Thinking Anglicans

APO developments

First, the Living Church reported that four Global South primates were expecting to meet with Network dioceses requesting APO, see Four Primates Offer to Meet With Dioceses Requesting APO.

Second, ENS reported that Dallas really has withdrawn its request for APO. Or claims it never made one. Whatever, see Dallas Bishop clarifies request for ‘alternative primatial oversight‘.The full statement from Bishop Stanton is now added below the fold here. (hat tip SDB). Update Saturday morning: the statement is now also on the front page of the Dallas diocesan website, but you have to scroll down to find it.

Third, the Living Church reported that

The dioceses which appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternate primatial oversight (APO) last summer have modified their petition and no longer seek an “alternative primate” to exercise metropolitan oversight. Instead they have asked Archbishop Rowan Williams for a “commissary” from Canterbury…

See Dioceses’ Appeal for APO Modified.


A recent announcement made by the Diocese of Pittsburgh has raised some discussion about the status of the Diocese of Dallas in an “appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight. It reads:

“With the approval of the Standing Committee, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the full text of the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight (APO). The appeal, which lays out the request of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield, was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 20. It explains why the dioceses involved believe that APO is necessary and what that oversight might look like. Since July, Dallas has withdrawn its request, but Quincy has joined the other appellants.” (Diocese of Pittsburgh website)

There is a problem here: I never asked for APO. This is well known to most of you based on our Clergy meeting on July 5, 2006, where I discussed this matter. I offer this response for further clarification.

The consolidated appeal to which this release makes reference, and which I did sign and had a hand in writing, doesn’t ask for APO either. Look at the third paragraph:

“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.”

The consolidated appeal notes that different requests were made originally. It then seeks to clarify what “these requests have in common.” It is a “special relationship of pastoral care and accountability” under the Archbishop, and a designated point of contact called a “Commissary”. (“Commissary” being, of course, a sort of vicar used by the Bishop of London in colonial days.) Once past this paragraph, the term “alternative primatial oversight” is never used again. I maintain that the appeal is NOT for APO.

The first I ever heard of the concept of “alternative primatial oversight” (APO) was at the General Convention of 2006, when the Bishop of Fort Worth announced that he was appealing for APO, with the support of his Standing Committee. The next time I heard of it was when the Standing Committee of Dallas discussed this with me prior to the issuing of their Statement on July 5. Eventually even they modified the language, calling for “a direct primatial relationship.”

I had misgivings about the use of the APO language at the time. Among other concerns, we do not have “primatial oversight” in this Province as some other member Churches of the Anglican Communion do. Consequently, in a letter to the Diocese released at the same time as the Standing Committee’s Statement, I wrote:

“They [The Standing Committee] ask me to ‘appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship. . .’ Several dioceses have called for ‘alternative primatial oversight,’ as you will know through news reports. I will discuss a direct pastoral relationship with the Archbishop. This will be for the pastoral support of our mission, and assurance of our place in the Communion. I must emphasize that this relationship will be consistent with our Constitution and Canons, both of the Diocese and of the General Church.” (Pastoral Letter, July 5, 2006)

I immediately wrote to Archbishop Williams making my request in terms of a “direct pastoral relationship.”

Press reports and various blogs continued to use APO terminology, however. This language caused confusion and some anxiety within the Dallas Diocese. This is understandable, since I had announced and maintained a different sort of request from the beginning. Following the New York meeting in September, I shared this concern with my colleagues and indicated that I would quietly withdraw my own request. I did this before the Windsor Bishops’ meeting at Camp Allen, in a simple note to the Archbishop.

I continue to share with my colleagues a deep concern over the direction and coherence of the Episcopal Church. With them, I share a commitment to the health and unity of the Anglican Communion. I stand with them in their hope and work for a robust Anglican Covenant. There are no divisions among us. My own misgivings about the concept of APO is not a judgment on those who have made this request or what they intend by it. I certainly have not had any change of mind or resolve on my own part.

Since I never requested APO, it is incorrect to say that I have withdrawn from an appeal for APO.

The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton
Bishop of Dallas

The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas
1630 N. Garrett Av.
Dallas, TX 75206
Office: (214) 826-8310

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Sarah Dylan Breuer
17 years ago

The statement really is something — I blogged on Grace Notes about a quote I found particularly telling.

Marshall Scott
17 years ago

This seems an effort to defuse an issue without actually changing it. We would need more clarification about how the bishops and standing committees involved understand a “commissary.” If the model is that of the supervision of foreign bishops by the Bishop of London before there truly was an Anglican Communion – when this was all simply extension of the Church of England – I don’t know how it’s a difference that makes a difference. If it looks like duck….

Cheryl Clough
Cheryl Clough
17 years ago

Sarah You’re blog was interesting and your interest in the colonialism model has piqued some contemplations. I wonder if there is not an attempt to create a precedent that decrees that a diocese has “gone too far” and therefore there is the right to enter and have dual jurisdiction in the same diocese. If this is what they are trying for, it is merely another variation of the GS strategy of trying to blacklist a duly elected representative from outside their sphere of influence or line of authority. Plus if they win, they can start to argue that they have… Read more »

The Admiral of Morality
17 years ago

I fail to understand why the Diocese of Dallas sees the need to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury for a new lunchroom.

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
17 years ago

The Global South, always an irritant in the affairs of TEC is fast becoming an irrelevance. It looks as if this is a last ditch effort to try and throw their weight about, but all too late!
They are finding all their avenues for possible intervention cut off.

17 years ago

While some of this may just be playing around with terminology, I’d like to think it represents maybe a re-thinking of some folks on their position. A softening perhaps? Maybe that’s naive and too idealistic but still, one can hope.

17 years ago

I don’t know, it might be interesting to see how Ft. Worth and San Joaquin would operate under CofE canons. They couldn’t refuse to license women clergy for one thing.

Patricia Haggety
Patricia Haggety
17 years ago

Last week in an interview on the Religion Report, Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney mentioned that he’d been approached by two churches (one in the US, one in the UK) for “alternative Episcopal oversight”. I wonder which churches they were.

(You can listen to the interview or look at the transcript at )

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