Skip to comments.Two Continuing Churches May Go Orthodox
Posted on 02/25/2006 7:21:13 PM PST by sionnsar
Interesting news item regarding Western Rite Orthodoxy
This is a report I found on Huw's blog about the possible conversion of two Continuing Anglican parishes in Alabama to Western Rite Orthodoxy:
This year's Sunday of Orthodoxy is going to be incredibly special in Birmingham, AL. Peter Gilquist is coming to speak at our tiny Antiochian Mission.I suppose I find this very interesting for two reasons: first, what Continuing Anglican jurisdiction has parishes in both Birmingham and Montgomery? I can't think of one, but whichever one it is, it must be their bishop who is converting. And--to my knowledge the closest WRO parishes to Alabama are in Florida and Texas, so this could have a major impact on the decisions of some who are considering leaving ECUSA for a safer home.
We're going to be having a procession of the Icons, and the most important part will be the visitor's which will be involved.
Two continuing Anglican Churches will be in the crowd (One from Birmingham and one from Montgomery); both are seriously considering becoming Western Rite Orthodox churches, seeing that their Bishop is in the process of conversion.
Later that night, there will be a Pan-Orthodox meeting between the Greek, OCA, and Antiochian churches in the area, where Father Gilquist will speak again during a Vespers service.
Everyone try to keep Birmingham in your prayer intentions, seeing that two whole congregations are making such a monumental decision.
(I'm not familiar with Anglican doctrine.)
Do you happen to know what a congregational church is? I'm thinking it's a little like a Unitarian church. I'm wondering because an aunt I'm very fond of belongs to one of these and the services at that particular church were .. a little wierd.
As regards the Congregationals, they are not at all like the Unitarians. My experience of them (and more properly, my wife's because she attended one for a while, there having been no functional Episcopal church in that New England town for decades): they're generally a pretty solid Protestant church. It may be that this pastor has gotten into New Age or other stuff.
Congregational churches have Calvinist roots, like the Presbyterians, but a form of church government more like the Baptists, with a high level of local church autonomy. They are strongest in New England.
As a practical matter, like most of the mainline groups, they have trended strongly liberal in recent years, but there is a wide range of current belief and practice.
Most (but not all) Congregational churches today are affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a liberal group which allows homosexual ministers.
As for the Unitarian question, here's a quote from Wikipedia:
"Despite the efforts of Calvinists to maintain the dominance of their system, the Congregationalist churches, especially in New England, gradually gave way to the influences of Arminianism, Unitarianism, and transcendentalism. "
Sorry, cut and paste: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregational_church
And here is some of what the UCC says about itself:
"1. What does "Open and Affirming (ONA) mean?"
To say that a setting of the UCC (a local church, campus ministry etc.) is "Open and Affirming" means that it has publicly declared that "gay, lesbian, bisexual" (GLB) people (or those of all "sexual orientations") are welcome in its full life and ministry (e.g. membership, leadership, employment etc.) It bespeaks a spirit of hospitality and a willingness to live out that welcome in meaningful ways."
Gillquist and his crowd made up a thing called the Evangelical Orthodox Church. Eventually they decided they should be canonical and came knocking on the door of the Greek orthodox Archdiocese. They demanded that if they were to come into communion with us, we'd have to accept their "orders". The old Archbishop gave them the bums rush. The Antiochians greeted them with open arms and agreed to their terms.
Frankly, I've always thought they were a weird bunch (the EOC crowd, not the Antiochians).
I thought that doctrinally orthodox (not liberal) Congregational churches would be like Presbyterian in doctrine, but with a Baptist style of governance? In other words, Reformed Baptist but with infant baptism?
Actually, the Antiochians didn't accept their orders.
Gilquist along with many colleagues had consecrated each
other as "bishops". They were re-ordained as priests.
They were originally functioning as the Evangelical Orthodox Mission withing the Antiochian Archdiocesebut have since been fully assimilated.
During the 1990's while I was on the road a lot doing software training, I visited Birmingham many times and several times attended an ACA parish in Vestavia Hills. Could this be one ofthe two? (I forget the name)
I think that Western-rite Orthodoxy could use some growing from the tiny continuing Anglicen churches.
Generally speaking, historically, yes. And due to the structure, it is easier for a local congregation to maintain a traditional theology without facing the kind of coercive liberalism that the PCUSA deals out. But as a practical matter, most of them are extremely liberal these days.
The EO's original demand was for their leaders to be recognized as bishops (the 7 head honchos had stood in a circle with their hands on the head of the guy in fron of them and "consecrated" themselves bishops.)
In later years, Gilquist described this bizarre and circus-like event (in the understatement of the century) as "un-canonical."
They actually went all the way to Constantinople expecting that the EP was going to be excited to see them and would welcome them in as fellow bishops.
After the GOA gave them the brush-off, they went to the OCA. Abp. Dimitri told them that they needed a couple of years of catechesis, and was willing to work with them.
This wasn't fast enough, so they went to the Ants. Metr. Phillip saw how much property they had, and cut the deal that he would take them in right away, via mass ordinations (which are contrary to Orthodox canons and service books) -- making the ringleaders instant archpriests.
Phillip got all the property, but he allowed the ringleaders to maintain a setup where they kept their very cushy salaries...
It shouldn't baffle you. The primary objection to WRO is that it is not a living tradition, but a reconstruction. The question is whether it is possible for Orthodoxy to create an Orthodox Western rite out of whole cloth and theories. Experience has shown that the majority of Western Rite Orthodox end up going to the Eastern rite, primarily because it is a living, full tradition next to which WRO pales -- especially in its tepid Antiochian form (with all due respect to the great St. Tikhon, after whom their BCP-based liturgy is named.)
I readily admit that I had no problem transitioning to the Eastern liturgical and spiritual world, so I don't understand the "foreign-ness" argument.
I would submit that in today's day and age, a Western Rite Orthodoxy that was the liturgical, theological, and ascetic equivalent of Eastern Orthodoxy would be every bit as foreign as is Eastern Orthodoxy. An Orthodox Christian of today transported back to, say 7th century services and Christian life in Rome, would be find it quite familiar, whereas I would wager that modern Anglicans and Roman Catholics would find it at least as foreign as their neighborhood OCA parish...
My own feeling is that there will someday be a viable and living Western Rite Orthodoxy, but it will be in the form of a Roman Catholicism that reforms itself and returns to Orthodoxy.
As a practical matter, it is also difficult for Orthodoxy to protest the techniques of Uniatism when WRO is arguably a form of the same principle in reverse.
A properly done WRO would actually *not* be the same principle in reverse, since it would be unlike any existing form of Western Christianity -- whereas Uniatism was built around the explicit principle of appearing to be exactly the same as the Orthodoxy it was imitating and attempting to displace.
But it is still a problematic charge, and does much to dampen enthusiasm for a Western Rite amongst Orthodox hierarchs.
"Actually, the Antiochians didn't accept their orders.
Gilquist along with many colleagues had consecrated each
other as "bishops". They were re-ordained as priests."
Now you see, I made the mistake of believing our own Greek propaganda! I stand corrected!
"But in the United States (an obvious place to promote it IMO), the Greeks, OCA, and pretty mush everyone outside of the AOCA have shown something between a cool indifference to outright hostility to the idea. This baffles me."
Agrarian beat me to it, but I'll add lex orandi, lex credendi. Our Orthodox phronema is carried in greatest measure by our liturgical practices.
Literally hundreds were ordained as priests, deacons, subdeacons. The EO's were working under what they perceived to be the ancient tradition, and so each parish had a bishop, and there were many priests and deacons.
The ordination of so many who were unexamined (part of the deal was that whoever was ordained in the EO would get ordained by the Antiochians) was a bit of a scandal in and of itself. There were rush ordinations that took place before their reception by the Antiochians, so men could be ordained, but not have to go through the Antiochian vetting and education process.
The reason there were mass ordinations were that there were simply so many priests and deacons in every one of their parishes. To ordain them all properly would have taken many weeks.
The final icing was that the EO leaders were immediately elevated to being archpriests. I don't know about the Antiochians, but in the Russian tradition, it takes a long time of faithful and outstanding service to be given this recognition. When you meet an archpriest in the Russian tradition, you know that he has been around a long titme and that his bishop trusts him. Particular respect is due them.
"This would seem to imply that the only valid expression of Orthodoxy is the Byzantine Rite."
Its the only expression of Orthodoxy in that arena for the past 1000 years or so. The problem with the the liturgy used by this small subpart of the Antiochian Church is that, unlike the ancient liturgies of the pre and even post Schism West, this liturgy, like the Novus Ordo, is not an organic development of the liturgy, but rather something created, admittedly by a very holy fellow, to meet a real or imagined need of American converts to Orthodoxy. The Western Rite Liturgy is not the Sarum, or Gallic or Ambrosian or the Mass of +Paul V. Its a construct designed to make converts "comfortable". Since the overwhelming number of converts in this country worship at Divine Liturgies of +John Chrysostomos and seem, somehow, to become good Orthodox despite the "foreigness" of that Liturgy, one has to wonder what real value this rite has. The experience of Orthodoxy among the Slavs is particularly instructive in this regard. No "new liturgy" was created for them in recognition that Byzantine ceremonials might be "foreign" to them.
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