The Connecticut Six website has published in PDF format the full text of:
AN APPEAL TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
By the Bishops of Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield (20 July, A.D. 2006).
This is the consolidated document previously mentioned.
It consists of a main document (4 pages, reproduced in full below the fold here) and several appendices:
APPENDIX A (pages 5 and 6) html copy here
Functions and authority of the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA under Title I of Canons
Appendix B (pages 7 and 8) html copy here
Theological Commitments of the Petitioning Bishops
APPENDIX C (pages 9-13)
Concerns about the Presiding Bishop-elect html copy here.
AN APPEAL TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
By the Bishops of Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin,
South Carolina, and Springfield (20 July, A.D. 2006)
There are effectively two churches under one roof. The common roof is called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Separation of the two churches became all but inevitable and irreversible at the General Convention of 2006. Both hold principled, but irreconcilable, religious views. Both claim to be the Episcopal Church where they are.
One church has a revolutionary character. The other church has the character of evangelical and catholic via media. One church leads the way in Anglican Communion innovation. The other church seeks submission to the common mind of world Anglicanism. Significant parts of one church seek elimination of its conserving minority and confiscation of that minority’s patrimony. The other church would gladly negotiate fair and graceful terms of co-existence, or in a worst-case scenario, disengagement.
Seven dioceses are seeking to reshape their life together as dioceses — faithful to what the Episcopal Church has been and submitted to what the Anglican Communion has taught – under the oversight of a Canterbury appointed Commissary, temporarily exercising some of the responsibilities normally assigned to the American primate. Some of these dioceses have requested “alternative primatial oversight.” One has requested “a direct pastoral relationship.” One has requested “alternative primatial relationship and, as appropriate, oversight.” While worded differently, what these requests seek in common is a special relationship of pastoral care and accountability under the Archbishop of Canterbury described more fully below. We anticipate that these seven dioceses may be joined in this request by at least two other dioceses in September.
Given the hostility now being expressed by ECUSA’s majority leadership – suggesting among other things that our “dioceses be declared vacant” — we see the special relationship for which we are appealing as the best means of preserving the status quo and balance among American dioceses, both progressive and conserving, until the longer-term issues can be decided. For the next several years, while negotiated settlements or court proceedings may run their courses state by state across the United States, and while development of an Anglican Communion Covenant edges forward among the Provinces of the Communion, these seven dioceses propose to function separately from the ECUSA majority, but under the Constitution and Canons of ECUSA as received.
The minority ECUSA church needs protection. The request is not a request to enter into the legal affairs of the Episcopal Church, except that the Constitution of the Episcopal Church and of the several dioceses all require “constituent membership” in the Anglican Communion and “communion with the See of Canterbury.” These are matters determined not by us in the United States but by Canterbury and the rest of the world, so it is to Canterbury and the rest of the world that we must turn.
Are the seven dioceses, all Network Dioceses, “constituent members of the Anglican Communion?” Are the seven dioceses, all Network Dioceses, “in communion with the See of Canterbury?” Can the precedents and the structures of the Communion find the means to “acknowledge the standing of” and to “protect” — through an affirmation of legitimate Communion status and the extra-ordinary creation of a Communion Commissary during the present crisis – the witness of these Windsor-compliant Dioceses, and any other dioceses that may choose to join us, threatened by a hostile and litigious ECUSA majority?
The appeal is for a Commissary under the auspices of the Archbishop of Canterbury, charged with responsibility for general supervision, direction, gathering, pastoral care and accountability concerning ourselves and our dioceses.
We seek acknowledgement that the Dioceses that have made this appeal, all dioceses of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, are legitimate and recognizable dioceses of the Anglican Communion in their several locations, at least insofar as the Communion is concerned. We also seek recognition that as dioceses fully submitted to the Windsor Report, we should be given status in the Communion that is at least the equivalent of that accorded the majority of dioceses of the Episcopal Church, a majority that has failed to embrace the Windsor Report.
We seek provision of a Commissary, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, preferably in episcopal orders, to act as our point of connection to him and to exercise general supervision, direction, gathering, pastoral care and accountability on his behalf.
We seek to remain faithful to the Constitution and Canons of our several Dioceses, and to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as the basis of church order, church life and church discipline, limited only by the rejection of innovations inconsistent with evangelical truth and catholic order, with special reference to the teachings of the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998, and to the Windsor Report of 2004.
“Nuts and Bolts”
We seek to remain accountable to the wider Church. We believe the tasks constitutionally and canonically assigned to the Presiding Bishop are for the good order of the Church.
Because of the spiritual and disciplinary nature of the tasks, however, it is clear that neither the present nor incoming incumbent can exercise these tasks fairly or impartially on our behalf. The tasks are listed in Appendix A.
We imagine that a Commissary might be appointed to exercise these responsibilities over us and on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is a provisional (transitional) arrangement until (1) such time as our future as dioceses is settled in the US and (2) the status of the two ECUSA churches here – progressive majority and conserving minority — can be sorted out vis a vis Anglican Communion membership and covenant.
We propose that the Commissary be in episcopal orders and have standing and understanding of the American situation, with a theological consonance with the group of dioceses being overseen. We could imagine that a former primate like Maurice Sinclair or retired bishop like Stephen Jecko might serve in such a role very well.
We believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury could reasonably approach the present and incoming Presiding Bishops, seeking their willingness to refrain from objection to this plan. While intensely distasteful to the ECUSA majority, this plan (1) offers a “cease-fire” that would be broadly appreciated in the Communion; (2) would be seen by Canterbury and the rest of the Communion as a positive action by the ECUSA leadership in what has, to date, seemed like intransigence and arrogance on the part of the progressive majority; and (3) does not preclude negotiated settlements or court actions by any of the parties in the American dispute. Whether the Presiding Bishop or Presiding Bishop-elect agree to remain neutral for the good of the Communion is a matter that should be offered to them, but their refusal to cooperate should not be permitted to block that which is minimally protective of the ECUSA minority and maximally to the good of the Communion. It is our contention that ECUSA has passed the point of being allowed to continue to define the terms.
Statement of Common Faith and Commitment of the Requesting Dioceses
The Bishops making this appeal reaffirm our common faith in the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ and our common commitment, both to the Anglican Communion and to one another.
Without equivocation, we embrace and submit ourselves to the principles and recommendations of The Windsor Report. We are Windsor Bishops. Likewise, we are Lambeth Bishops, who fully endorse the clear teaching of the Communion as expressed in the resolutions of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Of particular importance to the current crisis that faces us are Resolution 1.10 on human sexuality and Resolution III.2 on the unity of the Anglican Communion.
Appendix B offers an expanded theological statement prepared as a part of this submission.
Some of us support the ordination of women as priests and bishops as a legitimate development in the historic faith and order of the Church, but others among us do not, finding insufficient warrant in Holy Scripture, and no warrant or requirement in the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, to justify such a change in the historic practice of the Church. We are, however, all in complete agreement as to the moral authority of the Lambeth resolutions.
While recognizing the difficulties presented by our theological differences on the issue of women’s ordination as priests and bishops, we are mutually committed “to live together in the highest degree of Communion possible.” To maintain our unity, we uphold the principle of “open reception” as defined by the Eames Commission on Women in the Episcopate, recognizing that in the end the Church ultimately may accept or reject the practice of ordaining women as priests and bishops. In the words of Resolution III.2, we “affirm that those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, are both loyal Anglicans,” and “that there is and should be no compulsion on any bishop in matters concerning ordination or licensing.”
Too much energy continues to be spent on the fight. All of us who love the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ yearn to refocus our efforts on mission. That, of course, is the greatest response to “Why Now?” But there is more.
This is a kairos moment for the Episcopal Church and for the Anglican Communion. The comprehensive picture emerging from General Convention actions and inactions, as concerns the Windsor Report in particular, is more than sufficient for a judgment that it is continuing its “walk apart.” Appendix C illustrates the Presiding Bishop-elect’s commitment to the present direction of the majority.
For Network churches in non-Network dioceses the conclusion is that it is time to negotiate separation from ECUSA. With no new options introduced, this separation invariably takes the form of affiliation with a diocese of the Global South, whether Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Central Africa or Southern Cone.
Furthermore, for leading congregations in Network dioceses (e.g., Christ Church, Plano, Texas, in the Diocese of Dallas) there is an unwillingness any longer to be associated with the Episcopal Church.
In practical terms, this means that the strongest congregations of Network dioceses are contemplating leaving their dioceses unless there is some way for the dioceses themselves to be sustained in a meaningful way by a direct relationship to the Communion. Departure to the Global South by these congregations will have the dual effect of deepening the incoherence of Anglicanism in the United States and weakening, perhaps fatally, the Network dioceses.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has historically played a pivotal role in the life of the American Church, including consultation on the Book of Common Prayer and in securing the episcopate. The present Archbishop has now given the whole of the Communion a compelling vision in his “The Hope and Challenge of Being an Anglican Today.” We ask him to consider this appeal in the hope that we can together respond to his leadership, avert the incoherence and fracturing already suggested, and work toward a new day within a Covenant that will bear fruit.
The seven dioceses that make this appeal are faithful Anglican dioceses. We stand with the rest of the Communion in Faith and Order. Can the existing systems of the Communion find a way, in this extraordinarily challenging moment, to provide for our recognition and continuity in the face of the aggressive innovation embraced by the majority of our own Province, whose leaders seem to us determined to bring about our elimination?