Congratulations! Recently, the Anglican Bible & Book Society (ABBS) received Bishop Peter Robinson as their episcopal Patron. Bishop Robinson has been a long-time favorite at this blog, and my wife and I traveled to Arizona to be confirmed by his Grace prior to our marriage in 2010. It’s our humble opinion that Mr. Robinson is perhaps the best learned Anglican bishop in North America. His writings have been an enormous help in locating the true boundaries of Anglican belief. His essays may be found at Old High Churchman.
The patronage of ABBS by his Grace represents a new milestone for the UECNA, reversing a policy of rapid merger with the ACC pursued by Archbishop Stephen C. Reber. Cooperation with ACNA partners (namely REC) was essentially condemned by Metropolitan Haverland at the 2011 Brockton Conference, who forbade “communion with either the ordainers of women or with those who are in communion with the ordainers of women…”. That statement was chiefly directed at the FACA partners, especially Grundorf’s APA and Hewett’s DHC. Today, it may also be a warning to his Grace, +Peter. Haverland’s non-invovlement policy continues the inevitable logic of Stahl’s 1995 Athen’s Statement and is often construed to prohibit all forms of ministry cooperation.
While Bishop Robinson’s involvement with REC-aligned clergy is most welcomed, it is only the first step in breaking the influence of Stahlism among ACC-orbiting churches. We further recommend churchmen realize:
- The continuum is arguably older than 1977, established by the Rev. James P. Dees of the Anglican Orthodox Church in 1963. From the Anglican Orthodox church several priests departed to create two important jurisdictions– the American Episcopal Church in 1968 and later the Anglican Episcopalians in 1972. In 1979, shortly after St. Louis, these two bodies basically merged, and the next decade successfully pushed for a North American Province called the Anglican Church or ACA. Not surprisingly, the ACC-OP has been reluctant to call either the ACA or APA ‘continuing churches’ since this might legitimize consecrations outside ACC-OP’s touted Chambers’ line– which ACC claims a monopoly. Note: there are at least two relevant episcopal lineages that the continuum can make claim: that of +Donald Davies (EMC/XnEC/CoV) as well as the older line from +Andrew McLaglen (FPEC/REC) which let +Pillai and +Rivette begin Anglican jurisdictions in the USA during the 60’s). Such information would dispel the myth of the ACC as an “Original Province”.
- The Congress of St. Louis initially failed its objectives for a counter-church to PECUSA largely due to rigid Anglo-Catholics such as canon Andrew Stahl (who wrote ACC C&C). The 1978 coup of the St. Louis movement spurred two further extra mural Anglican congresses– that of Spartansburg in 1983 and Deerfield Beach in 1991. The formation of the ACA in 1991 allegedly corrected what St. Louis had lost touch with, but the ACC faction inside ACA (under Falk) soon took control of the new Province, chasing out “low” anglo-catholics. M’Lord Peter Robinson was one such refugee who fled ACA during Falk’s purge as many good clergy likewise adandoned ACA during the 1990’s, finding homes in jurisdictions like REC, APA, and UECNA. Consequently, the bulk of ‘low’ anglo-catholics are now found in these churches, most of which are ironically members or related to FACA. Anyway, since 1977 there has been more than one St. Louis Congress, and the 1977 convention was perhaps the least successful.
- The context and making of the St. Louis Affirmation needs to either be reclaimed or dismissed altogether. The architects of St. Louis were “middle of the road churchmen” like the Rev. Carroll Simocox and Mr. Perry Laukhuff. These men not remain in the ACC after the Romanist coup but joined the American Episcopalians to later forge the ACA. The theology and convictions of Simcox and Laukhuff– not ACC C&C– are therefore representative of what laymen expected in 1977, aka.”continuing episcopalianism”. Furthermore, most of the 2,000 attendees at the St. Louis Congress did not leave ECUSA but stayed within TEC to build a ‘church within a church’, aka. the Episcopal Synod of America (from which +Donald Davies and the EMC emerged). Bartonville and the events which led to the making of FACA ought to be considered the final, in a series, of Concerned Churchmen Conferences almost periodically convened since 1977. This would make ACA and APA (rather than ACC-PCK) the center of the continuing universe. The APA’s Solemn Declaration still reflects the low anglo-catholicism of the St. Louis movement where it commends, “the spirit of the Congress of St. Louis of 1977″– essentially providing latitude for those who have questions about 7/7 formulas. Thus, the APA C&C stands as a ready context that needs re-appropriation if St. Louis is to return to contextual foundations.
- Finally, the Reber-Haverland Accord needs to be scuttled in favor of a rejuvenated and expansive FACA or the emerging ACA-APA intercommunion agreement. FACA was the direct outgrowth of the earlier REC-APA Accord, and the current ACA – APA merger is curiously based upon it. At his 2001 synod address, +Grundorf said, “We thank God for the level of unity that we have achieved with our brothers in the REC and I believe the relationship will continue to be a warm one. Out of this relationship, the REC and APA created the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas. ” The FACA constitution is superior to the Haverland-Reber Accord simply because it doesn’t ignore historical norms like the Quad and 39 Articles. Likewise, the APA-ACA accord is better by reason of the APA solemen declaration.
- In sum, a realignment is needed within the continuum, away from the ACC toward an authentic “low” anglo-catholicism which St. Louis Congress spoke upon. This might be expedited by shunning the Reber-Haverland accord with haste, reforging the REC-APA-UEC alliance as it was active in the 1980’s.
It should be noted, the ACC’s criticism against ACNA at Bartonville primarily targeted FACA-affiliated churches rather than liberals in ACNA, basically alienating continuing churches from the example of REC. This is dangerous rhetoric given it upsets two important goals: 1. that of correct doctrine through classical Anglican formularies; 2. the need for common resources typical of a big church. ACC would sink the entire ship if left between the rocks of trying to influence the formation of ACNA or allowing the continuum to die a slow demographic death. This is not an impossible scenario given regular and unchallenged display of false opposites.
An excellent example of keeping balance between the demands for true teaching and institutional muscle has occurred with the Reformed Episcopal School of Ministry (RES/REC) earning accreditation in August. This is the first time in North America where an extra mural jurisdiction has finally created a seminary with an ATS seal. Accreditation will similarly follow RES branch colleges like Cranmer House. We will include more about the RES accreditation and standards in commentary below. Meanwhile, we prayerfully wish the progress of the UECNA and look forward another United Episcopal presence at next year’s FACA meeting.
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