Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Continuing churches sign concordat of full communion

Anglican Church in America, Anglican Catholic Church, Anglican Province of America and the Diocese of the Holy Cross to seek “full, institutional and organic union with each other”

Four continuing church groups have signed a concordat of full communion at the close of a joint synod today.

On 6 Oct 2017 the primates of the Anglican Catholic Church, the Anglican Province of America, the Anglican Church of America, and the Diocese of the Holy Cross signed an agreement pledging to seek “full, institutional and organic union with each other”.

The four continuing churches affirmed their common doctrines and disciplines set forth in the 1977 Affirmation made at the Congress of St Louis, (pictured) the traditions of the undivided catholic church, and the seven ecumenical councils of the catholic church. They further recognized the orders of the clergy of each of the jurisdictions and acknowledged a common episcopal succession arising from the Denver Congress of 1978.

The affirmation opened the door to reunion with other Anglican groups who share their core principles.

Leaders of the Atlanta joint synod told Anglican Ink that they were open to reunion with the Anglican Church of North America, but at present the question of women’s orders blocked that avenue. The ACNA practices what its leaders calla “mixed economy” on ordination of women to the priesthood and diaconate, allowing a local option for each diocese to decide.

However, the ACNA constitution forbids the consecration of a woman to the episcopate. The wider GAFCON coalition follows a mixed economy on women’s orders, with Nigeria not ordaining women, while women priests can be found in Kenya, Uganda, Congo, the two Sudans, and the ACNA.

In 2015 the GAFCON primates agreed to a moratorium on the consecration of women to the episcopate until the church was of one mind on the issue. The question arose after a woman priest in Kenya, which began ordaining women clergy in 1980, saw several women stand for election to the episcopate.

The new primate of Kenya, the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, has not made a public statement reaffirming his province’s moratorium, and speculation amongst GAFCON leaders centers on the likelihood of his not being able to hold the line in response to internal and external pressures from his bishops and the Church of England and other overseas partners.

While Anglo-Catholics and the philo-Orthodox groups since the Nineteenth century within Anglicanism have held the seven ecumenical councils are authoritative, the traditional view within the church has been that the first four: First Council of Nicaea (325); First Council of Constantinople (381); First Council of Ephesus (431); Council of Chalcedon (451) are authoritative, the fifth through seventh: Second Council of Constantinople (553); Third Council of Constantinople (680–681); and Second Council of Nicaea (787) are authoritative to a lesser degree. Insistence on accepting all seven, rather than the first four, would be a stumbling block for corporate reunion with the GAFCON provinces.

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