Various conservative Episcopalians have come together to form a new Anglican church body, one that will vie with the Episcopal Church in America as the true representative of this country in the world Anglican communion:
Conservative Anglican leaders unveiled on Wednesday the constitution and laws for a new organization intended to replace the Episcopal Church as the American arm of the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.
The move is the most telling sign yet that the role of homosexual Christians has torn apart the first church to appoint an openly gay bishop.
Central to the new organization’s constitution is a declaration that the Bible is regarded as the “final authority and unchangeable standard.”
Dubbed the Common Cause Partnership, the leaders represent 100,000 Anglicans who believe the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a long-term relationship, violated the authority of scripture.
The constitution comes in the wake of a conference held in Israel last June with leaders from more than one-half of the world’s 77 million Anglicans. At that conference, the leaders outlined their intentions to, in their view, reform, heal and revitalize the Anglican Communion by adhering to a more literal interpretation of the Bible.
“The public release of our draft constitution is an important concrete step toward the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America,” said Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, moderator of Common Cause Partnership. Duncan was deposed by bishops in the Episcopal Church in September. . . .
The new denomination will include four Episcopal dioceses that recently voted to break away from the Episcopal church — Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Tex., Quincy, Ill., and San Joaquin, Calif.. However, not all the parishes and Episcopalians in those four dioceses agreed to leave the Episcopal Church.
It also includes dozens of breakaway parishes in the U.S. and Canada that voted to do the same. The new church also will absorb a handful of other splinter groups that left the Episcopal Church decades ago regarding issues such as the ordination of women or revisions to the Book of Common Prayer.
One of those, the Reformed Episcopal Church, left the worldwide Anglican Communion 130 years ago because Episcopalians in the U.S. reserved communion for those who were baptized. Those who left believed everyone was welcome to receive communion.
Like the Reformed Episcopal Church, canons for the new province prescribe the original 1662 Book of Common Prayer Book, though they do not impose sanctions on those who use a different prayer book. The constitution also gives parishes discretion on ordaining women.
Is that true of the Reformed Episcopal Church? I’ve known people in that denomination, which I thought had an interesting blend of Calvinism and sacramentalism. But how can it be sacramental if it has such a low view of both baptism and communion?
How conservative than the new Anglican church be if it communes the unbaptized and is open to the ordination of women? Surely opposition to homosexuality can’t be the basis of a church’s existence. Nor can agreement on a common liturgy. There needs to be agreement in theology. Doesn’t there?