Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Not Anglicans but Episcopalians - a new clarity in the USA?

An article from The Durham News, USA, provides incidental endorsement of the lines along which the TEC has divided. In an article about students at the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke University the two sides are referred to as ‘Episcopalian’ (those remaining within TEC) and ‘Anglican’ (those who have left TEC).

Thus, the article refers to "[t]he approximately 50 Anglicans and Episcopalians at AEHS" (emphasis added), rather than simply "students". The article also quotes the Director of AEHS, Englishwoman and former Tutor in Old Testament at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, Jo Bailey Wells, referring to "Anglicans" on the one hand and "Episcopalians" on the other:

‘"The Anglicans assume that the Episcopalians are not disturbed by the split, [that] they’ll march forward with their new policies," she said. "And the Episcopalians assume that [American] Anglicans are not disturbed by the split because they’re marching on and creating new churches and building new buildings. There isn’t a great deal of communication or at least real understanding between the two."’

Thus it would seem that, within the United States at least, a new clarity is emerging, with ‘The Episcopal Church’ and ‘Anglicans’ becoming accepted labels for now-divergent approaches to Christian understanding.

Read the Durham News article here.

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  1. John,
    I am not at all sure that the way the labels "Anglican" and "Episcopal" are used in the article is the way they are used in other contexts or generally in the US. There is a history of Anglican being used as part of the names of churches that were formed by people who left the Episcopal Church because of BCP revision or the ordination of women. In our village there is an Anglican Chapel that uses the Episcopal Church's 1928 BCP. It was formed by parishioners who left in 2003, but it has attracted members for whom BCP revision and women's ordination were unaccpetable. So, in the US we refer to those churches as Anglican simply because that is they designation they prefer. However, we also, especially here in a border state, recognize that Anglican is also the proper designation for the church in Canada and that the Communion to which we belng is properly called Anglican. It is also worth noting that, at least for the present, the Diocese of Fort Worth that was mentioned in the article and which, in my opinion, only includes Episcopal in its name in ordewr to retain control of property, is not recognized as a diocese within the Anglican Communion by the Primates.

  2. Dear Fr Weir

    My thought in response to the article was that perhaps the 'Anglican'/'Episcopal' distinction, rather than being legally or ecclesiologically precise, will be one that enters common parlance - that is to say, it will become the way that the 'man in the street' is able to understand 'who's who'.

    Meanwhile, I suspect that the next stage will be that the dioceses in the US that are as yet not officially recognized will nevertheless be entirely accepted by the emerging GAFCON/FCA alliance. Thus there will, in the end, be two diverging branches of global Anglicanism, and that will leave the problem of what happens here, in the Church of England, to be finally resolved.

    That was the drift of my piece on 'Suddenly it's all over for the Anglican Communion'.

    It is, however, a difficult matter of trying to follow trends and predict changes, and therefore not an exact business.

  3. John,

    I appreciate the blog very much.

    Your grasp of the use of 'Anglican' and 'Episcopal' in the States is broadly correct, I think. It is becoming a shorthand to distinguish groupings, though there are exceptions and untidy aspects as Daniel Weir notes above.

    It can sometimes be difficult to hold out hope for a Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans taking root among the varied groups of Anglicans who either left the Episcopal Church USA or started afresh (I am in this latter group). There is so little of what would be understood as Anglican Evangelical ministry in the USA. Many of the (creedal) orthodox Anglicans have a fair measure of Anglo-Catholic practice if not doctrine, and thus may not be keen to take the 39 Articles as a confession. The reference to the 1928 prayer book above makes the point.

    I expect that many in the Anglican circles in North America will either need to come to grips with how they differ from the confessional stance of the Articles, or dilute their allegiance. Some common practices here (e.g., reservation or lifting up the bread) are prohibited in the Articles while doctrines that are sidelined here (e.g., election) are affirmed in the Articles.

    On the positive side, John Rodgers (retired bishop of the Anglican Mission in America, one of the larger groupings and charismatic in tendency), has seen that clerical subscription is essential to future clarity on these topics. I don't know what success he's met with, though he no doubt brought these concerns to GAFCON where the historic formularies were included in the Jerusalem Declaration. Praise the Lord for that!

    All that to say, there is much more work to be done to invigorate an evangelical presence that is faithful to Anglican confessions, before a Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is true to the name here in North America.

    Thanks for the opportunity to contribute and apologies for the length!

    Clifford Swartz, Christ Church, New York City