Classical Anglican Jurisdictions Enter New Phase of Cooperation

SUMMERVILLE, SC: Classical Anglican Jurisdictions Enter New Phase of Cooperation
Six Continuing jurisdictions see healing with fresh talks of unity prompted by Global Realignment

By David W. Virtue DD

Not since 1976 when several thousand clergy and laity dissented from The Episcopal Church over the ordination of women and a doctrinally controversial Book of Common Prayer and adopted a theological statement called the Affirmation of St. Louis in response to those actions, has the troubled Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen seen much cooperation.

Now all that is changing.

In 2006, the formation of the Federation of Anglican Provinces or Jurisdictions in North and South America brought together many of the disparate Anglo-Catholic groups. During the process of ratifying the new church’s constitution, disputes developed which split its dioceses into two American churches and a separate Canadian church.

Those early fractures in the movement now show signs of healing, aided and abetted by a global Anglican realignment that is seeing orthodox and revisionist provinces at irreconcilable loggerheads.

Today, the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA) is comprised of six jurisdictions that communicate and cooperate with one another, and are in communion with one another as traditional, orthodox Anglicans, for the spread of the Gospel. The jurisdictions in FACA are the Anglican Church in America (ACA), the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), the Anglican Province in America (APA), the Diocese of the Holy Cross, the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), and the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), totaling more than 400 parishes. FACA is a ministry partner of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), with seat and voice vote.

Two conferences, one in Victoria, British Columbia in June 2011 and another in Brockton, Mass. in November, 2011, both of which VOL covered, underscored the need for Anglicans to join together for mutual support and cooperation. The 2011, an Anglican futures conference held in Brockton, MA may have been the most important event to hit the Continuing Anglican movement since the 1998 REC-APA unity talks, VOL reported.

ACA Presiding Bishop Brian Marsh said at that time that the last two years had signaled a shift toward maturity. He described the present state of the Continuum as moving into a “mature stage of our development” with an opportunity to use the gifts that God has given to create a new beginning for His holy church.

It seems clear that 2011 represented a watershed year in the life of the Continuum. In many ways, the cooperation between the leaders of the Continuing Churches have sought to find ways to come together for mutual support. Indeed, each separate jurisdiction brings its own special gifts. The Anglican Church in America, for example, operates a seminary program, Logos House of Studies; The Anglican Catholic Church maintains a publishing house; the Anglican Province of America has a superb process of building parishes.


A recent meeting of FACA in April 9, 2013, at the Cummins Memorial Theological Seminary in Summerville, SC drew two special guests including the beleaguered Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina, and Archbishop Peter Robinson, of the United Episcopal Church.

Bishop Lawrence told his story of “leaving Egypt,” and wanting to work with FACA. The bishop invited FACA leaders to the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul for an evening visit with four bishops from East Africa and a reception.

Archbishop Robinson expressed his desire to see closer relationships throughout the continuum, and told members about the UEC’s partnerships with the Province of Christ the King and the Anglican Catholic Church.

Fr. Kevin Donlon, canon lawyer with the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), reported on a visit he made to the Mission Province in Sweden last October, setting the stage for a meeting with Lutheran Bishop Walter Obara in Kenya (who helped give the Mission Province its episcopate) and Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini. Donlon also talked about the Anglican Mission’s extensive networks with young Anglican bishops in Africa and Southeast Asia. “We all need to be moving toward conciliar governance, whereby we live within the theology, the ministry and the disciplines of Holy Scripture and the Councils of the undivided Church,” he noted.

The Anglican Church in America and the Anglican Province in America are working toward a closer relationship, reported Bishops Walter Grundorf and Brian Marsh on their progress and on the “speed bumps” to unity. “By going slowly the two jurisdictions can marinade their lives together, leaving behind a template, or model, for others to follow,” commented The Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Cross who moderated the conference.

Bishop David Hicks (REC) reported on the Task Force to study Holy Orders in the Anglican Church in North America. This study, now in its first phase, will recommend to ACNA’s College of Bishops whether the ordination of women is possible, based on Scripture and Tradition. Anglo-Catholics have long held the view that this is the major stumbling block to unity with the ACNA if this issue remains unresolved. The task force noted that the two sides of this issue come at the matter from quite different ecclesiology.

Former TEC Bishop Keith Ackerman, president of FiF-NA and Bishop Vicar in the Diocese of Quincy, encouraged all traditional, orthodox Anglicans to magnify the lay office of deaconess. The REC’s training program for deaconesses is fully operational as is the Anglican Deaconess Association.

Four continuing bishops recently sent an appeal to ACNA’s College of Bishops, asking to have only men in Holy Orders and to use an historic Anglican liturgy. Archbishop Mark Haverland (ACC), Peter Robinson (UEC), Bishop Brian Marsh (ACA), Bishop Walter Grundorf (APA), and Bishop Paul Hewett (DHC) all signed the appeal.

“It was an example of continuing church bishops speaking with one voice, and of seeking the reforms in ACNA that will allow FACA to be in communion with everyone in ACNA, at which point FACA’s jurisdictions and societies could join the ACNA,” Said Hewett.

On May 24 – 25, the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, (FCA) meeting in Fredericksburg, VA, will make “The Appeal” the subject of its presentations. Bishop Ray Sutton (REC) highlighted the breakthroughs of the Task Force on ecumenical relations with (ACNA), the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, the Roman Catholic Church (a recent audience with the Pope), and the Russian Orthodox Church (an invitation to visit Patriarch Kyril in Moscow in 2014). Bishop Hewett proposed a delegation to visit Hieronymos II, the Archbishop of Athens, Greece, in the autumn of 2014, to strengthen ties with the Greek Orthodox, both in Greece, and North America.

Bishop Richard Lipka (Missionary Diocese of All Saints, Forward in Faith) announced the upcoming Forward in Faith/North America Assembly, July 17 – 19, in Belleville, Illinois, where the guest speaker will be the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, England. A delegation of bishops and clergy from the Polish National Catholic Church will be part of that week’s meetings.


There are now five dioceses in Forward in Faith/NA: Ft. Worth, San Joaquin, Quincy, Missionary Diocese of All Saints and the Diocese of the Holy Cross. Bishop Ackerman noted that Forward in Faith/NA is an organism that serves all traditional, orthodox Anglicans, to teach the faith and order of the undivided Church, and to reveal the essential unity of the Body of Christ.

Bishop Hewett gave a report on the new federation emerging in the UK, with the Free Church of England (Bishop John Fenwick), the Nordic Catholic Church (Norway, Bishop Roald Flemestad, part of the Union of Scranton), the Polish National Catholic Church, and the REC’s burgeoning work in Europe. He noted that the Free Church of England is now canonically recognized by the Church of England. The Anglican Association, a Forward in Faith/UK think tank, is assisting in putting this federation together. One of the Anglican Association’s leaders, Canon Geoffrey Neal, Forward in Faith/UK Dean of the Ouse Valley, will speak at the Diocese of the Holy Cross Synod in Winchester, VA on April 19.

In a major new development, all parties unanimously agreed to a motion that whenever parishes want to change jurisdictions, their respective bishops will confer. A committee on standards of preparation for ordained ministry was also established.

“There was a sense at this meeting that FACA has become ever more important to everyone in it, as a way of living together as “continuers,” and as a catalyst for a single fully traditional, orthodox province for us all, upholding the Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order of the undivided Church,” observed Hewett.

“We need to take the 39 Articles seriously and Newman’s Tract 90 the purpose of which was to establish the contention that the fundamental ecclesiological identity of the Church of England was Catholic rather than Protestant. He has given us a way to talk to one another. The Chicago Quadrilateral is also part of our patrimony.”


Fr. Owen William will be consecrated on April 25 in Rochester, NH at the pro cathedral. He will serve inthe Diocese of the Northeast with the Anglican Church in America.


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