Thursday, 18 September 2008

ECUSA: the claims about hierarchy

Recently, the Anglican Communion Institute published an article written by Mark McCall, a lawyer, entitled Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchical? You can read this article as a PDF file here.

There was an introduction to it on the ACI website titled Constitution And Canons: What Do They Tell Us About TEC?

A Response to Mark McCall’s “Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchical? has now been published by Joan Gunderson, a church historian in Pittsburgh. You can read that article as a PDF file here.

There is an introduction to it published by Progresssive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh and titled Historian Exposes Flaws in Argument That Episcopal Dioceses Are Independent.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 6:48pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

This is actually an important legal issue because precedent in the US treats "hierarchical" churches differently from "congregational" churches. Hierarchical churches can enforce canons on member churches -- removing clergy, restraining uses of property -- which congregational churches can not enforce rules on member congregations.

But Mr. McCall's article is quite misplaced because this is a settled legal question. TEC *is* a hierarchical church for this legal purpose. The Presbyterian Church, USA is also a hierarchical church under this standard. There is ample precedent for this and no court will seriously entertain a legal position that TEC is not hierarchical.

Posted by: ruidh on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 9:16pm BST

We're called the *EPISCOPAL* Church, for heaven's sake! How is it even a question whether we're hierarchical or not?

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 12:58am BST

This is the stupidest thing imaginable. The Episcopal Church has never been congregational. Even the name denies it.

Posted by: Phylmom on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 3:42am BST

Wow, I'm glad Gunderson didn't mark any of my church history papers. It makes you really wonder about the ACI, though. It's one thing to publish articles and opinions for open discussion, another to agree so sympathetically and uncritically with what is published. A bit embarrassing, I should have thought. Though, if this isn't the last word, the tables may then turn on me....

Posted by: Joe on Friday, 19 September 2008 at 8:26am BST

Hi Simon,

Mr McCall has now responded to Dr Gunderson's errant response... He isn't very impressed with her arguments!

Posted by: davidwh on Sunday, 21 September 2008 at 11:36pm BST

"Throughout the constitution and canons, the phrase “the Church” or “this Church” consistently refers to the whole Episcopal Church. There was no Anglican Communion for the constitution to reference when the Episcopal Church constitution was first written." - Dr. Joan Gunderson.

If Doctor Gunderson's comment, above-quoted, is correct, then McCall's argument in favour of diocesan independence of TEC is scuttled. It seems reasonable that, as the 'Anglican Communion' was not a formally structured entity at the time TEC was founded, the individual dioceses that have seen fit to become part of TEC are legally bound by the Convention.

What will be McCall's next argument, I wonder?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 23 September 2008 at 6:04am BST
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