Anglicanism and the REC: What is Happening
By Bishop Ray R. Sutton, Ph.D.
The language and theology of the Book of Common Prayer are to liturgy what Mozart was to music. Of the latter it was said that his composition was so near perfect a word could neither be added nor subtracted. This balance appears in many places in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, not the least of which is the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church (Militant in the 1662). The title of this article is drawn from the portion having to do with the prayer for the “Universal Church.”
Before praying for the magistrates, the prayer for the Church Catholic asks God, “And grant that all those who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.” As always, the balance of classical Anglicanism strikes a Biblical mean. The prayer calls for agreement in truth. Jesus Christ described Himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life. There can be no life without Truth. For the Christian, the Truth–Incarnational and propositional, visual and verbal–is the basis for everything, even unity. The Church has always believed that its unity is in its common confession. Anything that jeopardizes the confession therefore undermines the unity.
At the same time, the aforementioned prayer recognizes the need for those who believe the truth to “live in unity and godly love.” Just as there cannot be true unity without the truth so there cannot be complete expression of the truth without unity. Those united by the Truth are to live into it. They are to unite. They have no other option. Jesus Himself did not condone nor make provision for the Truthful to live in isolation from the Faithful. Truthful and Faithful are called upon to live as One.
To this end, the Reformed Episcopal Church began on a mission to maintain the catholicity of the Church. In the late 19th century, the concern was to forge an evangelical union based on the apostolic faith and order bequeathed to the old Episcopal Church. Today, the crises are very different. We no longer have the opportunity, which is good in some sense, to divide over intramural squabbling as to how the Articles of Religion will be interpreted: high, low, evangelical or catholic. No, the burning demand of the day is for orthodox Christians everywhere in the West to unite before secularism brings out the lions once again to eat us. Thus, we are in serious need of union among not only Evangelicals and Catholics but particularly between Evangelical and Catholics in the Anglican Way. In this regard, the Reformed Episcopal Church, true to its original spiritual DNA, is playing a vital role in the reformation of a new, Biblically faithful Anglican Province in this part of the world.
Several years ago, the Reformed Episcopal Church became involved with organizing something called the U.S. Anglican Congress. It was an attempt outside the structure of the Episcopal Church to bring Anglican Christians together in a meaningful way to worship, to evangelize and to fellowship together. Several meetings were held. Before long, however, the final meltdown of the Episcopal Church (now the TEC) culminated over the consecration of a practicing homosexual to the episcopacy.
The need arose for the U.S. Anglican Congress to morph into a more structured organism, the Common Cause Partners. It now consists of ten partners, seven in the U.S. and three in Canada. These partners have all but one or two adopted Articles of Federation and a theological statement. The REC has played an important part in both documents.
The Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote wrote the first draft of the articles of Federation for CCP in a providential manner. Bishop Grote wrote the original federation document for another group, the Federation of Anglicans in the Americas. DACA was created for the union between the REC and the APA. Eventually, this model served to draw in several continuing Anglican organizations such as the Anglican Church in America, the Diocese of the Holy Cross, the Anglican Mission in America and so forth. Representing nearly 500 parishes, FACA has now been invited to become a partner among the Common Cause Partners. As it turned out, however, the federation document was so well done that the Common Cause Partners decided to use the same blueprint with slight modifications.
As for the theological statement of the Common Cause Partners, I was asked to chair a theological committee that produced this document. Actually, I wrote the first draft. After considerable discussion and even debate, the document was adopted. It is based on a classical model, advocating Holy Scripture as the unchangeable, final authority and the historic Anglican formularies, even the historic 1662 BCP liturgy and the Articles of Religion, as the sine qua non for membership in the CCP. The theological statement is therefore not simply acknowledgment of historic documents as history but as doctrinally binding.
Furthermore, the leadership role of the REC Presiding Bishop has been pronounced. The Rt. Rev. Leonard Riches has been at the center of the complete development of the CCP. He has been the confidant to the Moderator, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, the Ordinary of TEC Diocese of Pittsburgh. He has also been next to Bishop Duncan on some key, public occasions, even at a most recent press conference following the first gathering of all of the CCP bishops for the first College of Bishops.
To use the words of the Apostle Paul, “I thank my God always” for His grace to enable us at a time such as this to be involved in the work described by our Lord Jesus Christ in His High Priestly Prayer (John 17). For years I have prayed that prayer and the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church. Never did I think I’d ever see these prayers answered in any significant way. To my grateful surprise, I am joyful at the sight of the first inklings of the fulfillment of prayers so long prayed for.
Yet, what has happened is only the beginning of a new alignment of Anglican Christendom. This nascent moment is important. If we cannot unite among members of our own ecclesiastical family, how can we ever achieve that for which Christ prayed in Gethsemane and longs for in the present, to wit, the re-unification of Biblical Christendom? To this end, and perhaps only to this end can the North and West be re-Christianized. God give us the grace and strength to do it.
A memorial service was held at St. Andrew’s in memory of Louise Rich on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007.
The annual Synod of the Diocese of Mid-America met at the Cathedral of St. Mathias in Katy, Texas in October 18 & 19, 2007.
The Woman’s Guild had their annual Spaghetti Dinner, Saturday evening, November 3, 2007. Approximately $300.00 was received for missions. We thank the ladies and all who helped and attended.
Audrey Leigh & William Frank Garrison were baptized, Sunday, November 4, 2007. They are the twin infants of Will & Beth Garrison.
Missionary of The Month
Judy King, Bible Translation/Discipling. Amazonas, Brazil.
Sunday, December 9, 2007, during coffee hour in the Parish Hall.
Ember Days- December 19, 20, 22, 2007.
Ember days occur four times throughout the Church Year. They are always on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the week. These days, which are of ancient origin, are set aside as special days for prayer and abstinence, or fasting.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Monday, December 24, 2007, 11:00 p.m. Refreshments at 10:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall.
The word “Christmas” comes from the word “Christ Mass” of
the early church. It is a season which the church set aside as
early as the middle of the fourth century, the day, December 25
was established as the day of celebration in A.D. 354. On this day
the church celebrates the fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecies
concerning the Messiah.
On this day we rejoice at God’s entrance into our world in the
flesh…that in Jesus Christ, God has become one of us. In entering
our world, Jesus brought the light of the Gospel into a world darkened
by sin with the promise that “whosoever believes in Him has everlasting
life.” For this reason we celebrate the Christmas season with joy and
the symbols of light, radiance and pleasing color.
Dec. 7 – Sunny Stiklius
Dec. 10 – Renee Hassert
Dec. 11 – Loretta Sellers
Dec. 16 – Barney Reagan
Dec. 17 – William O’Brien
Dec. 18 – Thomas Bowman
Dec. 21 – Chris Ebisi
by Helen Kitchell Evans
Fall brings us rich rewards;
The harvest of abundant grain,
A lingering warmth of feeling
Across the valley and the plain.
In this season we recapture the
Abiding love of our friends;
The wonders of God’s world;
His greatness never ends.
Today let’s go out for a stroll
And call upon someone in need;
Gladden the hearts of the aged or
Go wherever our Lord might lead.