A NEW SYNERGY
(from which was excerpted a lunch address at the July 15, 2015 International Catholic Congress of Anglicans)
by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC, Diocese of the Holy Cross
and Moderator of the Federation of Anglican Churches in America
Thomas Watson was the son of the founder of IBM. He inherited the company, and in the 1960’s, did something daring that brought out the best in IBM. He saw that it might be possible to combine nine separate computer functions into one marketable unit. The challenge was so great that it meant risking the future of the company. By the skin of his teeth, Thomas Watson enabled the process that turned nine separate computer functions into one marketable unit, leading to the personal computers which would dominate the market up to the present.
After nearly 39 years in the wilderness, the jurisdictions of the continuing church movement can see a point of convergence, a promised land. We are about a year out from this promised land. We are now working proactively together, aware of the need to end up with a single province for traditional, orthodox Anglicans. In the last ten years especially we have seen real progress in mutual good will, communication and cooperation. We are aware of how important it is for us to get our act together, because of the kind of good example and witness that provides for what Archbishop Haverland calls the “neo Anglicans,” those who have come out of the evil empire since 2003 and have since formed the Anglican Church in North America, the ACNA.
There is a passion for a single province for us all. Such a province has to be traditional and orthodox in every respect. Such a province must be Catholic in its ecclesiology and holy orders, and recognizably Anglican in its liturgy. Some hopeful signs in the emergence of a single province are: (i) the bishops of the continuum are speaking with one voice. When we think, speak and act as though we are already one, we tend to bring that about. Our motto could be, as Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Christians, “live it, then put it on paper.” (ii) We are helping the neo-Anglicans see that the issues we face are all related. The ordination of women, confusion over sexual roles, homosexuality, easy divorce, breakdown of the family, abortion and euthanasia, are all one gnostic impulse to re-define human nature apart from Christ. To be for any one of those things is to be for them all. (iii) Our appeal to the neo-Anglicans in the ACNA is part of the dynamic momentum building up throughout the Body of Christ for the consensus of the undivided Church of the first millennium.
There was a good head of steam built up at the Summit in Brockton, Massachusetts, hosted by St. Paul’s, and Bishop James Hiles, in November of 2011. This Summit was held on the coattails of the Vancouver Summit. These summits bring us together, to build trust and a renewed vision for what we can be and do together. Last May, after the Brockton Summit, Archbishop Mark Haverland and Presiding Bishops Walter Grundorf and Brian Marsh and I decided to spend a couple days together in Oviedo, Florida. We would look at topics like interjurisdictional clergy transfer and reciprocity. We also decided to make a formal appeal to the ACNA, in the form of a letter, calling that body to authentic Catholic ecclesiology and ministry, and to a fully orthodox Anglican liturgy. We would acknowledge our own shortcomings and failings, and the lessons we have learned in the wilderness, and open the door wider for engagement with them, because we have a story to tell. We would invite other continuing church bishops to sign our appeal, and Archbishop Peter Robinson of the United Episcopal Church responded to this, as did, I think, Presiding Bishop Council Nedd of the Episcopal Missionary Church. The Appeal may have been copied to the ACNA College of Bishops but to the best of my knowledge did not receive any sort of reply. Then in July 2012, Forward in Faith/NA sent a letter to the ACNA College of Bishops, asking for a moratorium on the ordination of women, until a formal study is concluded.
We must go forward in a timely manner, stepping out with vigour. The shepherds who visited our Lord in the manger went with haste. Time lines are scriptural. The wilderness sojourn lasts 40 years. The exile in Babylon lasts 70. It seems to take 70 years to incubate a gnostic system, whether it be communism, nazism or feminism, 70 years to be nearly suffocated by it, and 70 years to overcome its effects. We are closing in on the promised land God has for us because we are a reconnaissance operation, like Joshua and Caleb. We are advance units, the eyes of the army, the ones who are given humanly impossible assignments. We are among those who are the eyes and the antennas of traditional, orthodox, re-aligning global Anglicanism. We have blazed a trail these past 39 years, and showed that there is a way forward, and that Anglicanism has an absolutely vital role to play in the universal Church. So the Holy Spirit is moving quickly through our ranks to knit together our life in Christ. Things that I think will take 5 years happen in a few months.
The nuts and bolts of getting things together are, first, to continue to build unity within FACA. Two of FACA’s jurisdictions, the ACA and the APA, are working very closely together now. Second, FACA is beginning to marinade itself with another loose association comprised of the ACC, the PCK and the UEC. That marinade is the virtual unity of the continuing church movement. By the time we get there, the ACNA will either have cleaned up its act, or reconfigured, so that a federation of continuers can plug itself in. It is likely that by that time, if not before, we can be back in communion with the Polish National Catholic Church, or perhaps an even fuller relationship with them. We will end up with about a thousand parishes, and close to 150,000 people. Our goal in 1977 was 250,000 people, the size needed for viability, national visibility and serious impact on the culture.
Our witness to our fellow Anglicans with baggage from Egypt is that the secular world system, following Ba’al, mooring itself in the lies of gnostic feminism, is already a failed, collapsing system, resulting in 1.5 billion abortions world-wide since 1973. The ordination of women, just as a symptom issue, is about where the Soviet system was in 1984, completely ready to collapse. The collapse of course was symbolized the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989. To prepare for this, FACA and Forward in Faith and others are working to magnify the lay office of deaconess. The Reformed Episcopal Church has a superb program for deaconesses. There are priestesses who have resigned, and perhaps a few who will gladly be deaconesses, if the door to that is shown to them. We will be promoting the biblical ministries for women: deaconesses, catechists, nuns, Church Army officers, lay canonesses, and above all, wives and mothers. And we have to get it right on holy matrimony.
The centripetal forces bringing us together as continuers in this country, that are bringing believing, orthodox Christians together world-wide, are astonishing. The Holy Spirit is dynamically at work to bring Christians together in the consensus of the undivided Church of the first millennium. God is working quickly and powerfully among us. He wants us to be able to speak with one voice as we face of the rising tide of Islam. He wants us to be ready for possible economic collapse, if the dollar bubble were to burst, or if some rogue nation detonates an EMP in our atmosphere. If the economy collapses, or society melts down, we are piecing together as continuing church bishops, clergy and laity, what this will mean for our common life and witness. We will have to become more geographical. Many parishes will need to sign up under the bishop closest to them, especially if there is no way to drive or fly. We need to think through how a parish church may need to witness if the neighborhood around it becomes violent.
Another reason why God is working quickly and powerfully among us is because He has a vitally important vocation for a re-aligned, traditional, orthodox Anglicanism. He hand is upon us as we re-align. Continuing church bishops share this conviction, which gives rise to the commitment to one province in the United States. This is coming because God wants it, and we have been broken and humbled and made supple in His hands, so that He can effect His purposes through us. We want to help any and all parts of the ACNA to get on board with what God wants. Right now the ACNA is not a province. It is a federation, with a deep fault line running through it, a fault line that exposes two completely different views of what the Church is. The Catholics know the Church to be an organic whole, through time and space. The neo-Anglicans see the Church as a denomination, without any necessary reference to the rest of the Catholic world.
The continuing bishops want to see the ACNA become a province, which it can only do if it embraces a Catholic ecclesiology. Then everyone in it can be in communion, which is not now the case. Right now the ACNA is a federation, not a province. So the ACNA is being called to change, to metanoia, to repentance. Bishop David Hicks is chairing the study that has begun on the ordination of women, which we hope will be a way forward for ACNA to a fully Catholic ecclesiology. Meanwhile, Bishop Keith Ackerman is offering Forward in Faith/North America as a broker for unity among all traditional, orthodox Anglicans.
One new development that is helping us to unify is the entrance into our ranks of Bishop Mark Lawrence, and the Diocese of South Carolina. Last month Bishop Mark attended the FACA Meeting near Charleston, and wants to work closely with us. One of our deacons, now an archdeacon, Jay Boccabello, is licensed to serve at St. Philip’s, Charleston. Working with Bishop Lawrence, it is possible to see how someday we can have an Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, for everyone of our persuasion in that state, a building block in a province that is traditional and orthodox. Geographic alignments like this are gathering momentum in Florida and around Philadelphia. New England and New York are virtually unified already, under the auspices of the ACA. Texas will more and more be its own cluster of jurisdictions.
Our summer youth camps and conferences, now shared by us all, tend toward unity for Anglicans, because our young people, and our young clergy, are not carrying the emotional baggage we older leaders brought out of Egypt. They see traditional, orthodox Anglicanism as one thing for everyone, with the freedom to go from one jurisdiction to another, and freedom to re-shape the whole lot. They have the capacity to be jubilant in their kingdom thinking. And we encourage that.
God has an absolutely vital role for us in the Body as traditional, orthodox Anglicans. Part of his call upon our lives as we enter the promised land is to help reveal the essential unity of the Body. We are the Christians with a foot in all the camps, Roman, Orthodox and Protestant. We can help broker rapport and understanding throughout the Body. Bishop Ray Sutton has an invitation to visit Patriarch Kyril in Moscow, on behalf of the ACNA. Patriarch Kyril will be clear, as was Metropolitan Hilarion, what ACNA has to do to move toward eucharistic fellowship. Some of us in FACA are planning a visit to the Archbishop of Athens in Greece the following year. It is hard for some Greek Orthodox to believe that Rome is really offering the patristic consensus as the model for complete unity. We can share with the Greeks our conviction on this, and begin to re-build our old friendship with them. If the Greeks are the foot and Rome is the shoe, will can be the shoe-horn. If we can make some headway here, it may be the most precious gift we bring to Rome when the time comes. We go to Rome not as suppliants, but bearing a gift: a newly forged friendship with the Greeks. The Holy See would appreciate nothing more. Restoring full communion with Constantinople is Rome’s first priority. If we can re-build our relationship with the Greeks, then they can talk to the Holy See through us, and through us, the Holy See can talk to the Greeks. This may be the only way in which the full communion is ever restored. So life in the promised land will bring a new set of challenges, in living out our vocation, a vocation from which we were so brutally interrupted by Satan and his minions in 1976. When any jurisdiction among us makes a breakthrough or gains some yards, our game plan now is to broker that out to everyone, for everyone’s benefit.
There will be at least six communities leaning on ACNA to change, and witnessing within it for change: the jurisdictions in it which are traditional and orthodox, Forward in Faith, an increasingly unified continuum, the Orthodoxy, Rome, and the Missouri Synod Lutherans. The Appeal made last December by us continuers is certainly not the last. We have a story that is going to be told.
One of our great opportunities is our language. English is the world’s language, and God has allowed the English people and the English Church to be unique in the world. We have the ability to absorb new perspectives and yet keep our core values and identity. Our elasticity is of course our Achilles heal; the devil has wreaked havoc among us. But the Lord is bringing us through our trial, obedient to Him. He wants to use us as the great synthesizers we are, emerging as we did from a marinade of the British Celtic itinerant Church and the settled Roman Benedictines, who more or less worked together to convert the Anglo Saxon invaders, and then go on to absorb the Vikings and then the Normans.
God is reforming and invigorating us so He can use us to help reveal the essential unity of His Church…to “mend the rends” in our Lady’s Protecting Veil. We are in a position to help the two lungs of the Church, East and West, breathe together again.
But God does not want us to be mere manufacturers of strategies. Much of what needs to be done for a unified and orthodox Anglican witness in this country comes by simple living and serving together, within and beyond our jurisdictions. The structures will follow in their own good time. Live it, and let the paper-work follow. That is the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic way. More importantly, our vocation is always to produce saints, not strategies. The ultimate goal is not to build institutional infrastructure but to proclaim the Gospel and reveal the Kingdom. Then we can go on to let God use us as He will, to fulfill our vocation as Anglicans: to help the two lungs of the Church, Rome and Constantinople, breathe together again.
What we have to offer the rest of the Body, in realigned, orthodox Anglicanism, has now been tested and refined by a wilderness generation that has wrestled long and hard with issues of sexual identity and family life in the light of Scripture and Tradition. The new paradigm of the consensus of the first millennium, the point of convergence, and all that it takes for separated brethren to get there, sometimes looks humanly impossible, probably because it is. It was also humanly impossible for Israel to get through the wilderness. What George Marshall did in WWII with the allies was humanly impossible. What Thomas Watson did with IBM in the 1960’s required breakthrough thinking, combining nine separate computer functions into one unit. Jesus’ Resurrection is the ultimate cosmic impossible possibility. When the Blessed Mother asked, “how shall this be, seeing I know not a man,” the Archangel Gabriel replied, “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.”
Yes, we continuers have been a catalyst in the great realignment taking place in the Body. When the Episcopal Church turned itself into a gnostic sect in 1976, we gave Rome and Orthodoxy and believing Protestants something identifiably Anglican with which they could still relate. We have been the reconnaissance of the Lord’s army. We have mapped the mine-fields. We built new communications nets, like the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen. We defined the issues. We blazed a trail forward. We have shown that there is a way forward, and charted a course. That has been an enormous help to the infantry, artillery and armoured units that have been mobilizing in the last decade. They have good intel from us. We have nearly 40 years of wilderness experience behind us, and part of our message is that when we get our act together, and clean up our act, we are not then to sit on our laurels, but move it out again, to fulfill our vocation, to help reveal the unity of the Body of Christ, to help get the two lungs of the Church breathing together again, to be, more vibrantly than ever, what Ignatius of Antioch called “the Church that presides in love.”
As continuers we have had a role to play in helping the ships of the Anglican convoy keep together, in England, Africa, India and many other places. We have had a role to play in the pro-life movement, in which we rub shoulders on a regular basis with believing Christians to help build a culture of life, a civilization of love.
We have of course made many mistakes and committed many sins. That is why the Lord always brings separated brethren together, not through backslapping or glad-handing, or through endless committee meetings and bureaucratic maneuvering, but through mutual repentance. When John Paul II visited Athens, he got off the plane, kissed the ground, and said to the Archbishop, “I am here as a pilgrim. I come as a penitent, to ask forgiveness for the sins my community has committed through the ages against yours.” How powerfully the Holy Spirit can work through those words!
The Holy Spirit is gathering us in Christ, so that the Church can be the sign for shattered, splintered humanity of the unity of all men in Christ, and the return of all creation to the Father.
In all this work we will have the priceless intercession of our Lady. We can help her mend the rends we can reach, on her Protecting Veil. To this end, the Father is forming in us one heart, and pouring out the Holy Spirit upon us, to reveal His Son Jesus as Saviour and Lord of all.