From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: Atlanta meeting recalls birth of 'continuing Anglicanism' at St. Louis congress
Wed, 11 Dec 2002 12:34:05 -0500
December 10, 2002
Episcopalians: Atlanta meeting recalls birth of 'continuing
Anglicanism' at St. Louis congress
by Jan Nunley
(ENS) Calling the Atlanta gathering of Episcopalians and
continuing Anglicans a "U.S. Anglican Congress" hearkened back,
for many participants, to a similar but much larger Congress of
25 years ago.
In September 1977 nearly 2,000 Anglican bishops, clergy and
lay people met in St.
Louis to establish what they called an "orthodox
jurisdiction" for those opposed to the ordination of women in
ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Out of that meeting came the "Affirmation
of St. Louis," to which most present-day "continuing
Anglican" bodies subscribe. Among other things, the Affirmation
declared that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal
Church in the United States had "departed from Christ's One,
Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" by accepting women into the
priesthood, and that its subscribers constituted "the unified
continuing Anglican Church in North America, in true and valid
succession thereto." Holy Orders were to consist "exclusively of
men in accordance with Christ's Will and institution," although
they allowed for "the ancient office and ministry of Deaconesses
as a lay vocation for women."
While they affirmed "continued relations of communion with
the See of Canterbury and all faithful parts of the Anglican
Communion," Canterbury didn't, and still has not, returned the
favor. The World Council of Churches and other such bodies they
denounced as "non-Apostolic, humanist and secular" and likewise
rejected the Consultation on Church Union (COCU), an attempt to
united nine American churches, including the Episcopal Church.
"We do nothing new. We form no new body, but continue as
Anglicans and Episcopalians," said the Affirmation. But a new
body formed almost immediately afterward. Initially taking the
name "Anglican Church of North America," the signers of the
Affirmation placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the
retired Episcopal bishop of Springfield, Illinois, Albert
Chambers. Chambers consecrated four more bishops for the
fledging ACNA in Denver in January 1978, and in October 1978 its
name was changed to the "Anglican Catholic Church."
The right of congregations to maintain "control of their
temporalities," written into the Affirmation and confirmed by
the canons of many continuing bodies, meant that congregations
in conflict with their bishops could more easily change
affiliations or form entirely new "continuing" bodies around
other polities -- or, in many cases, personalities -- without
suffering the loss of property or pensions.
Diversity on women's ordination
For some of the churches that came out of the St. Louis
congress, orders of ministry which admit women are by definition
not "apostolic" and therefore not canonical, for men as well as
women. In their view, all of the sacraments--with the possible
exception of baptism--of a church with such "heretical" orders
have lost validity, and the assurance of salvation itself
depends upon access to valid sacraments. Some of those churches
disdain the term "continuing Anglican" and maintain that the
plethora of organizations, estimated between 30 and 50, marching
under that banner are little more than congregational churches
using Anglican liturgical forms.
Yet that was not the case for those gathered in Atlanta, who
mostly "agreed to disagree" on the acceptability of women's
ordination but united around opposition to the ordination of
non-celibate homosexuals and the blessing of same-gender unions,
which they viewed as a matter of Biblical authority.
The Reformed Episcopal
Church (REC), an evangelical group which departed from the
Episcopal Church in 1874 over the issues of "ritualism" and
baptismal regeneration, does not consider itself part of the
"continuing Anglican" movement.
The REC and the larger Anglican Province of
America (APA) are in the initial stages of merger talks. The
Mission in America (AMiA) has a signed agreement of
intercommunion with the APA and REC, though the latter will not
finalize a concordat unless the AMiA rejects the ordination of
women. The REC recently signed a concordat with ECUSA's Diocese
of Fort Worth.
For more information on Anglican churches not in communion with
Canterbury, see "Not in the
--The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News
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