On October 3, 1991, during a meeting of Anglican clergy and Laity, authorized to negotiate a union of existing “Continuing Anglican Churches”, the participanting bishops received consecraction sub conditione from three bishops who served as such in Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
During the course of nearly three decades, a number of churches were established in the United States and elsewhere in response to what were believed to be radical departures from the Christian Faith and Order by Provinces of the Anglican Communion. In every case, those establishing such separated jurisdictions faced the problem of providing for the perpetuation of the ministry. Althought many bishops of the Anglican Communion demonstrated considerable sympathy for the plight of American Episcopalians, few were prepared to disobey the normal canonical provisions of the Church by consecrating bishops for the Continuing Churches.
The Provinces of the Anglican Communion, in their laws, Continue the procedures established universally in the fourth century, in the context of substantially unified Church. By this time, the Christian Church had develoed a common polity. Congregations were grouped into dioceses, dicoceses into provinces and provinces into patriarchies, a system largely mirroring the govrnmental structure of the Roman Empire, Two concepts merged in this system. The first was of Divine Institution, the ordained ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. This ministry was deemed to be essential to the Church's wholeness. The second concept was of human origin. By nothing this, one in no manner underestimates its importance. St. Paul enjoined the Corinthian Christians to do all things “decently and in order.” The structure of the Roman Empire was believed at the time, both in theory and in practice, to be the most efficient model of government for a trans-national structure.
Thus in the fourth century the Church adopted universal rules governing the manner in which those called to any order of ministry would be chosen, accepted and ordained. These rules have stood the test of time. Briefly they required that those who are to be ordained should be Christians, by virtue of their baptism and confirmation. They should be “elected” by the people of the diocese in which they are to minister, being found worthy and suitable. If they are to be consecracted to the episcopate, the election should be accepted, “confirmed” by the Metropolitan or Chief Bishop of the Province and by the other bishops. They should be consecracted by the Metropolitan or Chief Bishop of the Province and by the other bishops. They should be consecracted by the Metropolitan and at least two other bishops of the Province.
More democratic forms of church government have shared some of these task with the laity and clergy, requiring synods or standing committees to participate and setting forth precise legal requirements in the form of warrants and licenses. However the essential form remains intact.
The division of the Universal Church into rival jurisdictions existing without formal relationships with each other, as a result of historic “schisms” and separations, the tragic reality that from time to time Christians abandon communion with each other, has established a number of precedents in which Orders have been transmitted in a manner which violates not the perpetuation of ministry, but the form and method we have just reviewed. Assements have to be made to determine whether such violations of the ancient canons of the Undivided Church fatally compromise the integrity of the ministry by failing to assure the Church that such a ministry may be assured that such persons, so ordained and consecracted, may be deemed authentic, thus assuring the faithful that they may continue to receive the sacraments.
Practically other issues are involved, some salutary, others perhaps less worthy. For this reason the study of precedents and their applications to given cases involves not only theologians, but historians, canon lawyers and biblical scholars. They must sift through the available evidence, seek objectivity, strive to detect prejudice, potitical motivations, personal animus and much more.
It may be helpful to apply these points to the Continuing Anglican Churches. All sought to perpetuate the ministry. They grouped themselves into dioceses and election bishops. They sought bishops to consecracte these bishops-elect. They created theit own dioceses unilaterally. There was no Metropolitan or Provincial bishops to ratify the election of such men or to “take order” for such consecractions. In every case it was impossible to secure the services of three bishops from any Province of the church or from anywhere else. The intention to perpetuate the ministry, which is of Divine Origin was there. The ability to perpetuate the ministry within in normal rules established in the fourth century was not.
Arglicans and Episcopalians who believe there was no possible justification for separation may well conclude that the consecractions and ordinations of the Continuting Churches lack credibility. Episcopalians and Anglicans who share the beliefs of Continuing Anglicans but who have judged that the timing and methods employed by Continuing Anglicans were erroneous, may take the view that the Orders perpetuated were perhaps valid, but broke all the normal rules for insufficient reasons. To use a technical term, they may belive such Orders to be irregular. Naturally each Continuing Anglican jurisdiction justified its action and sought precedents to show that the abnormality of the actions did not fatally compromise such actions. Each sought to demonstrate that in times past, on a number of occasions, similar actions occurred and subsequently the Church, or significant portions of the Church believed that those so consecracted or ordained were truly ministers in Apostolic Succession within the Church Catholic.
Unhappily, for reasons, sometimes objective and sometimes political, Continuing Anglicans could not agree as to which irregularities might be accepted , which rejected, or which created such doubt as to deprive the faithful of that security which is necessary to be assured that the laity in fact enjoy the communion and fellowship of the Church.
Conscious of these facts, those who sought to unite in the Anglican Church of America, determined to seek the perpetuation of the ministry in as secure a manner as possible. for the first time, three bishops validly and legally consecracted within the Anglican Communion were prepared to assist the emerging uniting church by bestowing conditional ordination and consecraction.Those who were to receive conditional consecraction had been elected or appointed according to the normal rules established by the Universal Church. Although each jurisdiction had been unable to observe all the Apostolic Canons initially, great care was taken to observe these rules once jurisdictions had been established and organized. Thus these elections had been confirmed in the appropriate manner. The bishops had been consecracted with the consent and permission of their several provincial structures within the various Continuing Churches. Now the ecclesiastical structures entering into unity sought and authorized the participation of three undoubted bishops in assuring the perpetuation of the Apostolic Ministry within the Anglican Church of America.
There now follows a table or chart establishing that the bishops who conditionally consecracted the bishops acknowledged as bishops in the Anglican Church were in fact true bishops of the Catholic Church within the Anglican Tradition, none of whom had been deprived of their episcopates by their several Provinces.
The three bishops were:
On October 3, 1991, during a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, using the Ordinal contained in the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer, the following persons were conditionally consecracted to the episcopate by the above bishops. Those participants whose previous ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood had been questioned, received conditional ordination to the diaconate on October 1 and to the priesthood on October 2 at the hands of the Right Reverend Charles F.Boynton. In each of such cases it was established that such persons had been validly baptized and confirmed by acknowledged bishops within the Anglican Communion and had served without censure for significant periods of time in their previous jurisdictions.
Louis W.Falk, Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church and Bishop of the Diocese of the Missouri valley.
Anthony F.M. Clavier, Primus of the American Episcopal Church and Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States.
Mark G. Holiday, Bishop of the Diocese of the West.
William W. Millsaps, Bishop of the Diocese of the Southwest.
Bruce S. Chamberlain, Bishop of the Missionary Diocese of New England.
Walter Howard Grundorf, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of the Eastern United State.
George Raymond Hanlan, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of the Eastern United States.
Norman Andrew Stewart, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States.
Robin B. Connors, Auxiliary to the Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church. Samuel Prakash, Bishop in the Church of India.
Edward Arthur Dunn, Arthur Dunn, Archbishop of the West Indies, the Bishops of British Guiana and Barbadas consecracted William James Hughes on May 1, 1944 as Bishop of British Honduras.
William James Hughes, first Bishop of Matabeleland and Archbishop of Central Africa, the Bishos of Mashonaland and Northern Rhodesia and others consecracted Donald Seymour Arden on November 30, 1961 as Bishop of Nyasaland (Malawi)
Donald Seymour Arden, Archbishop of Central Africa, the Bishops of Mashonaland, Botswana and others consecracted Robert William Stanley Mercer on May 1, 1977 as Bishop of Matabeleland.
Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury and others consecracted Joost de Blank on July 25, 1952 as Bishop Suffragan of Stepney, Diocese of London.
Joost de Blank, Archbishop of Cape Town, the Bishop of St. Helena, the Assistant Bishop of St. John and others consecracted Robert Herbert Mize Jr on November 27, 1960 as Bishop of Damaraland.
Charles B. Colmore, Bishop of Puerto Rico, (for the Presiding Bishop of PECUSA), Benjamin F P. Ivins, Bishop of Milwaukee and Wallace J. Gardner, Bishop of New Jersey and consecracted Charles Francis Boynton on Jan. 2, 1944 as Bishop Coadjutor of Puerto Rico.
Letter from ACA
Archbishop John Hepworth
Traditional Anglican Communion