Anglicanism explained! (well, maybe…)

Here are two very different and complementary pieces that well expose the shades of meaning and intent among the various incarnations and iterations of those bodies that dub themselves “Anglican.”

American Anglicanism in a Nutshell


by William J. Tighe, Ph.D.

I will describe some of these bodies and organizations briefly, confining myself, so far as possible, to the American scene.

The Episcopal Church: The only member of the Anglican Communion in the United States.

Forward in Faith: The current title of an organization that originated in 1977 in reaction to the Episcopal Church’s decision the previous year to ordain women to the priesthood.

Anglican Communion Network: An organization of conservative, mostly Evangelical, Episcopalians organized in November 2003 to oppose theological heterodoxy and moral revisionism, and particularly the acceptance of active homosexuality and the blessing of “homosexual partnerships” in the Episcopal Church. Its membership consists of…

Anglican Mission in America: This was an organization that arose out of the “Briarwood Consultations” of 1995 and 1996 in the same milieu and to a large extent among the same constituency as was to produce the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network, although it was more directly linked with a movement entitled “Concerned Clergy and Laity of the Episcopal Church” — or, more popularly, as the “First Promise Movement.”

Reformed Episcopal Church: This body was organized in 1873 by Evangelical Anglican Episcopalian clergy and laymen who objected to the spread of Anglo-Catholic ideas and practices in the Episcopal Church and the refusal of the generality of Episcopalian bishops (and of the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church) to take measures to suppress these practices.

Continuing Anglican Churches: Most “Continuing Anglican Churches” emerged as a result of the 1976 decision of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to authorize the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. In September 1977 the “St. Louis Congress,” which gathered some 2000 Episcopalian clergy and laity (as well as a few bishops) to take stock of the situation in the Episcopal Church, pledged to oppose the ordination of women and, at the appropriate moment, to erect a “Continuing Anglican Church” which would maintain “the Catholic Tradition” of Anglicanism. It also issued the “St. Louis Declaration” which pledged adhesion to traditional Anglican doctrinal formulae and practices, but went on to situate them in a broadly “historically Catholic” context, by (for example) indicating unconditional adhesion to the definitions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils (whereas previously Anglican formulae had limited such explicit adhesion to the first four councils only: while the fifth and sixth councils were in practice without opposition in historic Anglicanism, the Seventh Council and the iconodulia that it both endorsed and prescribed has been rejected by the more Protestant figures and constituencies in many Anglican churches). By 1978 an Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) was in the process of formation, and four bishops were consecrated on January 28 of that year in Denver, Colorado. The retired ECUSA bishop of Springfield, Illinois, Albert A. Chambers (Bishop of Springfield from 1962 to1972) and a bishop of the Philippine Independent Church (a body that obtained its episcopate from the Episcopal Church in 1947), Francisco Pagtakhan, together consecrated to the episcopate a priest of the Episcopal Church, C. David Dale Doren (b. 1915), and Doren than joined with the two other bishops to consecrate Robert Sherwood Morse (b. 1924), James O. Mote (1922-2006) and Peter Francis Watterson (1927-1996) to the episcopate. In addition, a letter from the Korean Anglican bishop of Taejon, Mark Pae, was read at the consecration ceremonies, in which the bishop both regretted his inability to be present and to participate in the acts of consecration and endorsed the consecrations. However, a “constituent assembly” for the ACNA, which met in Dallas in October 1978, ended in deadlock over issues of church government, and in particular the authority of its bishops (the assembly also voted to change the name of the new church body to the Anglican Catholic Church [ACC]). Bishops Morse and Watterson refused to adhere to the decisions of the Dallas assembly, thus effectively separating themselves from the ACC, and formed a body then, as now, entitled the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), of which Archbishop Morse remains the Archbishop and Primate (the APCK currently has five dioceses, 57 congregations, 110 clergy and 8,000 to 9,000 members). Bishop Watterson, however, subsequently became a Roman Catholic , was ordained a Catholic priest under the later “Pastoral Provision” and died some years later, in 1996. A short time afterwards, in early 1980, Bishop Doren withdrew from the ACNA and formed a more “low church” body entitled the United Episcopal Church, which still exists, although it is rather small in numbers (one diocese, 26 congregations, 45 clergy and about 600 members). In 1983 Louis Falk, who was consecrated a bishop in 1981, became Archbishop and (first) Primate of the ACC. In the late 1980s, under Falk’s leadership, the ACC entered into discussions with the American Episcopal Church (AEC) to effect a union between the two bodies. The AEC had originated in 1968 as a protest of some Episcopalian clergy and laity against the growing theological and social liberalism of the Episcopal Church, and it was generally less Anglo-Catholic than the ACNA. The two bodies united in October 1991, and after the mutual reconsecrations of the bishops of both bodies, the Primate of the AEC, Anthony Clavier, yielded the primacy to Archbishop Falk (Clavier subsequently resigned his office of bishop and entered the Episcopal Church, where he is currently Rector of an Episcopal Church parish in Arkansas), and the newly united body adopted the name of the Anglican Church of America (ACA), which it retains to this day (the ACA membership statistics that I have been able to obtain record four dioceses, 84 congregations and 138 clergy; for lay membership the record that I have is both incomplete and records only communicant members, which it numbers at 5,240). However, a considerable portion of the bishops, clergy and laity of the former Anglican Catholic Church rejected the union with the AEC and repudiated Archbishop Falk as their primate, and these subsequently took the name of the Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province) (ACC – OP) which it retains to this day (the ACC-OP claims six dioceses, 88 congregations, approximately 110 clergy and approximately 4,000 to 5,000 members). In 1997, personality disputes among the bishops of the ACC-OP resulted in a split in that body; the minority formed a small body which terms itself the Holy Catholic Church — Anglican Rite (and that body, in turn, split in 1999, when strongly Orthodoxophile elements within it, who wished to repudiate Anglicanism altogether, formed the Holy Catholic Church – Western Rite). Meanwhile, upon the retirement of Anthony Clavier as Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States (DEUS) of the ACA, a dispute over the election of a successor resulted in 1995 in the secession of a considerable portion of that diocese from the ACA. These were lead by a bishop of the ACA, Walter Grundorf, and the body formed by this secession adopted the name of the Anglican Province of America (three dioceses, 69 congregations, 126 clergy and roughly 6,000 members): it has Archbishop Grundorf as its primate and is, as noted above, currently in the midst of a gradual merger with the Reformed Episcopal Church. There are, of course, numerous other “Continuing Anglican” bodies in the United States and elsewhere that originated either from splits within some of the bodies mentioned above, or from subsequent departures from the Episcopal Church. (An example of the latter might be the Episcopal Missionary Church which was formed by the retired bishop of the Diocese of Dallas of the Episcopal Church, A. Donald Davies, in 1991, and which, after Davies’ subsequent retirement, is now headed by William Millsaps [himself formerly a bishop of the ACA]; Davies later emerged from retirement and created another Continuing Anglican body, the Christian Episcopal Church.) I might note here that, by contrast with the situation in the United States, Continuing Anglicans in Canada and Australia have managed to remain for the most part united. In Canada, the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada was originally a part of ACNA/ACC in 1978, but became an independent body as the bishops of ACNA began to go their separate ways in 1979 It remains the only significant Continuing Anglican church in Canada, although, as noted above, the Reformed Episcopal Church has a presence in Canada as well. In Australia, the decision of the Anglican Church of Australia to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood in 1992 resulted in the formation of a Continuing Anglican church, the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia, which remains the only organized Continuing Anglican presence in that continent. Archbishop John Hepworth is its current bishop, as well as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion. Statistical information on the various Continuing Anglican bodies, especially concerning lay members, is of variable reliability. Still, it seems reasonable to postulate a total lay membership of the three most considerable Continuing Anglican bodies in the United States, the ACC-OP, the ACA and the APCK of 25,000 to 30,000 members (of whom perhaps 5,000 live without ready access to the pastoral ministrations of Continuing Anglican clergy or congregations), and perhaps 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide. In the United States alone, there are probably between 40 and 45 Continuing Anglican bodies, many of them tiny in size and some of them perhaps containing more clergy than lay members.

The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) was formed in 1990 by Archbishop Louis Falk of the ACA. It brought together various Continuing Anglican church bodies throughout the world. In 2006 the TAC consists of 14 bodies: the Anglican Church of America, the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (one diocese, 45 congregations), the Missionary Diocese of Central America, the Missionary Diocese of Puerto Rico, the Anglican Church in Southern Africa – Traditional Rite, the Church of Umze Wase Tiyopia (South Africa), the Continuing Anglican Church in Zambia, the Anglican Church of India, the Orthodox Church of Pakistan, the Nippon Kirisuto Sei Ko Kai (Japan), the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia. The Church of Torres Strait (Australia), the Traditional Anglican Church (England) (12 congregations), and the Church of Ireland – Traditional Rite (three congregations). Archbishop Falk of the ACA was the first primate of the TAC. In 2002 he was succeeded in this position by Archbishop John Hepworth of the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia, but Falk remains archbishop of the ACA, although he has recently announced his forthcoming retirement, and in October 2006 its bishops chose the Rt. Rev’d George D. Langberg, Bishop of the Northeast, as Falk’s successor.

The International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC or CEC) is not an Anglican body, either in its origins or its current stance, but as it has had an attraction for conservative Episcopalian clergy and laity sympathetic to the “charismatic movement” and yet with a liturgical and sacramental orientation it is worth mentioning in this paper. The CEC formed out of for the most part independent churches with roots in the Charismatic, Pentecostalist and Wesleyan traditions which, influenced by the so-called Convergence Movement, between 1976 and 1990 began to blend charismatic worship with liturgical and sacramental elements drawn largely from Anglican sources. As time went on, those individuals and churches involved in this milieu began, through contacts with Evangelicals who had found a home in Anglican churches and with Catholics with whom they shared in anti-abortion activism, to have an increasing sense of the traditional (Catholic and Orthodox) view of the Church’s sacramental nature and apostolic structure. In June 1992 one of the leaders of this movement, Austin Randolph Adler, was consecrated a bishop by Bishop Timothy Barker of the International Free Catholic Communion — a body of decidedly heterodox and theosophical views — and went on to found The Charismatic Episcopal Church of North America, of which he became and remains Primate (and, later, Patriarch); subsequently Bishop Adler consecrated Randolph Sly to the episcopate. In 1993 Bishop William Millsaps of the Episcopal Missionary Church (formerly a bishop in the ACA) consecrated Dale Howard as a bishop of the CEC and reconsecrated Bishops Adler and Sly. The church grew rapidly from 1995 onwards, but by 1996 its bishops had become concerned at the problematic sources of their Holy Orders and episcopate. In that year they made contact with the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil (Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasiliera [ICAB]), a church which had been founded in 1945 by the excommunicated Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duarte Costa (1888-1961), who became first Patriarch of the ICAB (he had been Bishop of Botucatu from 1924 to 1937 and after his resignation in that year was made Bishop of Maura in partibus, remaining such until his excommunication in July 1945). Duarte Costa’s successor as patriarch, Luiz Fernando Castillo Mendez, agreed to an intercommunion agreement between the ICAB and the ICCEC, and on November 5, 1997 Castillo Mendez and two other bishops of the ICAB reconsecrated five bishops of the ICCEC (later all the remaining ICCEC bishops were reconsecrated, and subsequently all the priests and deacons of the ICCEC were reordained; and a the request of the ICAB the ICCEC agreed to use the Roman Pontifical for all future ordinations and consecrations). The CEC in 2002 claimed 400 clergy and 136 congregations in the United States, numerous congregations and clergy in Kenya and Uganda, and congregations and clergy in Brazil, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Portugal and Switzerland. Early on in its history, the CEC took a strong stand against the ordination of women to the episcopate, priesthood and diaconate, a stand which it firmly maintains. This stand, however, alienated some of the individuals and congregations involved in the Convergence Movement mentioned above, and in 1993-94 these elements formed the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC), a body which derives its Episcopal succession from the same pseudo Old Catholic and episcopi vagantes sources from which the CEC obtained its initial Episcopal consecrations in 1992 and which allows “diocesan option” as regards the ordination of women to the presbyterate and diaconate. As of the present year (2006) the CEC in the United States has been experiencing a painful period of division among its bishops, leading to resignations and separations, and in one case the conversion to Catholicism of one of the original CEC bishops (Randolph Sly).

William J. Tighe, Ph.D.
Muhlenberg College
Allentown, Pennsylvania
October 14, 2006

Field guide to Anglican churchmanship

I say there are four competing Anglicanisms and of course as no two churchmen are exactly alike you can break that down further into sub-groups.

As a… friend reminded me years ago they often are overlooked.

Anyway I see it thus:

1. Anglo-Catholic
a. Anglo-Papalist – Tridentine
b. Anglo-Papalist – Modern (a peculiarly English breed of cat, he uses the Novus Ordo, the current RC services)
c. Prayer Book Catholic
d. The modern version of Prayer Book Catholic, not papalist and using the Anglican prayer book that’s the standard where he is (Common Worship, US 1979 BCP, etc.)
e. Anglo-Orthodox. Rare as hen’s teeth, more so than Tridentine ACs, but they’re out there. Also, 1c and 1d often see themselves as ‘Western Orthodox’ analogues to the Eastern Orthodox.

2. Central
a. High Central – almost Catholic, strongly resembling 1c or 1d, but doesn’t believe in a complete change in the elements (denies transubstantiation for example)
b. Middle of the road
c. Low Central – happy-clappy, possibly charismatic but believes in apostolic succession and is not a Calvinist

Also, these come in old-school and modern versions, the latter accepting women clergy.

3. Evangelical
a. Old-school conservative Evo – Calvinist, Presbyterians with Prayer Books
b. Modern, a bit like 2c but they believe apostolic succession is optional

Again, some accept women clergy and some don’t.

4. Broad
a. Still credally Christian
i. Affirming Catholic: former ACs who accept women clergy, accept practising homosexuality or both
ii. Former Central Churchmen who’ve signed off on the gay thing
iii. Open Evangelical: former Evos who are on board with the gay thing
b. Non-Christian/apostate
i. Atheists
ii. Agnostics
iii. Neo-pagans

4a (i) and 4b can be very high-church in practice as 4b believes in nothing therefore everything and so has have no problem with Catholic externals.

As far as I can tell the gay issue is what holds Broad Churchmen together, 4a siding with apostates against other Christians over it.

4 runs the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada now and I imagine the formerly AC Province of South Africa as well. Evos of various kinds run parts of the Church of England (otherwise a Broad shop), the Anglican Church in Australia and many/most of the Third World provinces and dioceses.

ACs and Central Churchmen (bitterly ironic as the Centrals really are classic Anglicans) are being pushed out of First World Anglicanism, the ACs making a second home in the Continuing movement, largely American, and the Centrals in new arrangements under Third World Anglican bishops.

I wonder how long it will be before the coalition of Christians and ex-Christians in the Broad camp falls apart.

Orthodoxy of course is very appealing to many Anglo-Catholics and high Central Churchmen, especially ACs of the non-papal persuasion as Orthodoxy is essentially an Eastern version of everything they already believe. But it’s even more wrenching than going over to Rome – the Orthodox believe you were never really baptised or confirmed. If they’re nice they’ll accept you economically ‘filling in’ the grace that may have been missing in those sacraments in the first place. Even if one loves the Byzantine Rite and Eastern European cultures most people don’t like being told their native tradition is crap and/or they weren’t really Christian all those years.

Oh, well. There never was supposed to be an Anglican Communion anyway – it was an accident that happened because of the British Empire, with which it’s roughly co-terminous even today. Even with the Henrician schism and Elizabethan settlement the Anglican Church was simply supposed to be the part of the one Church of God that happened to be in England.

And now, like the empire 50 years ago, it’s breaking up. Maybe there’ll be ‘two-tier’ membership like dominions and republics in the Commonwealth. FWIW.

– 17th August 2006

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