ABBS Patronage


His Rt. Rev. Lordship Peter Robinson

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.

Articles about continuing Anglican politics can be read here:
Bartonville Factor
ACC Makeover

or visit the Script(orium).

6 responses to “ABBS Patronage

  1. Thanks for a great assessment of Anglicanism in North America. The Anglican Bible and Book Society is joyful that Bishop Robinson has consented to assist us with his pastoral guidance in carrying out our mission of strengthening the Church.

    I am not a spokesman for RES or the REC’s other seminaries, but as I understand it, each school has to stand on it’s own merit for accreditation purposes. I’m sure RES’s experience will provide helpful insight for the other schools as they work through the process, but Cranmer House, for example, will need to meet the standards on its own. Based on my own experiences with Cranmer House, I can attest that it has a rigorous and sound academic program, competent leadership, and is teaching the principles of classical Anglicanism.


  2. Its Archbishop Emeritus Stephen C. Reber, not James.


  3. Dear Daniel,
    I expect Cranmer House to fall in line with RES. When CTH calls itself “A Reformed Episcopal School of Ministry” or RESM, two bells ring. First, RESM sounds a lot alike to “Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry”. Second, I imagine RES will be the main campus with CTH and Cummins as branch locations, each falling under the label RESM. I find it interesting that “Reformed” doesn’t necessarily mean ‘calvinistic’ but returning to the comprehension of 1785 for the sake of Protestant Union schemes which influenced the formation of REC, e.g., Muhlenberg’s Memorial for liturgical revision and Cummin’s Methodist background.

    I have a special interest in CTH because it was a joint creation of ACA and REC, indicating a former period of cooperation since eclipsed by ACC isolationism. The name ‘Cranmer House’ originally belonged to the AOC school of ministry before +Godfrey renamed it ‘St. Andrewes’. Looking at the 2013 CTH newsletter(s), two statements by Dean Crenshaw stand out, illustrating a laudable balance between confessional integrity and RE’s debut into big church politics. I think it a winning formula, and for too long continuing churches have dodged the opportunity:

    “Cranmer House professors are required each year to take an oath to the inerrancy of Scripture, to support the three creeds (Apostles’,
    Nicene, Athanasian) and the 39 Articles and to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer… And though we are not currently accredited, we have credentials with those who are, such as Dallas Theological Seminary. We have a formal agreement with them to accept our credits for those classes they do not teach, such as Anglicanism, 39 Articles, Cure of Souls, and so forth…As mentioned in the last issue, Bp. Grote is now serving as the seminary’s Chancellor, and Bp. Sutton is now the seminary President and will be working on getting the seminary accredited.” Spring 2013

    And, from the 2013 Winter issue,

    “We really need someone of Sutton’s caliber to help take Cranmer House to the next level for accreditation. He is the ecumenical bishop and has many connections, so hopefully we’ll get on the radar screen with ACNA.”

    This somewhat vindicates Bishop Boyce’s epistle to APA when he plead the benefits of a big church for North American Anglicans.

    “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.”

    Obviously, RE is leveraging the ACNA’s ascendancy. Combined with confessional orthodoxy, RESM could become a strong agent for Anglican Renewal. It’s certainly an example of using talents wisely.


  4. Charles, I don’t speak in any official capacity, of course, but here is how I understand the REC’s theological education. Each seminary in the REC belongs to its diocese. While there is cooperation among them and some oversight from the RE Commission on Theological Education, each of them stands alone. The Commission sets standards, etc., but, ultimately, each seminary is controlled by its diocese. I don’t doubt that there will continue to be collaboration between the seminaries, and there is already provision for acceptance of credits transferred between them. However, I don’t think CTH will fold into RES. Both of these institutions have their own history and strengths, and their locations are important to REC geography.

    Regardless of that minutiae, I do agree that traditional Anglicans have a lot to contribute to the ACNA in the area of education. In fact, RES is the only accredited seminary under the direct control of any ACNA jurisdiction. The bigger question may be whether the majority in ACNA see any value in confessional Anglican education. Regardless, the REC seminaries will still hold to it.


  5. Very true, Fr. Sparks. I suppose I did seem to suggest CTH would fold into RES by a new body “RESM”. My apologies if this is not the case. However, what I don’t want people to miss is that CTH and Cummins’ are right on the heels of RES, meaning they are seriously pursuing and have significant institutional support for eventual accreditation. This is quite amazing since no other extra mural seminary (e.g., Laud Hall, Holyrood, St. Andrewes, St. Joe’s, et. al.) has done the same, and I think ACNA gave a credibility and networking that continuers normally lack. Nay-sayers paint a false-dilemma with ACNA involvement, but CTH and certainly RES are early examples of how the resources of a large church can be taken advantage of without sacrificing doctrinal integrity. In time, I am confident the RE schools will be as reputable (yet more conservative) than either Trinity or Nashotah, culminating in a Renewal vision not far from the one spelled out at the Anglican Way Institute’s conference which Bart Gingerich reported in 2012. BTW. Among the RE schools, I’m most partial to Cranmer House due to its relation to DMA and Tarsitano’s early work.

    Tarsitano and Sutton: CTH 1995


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