THREE BISHOPS TALK CANDIDLY ABOUT THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK
DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Mon Jun 28 22:00:26 EDT 2004
THREE BISHOPS TALK CANDIDLY ABOUT THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK
By David W. Virtue
BEDFORD, TX (6/25/2004)--Three orthodox bishops addressed deputies to
the 16th Annual Assembly of Forward and Faith NA, the traditionalist
wing of the Episcopal Church and spoke candidly about its aims,
objectives and problems.
Jack Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, William Wantland, senior bishop,
Diocese of Eau Claire (ret.) and Peter Beckwith, Diocese of Springfield
talked about the issues at St. Vincent's cathedral.
IKER: "The ACN is a work in progress. There have been two surprises.
Some orthodox ECUSA bishops have not come on board and joined the
network. Other ECUSA bishops have started to attack the Network and are
saying don't join it. These include Bishop Parsley, Bishop Thompson,
Southern Ohio, and Don Wimberly of Texas. They are issuing Pastoral
letters saying there is no middle ground."
WANTLAND: Note: Bishop Wantland was one of five 'Akron Five' bishops who
crossed boundaries in the Diocese of Ohio to confirm recently. "The
Network is an attempt to bring together, as the name suggests, dioceses
and parishes within ECUSA who wish to remain an active loyal part of the
Anglican Communion and to do so within the structure of the ECUSA, at
least as long as that is possible, or until the ECUSA is thrown out."
"The Network was originally suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury
and 13 bishops who saw it as something that might be done. Some 12
dioceses agreed to join in January in Texas. Out of that 9 dioceses, so
far, have by action of their Diocesan Convention ratified it and 2
dioceses will take action of formal affiliation."
"In addition to the 9 dioceses, there are 6 convocations, 5 are
geographic, the 6th is a non-geographic convocation - FIFNA and we are
urging FIFNA to formerly join the Network and you can do so by action of
your vestry and congregation."
Reflecting on what happened in Akron recently; Wantland said that there
were several different groups providing Alternative Episcopal Oversight.
The Network provides for it as does the American Anglican Council (AAC).
This is genuine AEO. ECUSA's bishops offered up DEPO - Delegated
Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, but that is where that train is going and
don't go there."
"It rejected what the Primates called upon ECUSA to do. So the majority
of Primates declared impaired communion with ECUSA. DEPO is little more
than a suggestion and a request, there is no machinery in the ECUSA plan
that the primates specifically called on.
"When approached, revisionist bishops like Clark Grew offered up two
revisionist bishops for DEPO, both were unacceptable to orthodox
parishes. So the lay people got together and made contact through the
AAC and appealed for help and made direct contact with senior (now
retired) ECUSA bishops and a bishop from Brazil to exercise their
"Lay people planned the service and it was though 650 people would
attend with 60 to be confirmed. There was not an Episcopal Church big
enough. At the end of the day the congregation was up over 1000 with 110
waiting to be confirmed. It was a fantastic 2.5 hour service."
Bishop Wantland said it would happen again if they, ECUSA's revisionist
bishops don't do what the Primates have called on them to do.
"Will it happen again? I would not be surprised. The point is people are
hurting and they are hurting badly. The Network can provide strength in
other ways, the convocations can work together.
BECKWITH: "I commend FIFNA for your faithfulness. God is going to use
this current crisis in his Episcopal Church as a conduit for greater
unity in the church. I want to go on record; I believe God can reform
the Episcopal Church. He can bring it back from the brink in which it
finds itself to faithfulness in orthodoxy. I am not sure the leadership
of ECSUA will allow it, but that remains to be seen."
"The ACN must stay in the larger communion. The Network is being
described as schismatic. I don't believe that it is. The schismatic act
occurred last summer in Minneapolis."
Beckwith said that in Province 5, his province, bishops in other
dioceses including Mississippi, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Northern
Michigan, Western Michigan, Chicago and Milwaukee don't think there is a
problem. "They don't see the 21 provinces not in communion with them.
They were shocked at my position. They were shocked at whether I would
go to communion with them. The Lord spared me and they were all pressed
for time, so they cancelled the Eucharist and they decided not to
During question time, San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield said that
for 16 years "we have longed for a province of our own where catholic
order is honored. I am proud to belong to the Network, these are
honorable men involved in the Network. Women's Ordination was originally
permissive not mandatory, what has happened now is not honorable and it
has now become mandatory. We have been asking for a non-geographic
province, this is built into the network. This body is ideally
positioned to move forward in that direction."
"I have 2 or 3 people who say to me we aren't dealing with the ECUSA, it
is fatally flawed, but these people have genuine integrity and I believe
they really and truly honor our position, namely that of a separate
convocation. This can be the link that can be forged with Britain, if
Britain finds itself with a Third Province. We are a natural
relationship. Without this possibility we face a grim future. I believe
we have everything to offer. It is an exciting time to see our ministry
blossom through the Network with worldwide recognition. We have a rich
ministry throughout the country through the Network."
Acknowledging the strain over women's ordination Bishop Iker said, "We
are in impaired communion with bishops who ordain women. There is strain
there with orthodox bishops who do ordain women. I think women can
preach but not function sacramentally. There is sensitivity among the
Network, it is real, but we have not been put in a position where we
could not be at the altar together."
BECKWITH: "I would go to extraordinary means not to embarrass Jack Iker.
Theologically there is nothing but impaired communion when you look
across the sea of denominations. The Roman Catholic Church is in
impaired communion with the Orthodox Church and so on."
IKER: "Some of the women priests were most insistent that FIFNA be given
their own non-geographic province."
WANTLAND: "There is not one graced difference between what I believe and
the Orthodox Church believes but we are still in impaired communion,
because none of us is perfect. There is no such thing as a totally
broken communion. There is a unity through baptism. We share communion
with Southern Baptists but there are sacramental differences. There are
levels of communion."
IKER: "Will there be a place for women priests in the emerging province?
ECUSA repudiated teachings of the Anglican Communion. There is
recognition for both positions."
Geoffrey Kirk, Secretary of Forward in Faith UK said that if the Network
does not have a clearly defined and desired end, and that to me is a
free and separate province with a separate status severed from ECUSA,
then it will collapse.
On women's ordination the London based traditionalist Anglican priest
had this to say: "There is nothing in Scripture or tradition that can
uphold this innovation. The arguments are ethical a priori arguments; it
is about the zeitgeist in which we live."
"You must enter the Network but you have to go into it with great force
where it will be seen as valued as the position in ECUSA. There is no
place where conscience clauses in countries like Sweden, Norway and the
ECUSA where the assurance of tolerance is guaranteed. You must be
extremely strong and vocal within this Network to maintain correct
catholic faith and order."
"There is an end game for the Network and that is to get out of the
ECUSA as ECUSA is irreformable. The Lambeth Commission will chastise the
ECUSA and if it doesn't it will not lead to subservience but to
violence," he said.
More information about the VirtueOnline