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A Tale of Two Churches: The Ecclesiologies of The Episcopal Church and the Church of England Compared

  • Colin Podmore (a1)
Abstract

This article compares key aspects of the ecclesiologies of The Episcopal Church and the Church of England. First, it examines and contrasts the underlying logic of their structures and the relationships between their constituent parts (General Synod/General Convention, diocese, parish/congregation). Against this background, it then looks at the place of bishops in the ecclesiologies of the two churches (in relation to clergy and parishes, in relation to diocesan synods/conventions and standing committees, and nationally). The American Presiding Bishop's role is contrasted with the traditional roles of primate and metropolitan. Throughout, attention is given to origins and historical development. Reference is also made to the relevant constitutional, canonical and liturgical provisions. Rapprochement between the two ecclesiologies is noted, especially with respect to the role of the laity, but the article argues that this is far from complete. Each church's ecclesiology continues to be determined by its origins; important modifications have been made within that framework, rather than overturning it. It is hoped that the analysis will illuminate the current disputes within The Episcopal Church and the crisis within the Anglican Communion that they have prompted.

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1 I am grateful to the Revd Dr R William Franklin for his comments on an earlier draft of this article. This article is written in a personal capacity and opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of the bodies mentioned here.

2 The Gift of Authority – Authority in the Church III: an agreed statement by the Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission (London, 1999), p 29, para 39.

3 The Church Representation Rules require the standing orders of each diocesan synod to enable the diocesan bishop both to require a vote by houses and also to direct that the question ‘shall be deemed to have the assent of the house of bishops only if the majority of the members of that house who assent thereto includes the diocesan bishop’: Church Representation Rules, r 34(1)(e), (g) set out in Synodical Government Measure 1969, Sch 3 (as amended).

4 The implication that the church was protestant rather than catholic having made the name something of an embarrassment, in 1901 ‘Protestant Episcopal Church’ was replaced with ‘this Church’ at every point in the Constitution apart from the Declaration of Conformity prescribed by Article VIII (Shoemaker, RW, The Origin and Meaning of the Name ‘Protestant Episcopal’ (New York, NY, 1959), p 222). In 1967, a new preamble was adopted. This begins with the traditional name but recognises ‘The Episcopal Church’, which had always been used as a shorthand, as an alternative designation. The word ‘Protestant’ was then deleted from the Declaration of Conformity in 1979 (White, EA and Dykman, JA, Annotated Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as The Episcopal Church, adopted in General Conventions 1789–1979 (New York, NY, 1981), pp 67; Holmes, DL, A Brief History of the Episcopal Church (Harrisburg, PA, 1993), p 51). Until recently, the short name was commonly expressed as ‘The Episcopal Church (USA)’, abbreviated ‘ECUSA’, but, as note 5 to the communiqué of the 2007 meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion explained, ‘The Province operates across a number of nations, and decided that it was more true to its international nature not to use the designation USA’ (<http://www.aco.org/primates/downloads/communique2007_english.pdf>, accessed 28 July 2007). ‘The Episcopal Church’ is abbreviated ‘TEC’.

5 Connecticut and Massachusetts (Province I), New York (Province II), Bethlehem and Pennsylvania (Province III), Alabama (Province IV), Eau Claire and Fond du Lac (Province V), Fort Worth and Rio Grande (Province VII). The constitutions are published on the diocesan websites.

6 Diocese of Fort Worth, Constitution, Article 7.

7 Diocese of Fond du Lac, Constitution, Articles XVI, XVIII.

8 Marshall, PV, One, Catholic, and Apostolic: Samuel Seabury and the early Episcopal Church (New York, NY, 2004), p 53 (chapter title: ‘The search for an American ecclesiology’).

9 Doe, N, ‘The common law of the Anglican Communion’, (2003) 7 Ecc LJ 416.

10 See, for example, MacCulloch, D, ‘The birth of Anglicanism’, (2004) 7 Ecc LJ 418428 and Duffy, E, ‘The shock of change: continuity and discontinuity in the Elizabethan Church of England’, (2004) 7 Ecc LJ 429446.

11 E Duffy, ‘The shock of change’, p 430.

12 See Wright, JR, ‘Anglicanism, Ecclesia Anglicana, and Anglican: an essay in terminology’ in Sykes, SBooty, J and Knight, J (eds), The Study of Anglicanism (revised edition, London, 1998), p 480.

13 Code of Canon Law 1983, Canon 455, § 1, 4. See also Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter issued ‘motu proprio’ Apostolos Suos: on the theological and juridical nature of episcopal conferences (21 May 1998), available at <http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_22071998_apostolos-suos_en.html>, accessed 30 July 2007, especially paras 2024.

14 Canons of the Church of England, Canons C 17, G 5.

15 Cf Loveland, CO, The Critical Years: the reconstitution of the Anglican Church in the United States of America 1780–1789 (Greenwich, CT, 1956), pp 78.

16 Prichard, RW, A History of the Episcopal Church (revised edition, Harrisburg, PA, 1999), pp 6364.

17 Doll, PM, Revolution, Religion and National Identity: imperial Anglicanism in British North America, 1745–1795 (London, 2000), pp 169170, 176; Prichard, History, pp 3031.

18 Doe, N, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion: a worldwide perspective (Oxford, 1998), p 20.

19 Mills, FV, Bishops by Ballot: an eighteenth-century ecclesiastical revolution (New York, NY, 1978), pp 159, 164–165.

20 Woolverton, JF, ‘Philadelphia's William White: Episcopalian distinctiveness and accommodation in the post-revolutionary period’, (1974) 43 Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 294.

21 White wrote, ‘The name of Bishop Hoadly will probably be as long remembered, as any on the list of british worthies; and will never be mentioned without veneration of the strength of his abilities, the liberality of his sentiments, and his enlightened zeal for civil liberty’ (W White, The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered, ed RG Salomon, (1953) 22 Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 470).

22 Wilberforce, S, A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America (London, 1844), p 261.

23 White, The Case, p 450 (my emphasis).

24 Ibid, pp 452–453.

25 Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic, p 64.

26 Rhoden, NL, Revolutionary Anglicanism: the colonial Church of England clergy during the American Revolution (Basingstoke, 1999), p 134; cf Mills, Bishops by Ballot, pp xii, 207–208. See also Bailyn, B, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (enlarged edition, London, 1992), especially pp 2254.

27 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, pp xi, 304.

28 See p 55 below.

29 White, The Case, p 454.

30 Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic, p 70.

31 Franklin, RW, ‘American, Anglican, and Catholic’ in Dutton, ML and Gray, PT (eds), One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: studies in Christian ecclesiality and ecumenism in honor of J Robert Wright (Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, 2006), p 126.

32 Amendments to the Constitution or the Book of Common Prayer proposed at one General Convention must be notified to the diocesan conventions before they can be adopted at the next General Convention, but the assent of the diocesan conventions is not required: Constitution and Canons, together with the Rules of Order, for the government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (New York, NY, 2006), pp 810: Constitution, Articles X, XII.

33 Constitution of the General Synod, Article 8, set out in Synodical Government Measure 1969, Sch 2.

34 Holmes, Brief History, pp 5455.

35 The General Convention may by canon limit the representation of a diocese to not fewer than two ordained and two lay deputies, but no such canon is in force: Constitution and Canons, p 2: Constitution, Article I.4.

36 Table of Statistics of the Episcopal Church from 2004 Parochial Reports (source: The General Convention Office as of January 2006), available at <http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/2004TableofStatistics.pdf>, accessed 28 July 2007; General Convention 2006, House of Deputies, available at <http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/53785_53898_ENG_HTM.htm?menu=menu71832>, accessed 28 July 2007.

37 Constitution and Canons, pp 23: Constitution, Article I.5.

38 Ibid, p 3: Constitution, Article I.7; ibid, p 21: Canon I.1.4(a).

39 Ibid, p 5: Constitution, Article V.1; ibid, p 45: Canon I.10.1.

40 Ibid, p 45: Canon I.10.4.

41 Ibid, p 5: Constitution, Article V.1.

42 White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 89.

43 Episcopal News Service article, 19 June 2007, available at <http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_21602_ENG_HTM.htm>, accessed 25 July 2007.

44 Statement of the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth, 19 June 2007, available at <http://www.fwepiscopal.org/news/FWStatement061907.pdf>, accessed 25 July 2007. The Constitution of the General Convention also provides for dioceses to be united in so-called ‘provinces’ (see p 64 below), but that ‘no Diocese shall be included in a Province without its own consent’ (Constitution and Canons, p 7: Constitution, Article VII). Again, it is silent on what happens if such consent is withdrawn. This may similarly soon be tested, since, in 2006, the Diocese of Fort Worth withdrew its consent to be included in Province VII, in which it is geographically situated (see <http://www.fwepiscopal.org/diocesanconvention/06%20convention/06voting.html>, accessed 4 August 2007).

45 Quoted in a report by DW Virtue, 2 December 2006, available at <http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5100>, accessed 25 July 2007 (my emphasis). See also Episcopal News Service article, 4 December 2006, available at <http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_80194_ENG_HTM.htm>, accessed 28 July 2007.

46 Shepley, J, ‘War and secession’, (August 2007) New Directions 9.

47 In the canons, principally Canon I.13, ‘Of Parishes and Congregations’, and Canon I.14, ‘Of Parish Vestries’ (Constitution and Canons, pp 49–50), the terms ‘parish’ and ‘congregation’ are both used, but the distinction between them is not entirely clear (see also p 67 below).

48 Episcopal News Service article, 19 June 2007, available at <http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_87489_ENG_HTM.htm>, accessed 28 July 2007.

49 Church of England Newspaper, 16 February 2007.

50 Constitution and Canons, p 49: Canon I.13.2(a), 2(b).

51 Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, p 19: Canon 10, s 2, available at <http://www.thediocese.net/diocese/c&c/cc05.pdf>, accessed 4 August 2007.

52 Constitution and Canons, p 40: Canon I.7.4.

53 Cf Loveland, The Critical Years, p 284.

54 The official commentary states that the ‘Dennis Canon’ is ‘considered by some to be declaratory of existing law’ (White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 301, my emphasis).

55 The Diocese in Europe, though extra-provincial, is ‘deemed to be within the Province of Canterbury’; like the former Diocese of Gibraltar it is ‘subject to the Metropolitical Jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury’ (Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995, para 1).

56 Doe, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion, p 38.

57 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, pp 53–54, 57, 129.

58 Ibid, p 94.

59 Hein, D and Shattuck, GH, The Episcopalians (Westport, CT, 2004), p 21; cf Mills, Bishops by Ballot, pp 92, 100–106.

60 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, pp ix, 1, 44.

61 Holmes, Brief History, p 48; Rhoden, Revolutionary Anglicanism, p 37; Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, pp 95–98.

62 Ambrose Serle to the Earl of Dartmouth, quoted in Doll, Revolution, Religion and National Identity, p 212.

63 Holmes, Brief History, pp 39–40; Hein and Shattuck, The Episcopalians, p 42.

64 Shoemaker, The Origin and Meaning of the Name ‘Protestant Episcopal’, pp 102–109, 111, 117–118.

65 White, The Case, p 459.

66 Ibid, pp 451–452.

67 Quoted in Loveland, The Critical Years, p 74 (italics in original). However, the Maryland Convention believed that the clergy only should elect the bishop (ibid, p 75).

68 Loveland, The Critical Years, p 129; Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p 201.

69 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p 212.

70 Connecticut Clergy to White, 25 March 1783, quoted in White, The Case, Appendix I, p 479.

71 Quoted in Herklots, HGG, The Church of England and the American Episcopal Church: from the first voyages of discovery to the first Lambeth Conference (London, 1966), p 93.

72 Quoted in Loveland, The Critical Years, p 111.

73 Seabury to William Smith, 15 August 1785, quoted in Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic, Appendix, p 369 (emphasis in original).

74 Seabury, S, Second Charge to the Clergy of his Dioceses (New Haven, CT, 1786), p 11.

75 Ibid, p 15.

76 Ibid, p 11.

77 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p 228 suggests that this was the case.

78 Ibid, pp 241–242.

79 Letter of the English bishops to the Philadelphia Convention, 24 February 1786, quoted in Loveland, The Critical Years, p 176.

80 Loveland, The Critical Years, pp 192, 210.

81 Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic, p 87.

82 Woolverton, ‘Philadelphia's William White’, p 279.

83 Loveland, The Critical Years, p 288; Woolverton, ‘Philadelphia's William White’, pp 279–280.

84 Loveland, The Critical Years, pp 192, 248, 262; Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p 283.

85 Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic, p 73.

86 Loveland, The Critical Years, p 274.

87 Marshall, One, Catholic, and Apostolic, p 1.

88 Since 2000, non-episcopally ordained ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have been permitted to officiate in the Episcopal Church (see Constitution and Canons, p 93: Canon III.10.2(a)(3)).

89 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p 240.

90 Ibid, pp 284–285; Holmes, Brief History, pp 34, 59.

91 Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007, s 11.

92 Newman, JH, ‘The Anglo-American Church’ in Essays Critical and Historical (second edition, 2 vols, London, 1872), vol 1, pp 353354. The essay was based on a review article in (1839) 26 The British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review, in which this passage appears on p 326.

93 Mullin, RB, Episcopal Vision/American Reality: high church theology and social thought in evangelical America (New Haven, CT, 1986), p 50.

94 De Mille, GE, The Catholic Movement in the American Episcopal Church (second edition, Philadelphia, PA, 1950), p 69. After 1840, the high-church movement divided between the native, Hobartian old high-church movement, centred on the General Seminary and largely found on the East Coast, and the newer, imported, advanced Tractarian high-churchmanship of Nashotah House and the mid-west – a distinction which is still noticeable today (ibid, pp 69–70).

95 Hobart, JH, An Apology for Apostolic Order and its Advocates (New York, NY, 1807), p 272.

96 White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 119.

97 Constitution and Canons, p 8: Constitution, Article IX; ibid, p 144: Canon IV.5.2.

98 White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, pp 16, 90.

99 Quoted in Mullin, Episcopal Vision/American Reality, p 187 (emphasis in original).

100 Ibid, p 195.

101 Canons of the Church of England, Canons C 14, C 15. A solemn affirmation may be made instead of the oath.

102 Constitution and Canons, p 7: Constitution, Article VIII.

103 The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, together with The Psalter or Psalms of David, according to the use of The Episcopal Church (New York, NY, 1979), pp 526, 538.

104 Constitution and Canons, p 119: Canon IV.1.1(h)(2). The pastoral direction must be a solemn warning given in writing, with reasons, and ‘neither capricious nor arbitrary in nature nor in any way contrary to the Constitution and Canons of the Church, both national and diocesan’.

105 There is no equivalent of the Declaration of Assent or the Oath of Canonical Obedience in the service called ‘Celebration of a New Ministry’ (for which, see p 57 below).

106 It is possible to offer only the briefest summary here of the key elements of episcopacy as the Church of England understands it. For a fuller account, see Podmore, CJ, ‘The Church of England's understanding of episcopacy’, (2006) 109 Theology 173181.

107 Canons of the Church of England, Canon C 18, paras 1, 4.

108 Ibid, Canon C 10.

109 Book of Common Prayer (USA), p 559.

110 Canons of the Church of England, Canon C 10, para 6.

111 Book of Common Prayer (USA), p 557.

112 Ibid, p 562.

113 Constitution and Canons, p 81: Canon III.9.3(a).

114 Ibid, p 82: Canon III.9.3(c).

115 Ibid, p 87: Canon III.9.6(a).

116 Ibid, p 107: Canon III.12.3(a)(1).

117 Ibid, p 85: Canon III.9.5(a)(1).

118 Ibid, pp 106–107: Canon III.12.3–4.

119 Canons of the Church of England, Canon C 18, para 2.

120 Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, s 1, s 12. Under s 13 (3), the President of Tribunals may overturn a determination that there is to be no further action ‘if the president considers that the bishop's determination was plainly wrong’.

121 Constitution and Canons, p 124: Canon IV.3(A).1.

122 Ibid, p 136: Canon IV.4(A).2.

123 Ibid, pp 158–159: Canon IV.12.4–6.

124 Doe, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion, p 89, n 102.

125 Constitution and Canons, p 157: Canon IV.12.1(a).

126 The only exception to this is that deacons or priests may be ordained by or under a commission from the Archbishop of the Province.

127 The requirement of a title for ordination to the diaconate, included in the original canons of 1789, was removed in 1808 (White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, pp 650–651, 664–665).

128 Constitution and Canons, pp 80–81: Canon III.8.7(e).

129 Synodical Government Measure 1969, s 4(2).

130 Canons of the Church of England, Canon C 18, para 5.

131 Constitution and Canons, pp 4–5: Constitution, Article IV.

132 Ibid, pp 71, 79: Canons III.6.6(c)–(d), III.8.6(d)–(e).

133 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p 288.

134 Report by DW Virtue, <http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5100>, accessed 25 July 2007 (my emphasis). See also Episcopal News Service article, 4 December 2006, available at <http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_80194_ENG_HTM.htm>, accessed 28 July 2007.

135 Constitution and Canons, p 5: Constitution, Article IV.

136 For further reflections on primates, metropolitans and provinces in the Church of England, see CJ Podmore, ‘Primacy in the Anglican tradition’ in Podmore, CJ, Aspects of Anglican Identity (London, 2005), pp 5878.

137 Canons of the Church of England, Canon C 17, para 2.

138 See, for example, Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1983, s. 7.

139 Canons of the Church of England, Canon C 14, para 1.

140 Prichard, History, pp 192–193.

141 White, The Case, p 453.

142 Caswall, H, America and the American Church (London, 1839), p 288S.

143 Bayne, SF, An Anglican Turning Point: documents and interpretations (Austin, TX, 1964), p 12.

144 Constitution and Canons, p 7: Constitution, Article VIII.

145 Book of Common Prayer (USA), p 518.

146 White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 331.

147 Constitution and Canons, pp 43–44: Canon I.9.6; White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 337.

148 Constitution and Canons, p 44: Canon I.9.8.

149 White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, pp 23, 26–27; Constitution and Canons, p 28: Canon I.2.2.

150 Holmes, Brief History, p 145.

151 Prichard, History, p 175; Holmes, Brief History, p 145.

152 Constitution and Canons, p 28: Canon I.2.3; White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 201.

153 Prichard, History, p 234; Holmes, Brief History, p 157.

154 Constitution and Canons, p 32: Canon I.4.2(f), 3(a); ibid, p 30: Canon I.3.

155 Ibid, p 29: Canon I.2.4(c); ibid, p 33: Canon I.43(h).

156 Episcopal News Service article, 19 October 2006, available at <http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_78776_ENG_HTM.htm>, accessed 28 July 2007.

157 Sachs, W and Holland, T, Restoring the Ties that Bind: the grassroots transformation of the Episcopal Church (New York, NY, 2003), p 156.

158 Constitution and Canons, pp 28–29: Canon I.2.4(a). The official commentary observes that this definition ‘seems overly ambitious … in its outline for visitations …, as though it were the same process as a diocesan bishop visiting his parishes’ (White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 207).

159 White and Dykman, Annotated Constitution and Canons, p 199.

160 Church of England Newspaper, 3 November 2006.

161 Franklin, RW, ‘The historical background of the current situation in the Episcopal Church in the United States as a contribution to our ecumenical dialogue’, (Fall 2004) 66 Centro Pro Unione semi-annual Bulletin 6.

162 Gibson, E, Synodus Anglicana: or, the constitution and proceedings of an English convocation, shown from the acts and registers thereof to be agreeable to the principles of an episcopal church (London, 1702; revised edition, edited by Cardwell, E, Oxford, 1854), pp 140141. See CJ Podmore, ‘Synodical government in the Church of England: history and principles’ in Podmore, Aspects of Anglican Identity, pp 106–107.

163 Constitution of the General Synod, Article 7, set out in Synodical Government Measure 1969, Sch 2.

164 Cf Mills, Bishops by Ballot, p 288; Doll, Revolution, Religion and National Identity, p 155.

165 Rhoden, Revolutionary Anglicanism, pp 116, 135.

166 Cf Franklin, RW, ‘The Episcopal Church in the USA and the Covenant: the place of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral’ in Chapman, M (ed), The Anglican Covenant: unity and diversity in the Anglican Communion (London, 2008), pp 109110, 112.

167 Holmes, Brief History, p 37.

168 Hempton, D, Methodism: empire of the Spirit (London, 2005), p 224.

169 Newman, ‘The Anglo-American Church’, pp 355, 359, 362.

170 Mills, Bishops by Ballot, xii.

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