Serial:

AC06-R01-02

PEP Argument Briefing Paper

Title:

Being Episcopalian and Anglican

 

 

Applicable to:

Resolution Confirming the Actions of Bishop and Standing Committee

 

 

Author:

Joan R. Gundersen & Christopher Wilkins

 

 

Date:

10/28/2006

Summary

The convention is being asked to confirm a resolution passed by the bishop and standing committee on June 28, 2006, in response to The Episcopal Church’s 75th General Convention. The resolution is part of an effort to create a separate and distinct Anglican Communion province in North America for those who do not wish to continue with The Episcopal Church (TEC) but seek to remain part of the Anglican Communion. This effort relies on a misreading of the preamble of TEC’s constitution, and represents a rejection of effective, historic norms for increasing church unity, integrity, and faithfulness. It renounces central principles of Anglican diversity amidst unity and divides contemporary Anglicanism into two opposed camps. This effort seeks to institutionalize a division among Episcopalians, militates against the possibility of sharing ministries and missions among geographic neighbors, and poses an ongoing, direct threat to the unity of TEC and of the Anglican Communion.

Background

Since 2003, and for at least a decade prior to that, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has been part of a series of efforts to craft a distinct and separate Anglican Communion province in North America. The creation, in 2004, of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, began the process of isolating individuals, parishes, and dioceses from The Episcopal Church, and of stripping The Episcopal Church of financial assets. The latest effort in this regard has been a series of appeals from seven Episcopal dioceses to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the Panel of Reference for “alternative primatial oversight,” a hitherto-unknown term denoting rejection of the leadership of the Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church. At the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury for clarity, the seven bishops wrote a combined appeal which replaced “alternative primatial oversight” with a request for a Canterbury-appointed Commissary, who did not have to be a primate, or even a bishop. An eighth diocese (Quincy) joined the appeal in September 2006, but Bishop Stanton quietly withdrew Dallas from the request in July. In October 2006, the Dallas Diocesan Convention did not vote on a resolution to endorse the appeal.

Argument

·         The Episcopal Church is, as it has described itself, a constituent member of the Anglican Communion. Both The Episcopal Church and the See of Canterbury are committed to seeing that status continue, and to seeing TEC bear a united, not a divided, Christian witness.

·         Only one element of The Episcopal Church —the NACDAP, or ACN—is insisting that its differences with its brothers and sisters in faith in The Episcopal Church require rejection of that church. Only this element is acting to separate other Episcopalians and other Anglicans from each other, domestically and internationally.

·         The agreements that structured the Anglican Communion in 1930 specified that each Anglican Communion province is a geographic region made up of a nation or nations. The Communion has no authority or power to remove a diocese from its province, and a non-geographic province would be contrary to the definition and purpose of a province.

·         The claim that the preamble of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church binds the Church to be a member of the Anglican Communion, and thus loses its status as The Episcopal Church should it “walk away” from the Communion, is specious. As White and Dykman, in Annotated Constitution and Canons, have noted, the preamble’s description of the Anglican Communion is a “valuable and succinct definition of the nature and structure of the Anglican Communion, with an affirmation of the constituent membership of The Episcopal Church therein” (p. 6). The preamble thus “affirms, not binds,” the Church’s membership in the Anglican Communion.

·         Furthermore, the word “constituent” has a precise meaning. It denotes a founding member or component of a larger whole. The individual components have independent existence, but the larger whole only exists because of the parts. The resolution actually reverses the meaning of “constituent.” Thus, TEC exists without the Anglican Communion, but the Anglican Communion has no existence apart with its constituents. Additionally, since the General Convention has the power to amend its constitution, the cited clause could be removed without changing the validity, authority, or existence of The Episcopal Church.

·         By its recent actions, and for several decades, The Episcopal Church has acted to reaffirm and deepen its connections with its Anglican Communion partners. Episcopalians serve on numerous boards and commissions of the Anglican Communion, and they remain active in grants, projects, missions, and service in provinces both in full communion, and supposedly in impaired communion, with TEC.

·         The Episcopal Church is at least as Windsor-compliant as, for example, the Province of Nigeria. Neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the Lambeth Commission itself envisions the Windsor Report as a set of demands for compliance, but as the beginning of a process of truth-telling, clarification, and eventual reconciliation. The Episcopal Church is fully engaged with that process. The Province of Nigeria, by contrast, has ignored the sections of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10 calling the Communion to treat gay and lesbian persons as Children of God and to engage in a serious process of listening to their experiences. Instead, it has supported efforts to criminalize same-gender relations and those who advocate tolerance or acceptance of them. The Nigerian church has also ignored the parts of the Windsor Report that condemn diocesan and provincial border crossing. Respect for jurisdictional borders has been affirmed at multiple Lambeth Conferences, most recently in 1998 (Resolution V. 13).

·         Actions purporting to remove dioceses from The Episcopal Church, or from their particular province within it, are, ipso facto, acts that separate the individuals attempting such actions from The Episcopal Church.

·         Dioceses of The Episcopal Church are not “members” of the church. People are members. A diocese is an administrative unit created by General Convention, which sets its boundaries, approves its name, reviews and approves its constitution as well as the transfer of any territory from one diocese to another, and must give consent to any individual who is elected as bishop by a diocese. Thus, the idea that a diocese can separate itself from the actions of General Convention or the Presiding Bishop makes less sense than suggesting that the City of Pittsburgh could be overseen by mayor of Toronto, as fine an individual as that person might be. A diocese is integral to its church and inseparable from it.

Supporting Information

Excerpt from ACNS story of July 7, 2006:

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Address to the church of England Synod

 “Mention of this leads me to say a word about my own published reflections in the wake of General Convention. In spite of some interesting reporting and some slightly intemperate reaction, this contained no directives (I do not have authority to dictate policy to the provinces of the Communion) and no foreclosing of the character and content of such a covenant. Were any such arrangement to be proposed, it would of course have to be owned by the constitutional bodies governing Provinces. The proposal has already been dismissed in some quarters as a capitulation to fundamentalism and in others as a cunning plan to entrench total doctrinal indifferentism.”

 

From the Panel of Reference Report on the Diocese of New Westminster (Canada):

21. The argument that in order to remain “in full communion with the Church of England throughout the world” it is necessary for dissenting clergy and parishes to separate themselves from the diocese of New Westminster, adopting a title for their organisation which implies that they represent the Anglican Communion in New Westminster, in addition to or instead of the diocese and Bishop Ingham, can not be sustained. The Church of England itself remains in full communion with the Diocese of New Westminster and Bishop Ingham, pending resolution of the presenting issue, and therefore with all of its clergy, members and parishes, including those who dissent from its diocesan synod decision but remain in full fellowship with the Bishop and the diocese, together with the dissenting parishes unless they formally withdraw themselves from the Anglican Church in Canada. Even if this were not the case there is no evidence that communion with dissenting parishes would in fact be broken since such provinces which have declared impaired communion have made it clear that they remain in communion with those whom they regard as faithful. …

25. The AS [Applicant’s submission, i.e., the 8 dissident parishes] critique of SEM [Shared Episcopal Ministry - the Canadian version of DEPO] elaborates further on the claim, which we believe to be unsustainable in the current situation, that in order for the dissenting clergy and parishes to be in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the “Church of England throughout the world” it is necessary for special arrangements to be made for them outside not only the Diocese of New Westminster, but outside the Anglican Church in Canada. It is factually incorrect to state (AS 3.4.2.2) that “the province has been suspended from the Anglican Communion until 2008”. In fact the Anglican Church of Canada was asked voluntarily to withdraw its representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council until the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

 

Resolution 49 from the 1930 Lambeth Conference:

The Anglican Communion

The Conference approves the following statement of nature and status of the Anglican Communion, as that term is used in its Resolutions:

The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, which have the following characteristics in common:

a.        they uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer as authorised in their several Churches;

b.       they are particular or national Churches, and, as such, promote within each of their territories a national expression of Christian faith, life and worship; and

c.        they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.

The Conference makes this statement praying for and eagerly awaiting the time when the Churches of the present Anglican Communion will enter into communion with other parts of the Catholic Church not definable as Anglican in the above sense, as a step towards the ultimate reunion of all Christendom in one visibly united fellowship.*

*Compare Encyclical Letter of the Lambeth Conference 1878 with [its] “Report of Committee on the best mode of maintaining union among the various Churches of the Anglican Communion.” The Six Lambeth Conferences 1867-1920, pp.82-83.

From pages C2–C3 of the materials provided to deputies to the 2006 Annual Convention:

 

RESOLUTION CONFIRMING THE ACTIONS OF BISHOP AND STANDING

COMMITTEE IN RESPONSE TO THE 7TH [sic] GENERAL CONVENTION

 

Resolved, the 141st Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh accepts the resolution adopted by the Bishop and Standing Committee on June 28, 2006, as its own resolution and orders that resolution spread upon the minutes of this Convention.

 


STANDING COMMITTEE RESOLTUION

June 28, 2006

 

WHEREAS, the 140th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh accepted the Windsor Report (2004), and its corollary documents, the Lambeth 1.10 text (1998) and the Dromantine Communiqué (2005), as the basis on which this Diocese, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and the Anglican Communion can go forward together; and

 

WHEREAS, said Annual Convention called upon Pittsburgh’s deputies to the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to do everything in their power to help that Convention make a clear statement of submission to the teaching of, and a clear statement of intent to abide by the requirements of the said Windsor Report and its corollary documents; and

 

WHEREAS, said Annual Convention declared that, should the 75th General Convention determine to continue its “walk apart” from the Anglican Communion, by its failure to accept unreservedly the Windsor Report and its corollary documents or to commit to a church life consonant with them, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will stand with all Anglican Churches, Dioceses, and Provinces that hold and maintain the “Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” whatever the costs or actions required to do so; and

 

WHEREAS, the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh recognize that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church has elected to walk apart from the Anglican Communion through its failure to submit to the call, the spirit or the requirements of the Windsor Report; and

 

WHEREAS, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has been and continues to be a member of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America as well as a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion in full and unimpaired communion with the See of Canterbury and those churches, dioceses, and provinces that uphold and propagate the historic Anglican Faith and Order; and

 

WHEREAS, the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the actions of General Convention 2006 has written about the future of the Anglican Communion as having both “constituent” and “associated” members, as well as about “ordered and mutually respectful separation between ‘constituent’ and ‘associated’ elements” within local Churches, consistent with the stated aim of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to be a constituent member of the Anglican Communion as provided for in the Constitution of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America; and,

 

WHEREAS, the Bishop and Standing Committee believe it is necessary for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to disassociate itself from those actions of the 75th General Convention which constitute a decision of the Episcopal Church to walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

 

RESOLVED, that the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in good faith hereby join with the other dioceses of the Episcopal Church who are appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Panel of Reference for immediate alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care so that a unifying solution might be found to preserve an authentic Anglican community of witness within the United States of America and provide pastoral and apostolic care to biblically orthodox Anglicans in this country regardless of geographical location; and

 

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, pending final ratification by its 141st Annual Convention, withdraws its consent, pursuant to Article VII of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, to be included in the Third Province of the Episcopal Church, seeking emergence of a new Tenth Province of the Episcopal Church which is fully Windsor compliant, positioned with that part of the Episcopal Church determined to maintain constituent status in the Anglican Communion.

 

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the Bishop and Standing Committee commit to work with and care for all the congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to prosper their local mission regardless of whether they remain in “constituent” status or might elect otherwise.

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