This year my family had opportunity to attend the UECNA’s 2014 General Convention. There was an anticipation this Convention would have a tremendous bearing upon the future of the continuing church. Anglican Rose has taken liberty to infer several ideas not neccesarily shared by Bp. Robinson.
2013 Predictions. In an earlier essay called “Post-Brockton“, I offered a few predictions regarding the ultimate failure of the ACC’s staunch non-involvement policy, namely, forbidding unity with Anglican churches which are in communion with other churches that ordain women, or “double non-involvement”. Of course, the ACC was targeting ACNA and FACA-related bodies like the APA, DHC, and especially the REC(1). I also predicted the APA and UECNA would grow restless of any hard isolationist policy, sooner or later breaking from it in favor of a larger unity with North American churches besides ACC. While much remains to be seen, the UECNA has apparently left the ACC-orbit.
At the 2014 General Conference, Bp. Robinson described the UEC-ACC Agreement as hopelessly ‘plateaued’, or to say more bluntly, ‘dead’. Moreover, overtures with PCK similarly went nowhere. Robinson gracefully describes the situation in his 2014 UEC News (the 5/13-5/14 entry), the following being highlights…
‘[The Presiding Bishop Robinson] also gave an overview of both inter-jurisdiction and ecumenical relations, noting that whilst moves towards closer relations with the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Province of Christ the King were stalled, old friendships with the Diocese of the Great Lakes [DGL], and the Anglican Episcopal Church [AECUSA] had been renewed…The General Convention was also warmly supportive of a proposal to drop the ‘Trinitarian’ as the UECNA’s joint journal with the ACC, and revive “Glad Tidings” as a quarterly publication from August 2014. The Presiding Bishop also suggested that in future the UECNA would be printing its own liturgical calendar, and the clergy delegates approved this notion…The Presiding Bishop then gave his charge in which he highlighted three urgent priorities. A greater commitment to Home Mission and Evangelism by the whole Church; the establishment of a Missionary Society, and the re-establishment of Latimer Seminary (initially founded in 1985 by Bishop Knight) as the theological institute for the UECNA..The Presiding Bishop then gave his charge in which he highlighted three urgent priorities. A greater commitment to Home Mission and Evangelism by the whole Church; the establishment of a Missionary Society, and the re-establishment of Latimer Seminary (initially founded in 1985 by Bishop Knight) as the theological institute for the UECNA…”
The above certainly marks a not-so-new direction for UECNA since it largely constitutes a return to the UECNA’s ecumenial activity during the 1980’s: the UECNA as a low- and broad-church, aligning itself with like-minded partners. In the 1980’s this meant jurisdictions like Walter Adam’s AECNA, Anthony Clavier’s AEC, Robert Harvey’s DioSW, and even self-identifying Protestant Anglican churches like Robert Godfrey’s AOC or William Jerdan’s REC. Curiously, many of these churches left TEC before 1977, taking a more consistent stand against liberal trends than the St. Louis Congress.
Robinson seems ready to rally what remains of the UEC’s former alliance. The AECUSA and DGL are smaller than UECNA, but together they would represent an indisputably pro-1928 BCP and pro-39 Article alliance inside the continuing church movement. Implicit in this continuing ‘realignment’ would be the AOC whose Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Ogles, has been actively engaged in AECUSA and counterparts in England (2). This creates an interesting vector among North American Anglicans, adding even some English ecclesiastical connections, that might serve an important role in Anglican Futures given a hypothetical AOC-UECNA alliance emerges, additionally buoyed by a new sense of evangelism.
What of FACA? Last year we saw some indication the UECNA might be moving away from ACC toward FACA. While the former proved true, the latter has yet to occur. This year Robinson returned to FACA but, again, only as an observer. Nonetheless, the UE Presiding Bishops notes for his April 29th news entry,
“Bishop Robinson will again be an observer at the annual meeting of the Federation of Anglican Churches in America meet at Cummins Memorial Seminary, Summerville, NC. The FACA is an umbrella body for a number of conservative and continuing Anglican bodies in the United States including the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Province in America, the Episcopal Missionary Church, and several others. The United Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop has attended as an observer since 2013.”
At the 2014 Convention, Robinson explained FACA as a particular area of interest for the UEC, and, likely, UEC will continue its observer status in yearly FACA meetings. However, FACA also appears to be going in a new direction– not necessarily tied to ACNA or the reputably ‘evangelical’ GAFCON (3). President Hewett recently bulleted these new developments on the FACA website, of which…
- Joint Synods possible by the summer of 2016 for all FACA jurisdictions and members so that the laity and clergy get to know each other.
- Spring of 2015, a Congress of all Anglo-Catholic bishops of the world, to include of course all clergy and laity who can attend hosted by St. Andrew’s, Diocese of Forth Worth for all ecumenical partners, Orthodox, Polish National Catholic, Union of Scranton, Roman and traditional Lutheran.
It appears FACA is being used to create an Anglo-Catholic Congress(4)? This resonates with FiFNA’s announcements for both a ‘New Oxford Movement’ as well as a ‘Catholic International’. ‘Joint synods’ likely builds off the merger already happening between ACA-APA. While the merger has the potential to create a flagship significantly larger than ACC, it also poses several problems. First, the APA would loose its 1995 Solemn Declaration in favor of ACA standards which prescribe the St. Louis Affirmation. Second, the merger will bring APA into the TAC concordat(5). The above is happening at a time when Bp. Grundorf, and presumably Marsh, are hoping to include other continuing churches in a beefed-up TAC-US. Grundorf hinted at this ecumenical venture in his February epistle,
“Third, the Group received a proposal for the creation of an Assembly of Bishops for the Traditional Anglican Church in the United States of America, a Continuing Church counterpart to the ‘Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America,’ in which the bishops would be in full sacramental communion with each other (communicatio in sacris) and bound by mutual love and commitment to working together as one body. In it, Dioceses and Provinces would remain autonomous and canonically self-determining. The bishops would consult with each, confer with one another, make decisions together, and speak with one voice to culture and society; they would be enabled to form, educate, and train clergy and laity together as one body. Evangelistic and missionary efforts, domestic and foreign, would not overlap but would be united and synchronized. Each Diocese or Province would pledge over time not to act in any major way without consultation and consensus with and through the others.”
Allegedly an “expansion and deepening of the current Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas”, it remains to be seen if TAC-US would further alienate APA from North American Anglicanism. If TAC-US includes ACC– as it might be inferred from the ramp-up of ACC presence at recent ACA synods– then a policy of “double non-involvement” could prevail. However, a more benign version of TAC-US might lurch around the corner if, instead, APA plans to work in tandem with FiFNA elements and the projected Fort Worth Assembly. In this case, ACC might very well remove itself from any TAC-US scheme for disdain of FiF.
Of course, much of this depends on where FiFNA intends to go with an ‘Anglo-Catholic International’. Will it be an instrument to leave ACNA behind? Might it be an attempt at making a new Communion that will– in a tragic-comedic fashion– seek approval from ROCOR as ‘Western Rite’ or pick up the illusionary reigns of ARIIC? Or, is FiFNA merely trying to press a traditionalist hermenuetic within GAFCON? There’s a huge difference!
Conclusion: As these events unfold, it’s worth recalling anything which alienates cooperation with “orthodox Primates in the Anglican Communion” or North American “Common Cause Partners” (sic., ACNA), is neither an expansion nor a deepening of FACA. Instead, FACA purports,
3. 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.
4. Some of the member jurisdictions of the Federation are also members of the Common Cause Partners in North America. All deliberations and actions of the Federation will be executed with sensitivity to the godly goals and purposes of the Common Cause Partners to proclaim the Gospel and effect unity among faithful Anglicans in North America.
Until these questions are sorted, the UECNA’s refrain from FACA– whether accidental or not– is providential. Not until 2016 will we know where FiFNA– and in all likelihood the APA– are headed. Keep in mind the APA is the current “flagship” and founder of FACA (if not the continuing church in general). So, when we discuss APA, we are really discussing the straits of the continuing movement itself. FACA not only is a way to relate with ACNA but also– and perhaps more importantly– APA. Secondly, it will minimally take until 2016 for the UECNA’s proposed alliance with Protestant Anglicans to bear fruit.
A year or two in ecclesiastical time is nothing, and a stronger UECNA (backed by AECUSA and perhaps AOC) within FACA might encourage churches like APA to keep their moderate C&C rather than rush into the pitfalls of another Old Catholic or Uniate experiment. The same might be true with larger Anglicanism, eventually. But everything ultimately rides on these relatively small yet orthodox jurisdictions growing by an intensified mission, yet the UEC sounds aware of this fact. It has begun a process of soliciting missions with five new plants between three missionary districts.
Within the 2014 UE General Convention was the exciting potential to reclaim Continuing as well as older Protestant Episcopal traditions. This was a landmark convention, restoring the UECNA to its earlier conception as a “broad and low” church, known to the Bishops of the 1980’s.
1. In many ways the REC is the rival to ACC when it comes to politics in the continuum. These two bodies are almost polar opposites. Much of this rival revolves around who’s in FACA and who isn’t.
2. Recently, Bp. Ogles of the AOC has been very active and supportive of smaller Protestant Anglicans churches. Not only has Ogles been supplying pulpits, but during his visits to AECUSA has assisted with ordinations and consecrations. At the beginning of 2014, Ogles consecrated Edward Malcolms as Primus of the Church of England Continuing. Obviously, Ogles was filling in a gap left behind by the ACC-UEC compact. The CoEC was originally the sister church of UECNA. With UECNA freed of ACC bondage, Robinson will now be free to renew these more natural and like-minded ties. AOC has also picked up ministers from the Church of England and now has a presence in Britain. Ogles likewise picked up the remnants of TPEC in the USA, and it now is a ‘nongeographic’ body within AOC. So, AOC has been proactive about relationships, and if combined with UECNA, both would fill a gap perhaps left behind as REC pursues closer ties with Fort Worth Anglo-Catholics.
3. Just to be clear: FACA is not a diocese of ACNA. It is a ministry partner. The definition of ministry partnership is elusive but there are several examples of it in ACNA. I tried to compare and combine similarities, giving something of a provisional definition that can be read here. Otherwise, I’d say MP status asks a minimum, i.e., that ACNA is recognized as an ecclesiastical body, and the partner pledges goodwill toward it. The rest is up to the affiliate. These are not burdensome principles, and it can be had with either ACNA entirely or individuals components thereof– like FiFNA, CANA, or REC. Not all FACA members have embraced ministry partnership, but parishes in DHC, ACA, and especially APA can be found on ACNA’s church locator. This is something Haverland of ACC has been critical about.
4. The sponsoring parish for the proposed Anglo-Catholic World Congress belongs to the Diocese of Fort Worth which is the largest Anglo-Catholic diocese in ACNA and Headquarters of FiFNA. Fort Worth has recently phased out women deacons it had inherited from TEC, and adopted the new FiFNA Declaration which presses ‘seven sacraments’ and ‘seven councils’. Bp. Robinson has described these mutual developments inside both the continuum and ACNA has an ‘anglo-catholic end game’. Undoubtedly, it’s a ramp-up. Despite these commonalities, there remains some ire between ACC and Fort Worth over tactics and who owns the mantle of leadership. ACC believes its apostolic lines of succession from Chambers is untainted, so it is the only ‘sacramental’ church, etc.. That said, it should be remembered Fort Worth together with its smaller anglo-catholic counterpart, Dio Quincy, were principle organizers of Bartonville, giving the REC some influence within segments of the continuing church. The ACC has felt such was an invasion of ecclesiastical territory. ACC is probably one of the most territorial and isolated Anglican churches, aside from PCK, in North America.
5. An anonymous but well-informed sourced has this to say about APA-ACA merger (collected by email Feb,-March): “The ACA is basically an Anglo-Catholic organisation, and depending on who succeeds Grundorf, the APA could go the same way very rapidly. The centre of gravity is already on the Catholic side of central…At one point I was looking at the ACA-APA merger and hoping that +Grundorf’s view would prevail and the new church would commit to the ‘Spirit of St Louis’ and not to the Affirmation. Unfortunately, ***** is a conduit for ACC ideas into the APA and the ACA has already been tutored by the Falk-Hepworth school Anglo-Catholics. Whatever else you can say about it, the merger does not have promising parents”.