ORTHODOX CANADIAN ANGLICANS LAUNCH NEW ORGANIZATIONS
By David W. Virtue
TORONTO, ONT (6/16/2005)--Three new orthodox Canadian Anglican organizations were launched here today, to provide a spiritual and theological rallying point for historic Anglican Christian orthodoxy in Canada.
In making the announcement, The Rev. Canon Charlie Masters said Anglican Essentials, a movement which began as a collation of three grass-roots Anglican groups, -- Anglican Renewal Ministries, Barnabas Ministries and the Prayer Book Society -- would now join forces and be now known simply as Anglican Essentials Canada.
"This organization represents a national movement of Canadian Anglicans who share a common commitment to faithful biblical orthodoxy," said Canon Masters the National Director for Anglican Essentials Canada.
In addition two other organizations: Essentials Federation and the Anglican Network in Canada (the Essentials Network) were also launched to provide a lifeboat for orthodox Anglicans in what has become one of the most liberal provinces in the Anglican Communion that has seen the open persecution of orthodox priests by revisionist bishops.
"The Network's aim is to build an ecclesiastical structure (if such a structure is required) should the Canadian Church walk apart. The Network is not leaving the Church, it is the actions of the national church leaving us," said Masters.
"We are building a lifeboat so traditional Anglicans who want to uphold the faith once delivered and not become a national sect," he said. "Parishes are in untenable situations. Churches are closing; clergy are being intimidated for not going along with the changes in the faith."
The Federation will focus on the General Synod vote of the Anglican Church of Canada in 2007, and will attempt to convince the Synod to vote to stay within the Anglican Communion and adhere to Anglican teaching and doctrine. The Network will focus on building bridges with the Anglican Primates to ensure that faithful biblical Anglicans can remain members of the global Communion in the event Canada chooses to "walk apart," said Masters.
Some 800 delegates to this three day "Open Door" conference will be asked to join one of these groups and use their resources to focus on different but complementary tasks to help orthodox Anglicans remain faithful members of the global Communion. "By joining one of these groups, people will automatically be a member of the umbrella group Anglican Essentials Canada," said Masters.
The parish priest said that if the Anglican Church of Canada votes to proceed with same sex blessings in 2007, they will find themselves in the same position as the Diocese of New Westminster which voted to proceed with same sex blessings in 2002, thereby igniting the international crisis. "Some 22 of 38 Anglican provinces have declared a state of impaired or broken communion with the Diocese. Furthermore, the Primates have, on several occasions, issued statements declaring such actions to be contrary to biblical Anglican faith and doctrine."
"The Anglican Communion is a global church of some 77 million with Canadians making up less than one percent of that number, and by taking unilateral action on same-sex blessings they have chosen to walk apart from the Lambeth Consultative Council and they have acknowledged that, as a result, the Communion is torn," said Cheryl Chan, a Vancouver attorney and an Essentials spokesperson. "Archbishop Andrew Hutchison has been very clear about what he thinks [in his support of the church's liberal agenda] and has said so in 18 dioceses, she said. "Time is short for the Anglican Church in Canada and we must act now."
"Our commitment is to renewal and revival in the church and we are asking people to be encouraged by that. We are calling the national church to repentance and to labor to that end," said Masters.
The Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey, (Newfoundland ret.) and Network Moderator for Canada, said the average Anglican had a sense of complacency in the pew. "They hope it won't happen; they hope that this is all going to go away. They say, we have experienced crises in the past and we remained faithful to our parishes, church and diocese and all was well. But this is not going to go away. A moment is going to come when they will have to make a decision. The average Anglican has not understood what happened at Ireland. A decision will have to be made for individuals, parishes and dioceses."
The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan bishop of Pittsburgh and US Network Moderator said that in the Episcopal Church there have been different responses with people responding to the change in teaching and practice, with many leaving the Episcopal Church.
"Naturally responses about what people do reflect different cultural circumstances and the immediacy of how they will address these issues. In the US the Network and 20 other bishops wonder how bad the crisis is," he said.
Archbishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone noted the upcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, England next week and said the ACC needed a better dialogue. "When all the Primates met in Ireland there was no dialogue. We talked about responding to this situation, but there was no chance for people to say why they have done what they have done, even though the rest of the communion told them not to proceed to consecrate an openly gay man and promote same-sex blessings."
Venables cautioned about expecting too much from the ACC meeting. "The ACC is a consultative body not a decision-making body. I am expecting a lot of words and a lot of dialogue will take place, but I think for the most part it is going to be an attempt to justify why this particular province has gone in this direction."
Ekklesia head Canon Bill Atwood said that it was important to remember that the Episcopal Church was less than 1 percent of the Anglican Communion and one had to put that against 95 percent of the Communion who hold to the faithful teaching of Holy Scripture.
Asked what the difference was between impaired communion and broken communion, Atwood said if people are estranged you have impaired communion, but if you won't reach out and share the communion elements you have broken communion. What happened at Dromantine among the Primates was broken communion, he said.
Said Venables, "In Northern Ireland we talked about irreconcilable positions and a majority of the body of Primates asked the Canadians and the US to step aside. We had two diametrically opposed, irreconcilable positions. The result was we asked them to please step outside for a few years, then we can all consider whether you can be part of the Communion in the 21st Century. We talked about the Anglican Communion being you and part of something else. The mystery in Christianity is God the holy trinity and the move away from the authority of scripture. As long as we believe the bible is the word of God we were fine. When the Bible stopped being the basis of our faith it was not."
Venables accused the Americans and Canadians of using biblical language but talking about a different faith. "We were not really sure we belonged to the same body. It is about the authority of Scripture. Is the Bible the revealed word and will of God, is it God breathed, or is it simply a product of human logic and knowledge. We had to answer that. Do you take your opinions to the bible to support your opinion or do you submit yourself to the Bible. That is the issue."
Venables said the communion was moving at a glacial pace in trying to resolve the issues.
"The panel of reference recently set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury was something very new to everybody. There was a difficulty at first. We have never had to work on things of this nature. So far, the Communion provinces have managed its own affairs and people talked about being autonomous, but how can you talk about that when you talk about communion? We suddenly saw a need for a monitoring Panel of Reference called a monitoring commission. We hope it will enable people to express themselves and make sure things can be dealt with in a proper way with open dialogue and sharing. I think there is hope, but not much hope for neo-liberal Christianity and orthodox Christianity walking together. It must be orthodoxy then we can get back together. Can they co-exist or split definitively? What does that mean here in Canada so people can go on being Anglican Christians?"
Is Peter Carnley, the Panel head, an example of the fox looking after the hens, asked one reporter?
Duncan praised Dr. Rowan Williams and said his approach to this is a source of his tremendous ability. "We must move forward and he is not finding it easy. He has shown a remarkable grace in his leadership of the Communion. The structure of the Communion never anticipated this kind of crisis, and what is happening to the Archbishop who speaks out of the English context. It is a time of extraordinary crisis. What is required of Archbishop Williams in terms of the present is to go beyond the precedence in this issue and that is a difficult place to be in."
Archbishop Venables cited one primate who said at Dromantine, "We have now seen an end to Western dominance in the Anglican Communion."
Asked about the newly formed Common Cause, Duncan said that the big umbrella of Anglicanism, if it is to have a vigorous future has to be a united movement. "In the United States we have 40 different groups, split offs from the ECUSA all holding to the Anglican heritage, and the question is how do we draw those folks in. We presently have six in the US and you have three in and three outside in Canada - Essentials, the Network, the federation and some 11 parishes that make up the Anglican Communion in Canada, mostly in the Diocese of New Westminster that have broken away from the Anglican Church of Canada."
In the US, Common Cause groups include leaders of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), Forward in Faith North American (FiFNA), the Anglican Province in America (APA) and the American Anglican Council (AAC). They have all pledged "to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ and common cause for a united, missionary and orthodox Anglicanism in North America," said Duncan.
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