Skip to comments.Who really are we? And what truly is our Name?
Posted on 05/17/2005 5:02:40 PM PDT by sionnsar
Questions for the consideration of Anglicans, Episcopalians and their Friends
by Peter Toon
As the Anglican crisis of identity and profession deepens in North America, journalists and communicators are having problems deciding which names and descriptions to use of those within "Anglicanism."
They are finding that it is becoming increasingly difficult to know how to name and describe those (a) who profess to maintain and live within the Anglican Way, and (b) who believe, teach and confess a reformed Catholicism [= an authentic Protestantism in 16th century terms], and (c)who belong to jurisdictions, groups, movements and churches outside the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. [= ECUSA].
Obviously members of The Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., whether they be progressives or traditionalists, high church or low church, conservatives or liberals, are all Episcopalians for they are members of the Episcopal Church. They may also in some circumstances decide to call themselves Anglicans, or be called Anglicans, especially when claiming to belong to the international family of Anglican Churches, the world-wide "Communion of 38 Churches."
We know where "Episcopalian" comes from, but where does "Anglican" come from? The Latin name of the Church of England is Ecclesia Anglicana and so the use of the word Anglican describes members of the Church of England, and by extension, members of other Churches in communion with this Church or members of jurisdictions that have in essence the same worship, doctrine and discipline as the Church of England. But "Anglican" can function either as a noun ("I am an Anglican") or as an adjective ("I am an evangelical Anglican").
It is primarily in the choice and use of adjectives that problems arise and emotions are raised as attempts are made to describe the modern diversity of Anglican witness in the supermarket of American denominations and religions. If the term "extra-mural Anglicans" (or "extra-mural Episcopalians") is used for those claiming to be of the Anglican Way, but outside of the Episcopal Church, then some folks get upset. Why? They believe that this expression implies that those outside the ECUSA are being declared to be inferior to those inside and, further, they hold that it is being suggested that the outsiders are dependent upon the institution of the Episcopal Church, even though outside its jurisdiction.
Thus "extra-mural" as an expression borrowed from the field of university education is suspect for some when used of those outside the walls of the Episcopal Church. Of course, for others it is a useful analogy for it can be seen as a shorthand way of describing Anglicans who are not in that Province which is still officially a part of the Anglican Communion. If the term "diaspora" is used ( as it is by "The Communion Network" of the ECUSA) of all the groups outside the ECUSA there is protest or trouble from some people.
It is well known that Jews living outside the land of Israel, and called the Jewish diaspora, look to Jerusalem as the origin and center of their religious faith existence; however, it is pointed out that those of the Anglican Way outside the Episcopal Church and its New York City offices, claim to look away from rather than towards this Church and this modern center! So "disaspora" as an expression from Jewish history is suspect, even distasteful, when used of those who certainly, and with conviction, do not look to the National Church headquarters of the Episcopal Church. What term or terms then can or should be used?
Those who left the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s called themselves "the Continuing" Church and so from this comes the expression "Continuing Anglicans" or "Continuing Episcopalians." Here the adjective, "continuing," is crucial and the question arises as to what this group sought to continue, and have, in reality continued.
Some say that they continued a 1960s form of anglo-catholicism and thus only a part of the Anglican Way. The "Continuing Anglicans" from the 1970s are now represented by various jurisdictions which remain essentially anglo-catholic in nature (e.g., the Anglican Province of Christ the King, the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Church of America).
So, it is said, "continuing" as an adjective is not a neutral word and is not suitable when used of those of a charismatic or evangelical or low-church mindset and practice. In the nineteenth century there was an exodus from the Protestant Episcopal Church of a group of churchmen who were evangelical and anti-catholic.
They came to be called "Reformed Episcopalians" and their new church, the Reformed Episcopal Church. This group was decidedly "protestant" in character right until the 1990s but has, in the last decade, become more comprehensive in its practice of the Anglican Way and now includes a variety of churchmanship and doctrine.
If they are "Anglicans" what is the right adjective to use? In the late 1990s they came into being what is now known as the Anglican Mission in America, which is an evangelical (and sometimes charismatic) extension in the U.S.A. of the Province and Rwanda in Africa. Its local, American bishops are regarded by the Rwandan Church as bishops of the Anglican Province of Rwanda. Are we to call the members of AMiA by the name, "Rwandan Anglicans" or "AMiA Anglicans"? More recently the practice developed of the adoption of individual parishes, which had left the Episcopal Church after the crisis over sexual morality and practice, by a growing number of overseas bishops from South America and Africa. How are we to describe the members of these parishes? "Recife Anglicans" or "Ugandan Anglicans" or "Kenyan Anglicans" or "Southern Cone Anglicans"?
Then it is important to note that several overseas provinces of the Anglican Communion have authorized the forming of parishes of immigrants from their region (e.g., Nigerians & Indians) in the U.S.A. as missionary arms or extensions of the home dioceses. What adjectives are we to use of these new growing units of Anglican faith and practice? Not all types of Anglicans have been mentioned above.
There is, for example, the Episcopal Missionary Church, which came out of the Forward in Faith Movement, and others which were formed by separations from other bodies. And, finally, it may be observed that congregations from a pentecostalist or evangelical background have been embracing the liturgical way in a kind of Anglican form and forming their own jurisdictions (e.g. The Charismatic Episcopal Church). Again what adjectives are appropriate in these cases?
So the picture of those who are Anglicans or Episcopalians is a varied and a changing one and shows little sign of being anything else but this for the immediate future. The problem of name and title is experienced not only in communication and e-mail exchanges but also at every church notice-board be it erected outside the church building or in a web-site on the internet.
Does one write, "St. Mark's Anglican Mission in America Church;" "Christ Reformed Episcopal Church;" and "St. Anne's Anglican Church in America Church"? Or does not respect the integrity of the dedication of the building and write, "St. Mark's Church, Anglican Mission in America;" "Christ Church, Reformed Episcopal Church;" and "St. Anne's Church, Anglican Church in America"?
It would seem that the simplest and the best way forward on the Notice Board, as well as in the legal description, is simply to say "St Mark's Church" or "St. Anne's Church" or "Christ Church" ( or perhaps St Mark's Anglican Church or St Mark's Church, Anglican) and follow this with a clear statement of what are the services and their times (for from the description of the services it will be clear that it is not a Baptist or Presbyterian church!).
To give the name of the jurisdiction is to take a lot of space and is also perhaps to advertise the schisms which currently do not give the Anglican Way a good name! Perhaps one thing can be said. The fact of the variety and the fact of sensitivity over names and titles do point to life, convoluted perhaps but life nevertheless! All in all the Anglican Way is not yet a derelict route in America for Anglicans of many stripes are still active and keep to reproduce their kind.
--The Revd Dr Peter Toon is the Vice-President and editor of the publications of the Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. and the author of many books - www.episcopalian.org/pbs1928 & www.anglicanmarketplace.com
Well, at least Dr. Toon acknowledges APCK. That's a first.
I didn't know that. He did tell me that the APCK is the most strict province in its requirements for the priesthood.
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