Federative-Union. Although several Federal -Union schemes date back to the 19th-century (for more on this subject see the Quad), the Federation of Anglican Churches (FACA) was more recently created upon talks between Reformed and American Episcopalians during the mid-to-late-1990’s. Interestingly, these talks followed the departure of many ‘low’ and ‘broad’ churchmen from the Anglican Church in America (ACA) which, at the time, had been torn apart by territorial squabbles. It’s likely FACA’s establishment by REC and APA was to continue the work intended for ACA, serving as a midwife for a new Anglican Province, arguably identifiable with today’s ACNA.
Gratefully, the fruit of these talks led to an agreement between the REC and APA proving the building block for Federation-Union. The reverends doctors, Peter Toon and Louis Tarsitano, further deepened the practical and theological basis of the Federal concept by their booklet entitled, Dear Primates (2000). Together with Dr. Tarsitano’s earlier Discussion Paper, Dear Primates is probably is best source for fathoming the vision behind Federal Union talks. Another possible source for adding context is Mark Clavier’s History of APA where he describes the APA’s irenic relations as of 2005, giving way to FACA’s foundation and basis a year later.
“Even in the face of the Episcopal Church’s continued “liberal” trends, formal talks have revived between the APA/REC and ECUSA and were officially endorsed by the 2003 ECUSA General Convention. While it remains to be seen how the controversial measures adopted by ECUSA in 2003 will affect these talks, the willingness of the APA and the REC to explore ways to live “beyond schism” signal a return to that desire and policy that seemed to perish at the end of Presiding Bishop John Allin’s primacy. Bishops of the REC and the APA now enjoy unofficial collegial relationships with the leaders of the network of Episcopal dioceses and parishes opposed to the 2003 General Convention’s policies. Seeking to be honest and yet open to initiatives from ECUSA and at the same time responding to and initiating fellowship with Network bishops is a complicated task at best. Nevertheless the APA, as heir to the AEC [American Episcopal], continues to be determined to live into its heritage as a thoroughly Anglican church in mission.” (p. 11)
FACA has three major aims. First, it affirms the 39 articles, BCP, and Quad. Second, it seeks to unite continuing churches on the basis of such standards. And, third, FACA cooperates with remaining orthodox Bishops in the Anglican Communion and, consequently, has relation to the ACNA. Such arrangements are surprisingly in tune with the Affirmation of St. Louis (SectionV) as well as the spirit of the continuing church before 1977. Recently, the United Episcopal church has attended FACA meetings, and this may spur a significant developments.
In sum, Tarsitano and Toon believed cookie-cutter approaches to unity were designed to fail. Rather than seek immediate canonical merger, Union would better occur if questions of jurisdiction were suspended in favor of collaborative mission, fostering mutual trust among extra mural Anglicans before tackling heady questions of doctrine and canonical organization(1). The United Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Peter Robinson, described the Federation’s objectives:
“FACA was created to continue the process begun by the Bartonville Accords of 2000. The general idea behind them was to promote communion, co-operation, and fellowship between traditional Anglicans in the USA with an eventual view to bringing the fragment together. Depending on what else is going on, enthusiasm for FACA as grown and waned, but I believe that in the long term it will prove to be very important in linking the strands back together.”
With +Robinson adding elsewhere,
” FACA is very much an umbrella which allows other relationships to develop – for example the APA-ACA alliance. It also brings the REC and the Anglo-Catholics in ACNA into conversation with those who are old style Continuers, so from that point of view it is an extremely important organ, and one that will become more important as the building blocks of Continuing Anglican unity get bigger.”
Though FACA remains a work-in-progress, its present activity includes the merger between APA-ACA as well as continued goodwill with Reformed Episcopalians. The United Episcopal church has been attending FACA as an observer. Nonetheless, FACA doesn’t require or force unity, yet it gives structure where like-mindedness may be freely explored or deepened.
It’s the opinion of this blog that the best future for continuing Anglicans would be by a Solemn Declaration that outlines a broad-orthodoxy. The finest example of such a broad Declaration probably belongs to the Anglican Province of America (APA), and it could easily be altered to enshrine certain FACA principles. Meanwhile, the competing ACC-UEC accord is best left dead allowing UEC to pursue more substantial affinities. Promoting the Federation-Union has been a major objective of Anglican Rose, particularly with posts like “Post-Brockton“.
Continuing Anglicans will eventually need ‘Big Church‘ if they wish to propagate traditional beliefs while benefiting from the shared resources of a large jurisdiction. The Federation-Union was intended for this end, ultimately bringing continuing churches into a ‘Giant Province’ composed of non-geographic & parallel sub-jurisdictions. Early Federation members considered the ACNA-in-formation that place; however, outstanding questions on ecclesiology constrained the bulk of FACA, primarily APA. Federation President, Bp. Hewett, recently explained what a solution to female clergy inside ACNA might mean for Federative members,
“reforms in ACNA [respecting women’s ordination] will allow FACA to be in communion with everyone in ACNA, at which point FACA’s jurisdictions and societies could join the ACNA”.
As a ministry partner with ACNA, the Federation has a voice at ACNA national conventions. Other ACNA ministry partners, like Forward in Faith (FiFNA), have similar parliamentary ties(2). These partnerships allow jurisdictions like FACA and FiFNA to have one leg in the Anglican Communion while keeping the other in the continuing movement. In 2009, Forward-in-Faith launched a missionary district within ACNA (called MDAS), creating an actual canonical presence inside the “big Province”. Can continuing Anglicans do something similar?
The Bartlett family attends, supports, and prays with Anglicans who are either part of the Federative-Union or at least of a Protestant-leaning(3). FACA is a final attempt to connect continuing Anglicans with conservative Anglicans in Lambeth through a large North American Province. Nonetheless, our views are private opinions. Serious inquiries about the Federative-Union should be directed to genuine FACA officers– e.g., Bishop(s) Paul Hewett or Ray Sutton.
(1) Interestingly, a similar missiological focus for the dampening party strife was stressed by the Pan-Anglican Congress in 1908. So, the concept of putting mission before peculiar doctrine is not ‘new’. It was reintroduced at the US Anglican Congress in 2001, and the use of the term ‘Congress’ is likely more than coincidence.
(2) Over 10% ofACNA parishes are ministry partners (MP). MP-status is a growing statistic among extra mural Anglicans. Continuing Anglicans have had parallel jurisdictions and de facto ministry partnerships for decades. Most ACNA dioceses are also transforming into non-geographic jurisdictions, with many of their congregations experimenting with dual citizenship. Strict ecclesiastical boundaries are quickly melting away for the sake of joint-missionary activity which is expected to build sympathy, thereby helping doctrinal consensus.
(3) In 2013 the United Episcopal Church in North America attended FACA as an observer and will likely make a repeat appearance for 2014. The UEC has latent ties to a number of continuing protestant groups, namely, the Anglican Episcopal Church (AECUSA) and the Anglican Conference. These jurisdictions presently have warm relations to +Ogle’s Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC). In time, Anglican Rose dreams AOC-related churches may someday sit at the table with the UEC in opening a strong ‘broad’ and ‘low’ church alliance, seasoning the continuing and larger Anglican movements in North America with steady advocacy for the 1928 BCP & male holy orders.