Canon Lawrence D. Bausch to Lead Forward in Faith North America
By David W. Virtue, DD
April 23, 2017
Recently, Forward in Faith North America elected the Rev. Canon Lawrence D. Bausch of Ocean Beach, California, as its new president. Canon Bausch succeeds the Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, who had served as FiFNA’s president since 2005.
At their beginning in 1989 as the Episcopal Synod of America, their mission as Catholic Anglicans centered on preserving catholicity within existing church structures.
Canon Bausch resigned from the ministry of the Episcopal Church in September 2006, and was received as a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Argentina, in the Anglican Province of the Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.
VOL interviewed Canon Bausch as part of the ongoing realignment both in North America and the wider Anglican Communion and we asked him how he saw the future of FIFNA, its goals and aspirations within the Anglican Communion.
VOL: Canon Bausch, how do you understand your mission in these post-TEC, new ACNA days?
BAUSCH: Our primary mission is to teach, practice and proclaim the fullness of our Catholic inheritance for Anglicans, regardless of jurisdictional identity. Historically speaking, we see ourselves as a part of a new “Oxford Movement”. After my election, I said that our mission was now responding to a different parable than when we began. Originally, we were like those who had found the “pearl of great value’, and who were to protect and preserve it with all of our resources. Now, we are within the parable of the talents, whose mission is to utilize and witness to the value of this gift we have been entrusted with.
VOL: Where do your members come from today?
BAUSCH: We have members from the ACNA, TEC and Continuum. Our elected Council also come from all three.
VOL: For the moment the ACNA allows for the Ordination of women to the priesthood though the matter is far from settled How does the situation of your members and leaders within it differ from the days in The Episcopal Church?
BAUSCH: When the ACNA came into being under the authorization of the GAFCON Primates, the participants, most of whom had been a part of the Common Cause Round Table, agreed that we would allow each Diocese to have its own policy on Women’s Ordination (to) the Priesthood, while the Episcopate would be male only. We also agreed that a Task Force would be assigned to do an extensive study of Holy Orders, including the matter of Women’s Ordination. This had never been done in TEC. The assumption going in was that we cannot exist as a Church permanently with “impaired communion” in which not all clergy were universally recognized. This entire good-faith enterprise has been a true blessing for all within the ACNA.
VOL: The ACNA is completing its study of Holy Orders this year. What is your hope or expectation for the outcome of this effort?
BAUSCH: Our expectation is that this thorough study, much of which is already available on the ACNA website, will confirm our position as Biblical, historical and theologically coherent. Our hope is that this will be received by the College of Bishops favorably, and will be commended for study in every Diocese. Then, we hope (and pray) for the wisdom to see how best to alter our practice and come into conformity with our historic position. We recognize that the implementation of such a change will require time, with great pastoral sensitivity and care.
VOL: How does your message and appeal for the fullness of Catholic faith and practice within Anglicanism, address or speak to the particulars of people in TEC, the Continuing Churches, and the ACNA (and perhaps the wider Anglican Communion)?
BAUSCH: By not taking a position on jurisdictional membership, we want to be able to offer tools which can help any and all of our members to fulfill our mission in their particular context. For example, at our upcoming July Assembly, we will be giving the participants an opportunity to attend one of two workshops, one on Anglo-Catholic Church Planting and the other on Church Re-vitalization. Regarding the wider Anglican Communion, our members have a variety of international connections and shared ministries, in addition to our participation in GAFCON. For example, I went by invitation of the bishop to do two weeks of teaching for priests in Anglo-Catholic practice and teaching in the Diocese of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
VOL: FIFNA operates across North America within a number of Anglican churches, including the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in North America, the Diocese of the Holy Cross, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Province of America, the Anglican Church in America, and the Episcopal Church (United States). However, FIFNA is not a diocese of the ACNA, which is predominantly evangelical in theology and ethos. Clearly there are tensions there. How do you think you can resolve them? Do you see a time when FIFNA would be a full partner (diocese) in the ACNA?
BAUSCH: FIFNA is not itself an ecclesial entity, and is not in itself within any jurisdiction. However, some of our members within the ACNA are within the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, which is comprised of FIFNA-member parishes and priests. The tensions you describe between some of our perspective and the ACNA are real, but not necessarily negative. At our Anglican best, we strive to see these as differences of emphasis rather than substance, and then continue to promote the understanding of our essential Catholic identity as particularly expressed such things as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. It is also noteworthy that, in the production of the ACNA Catechism, there were FIFNA members involved.
VOL: There are former TEC Anglo-Catholic dioceses like Ft. Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin that are fully on board with the ACNA. Is that possible for FIFNA?
BAUSCH: FIFNA is a Ministry Partner with the ACNA, as is the AAC. So, unlike a Diocese, we are in, but not of it.
VOL: You have held an annual Assembly every year since your beginning. How does your upcoming one embody your change of focus?
BAUSCH: I have already mentioned the workshops we will be offering. Additionally, Bishop Ackerman and I will be monitoring a forum on the future for Anglo-Catholics, and hope that a good number of young clergy and members will participate. The theme of the Assembly itself, “Celebrating Christian Marriage, Family and Single Life”, should certainly appeal to all participants, regardless of jurisdiction.
VOL: Who do you target in seeking new members to FIFNA?
BAUSCH: I serve in the ACNA Diocese of Western Anglicans, where I am one of a very few Anglo-Catholic priests. However, I am very frequently asked to offer either teaching or mentoring by persons, often those who have come from an Evangelical background. They often are attracted to our Anglican history and order, but often know little about the richness of our Catholicity. This exemplifies the sort of person we see as our potential new members.
VOL: How can you attract secular Millennials to a movement like FIFNA? While there seems to be a groundswell by many evangelicals towards liturgically driven churches like Rome and a number of Orthodox Churches, how do you think you can get such persons interested. In short where is your future flock coming from?
BAUSCH: This is indeed the great challenge for all traditional Christians in our culture. Ultimately, our best hope will be in those Millennials who are already among us or coming our way. We can equip them for this work among their peers. I am quite taken with the teaching and influence of Charles Taylor in understanding our culture and challenges. Two books which have been inspired by his thought I have found to be quite helpful: “How (Not) To Be Secular”, by James K.A. Smith, and “How To survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith & Politics” by Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson. The other thing we need to be doing, in my opinion, is to get acquainted with young people, believers or not, and ask them to teach us so that we may understand them better. We won’t know how to offer what we have until we know them. Our Lord, and our ministry, are implicitly relational, and we ignore relationships to our discredit.
VOL: Thank you, Fr. Bausch