Friday, September 24, 2010

First Steps

I want to take a moment and look at the mechanics of bringing together the various strands of the Continuum. I tend to see this in terms of clearing the site and laying the foundations for a reunited Continuum, and unglamourous though it is, it is essential if we are ever going to get over the past.

The first thing we need to do is deal with past grudges and unfortunate incidents. There is a lot of clinging to the past done in the Continuing Anglican world. Much of it is good in terms of hanging on to traditional theology and liturgy, but there are a lot of old grudges that are still being trotted out whenever half a dozen clergy and a bottle of gin get together. All of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions have made mistakes in the past, and we need to 'man up' and accept our jurisdictions role in the disintegation of the original Continuum. We also need to forgive and forget the various 'sins' that the assorted jurisdictions have committed against each other. Once we have done that we can get down to the nuts and bolts of what it is going to take to get us all back together.

I see the first stage as being what I call CABC - the Continuing Anglican Bishops Conference - consisting of the bishops of those jurisdictions closest to the St. Louis Congress, and gradually expanding to incorporate more and more groups as various misunderstandings are cleared up. The first name I came up with was the Standing Conference of Anglican Bishops - but, as a former Union man, SCAB seemed, well, inappropriate. This would have a dual role. Firstly it would act as a clearing house for discussion about and actions towards unity. Secondly, it would act as a clearing house to allow clergy to transfer between jurisdictions without it causing mutual recrimination, and also impose discipline across jurisdictional lines. Too often bishops and clergy have escaped the consequences of their actions by quietly slipping away to another jurisdiction. This process has done little to promote mutual trust. Thirdly, it would facilitate joint action on matters of mutual concern, and be a forum for the bishops of the various jurisdictions to get to know one another. Nothing breeds fear and mistrust better than being strangers to one's colleagues.

There will also be a need to come up with a common Constitution and Canons. This will help dispel the notion that one jurisdiction is swallowing another. One difficulty which will have to be resolved is the balance of authority between the various Houses of Synod. At present, there are slight differences of emphasis among the various major Continuing groups, though in the final analysis we all function in much the same way.

The third string is mutual cooperation. UECNA already cooperates with the ACC and with the APCK in a number of areas, and this has helped to draw the various layfolks, clergy and bishops involved closer together. Last weekend I ordained a deacon for the UECNA, who will also serve in an APCK parish in San Diego. I am pleased to note that the local APCK clergy turned out and some old friendships were renewed. I for one, would like to see much more of this inter-jurisdictional cooperation, but there are still 'pure pond' Continuers who let their own worries and concerns (many of which are legiimate, but not important) get in the way of reunion.

The goal for the Continuum should, for the time being, to do everything together that we do not absolutely have to do apart from one another. In the meantime, let us pray, and pray hard for unity, making sure that the devil gets as little opportunity as possible to plant the seeds of mistrust. The Right Rev. Maurice Wood, C of E Bishop of Norwich back in the 1970s, used to warn his ordinands that they were "all marked men in the Devil's book." In much the same way, the Anglican Continuum is marked in the devil's book because we seek to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified without compromising with the prevailent political correctness of the age in which we live. As a result of this faithfulness to Christ, our infernal adversary will do his best to make sure that we remain fragmented and disorganised. Do we really want this to happen? If not, then we need to work for unity among ourselves that the fullness of the Gospel may be proclaimed, and souls saved to the Glory of God.


  1. Amen. Well said. May we all have the grace to work and pray for these goals.

  2. Amen as well
    Where are those who seem to religiously respond to such astute and timely articles? Agree? Disagree?
    Just curious

  3. Your Grace, I quite agree with you idea of a council of bishops as a beginning. I have advanced the same idea in private conversations calling it, the Orthodox fashion, the Council of Canonical Anglican Bishops. But what ever it might be called it should welcome to its ranks all those legitimately and canonically elected and consecrated according to the appropriate prayer book rite.

    The second step I think quite important is to set up a system of hedge schools where both clergy and laity on a regular basis could meet early on a Saturday morning to learn more about the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church as set forth in the Anglican tradition. From my viewpoint they should consist of both experiences in common worship followed by lectures and discussions by the best scholars among us. There should be made a sincere and open effort to set for the best of each of the parties in the Continuum while pointing the way to the goal which the English reformation attempted to achieve, i.e., a return in so far as is within earthly possibilities of the faith and practice of the apostolic and sub-apostolic church.

    In the course of it all of us, at one time or another, would be likely to have more most deeply held prejudices rubbed raw, but if we can do so in an atmosphere of respect and caring we just might achieve much.

  4. This is an excellent idea. But from my experience, some of the bishops tend to operate like popes over their own diocese. What you are suggesting is needed, not only to promote unity, but to remind some bishops that they aren't popes. Given all of that, I don't see many bishops being willing to take part in such a council, those it is desperately needed.

  5. A sound alternative to rapid merger. I imagine writing new common canons may also accompany a modest editing/clarification of the St. Louis Affirmation down the pike as well.Otherwise I wonder how (late) Anglo-catholicism can have constructive, long-term ties with more Protestant forms of churchmanship?

  6. An excellent idea; I would hope that faithfulness to the doctrine recovered in the English Reformation would be part of the program; recovery of the Articles of Religion from the "historical document" dustbin. Charles