Anglican Catholic Unity

Here one can find and read the statement of the Anglican Catholic Church on Church Unity which I post in response to some people who find our stance “stand-offish”.  Of particular importance is Section 6.

It is very easy to dismiss Continuing Anglicanism on the ground of it being totally disunited. Indeed, that was my major concern in the darker days of my disillusionment with the CofE as I sought somewhere to go.

There are lots of “continuing Anglican” groups, and the question must be, “what are they continuing?” With the disparity of leadership and doctrine, it is easy to accuse Continuing Anglicanism of continuing the fracture of God’s Church. Yet this is not how things are and there is indeed significant movement towards Unity.

Where the ACC is starting that move to Unity is among its sister jurisdictions which emerged from the Congress of St Louis in 1978. This will take time, but there have been very many encouraging signs of communion and union in the past. Indeed, in 2007, there was a joint statement in which it has been stated explicitly that the ACC is in full communio in sacris with the APCK and UECNA. Further unity will come in time, we pray.

For other continuing Anglicans, the ACC seeks to be as clear as it can on the conditions of intercommunion:

“If leaders of such bodies are genuine in their claims to adhere to the same Faith and Order, sufficiently to seek a relationship of communio in sacris with the Anglican Catholic Church, then the question arises as to why they established separate jurisdictions in the first place, contrary to that Faith and Order. In the absence of any satisfactory response to that question, there is little point in proceeding further. We cannot see any justification for asking our synods to furnish funds, nor our scholars to sacrifice the huge allocations of time and energy required, to establish formal negotiations with any body of demonstrably illicit jurisdiction, congregationalist polity, and/or doubtful Orders and Sacraments.”

This is simple honesty. If there is to be true unity between bodies, then there needs to be transparency in order for that union to take place in love. Love requires honesty, it also requires humility on both sides. The ACC has its standards which it cannot take lightly and makes them very clear.

As criteria for engaging in formal dialogue with other Churches aimed at achieving full communion or ultimately organic unity, we would see their possession of historic continuity in Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order, including doctrine and discipline faithfully reflecting the canons and decrees of the seven Ecumenical Councils, with recognizably common Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Ministry, as the starting point, not the conclusion, of such endeavours. These are the minimum requirements for the recovery of authentic Christian unity, and we have no authority to alter or reduce them.

To those who embrace them we will gladly extend the right hand of fellowship.

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How Official is this Blog?

Embryo Parson raises the legitimate question on Initial Report on the New Anglican Catholic Church Blog about how official this blog is.

My answer is that it is not official. It is my own initiative and therefore is not official. The official organs of the ACC are Anglican Catholic Church and Anglican Catholic Church – UK, as are the other diocesan web sites. There is also The Trinitarian to which you can subscribe and most dioceses and parishes publish their own printed media. I have never claimed that this blog is official.

I was discussing this question with my Bishop last Saturday, emphasising my keeping my personal blog As the sun in its orb and this blog separate. In this blog, I do not post anything that would not be disapproved of by my Diocesan Bishop or by our Metropolitan, Archbishop Mark Haverland. I have not been taken to task for anything in my personal blog either. My Bishop does not object to what I am doing, nor has he officially endorsed it.

The point of this blog is that I write on behalf of my Church without claiming official status. I often consult my Bishop and fellow blog authors.

* * *

For the rest of Embryo Parson‘s posting, I can only say that Embryo Parson left the ACC because we are too “Anglo-Catholic” for his present hard Protestant position. This colours his way and his slant on my blogging work.

He finds my “anti-Reformation” stance and endorsement of the pre-Reformation Church objectionable. He is entitled to his opinion. In these matters, I have always been plain with my Bishop and fellow clergy.

I would add that the first paragraph from the quotation also highlights the truth of something I’ve said repeatedly about Anglo-Catholicism, to wit, that it borders on — if not crosses into — mystical aestheticism.   Well and good, if that is to become the thrust of the ACC’s “marketing strategy.”  All sorts of people are attracted to mystical aestheticism.  Only problem is mystical aestheticism has nothing whatsoever to do with the apostolic and Catholic faith.

I differ. Christianity (Catholic / sacramental / liturgical / choose your adjective) is as much a Mystery Religion as a “religion of the book”. As a way of life, it has its similarities with ancient Cynicism and modern Anarchism.

They’re going to have to listen to men like Fr. Hart and Fr. Wells.

These two priests of our Church are good men and fine theologians. Fr Wells has been kind with me since I was seen no longer to be one of Archbishop Hepworth’s men. But their thought and writing are a lot more subtle and open than that of Embryo Parson. I have often written on questions of ecclesiology on As the sun in its orb.

Accretions? Let’s have more of them, with flowing red wine and the joy and freedom of God’s children!

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Related but different. Fr Stephen Smuts of the TAC in South Africa has had a go at An Alternative to the Church of England? and my comment thanking the author of the article. See The ACC as an Alternative to the Church of England?

My remark The “marketing strategy” of the ACC is good… is taken out of context, but Fr Smuts does link to my blog. I am said to be an identifiable consumer of that said ‘marketing strategy’. I suppose he too is a consumer of his Church and Bishop, whilst promoting the ordinariates to the satisfaction of his Roman Catholic clients on his blog. Tit for tat!

Naturally, there is no mention of other Continuing Anglican jurisdictions as ‘credible alternative[s]’.

Should there be? Does he promote the ACC in South Africa as a ‘credible alternative’? There is the The Traditional Anglican Church (England) to which I willingly link. I left it in good standing in order to join the ACC. There is also the Traditional Church of England to which Fr Smuts gives no link on his blog. All I know about the TCE is what is on their blog, but they seem to be sincere and serious. There is also the Free Church of England that is in dialogue with the Union of Scranton and the Nordic Catholic Church. There are certainly other churches identifying with Continuing Anglicanism, fewer than in the USA, but there all the same.

Like Embryo Parson, Fr Smuts is entitled to his opinion. I no longer comment on his blog lest I get attacked by the vicious guard dogs lurking in the background over there, but I answer him all the same.

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The ACC and the Free Church of England

In our Church website, I found news about the Free Church of England in South Africa making an approach to the ACC diocese down there.

The Free Church of England, a Continuing Anglican body with about 3,000 members in the Free State Province of the Republic of South Africa, has signified its intention to come into the ACC.

I was quite surprised and wrote to my Bishop asking whether the Free Church of England established in our country was also approaching the ACC, since it is in dialogue with the Nordic Catholic Church and Bishop Roald Flemestad (cf. the Free Church of England website under 22 April 2013). Bishop Mead replied saying that the Free Church of England in South Africa is a different body to the Church of the same name in the UK. He said he was not sure if they have had links but that he thought they just share a name. It would be the safest thing to say that this concerns South Africa and not England.

The Free Church of England in the UK has always been a movement of reaction against the influence of Anglo-Catholicism. Recently, it has developed a more Orthodox or “undivided church” theology and openness to a more Catholic and sacramental perspective. Some of the more Protestant-minded of the FCC’s members split away, but I am unaware of any church body they may have founded. The move of the FCC towards the Union Of Scranton and the Nordic Catholic Church is significant.

There is an article in the South African ACC website. We should pray for the conclusion of this move towards union of the two Churches. This is good news indeed.

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Events in Canterbury

The Pilgrim’s Refectory at the new Canterbury Church Shop is opening today in the historic Conquest House, 17 Palace Street, Canterbury.

See Pilgrims’ Refectory Opens in our diocesan website.

Congratulations are in order, and we should continue our prayers for our Bishop.

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Statistics of visiting pilgrims to my blogspot

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Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ ,

You might know my BlogSpot www.fatheredbakker.blogspot.com, which I use primarily for evangelizing. Have a look at my stats if you are interested. I pray that it may be a blessing to all that visit.

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Wishing you a good day

Father Ed Bakker

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An Alternative to the Church of England?

The Anglican Catholic Church is certainly not well known in the United Kingdom and this is largely because it is overshadowed by the two great churches of England and of Rome and of the creeping tide of indifference to the Christian Religion. Given that the ACC sees itself very firmly as a continuing Anglican jurisdiction, it is therefore making a clear statement that it sees itself as an alternative to the CofE. How can such a tiny church make such an enormous claim?

To answer this question, one must ask carefully what the alternatives actually are, and this must be done under the principle of charity to all concerned on the grounds that belief necessarily involves deep-seated passions as the blogosphere patently demonstrates.

By and large, the alternatives that we must consider lie in the relationship that the Church has with the secular world. It is very clear from Our Lord’s teaching that the Church is to engage with the world. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” The Mission of the Church is that of spreading the love of God to a world afflicted by sickness, segregation, death and demonry. This love can only come through the mediation of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are also to make disciples of all nations.

This seems clear enough, but this mandate does not say how the Mission of the Church happens in the context of the world. It does, however, send the Church out into its surroundings. The underlying fact is that Church exists within society. The Church has manners and Society has manners. When the two milieux are in harmony, there is no problem. It is when they diverge that we get a dissonance that affects the lives of many people both in this world and in the world beyond. The alternatives are

a) re-interpret the teaching of the Church so as to accommodate the secular milieu;

b) continue with the teaching of the Church as it has always stood and accept the consequences that the dissonance with society forces upon that Church,

To accept the manners of society wholesale leads unsurprisingly to social acceptability and thus to popularity and respectability. To reject them completely leads to a lack of trust, ridicule, and isolation unless some efforts are made to seek some common ground with society.

It seems that the Church of England has chosen, in its mainstream operation, option (a) and the ACC option (b).

Those who choose option (b) do so in accordance with St Paul’s statement: ” be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that  ye  may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect,  will of God.” St Paul tells us that there must be a way in which the Church is aloof to worldly ideas and sentiments.

The Church of England appears to have chosen option (a), though it is clear that this is not a homogeneous choice. However its subscription to modern culture is enshrined in its canons. If one looks very carefully at Common Worship – the standard liturgical framework of the Church of England – then one sees lots of different liturgies. Some are truly very catholic, others follow the style of the Orthodox, the 1662 Canon is represented as are several others. But this is the point, there is a lot of option here to accommodate the prevailing local culture. One is free to substitute the Creed with an affirmation of faith. One is also free to set the Mass in the frame work of other liturgical services. In several CofE parishes, the evening celebration of Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmass has been brought forward to the morning to be amalgamated with the Mass on the grounds that “more people will come”. This does involve a rejection of lex orandi, lex credendi and this needs to be justified.

Why should this happen? The Church of England believes that it can and should alter its ways in order to allow people to come in to be part of its society. It is trying something very noble in its intention and yet very quixotic in actuality. It is trying to be all things to all people and thus creating an umbrella organisation in which everyone can “feel at home”. It wants to show folk that there is a place for them, where they can feel valued, no matter who they are. The trouble is when they extend this acceptance to people’s worldly manners and subsequently their beliefs. Political correctness makes statements about how we should understand equality, discrimination, what is acceptable or fair.

Once this happens, the distinction between the Church and society is not just blurred, it becomes non-existent. The church that adheres to political correctness as defined from without becomes homogeneous with the ambient society. This is making disciples of all nations by changing the definition of disciple.

It has to be said, however, that the choice of option (a) that the CofE has chosen is not an absolute commitment and this poses its own problems. There are several ways in which the CofE is indeed countercultural, standing against the prevailing materialist description of reality. It has a new agenda for social justice that Pope Francis shares with Archbishop Welby. The question is where this “justice” has its formal interpretation. Is its source from within the Church’s tradition, or does it have its source from outside in the modern understanding of “values”?

To choose option (b) is to be radical. It provides an alternative to the prevailing political correctness and the definitions that society imposes. Some may be concerned that an “immobilist” position does not allow for development. This is a perfectly reasonable concern, especially since the Catholic Faith did not become apparent immediately in its formulation. There was a time when the Nicene Creed was not even though the faith it proclaims has always existed. The Creed forms a rigid bone in the body of Christ and, of course, bones do grow. While a bone certainly requires flesh in order to live truly, it is not supposed to be flexible.

Option (b) does, however, support absolutes and this is what society does not abide. Society prefers relative statements, and not absolutes so that it does not produce any form of discrimination. Absolutes apparently offend and separate into black and white, even though that’s an absolute way of viewing absolutes. This is the trouble. The existence of absolutes is guaranteed by logic, otherwise the non-existence of absolutes would, in itself, become an absolute. Doctrinal stability is not popular, though many people like the trappings.

So what is it that the ACC offers in alternative to the Church of England?

As our banner proclaims, we offer Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order and Orthodox Worship.

We offer Catholic Faith as an alternative to a re-interpreted faith subject to the political correctness of the prevailing society. We offer consistency at the source rather than by assimilation of modern ideas. We have a rule by which we measure what society values and discern God’s will for that society.

We offer Apostolic Order as an alternative to re-interpreting the sacraments in terms of modern materialistic views. We see Holy Orders as being integral to the transmission of the Catholic Faith for the Church as a whole rather than as vocations for individuals whereby they derive some form of acceptance, leadership and ratification.

We offer Orthodox Worship as an alternative to allowing our worship to be subject to the personal choices of congregations. We see our worship as a Church-wide activity so that anyone can come into any Parish and find themselves involved in the same worship that has taken place in the English Church for centuries with its roots in the Early Church, and in the English Language for the last five hundred years. We offer Church-wide unity of worship with the potential for re-unification with other continuing Anglicans on the grounds of our common worship from the Anglican Prayer-book of 1549. We still speak the same language that the CofE once spoke and, therefore, we have the opportunities to reform with other continuing Anglicans provided we have the will to do so. Unity is indeed our issue and problem. It is also achievable.

It is clear that, from recent synods in the CofE, there is no common language as various factions speak past each other, again and again, paralysing the Church from whatever progress that it intends to make, embarrassing it in the sight of its strident critics and being on the receiving end of Parliament threatening to change its doctrine for it. This is not a church that is in control of its own Mission.

Of course, one could become Roman Catholic, however this involves renunciation of one’s identity as an English Catholic. There are no Anglicans in the Ordinariate, just former Anglicans and present Roman Catholics. There are signs within the Roman Church in England that the same issues that cause division in the CofE are arising. However, the RCC has its own commitment to option (b).

The Anglican Catholic Church does offer a credible alternative to the Church of England in its consistency and fidelity to the faith once received. It seems though that too few people are prepared to make the leap of faith. We believe that we have found the correct path and we intend to follow that path to its natural end. We believe that end to be none other than God Himself. If that is politically incorrect to say so, then society will just have to lump it.

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Saint Peter & Saint Paul , Apostles

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My friends in Christ ,

 

A reflection on today’s Saints day can be found on www.fatheredbakker.blogspot.com , you are most welcome to visit my blog.

I wanted to dwell this evening on the fact that I was ordained Priest in the TAC on the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul on 28 June 2009 in Saint Hilda’s Church, Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand.I do give thanks to God today for this anniversary. It has been a somewhat rocky road, but our Lord Jesus said , that it would not be easy. Through Him and through the power of the Holy Spirit I receive the strength to continue my Ministry.

I take the opportunity to wish you a Blessed feastday and weekend.

 

Father Ed Bakker

ACC/OP

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