an evolutionary definition for Anglicanism. Whether catholic or charismatic, the ACNA (and Ministry Partners) are attempting to limit past liturgical freedom by making historical standards a reasonable ‘test’. The theological lens offers a useful rubric (see Guiding Principle #6), channeling three streams by Anglican formulae:
“Words and liturgical forms should show a continuity with the Church’s historic tradition; change and development should only take place in a way that creativity and innovation do not negate the orthodoxy of the liturgy or confuse the piety of the people (p. 1)…”
Interestingly, the report summarily condemns the 1979 prayer book’s rite II as “self-consciously revolutionary”, and a return to Settlement norms are urged, “A BCP for the ACNA should be in modern language, with few variables, and closely relate to the classical BCP texts (p.11)…”
“The work of Cranmer, in crafting the Prayer Book, provided a bridge to the ancient worship of the Church, which had adapted but not changed the heritage of Christian teaching informed by Holy Scripture. The Anglican future in worship lies in maintaining this theology and this approach, rather than pursuing a particular style, and also in the comprehensive task of holdin gon to all that is Scriptural and in the best of our tradition, as we believe and obey the Lord.” (p. 134, Being Faithful)
Article I is a general affirmation of Settlement standards, “charateristic of Anglicanism”, while delaying judgement on more questionable aspects until reform is reached by common authority. ACNA canon 2, section 1 affirms this view,
“The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, are received as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it [sic. 1549-1662], as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship. Until such time as a Book of Common Prayer for use in this Province has been adopted, all authorized Books of Common Prayer of the originating jurisdictions shall be permitted for use in this Church.”
This latter part clings to the hope that ACNA might evolve into an unquestionable gathering point for orthodox North American Anglicans, indeed, advancing the “Kingdom of God”.
Kingdom of God:
Peppered throughout ACNA documents are references to the expansion of God’s Kingdom. This phrase is usually taken in the missional sense (converting the unchurched, growing the parish, etc.), but it also includes a more ambitious project to redefine a North American Anglicanism apart from the ecclesiastical lines of liberals in both TEC and ACoC. “Kingdom Norms for Cooperation” at the 2nd US Anglican Congress 2002 were signed by future ACNA bishops. The same Norms were then transmitted to the Common Cause (CCP) Covenant Declaration and too a degree to the FACA’s articles. The CCP pledged participants to, “….partner together in a renewed missionary effort in North America [and to]… ensure an orthodox Anglican Province in North America remain connected to a faithful global Communion.”
Cooperation among traditionalist both inside and outside the Anglican communion has been a long-term goal, especially with the early continuing movement. However, the inside strategy has faltered as the number of faithful Episcopalians in TEC dwindled, leaving a solution outside TEC the only viable option for conservative Anglicans (4). It was at this point of decomposition the remainder of ECM (now called FiFNA) with quasi-conservatives (like Duncan’s AAC) finally petitioned Global South for help in establishing a anglican missionary body for North America.
Common Cause and Global South leaders are now playing a high stake game with a long term plan to displace the influence of TEC in Lambeth. For the last fifteen years an effort to isolate TEC has been in the works that includes the addition of Continuing churches. FACA was therefore intended to bridge both sides, outlining a path for participation:
“The Federation will seek to maintain the Patronage of orthodox Primates in the Anglican Communion. Such patronage is for advisory purposes in expanding fellowship with those in the Anglican Communion and working in concert with the godly projects and programs of the Archbishops primarily in the global south… All deliberations and actions of the Federation will be executed with sensitivity to the godly goals and purposes of the Common Cause Partners [sic. ACNA] to proclaim the Gospel and effect unity among faithful Anglicans in North America.”
By reason of Federation membership, each FACA church has de facto ministry partnership. FACA has two explicit aims very near to Ministry Partnership. First, FACA seeks an expanding fellowship with orthodox parts of the Anglican Communion (5). Second, FACA members are ‘sensitive’ and ‘work in concert’ with the godly goals of Common Cause partners (now ACNA) which entail the unification of North American Anglicanism alongside some cooperation with the Global South.
The push for unity has a practical basis probably attractive to Continuers who know a large-sized church is sorely needed to convert the culture. This has been a concern even among the Continuum’s so-called ‘big three’ (i.e., PCK, UEC, ACC). Bishop Robinson has observed,
“Apart from some transfers of parishes from the Traditional Anglican Communion, the three jurisdictions with a straight line back to the St Louis Congress, all remain stubbornly about the same size as they have been for the last dozen or so years with a total of about 170 parishes, sixty percent of which belong to the Anglican Catholic Church [which has a strict policy of non-involvement]”.
Bishop Boyce exhorted the danger of cultural impotency in his 2008 letter ,
“We need a united voice, a good seminary or two, a Christian education resource, a national magazine, a profile to help announce the Gospel to a needy nation. We need to be part of a world of inspiring orthodox Anglican leaders.”
This brings us to something quite surprising. Behind the push for a conservative big tent is the REC’s “theonomic ideals” which contemplate the re-emergence of a united Christendom. Here, Anglicanism is sufficiently comprehensive to gather both evangelical and catholic branches into a single national church, i.e., “Kingdom of God”. The Common Cause Partnership Agreement urges the pursuit of a post-mil sort of mission, “until all groups on the earth have indigenous churches firmly begun within them and [before] our Lord returns to glory”. I ultimately believe the goal of REC (FACA’s DHC–see Hewett’s sermons), if ACNA would have it, is an American Catholic Church, a dream admitted by memorialists since the mid-nineteenth century(6) . REC statement for FACA unity admittedly stated:
“North America requires re-evangelizing. It will not happen without the union of Christendom, beginning with that branch of the Church that was so instrumental in the founding of this great part of the world. Orthodox Anglicanism has in its spiritual DNA the capacity to lead the way for Christ.” Unity by the Cross
Anglicanism’s “New Reformation” has come about by a confluence of factors. In the United States much has been precipitated by the rump of old-ECM (FiFNA) departing TEC, marking the end of an “inside strategy”. While a couple covenant partners might eventually drift into ACNA, the constitutive parts of “orthodoxy” are already in place, summed well by the MDAS statement above. The prevalence of charismaticism will be a persistent conundrum requiring a long, hard look at Methodists history.
Meanwhile, Continuers can shape the outcome in ACNA starting with Ministry Partnership through FACA. After examining relevant documents (7), Ministry Partnership suggests:
- A willingness to patiently submit worship styles to the test of historical norms, outlined by ACNA’s seven elements otherwise known as the three articles plus Quadrilateral, found in most North American Solemn Declarations (SD). Churches beside ACC– like ACA and APA– already have sufficiently worded SD’s for this task. Material considered supplementary are to be subordinated to the prayer book.
- Ministry Partnership asks sensitivity and cooperation with ACNA and Global South projects. These projects have an ultimate aim to unite North American Anglicanism under a very large “orthodox” roof, creating a conservative big tent that can isolate TEC and finally establish what memorialists proposed over a century ago– a national American church or “Kingdom of God”.
—Footnotes are kept at Northern Catholic Archives. For footnotes 1-6, see Ministry Partnership notes.