Monday, July 27, 2009

GenCon 2009

There is no doubt about, but GenCon 2009 was the end of the line for Conservatives in the Episcopal Church; just as GC 2000 was "the end" for Catholics in ECUSA. Measures calling for the full inclusion of the LGBT candidates in the ordination, and authorizing the Liturgical Commission to draw up rites for Same Sex Unions effectively mean that the policy of radical inclusion has reached its logical conclusion, which, paradoxically is the "radical exclusion" of Classical Anglicanism, Evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism from TEC.

Of course, the demise of the last remnants of traditional Anglicanism in TEC will not be immediate. However, there is no disguising the fact that the remaining conservative parishes are now pockets of resistence in a foreign land, and that there is no hope of a counter-revolution. They should be able to circle the wagons and survive within TEC until their present clergy retire - then they can expect to be "radically included."

However, the new TEC is not that new. It began in the 1960s with the decision of the House of Bishops not to discipline Bishop Pike for his anti-Trinitarian views. Then it continued with the ordination of women (1976); censuring of Bishop Chambers for his support of Continuing Anglicanism (1978); the first woman bishop (1987); and the removal of the conscience clauses (2000) for those opposed to Women Ordination. All of these events are landmarks on ECUSA's road to rejecting Biblical theology and morality in favour of a New Religion.

We should be very thankful for those who had the vision to see where it was all going, and created the Continuing Anglican Church. The St. Louis Congress of Concerned Churchmen (1977), and the Denver Consecrations (1978) marked a new beginning for Anglicanism based up its four fundamental:

The Bible
The Ancient Creeds
The Two Dominical Sacraments, and
The traditional threefold (male) ministry of deacon, priest, and bishop

They also had the wisdom to go a little beyond traditional Anglican doctrine and clarify the position of the Church on issues such as the number of Ecumenical Councils we accept, and where the church stands on, among other things, the sanctity of human life, and the sanctity of marriage.

Organizationally, Continuum is far from perfect, as we have become divided on secondary issues, but we have at least retained "the Faith once delivered to the Saints." After thirty years, the Continuum is reaching maturity, and seeking to work beyond the mistakes of the past - which were entirely political, not theological.

The three jurisdictions that came out of the Denver Consecrations - the Anglican Catholic Church; the Anglican Province of Christ the King, and the United Episcopal Church of North America, are sharing ministers and resources and are slowly moving forward on the issue of achieving an institutional unity that will reflect our unity of faith. I hope that those Catholic Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics who have finally run out of room in TEC will look seriously at the Continuum and realise that the Faith of their Fathers (and mothers!) is alive and well in that little church down the road.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Apostolic Succession in the UECNA

The Succession list given on the United Episcopal Church's website follows a line that incorporates English, Scottish, and Old Catholic lines of Succession. As a result it wanders around the houses a little. The most direct line is as follows:

STEPHEN C. REBER (PB IV, UECNA), who was consecrated in 1996 by

JOHN GRAMLEY (PB III, UECNA), who was consecrated in 1991 by

ALBION KNIGHT (PB II, UECNA), who was consecrated in 1984 by

C. Dale. D. DOREN (PB I, UECNA), who had founded the United Episcopal Church of North America in December 1980. He had been consecrated as Anglican Catholic Bishop of the Midwest on 27 January 1978 by

A. A. CHAMBERS, who had been consecrated as Bishop of Springfield, IL in 1962 [2] by

ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER (PB, PECUSA 1958-1964), who in 1951 had been consecrated as Bishop of Missouri by

HENRY KNOX SHERRILL (PB, PECUSA 1946-58), who in 1930 had been consecrated Bishop of Massachusetts by

JAMES DEWOLFE PERRY (PB 1928-1937) Bishop of Rhode Island) who had been consecrated in 1911 by

DANIEL SYLVESTER TUTTLE, (PB 1901-23) Bishop of Missouri, who had been consecrated as Missionary Bishop of Montana in 1867 by

JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, (PB 1861-67) Bishop of Vermont, who had been consecrated in 1832 by

WILLIAM WHITE, (PB 1787-1789; 1796-1836) Bishop of Pennsylvania, who had been consecrated in February 1787 [1] by

JOHN MOORE, Archbishop of Canterbury 1783-1805

[1] Both the English and Scottish lines of succession derive from the Rt. Rev. Gilbert Sheldon, Bishop of London 1660-63, who consecrated bishops for the Church of Scotland in 1661. In 1678 he consecrated Henry Compton as Bishop of London. Archbishop Moore's orders derive from Compton.

[2] Old Catholic orders enter this line of succession through Horace B. Donegan, who as Bishop of New York, was one of the co-consecrators of A. A. Chambers. A Polish National Catholic Bishop had taken part in the laying on of hands at Donegan's consecration in 1948. In the case of the line of succession published on the UECNA website they enter through Bishop Hulse of Cuba who was consecrated in 1912.

I am not usually one who gets obsessed with Apostolic Succession lists, but just so that you know, your unworthy blogger was consecrated 10 January 2009 in St Louis, MO, by the Most Rev. Stephen C. Reber (PB IV UECNA), assisted by the Rt. Rev. D. Presley Hutchens, Bishop of New Orleans, Anglican Catholic Church, and the Rt. Rev. William Wiygul, Bishop of the Southeastern States, Anglican Province of Christ the King.

The Influence of Tractarianism

It is extremely difficult to gauge just how much influence Tractarianism has had in the Anglican world. At the very least, the modern revival of weekly Communion as the main service, a greater interest in liturgical science and a greater and more widespread understanding of Catholic side of Anglicanism should attributed to Tractarianism. However, how much else? We cannot really tell.

The main reason for this is that the Oxford Movement once it escaped from its university setting was not a sharp edged organisation. On the one hand its more moderate followers were ultimately little different to the "Central Churchmen" and on the other it was pretty difficult to decide whether someone was a Prayer Book Catholic, or a mainstream Anglo-Catholic. The boundaries are very vague. Then, of course, the Anglo-Papalists took the ball and ran with it - to all sorts of interesting and unusual places.

All this means that Tractarianism's influence is far more widespread and defuse than one might suspect. However, it was to the Tractarians themselves, and to their assertion of the Catholic character of Anglicanism that I was drawn, formed my theology, and ultimate led me to all sorts of interesting and unusual places.

The first priest I encountered who was a fully paid up member of the Catholic movement was the Rev. E. F. L. Brown (1915-94) who was retired from a ministry spent largely in the diocese of Chelmsford and acted as the assistant priest at my local parish church. Fr. Brown was a member of various Catholic societies, loved Walsingham, and had a way with a 1662 BCP Communion service that had to be seen to be believed. He had grown up at the London end of Essex, and had been accepted for training before World War II, and had arranged to go to Chichester Theological College. However, Hitler intervened and he spent the war in the Army. After demob in 1946 he went to Edinburgh Theological College (intending Chichester men went there for a couple of years after 1945 as the Royal Navy was still using the College buildings) and was ordained in 1948 as Assistant Curate at Inverness Cathedral. He married while still a curate and moved South again after his time at Inverness ending up as Vicar of Foxearth near Sudbury. A quite and unremakable ministry of some 37 years. What he communicated to me was first of all, that the Catholic Movement was a deeply serious one seeking holiness through prayer, worship and sacrament.

The seriousness of Tractarianism is something that was fully absorbed by all branches of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England - Prayer Book Catholic, Anglo-Catholics, and Anglo-Papalists. This seriousness stems from the awareness that human beings were made by God to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him in the next. OK - I know that's the Baltimore Catechism, but it make the point! Thus the spiritual life is the highest calling of humanity, and this cause the Tractarians to stress the old Benedictine (and New Testament) ideal of Conversion of Life. I'll be writing more about this in a later Blog entry.

The other thing that Fr Brown communicated was the idea that the Catholic Movement was fun. The British glory in eccentricity - provided it does not go too far! The Catholic Movement has produced more than its share. Anyone who has been around the Catholic Movement for a while has a story or two about the priests of yesteryear who were characters. One of my favourite stories is about Fr. Colin Stephenson, who was an extreme Anglo-Papalist. He once asked Fr. Cyril Tomkinson if he could celebrate a private Mass at All Saints, Margaret Street, and he replied,

"No, you'll only use that horrid Roman book! The rule here is music by Mozart, decor by Comper, choreogaphy by Fortescue but (wagging his finger) - libretto by Cranmer!"

Another aspect of the "fun" is the liturgy itself. Even in Prayer Book Catholic worship the senses are involved in worship by music, colour, and ceremonial all of which fire the imagination, feed our faith, and foster a sense of mystery, the otherness of God. Even today, there is something about catholic Anglican worship that can lift the worshipper to heaven, and allow us a glimpse of His glory.

It is that mix of orthodox theology, transcendant worship, deep seriousness and a sense of fun that has kept me loyal to the catholic side of Anglicanism for the last 25 years. I hope it is something that I can pass along to the next generation just as Fr. Brown passed it on to me.