Anglican Province of America's Diocese of the West Joins Reformed Episcopal Church
By David W. Virtue
In a move that could have serious implications for the Common Cause Partnership, an entire diocese of the Anglican Province of America with some 22 plus churches has fled that Anglican jurisdiction and allied itself with the Reformed Episcopal Church in America (REC).
"I pray that you will understand that we are not leaving the APA out of any anger but are entering into the REC so we can fulfill what we have been working on for the past ten years. By transferring to the REC we remain in intercommunion with each other and still brothers," wrote the Rt. Rev. Richard Boyce, OCD Bishop of the Diocese of the West (DOW/ APA.)
In a series of letters obtained by VirtueOnline, Bishop Boyce announced this week that he was taking his diocese out of the APA and formally bringing it into the Reformed Episcopal Church, a move that angered the Presiding Bishop of the APA, the Most. Rev. Walter Grundorf, who promptly relieved Boyce of his position as Bishop and appointed the Very Rev. Douglas King as interim administrator of the DOW.
"You are no longer the Diocesan Bishop of the DOW of the APA as of September 5. I have named the Very Rev. Douglas King as interim administrator." Grundorf then said that all DOW priests and parishes wishing to leave the APA must send a letter of their intention to him and request Letters Dismissory. He then said that until he hears from them, they remain in good standing and has his and the APA's full support.
He concluded his letter saying that the letters would provide for an "orderly transition" to the REC. "We have made such orderly transfers in the past between REC/APA and I hope and pray that this will be no exception."
Boyce responded from his parish in Seattle, saying that Grundorf's understanding of the meaning of the word "jurisdiction" was a misconception on his part.
"I have not resigned my jurisdiction nor has coadjutor Bishop Winfield Mott. We have only requested the REC to receive the Diocese of the West (DOW) which has not been acted upon.
"I would remind you that the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) has similar beliefs, traditions and practices on the Sacraments and Holy Orders particularly as they pertain to women's ordination.
"The DOW is a jurisdiction. I would refer you to Article 2., Sect. 6 of the Constitution of the Anglican Province of America (APA), and Canon 16, Sect. (a) and (e) which refer to the Bishop's jurisdiction. If you recall since the third century tradition has said that "Where the Bishop is, there is the Church, where the Church is there is the Bishop". Boyce went on to say that the Anglican Communion has stated through the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the basic unit of the Church is the Diocese, and you do consider yourself as Anglican."
Boyce said that no one is required by the Constitution or the Canons to send the Presiding Bishop a letter of resignation when leaving the APA. A letter Dismissory is from Diocesan Bishop to Diocesan Bishop.
Boyce blasted Grundorf saying that provincial protocol was a recent invention, "as I do not find it stated anywhere in APA documents. You, as Presiding Bishops have authority only to conduct the meetings of the House of Bishops (HOB) and to take orders for the consecration of Bishops."
"As a result of this restriction you have no authority to declare that I am no longer the Diocesan Bishop of the DOW."
Boyce argued that the APA Constitution states that a bishop shall confine the exercise of his office to his own Diocese. "Therefore as a Presiding Bishop with no authority, and functioning as a Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern US (DEUS), you must not intrude into the affairs of the DOW."
"There is no authority conferred to you by the Constitution of the APA nor by the Canons of the APA to appoint the Rev. Douglas King, nor anyone else as an interim administrator of the DOW. This action would appear to follow The Episcopal Church (TEC) as in the case of the Diocese of San Joaquin.
"DOW Priests and Parishes do not need to send you a latter of intention of staying members of DOW. This is a Diocesan matter for DOW.
"This supposed protocol has no standing in the Constitution of the APA nor in the Canons of the APA.
"No Article of the Constitution of the APA or Canon of the APA prevents the DOW from effecting a merger with the REC, with whom we are in communion, as is the APA. We are following the time-line established by the APA and REC as this is the ten year mark leading to the merger. We just plan to do this before the rest of the APA."
Grundorf wrote to all the parishes of the DOW responding to Boyce's letter saying that while he was not totally surprised, "I am disappointed. I am also disappointed that the REC did not discuss this with me if indeed they are fully aware of all of Bishop Boyce's plans."
The Presiding Bishop said the DOW "still exists" with some having notified him that they had no intention of leaving the APA.
"Bishop Boyce has resigned from the APA, therefore he is no longer the Bishop of the APA/DOW." Grundorf who then said he was appointing King to serve as interim administrator "until such time as we can determine who is leaving and who is staying. I will then call an extraordinary Synod to reorganize and elect the appropriate officers."
Grundorf said there would be no attempt to claim church property or funds. "For all concerned in the APA and the REC, this transition must be done in a proper and orderly manner."
The PB said that one of the subjects to be addressed at their next Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA) meeting will be "jurisdiction hopping."
"I am well aware that the motivation of this action has been driven by the Common Cause Partnership (CCP). While I support much of what the CCP stands for I, along with many others, have reservations as to what will be the final decision on the ordination of women, which most of the CCP members enthusiastically support. We have stood our ground for the last 30 plus years to the theological innovations of the Episcopal Church and I do not think we should abandon our principles at this point."
One observer told VOL that APA's Diocese of the West's decision to secede was to join Common Cause by way of the REC. It is believed that, in time, CCP will form the basis of a new North American Anglican Province, an orthodox alternative jurisdiction separate from The Episcopal Church and coming under the oversight of the newly formed Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON.)
VOL could not obtain comment from leaders of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
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