Since 1977 personality conflict has stereotyped division in the continuing movement (1). Ironically, complicating ecclesiastical fragmentation in the Continuum has been the keeping of rigid geographic dioceses. Thankfully, this prejudice is beginning to erode as extra mural Anglicans are consciously redefining dioceses in ‘relational’ rather than geographic terms– allowing congregations to align themselves to like-minded Bishops . Last August, the APA–DMA standing committee voted to postpone reunion with ACA. Some worry the APA-ACA merger process might be derailed. But, we ask, “why not let DMA remain a relatively independent diocese while the rest of the APA/ACA press forward, permitting a non-geographic option?” This may be a last ditch solution, but it could also preserve a broad church identity while the rest of APA rushes toward a formal ‘anglo-catholic’ identity.
Non-geographic dioceses have been around longer than most realize. Modern-day affinity relations have arisen from a crisis in oversight provoked by liberal church activists ramping up in the late 1950’s, but non-geography has an older lineage stretching back to struggles against heresy in the ancient church. Dr. Tighe has given examples of episcopal intervention, starting with the case of Athanasius in his battle to protect catholic communities against Arian Bishops (2). Likewise, Dr. Toon provides insight on how the break up of the Roman Empire, or any civil jurisdiction for that matter, tends to fragment earlier dioceses. Apparently, the crux of the issue is distinguishing between the episcopate’s “indivisibility” vs. its authority as a political unit.
“In order for the undivided episcopate (and the ecclesiastical communion that serves as its basis) to have meaning, there must be explicit boundaries established by the mutual consent of the Church for each chief pastor’s spiritual jurisdiction. These boundaries have traditionally been expressed in geographical terms, beginning with the city in which the bishop has his seat, and including all other places, parishes, and institutions under his care. This is the geographic principle of the episcopate, and it dates back to New Testament references to the Church “in such and such a place” (e.g., Corinth, Ephesus, or Galatia).
“While the first principle (the “undivided” episcopate) has been and should remain immutable, the second (the “geographic” episcopate) has in practice undergone a variety of reformulations. Most commonly, such an adjustment has been made in the direction of describing a bishop’s jurisdiction as over “such and such a people, in such and such a place.” In this case, the bishop ordinary remains the sole chief pastor of his jurisdiction (maintaining the principle of an undivided episcopate), and his jurisdiction is, indeed, described in geographic terms, but also in the human terms of the particular people that he serves. Is it possible, then, for the jurisdiction of one bishop to overlap that of another, in terms of geography, without violating the principle of an undivided episcopate? Those who would argue on the basis of abstract principle will say “no,” but the concrete experience of the Church’s ministry through history will answer otherwise.” (Dear Primates, p.
Arguably the erosion of the modern nation-state under the pressures of today’s globalization is somewhat analogous to the breakdown of the ancient Roman authority, and it doesn’t seem a stretch that Anglican crisis parallels social leveling typical with affluent economies? In the Anglican Communion the leveling trend climaxed in 2003 with ECUSA’s consecration of an openly homosexual Bishop, Vicki Robinson, compelling conservatives to launch the ACNA.
But the continuum hasn’t been spared pervasive fracture; indeed, episcopal intervention between relatively traditional jurisdictions has been symptomatic in the Continuum. The relative independence of vestries whose property is inalienable, combined with the promotion of sometimes high-handed personalities (3) who acquire bishoprics while there is stark clerical shortage, have exaggerated the problems of jurisdictional hopping. The result inside the continuum is a complicated patchwork of ecclesiastical territory, creating a de facto situation pastoral overlap where even a staunch anglo-catholic must tolerate affinity practices.
This situation has been typical of continuing Anglicanism for some time, so a a non-geographic solution for DMA– or any other continuing ‘diocese’– isn’t abnormal or even terribly scandalous . In fact, affinity structures could bring ACA back to a ‘two province, one church’ plan. This was ACA’s older schema whereupon +Falk’s mid-west diocese (from ACC) and Clavier’s DEUS (also known as the AEC) were expected to co-exist as autonomous provinces within a single national structure. Accordingly, why not let Shaver’s DMA have a similar autonomy while other ACA-APA dioceses, such as the West Coast synod, pursue merger as they see fit? Fr. Mark Clavier’s described the original plan for ACA in his brief essay, ‘The History of the Anglican Province of America’, p. 9:
“Despite vocal and often acrimonious opposition from bishops and others in the ACC, a plan for organic union with the AEC emerged in 1990. It envisioned a two Province body, divided into dioceses. The Metropolitan of one of the Provinces of the new Church was to be its Primate, with limited authority outside his Province. A draft Constitution and Canons emerged based largely on earlier ECUSA models, amended to create a two Province church not unlike the system in place in England and Ireland. p. 9
If the aim of the ACA-APA Reconciliation Committee is to return both denominations to the ACA’s early constitution, then why not grant DMA the same sub-provincial or ‘missionary diocese’ status that APA or Falk’s ACC had? Not only was the original ACA tolerant of a two province model, but Bishop Larry Shaver– the current ordinary of DMA– first brought his cluster of ARSA churches into APA as a non-geographic body. Presiding Bishop Walter Grundorf touched upon this fact at his 2oo8 Synod, incidentally held in Belville IN:
“In the later part of the 1990’s and early into 2000, the Bishops Herbert Groce and Larry Shaver of the Anglican Rite Syonod of the Americas (ARSA) and the APA began negotiating to become part of the APA…Following a period as intercommunion partners, the ARSA voted to become part of the APA and our Bishops gathered at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Merriville, Indiana to sign that agreement. They became a nongeographic Diocese of St. Augustine in May of 2oo3.”
Of course, Bp. Shaver’s Diocese of St. Augustine is today the DMA. Shaver is a “low church- old catholic”– or type of broad churchman– whose history goes back to Pyman’s “Society of Augustinain Reconstruction”, a.k.a, the Catholic Apostolic Church. Shaver’s Merryville parish later joined the ARJA (aka. ARSA), eventually making their way to APA after a split in ARSA. While the ARJA/SA was formally Anglo-Catholic, it tended to cooperate with low and central churchmen– like REC, UECNA, and AECNA. It’s also significant that Bp. Shaver is a sworn oblate with Bartonville Abbey where the 1990 meeting which led to FACA was organized. From an anomynous source given in 2/13, Shaver had some differences with APA leadership over liturgical latitude. Shaver’s eventual reaction was to look to FiF partners inside ACNA:
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As time passed and confidence grew in APA, Shaver’s non-geographic status finally translated itself into a territorial basis, and we can suppose this is the common conclusion of non-geographic dioceses. But non-geography allows parishes who are otherwise unsure about full merger to ‘test the water’.
Moreover, the APA has enjoyed other affinity-related bodies in the past; for example, the Anglican Independent Communion, or Diocese of St. Charles, under Bp. Bob Loiselle which entered APA in 2004 as a non-geographic body yet centered mostly in Maryland. As far as we know, the missionary diocese of St. Charles is still non-geographic. Recently, APA added a non-geographic provision for Western Rite Orthodox parishes leaving the church of Russia.
This would make at least four parallel jurisdictions within APA if DMA reverted to affinity status. With ACA merger the number of parallel structures would increase to five or six depending on the two DEUS coming to terms. If anything, affinity appears on the ascent, and one might argue the APA-ACA merger will result in a provisional federation.
Eye of Storm:
The APA-ACA merger is happening at a time of substantial transformation in the continuum. Since the making of the Denver consecrations, the continuum has been divided between continuing episcopalians who’ve been “broad” in their churchmanship (willing to incorporate Protestants on a constitutional or C&C level) vs. “advanced anglo-catholics” who are committed to a pre-reformation church (and usually dismissive of Elizabethan standards as part of any C&C). The latter tendency might be called ‘Stahlism”– after Andrew Stahl, the canonist who designed the ACC’s foreign policy (aka. Athen’s Statement) as well as their C&C. According to Fr Anthony Clavier, Stahl’s wealth bankrolled the early-ACC, pushing it in the direction of a pre-Reformation church– or what Haverland sometimes calls “the ACC’s [peculiar] settlement of religion”. UECNA Bp. Peter Robinson also provides something of a history between the ‘Denver churches’:
“The three churches that come directly out of the 1977/78 events [St. Louis and Denver] all have different outlooks. ACC embarked on a pretty extensive reform of Anglicanism based on a narrow reading of the Affirmation of St Louis. The animating spirit there was to prevent Anglo-Catholics ever having to fight for tolerance again. However, that means the old NY-Phila-Balto type of Anglo-Catholicism is firmly in the driving seat, but they have their share of Broad Churchmen in terms of ceremonial and to some extent theology. However, they have to be prepared to be the minority in most dioceses, and rub along with Bishops who are mainly very definite Anglo-Catholics. APCK is basically Affirmation of St Louis and 1964 ECUSA Canons, but there have been some minor reforms with regards to the election of bishops that impose a little more collegiality than was the case in the old PECUSA. They seem to have a healthy mix of High Church, Biretta Belt, and Anglo-Papalist types, with the old Biretta Belt type dominant as +Morse was a Seabury-Western grad.. UECNA drones on least about Affirmation of St Louis. Doren altered Article VIII of the PECUSA Constitution (governing doctrine) so that it specifically mentions the 39 Articles, and our Canons are pretty much those of PECUSA c.1958. The UECNA is Broad (we would say Central in the UK) but we do have the odd Low Church or Anglo-catholic parish..”
Anyway, Deerfield Beach was the last of a series of Concerned Churchmen Congresses dating back to the first St. Louis gathering, circa 1977. The second FCC congress was in Spartanburg where Bp. Adam’s AECNA agreed to an enlarged the AEC in 1983. Deerfield Beach was the third congress, where a faction from ACC (led by Bp. Falk) partnered with Clavier’s AEC to create the ACA. The ACA was created as the foremost uniting jurisdiction for all North American Anglicans outside ECUSA. Unfortunately, the ACC-faction disliked the ACA’s weakened bishopric, and used the TAC concordate to slowly drive out its oblivious AEC partner. Fr. Mark Clavier touches this tragedy in his essay about APA,
“The creation of a uniting church, however, and its success were two very different things. The AEC component in the new body retained its strength in the old Diocese of the Eastern United States. In other areas, parishes from the ACC and the AEC and other bodies attempted to reaqch accord. Hitherto the AEC enjoyed a remarkable degree of cohesion, aqnd a spirit that contnued to look to Anglicanism, both in the past and in the present, for its identity. Many former ACC people remained uneasy about this spirit and preferred to see themselves as heirs of the Tractarian movement, unsullied by reformed Anglicanism. Relationships between the bishops of the united church were yet to develop into the kind of warm and peaceful unity expereineced before the merger.” p. 10
Obviously, the ‘spirit’ of looking to the “past and present for Anglican identity” means a willingness to embrace a Reformed or Protestant churchmanship alongside the “Catholic” one. The vision to create an orthodox, broad church was the inspiration of Deerfield Beach, and while ACA slowly drove itself into the ground as it inched to Rome, the “American Episcopalian” or ‘broad church’ vision survived by the American Episcopalians leaving the ACA, making APA and eventually FACA. Whether this vision continues depends on the outcome of the merger since it’s predicated upon the mission of Federative-Union (4). Unfortunately, FACA’s mission happens to be inimical to the ACC’s Athen’s Statement as well as the related Haverland-Reber Accord, creating potential areas of conflict.
Furthermore, in reaction to the magnetism of the more liberal ACNA, a number of important clergy in APA evidently are willing to move the former American Episcopal Church closer to a “confessional” Stahlist position. That could happen if the Reconciliation Committee scraps the APA’s Solemn Declaration for the TAC concordate added to an explicit endorsement of the St. Louis Affirmation. This would substantially weaken the APA’s identity as ‘American Episcopalian’, reinforcing the miserable impression that the ACC is the continuum’s “original province” (5).
DMA unknowingly stands in the middle of a whirlwind. By obstructing the merger, DMA may inadvertently preserve something of the APA or what was the “pre-1977 ethos”. That could happen if Shaver’s diocese returns to a non-geographic status, allowing the merger to continue without necessarily bringing DMA into a stricter conformance with the St. Louis Affirmation or the gravity of ACC. However, there are other factors that may alter the outcome, namely, DMA’s next ordinary-elect. Rumors have it Bp. Giffin may succeed Shaver, but Giffin is known to drift between opinions and is therefore entirely unpredictable.
Meantime, Bishop Shaver and a loyal DMA vestryman, “Mr. Watson”, have been added to the Reconciliation Committee. Hopefully their presence on the Committee will further check any “advanced catholicism”– or repeat of Falk’s subterfuge– that might otherwise jeopardize the Deerfield Beach vision, namely, a broad church capable of (constitutionally) including both pre-and post-St. Louis churches. This would reverse (or stall) the current trend of falling in rank behind the ACC, i.e., continuing ‘Stahlism’.
(1) The reconciliation committee “As many of us know, the past history of our churchs has often involved considerable heartbreak. The many fractures, schimsm and improper activity have all caused great pain and injury within God’s church. Much pain, along with its attendant trust issues, still remains.” p. 2 Pastoral Letter. The earlier Bartonville Agreement included this confession, “We acknowledge that these divisions have been caused by our pride, anger, envy and other sentiments contrary to the Gospel, and that these have caused deep hurt to those entrusted to our care.”
(2)Tighe’s article can be read in the March 2005 issue of Touchstone Magazine, “ABUSING THE FATHERS: The Windsor Report’s Misleading Appeal to Nicea”.
(3) Archbishop Haverland has admitted the problem: “The biggest blowups in the ACC have almost always been the work of bishops who were not ever successful parish priests. It’s true that we’ve bishops who were good or even brilliant parish priests, but not particularly successful as bishops: managing Synods and being a pastor to the clergy is a little different from caring for the laity of a parish. But if you can’t be a good pastor, you won’t be a good bishop in this day”.
(4) The merger is predicated upon FACA’s activity. The merger’s preamble explains ACA and APA’s move toward union are both “in compliance with FACA’s stated mission”.
(5) Of course there’s more to churchmanship than ‘C&C’. However, the loss of the “spirit of” clause will prove a signal of significant concession by APA to ACC propaganda. Sadly, most continuing churchmen don’t care about the retention of a constitutional broad church given ACC is anti-WO. If the broad church character of pre-1977 continuing Anglicanism is to be preserved, most likely it will be accidental, with DMA’s protest keeping the APA SD. Nevertheless, the final death of pre-1977 continuing Episcopalians will need more than C&C revision– rather the passing of the older generation. Fr. Clavier noted the stubborn persistence of memory, “The various jurisdictions, and particularly the APA have constituencies which have been together for decades. The ties which bind them are now more than their initial blueprints. The leaders of the APA have known each other now from AEC days. Walter Grundorf entered the AEC in 1971 for instance. These shared bonds and histories, conflicts, successes have made them what they are. The APA/ACA people were only together for four stormy years, although the ACA leadership has changed and there remain parishes and clergy who were AEC before the merger…These distinct identities and histories frame the manner in which they look outside themselves in as formidable manner as churchmanship and canon law.”