July 23, 2014

Report: Anglicans and OCA to work for unity

Update: (10/11) Ancient Faith Radio has the audio from, “In the Footsteps of Tikhon and Grafton – Anglican and Orthodox Identity, Ministry and Mission in the 21th Century,” the Anglican-Orthodox Conference featuring discussions and addresses by representatives of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and Nashotah House. Listen here.

The History of Anglican/Orthodox Relations
Fr. Stephen Platt moderated and the speakers were Fr. Chad Hatfield and Fr. Arnold Klukas.

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Anglican/Orthodox Enculturation
Mrs. Glynn Mackoul moderated and the speakers were Fr. William Olnhausen and Fr. Jack Gabig.

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Bishops and Mission
Fr. Chad Hatfield moderated and the speakers were Bishop Melchizedek and Bishop Frank Lyons.

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Anglican/Orthodox Theological Training
Fr. Arnold Klukas moderated and the speakers were Fr. Chad Hatfield and Dean Munday

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The Future of Anglican and Orthodox Relations
Both Deans moderated and the speakers were Archbishop William Duncan and Metropolitan Jonah.

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Anglican/Orthodox Relations In Practice
In the final session the speakers are Fr. Stephen Platt and Bishop Keith Ackerman. The session begins with Fr. Stephen giving an overview of the Fellowship of Sts. Alban and Sergius.

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VirtueOnline, an Anglican news site, reports that “a decade’s long impasse between Anglicanism and the Orthodox Church has been broken at an ecumenical conference.” Correspondent Michael Hiedt writes that a historic “covenant” has been signed between Nashotah House, an Anglican seminary in Wisconsin, and St. Vladimir’s Seminary which calls for “traditional Anglican leaders and their counterparts in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) … to work towards unity.”

Speaking to an international audience of one hundred and seventy people, ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) Archbishop, Robert Duncan, stated that signing the conference’s inter-seminary covenant, committing Nashotah House and St. Vladimir’s seminaries to mutual prayer and fellowship, “lays the groundwork of something very much larger”, namely “serious dialogue” with the OCA and “the resumption of ecumenical discussion between two separated parts of the Church.”

Heidt said that OCA Metropolitan Jonah, “a former Anglican,” spoke about the urgency of Christian unity in the face of an “increasingly aggressive secularism.” The metropolitan said that the aim of the Anglican-Orthodox talks was nothing less than unity:

“The Orthodox Church has this central vision of being united in Christ by the Spirit to the Father and we cannot bear not to be united to one another. This is really about our identity as Christians, it’s not about labels, institutes, it’s about the living reality of our communion in Christ by the Holy Spirit… (this) must be made manifest by our communion in the Chalice… of our eternal life.”

This means that full union between Orthodoxy and traditional Anglicanism is imperative and goes beyond mutual projects and discussion. “That’s the goal of our dialogue, absolute unity,” said the Metropolitan, and this will be “actualized through repentance, a mutual striving towards God and the will of God.” For Jonah, unity will only be achieved by walking the way of the Cross, which means letting go of “our desire for power and control, personal agendas… nothing else matters.”

St. Vladimir’s announcement about the Oct. 8-10 conference, and a list of speakers, is available here.

Comments

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    Robert Fortuin says:

    As if.

    Not a little misleading of course. As if the OCA represents the Orthodox Church and ACNA, Anglicanism.

  2. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Robert Fortuin says:

    It’s about numbers and $$.

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      Isa Almisry says:

      I for one am sick and tired of meeting Anglicans who are Orthodox in everything but name. the continued existence of such Anglicans I attribute to 1) refusal to accept that they cannot save the Anglican church, which cannot any longer be called a communion in any meaningful sense 2) the idea that you have to be Eastern to be Orthodox.

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        Jolynn Ruggerio says:

        Pridefullnes maybe, the whole premise the Anglicans were established on

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          George Michalopulos says:

          There is pridefulness among them. But let’s be very careful about who we call “prideful.” Look at the top of this page and see the self-aggrandizement that’s on full display in living technicolor: “the first and apostolic throne,” “bridge-builder…” “spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians…” etc. What is all this if not prideful?

          You know, we Orthodox are the first to criticize the Pope but I have never seen any pope in any venue tout his accomplishments, pedigree, wonderfulness, etc., before, during or after said event. And let’s not forget the “archons” who are nothing if not self-reverential.

          I get the point re Anglicanism. The Anglicans have long been in a sinking ship and they need to get over it. They need to stop bailing water and just jump into the ocean, hoping that a lifeboat will rescue them. When all is said and done, the Church of England broke off from Rome because a certain king wanted to divorce his wife. That’s no formula for theological success (to say the least). But coming from an ethno-religious background myself, I know exactly how they feel. A lot of them come from families that have been Anglican for 10 or more generations.

          Although they had their controversies in the past, the moral collapse of the last 30-40 years has been a bewilderment to all concerned. One of the reasons that they have been deluded even at the present, that is deluded enough to form a more traditional breakaway province, is because in the past, the controversies that roiled their church were fixed in time, at least to a point where people could be civil to each other. No more. What happened with the election of priestesses in 1976 was a crossing of the theological Rubicon which resulted in the necessary glorification of sodomy. Once ANCA realizes that there is no way that they can right the ship, then the realization that they have been wrong for a lot longer than 40 years will eventually hit home.

          In the meantime, our own bishops need to stop acting like prima donnas and start preaching the Gospel.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Robert, I believe you are gravely mistaken. It’s about the salvation of souls. God is not broke and He doesn’t need anybody’s money. I think you should ashamed of yourself for taking this archly cynical attitude.

    Just courious, are you jealous because +Jonah (and the measly little OCA) is getting the jump on this? Why, the GOA could step in steal his thunder, and once the ACNA signs on the dotted line, they could start fitting their kiddies for foustanelles. Or -Philip could take the initiative and do the same, of course he’ll have to hide the brass knuckles but he can bring them out later. Shame.

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      Jolynn Ruggerio says:

      Have we given Metro. Jonah the “Noble Peace Prize” when he has barely been in office as well.

      Let time and actions bare witness.

      In the meantime he has a lot of wounds to heal in his own household and they won’t be difused by assimilitating them in to a larger group

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        Robert says:

        Touche, good one!!

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        Chrys says:

        While I agree that time will indeed tell (as it always does), one of the reasons that +Jonah has generated such enthusiastic support is that he has regularly made statements and shown a willingness to pursue goals that serve the mission of the gospel rather than just his jurisdiction.
        While time will indeed “bare” (i.e., expose) what is walk and what is talk, it will also bear witness to the actual priorities of his leadership – as it invariably does for every leader. At this point, however – at least to those of us “outside” of the OCA (in my case, GOA) what he HAS said and HAS begun to do seem to give us good reason for hope.
        I appreciate the snide humor of the the Nobel Peace Prize. However, since that was awarded to the recent recipient for work done during the previous year (with an application deadline just 10 days after assuming office), he would have had to have received it a few months ago for work he did before he was Metropolitan – for promises of hope and change – which doesn’t really apply. No one I have read is supporting him for any pre-elevation promises, but for the positions and priorities he has expressed since. Since a Metropolitan does not, as “Uncle Joe” Stalin famously noted, command any armies, it is difficult to see how much more he could or should have done than he actually has done in his first year.

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          Jolynn Ruggerio says:

          I want to be absolutely clear, my remarks were in now way a swipe at Metro. Jonah, but rather the “misplaced” enthusasism that seems to have shifted from Metro. Herman, to Metro. Philip and now to Metro. Jonah. The remark rather was towards those who have “nailed” the cross of unity to him before he has had any time to acheive anything but a lot of regular statements.

          I’m happy to see you picked up my my play of words “bare” . I was wondering if anyone would or just see it as a mispel.

          On the other hand your final statement is difficult to follow, perhaps because of the poor noun/pronoun agreement.

          If you were first referring to the recent recipient to the Nobel Peace Prize, he was my senator and state congressman I assure there was no credilbe work the previous year that merits him to be in the same company as Nelson Mandela, Mother Thersa, Bp Tutu, or Dr.’s Without Borders

          Every heirarch needs our support, but a great deal more needs to be accomplished to warant Metro. Jonah the enthusasim and accolades he has been receieving for mere expression of positions and priorities.

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            Chrys says:

            Sorry for the twisted noun/pronoun issue – I was trying to be brief and the resulting compression did muddle it up. The Nobel Peace Prize is supposed to be awarded for the work done for the previous year. In the President’s case, his major accomplishment was a very effective campaign to be elected (obviously). My point for mentioning it is to clarify what has been absent from most media reporting – it was not and could not have been for anything done this year, and certainly not for the ten days between inauguration and the formal submission deadline on Feb. 1. Applying this to the Metropolitan, the equivalent recognition would celebrated the work he accomplished prior to being elevated.
            Hopefully this was clearer – though the length belabors the point a bit. The wit of your comment was still appreciated.
            I agree that the enthusiasm is based at least in part on the promise of things to come. I think one needs to take into consideration that some of the enthusiasm represents the better-than-hoped for leadership the OCA now finds it has relative to the awful situation it recently endured. The combination of hope, supported and amplified by the gestures and statements made so far, combined with relief, goes a long way to understand what can seem excessive from outside.

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    Robert Fortuin says:

    Sorry George I am just so skeptical about these type of efforts. Around and around in circles we go. Is that my tail?

    The inaccurate/misleading reporting doesn’t help.

    The numbers and $$ comment was in response to Dean’s post, which I admit I don’t quite get. ACNA is tiny and itself a splinter group (one of many trad Anglican groups I may add) and frought with internal fractions. Which brings me to my original point, namely that the VirtueOnline report is just downright misleading. ACNA and OCA, not Anglicanism and the Orthodox Church as it claims. Of course, ACNA and OCA doesn’t sounds as dramatic. We must pump up the headlines to create a bit of excitement. Standard fare.

    The lofty goal of “absolutely unity”, as good as it sounds, is very interesting upon further scrutiny, for what does this really mean? Does this mean the trad ACNA is ready to convert? Or perhaps we have some Anglician/Orthodox syncretism to look forward to? What is the nature of this unity? What does it look like? At what point is no longer Orthodox? ACNA itself can’t agree on what it believes. Good luck!!

    But yes, AXIOS! for blessed are the peacemakers. I wish all well.

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    Robert Fortuin says:

    By the way, if the ACNA leadership were to decide that it is time to convert, I can guarantee you ACNA would fall apart to pieces. A tiny faction would convert. But we can dream….

    To further clarify, if my above explanation is not clear enough, I did not mean to imply the OCA is doing this for the numbers nor the $$.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Robert, forgive me for my earlier rebuke. I am no pollyanna. I know all about ACNA and how “tiny” it is. But that is not the point. At one time, the Church was tiny, just two people standing at the foot of the Cross. Then it got bigger, back up to eleven men 10 days later. Then a whopping 3,000 forty days later. The sacred remnant that our Lord will find when He returns in glory is not going to be vast. Far from it. The world rejects us because it rejected our Master first. Anybody who believes we are going to encompass the whole world is deluding themselves.

    As to the matter at hand: these are traditionalist Anglicans (and I know that that includes “high church” as well as “low church” and that includes differences in certain fundamental doctrines). They have the courage of their convictions and have decided to leave a confession that at best can be called an “ecclesial body” (in the words of Pope Benedict), and at worst, an “apostate, neo-pagan, orgiastic mystery cult” (in the words of me).

    Would they splinter if their leadership and a significant portion of their parishes decided to join the OCA? Of course. But you know what? Just wait until we Orthodox join in the upcoming Episcopal Assembly. You honestly think everybody is gonna want to come into to this? What will ROCOR do when the GOA hierarchy continues its politically leftward trajectory? Or how will some traditionally-garbed bishops feel about sitting in council with a certain hierarch who has openly ridiculed their cassocks? And then there’s the calendar question.

    My point is this: I would suggest that we who live in glass houses be very careful about throwing stones. +Jonah extended his arms in love. I am certain that the Holy Spirit chose this former Anglican, who still has pain in his heart for his kith and kin, to make this outreach. We would be churlish to automatically turn our backs on them.

    Are there going to be details to work out? Yep. The OCA will have to reconsider its opposition to the Western Rite. Some of their bishpops are going to have step aside and let priests who are not married rise to the fore, etc. Maybe we’ll have to reconsider the whole married episcopate thing. They are going to have to sign on the dotted line about the seven Ecumenical Councils. If they want in, they will have to accept the ever-virginity of the Theotokos. Etc. As St Augustine said: “Unity in essential things, diversity in dubious things, charity in all things.”

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      Isa Almisry says:

      “The OCA will have to reconsider its opposition to the Western Rite.”

      I’ve spoken to some in the WRO. This has already begun. The day was when the OCA wouldn’t take Protestant parishes as a group of catechumens. That’s changed already.

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      Robert Fortuin says:

      No worries George.

      Let’s hope some redeeming and lasting things will come of this.

      But still I remain very skeptical.

  7. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    great news, Isa.

  8. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    George is very much on the mark. The High Church Anglo-Catholic view of Branch Theory is essentially a protestant take on catholicism: It’s a buffet where you get to pick the “best of the best”. As one who came through this stream from more central church of Episcopalianism before becoming Orthodox, I think the start of conversion is the understanding about Truth as something which isn’t relative, or at least not relative with ourselves at the center – but with unity in Jesus Christ firmly there. So George’s sense that there is a diversity of views – some of which that might see this, and other more Evangelical-oriented Calvinists that may not – is on the mark in my opinion. For the latter, the sense of protestantism’s continual fragmentation as an error may just be a bridge too far… I’m not sure they see how protestant they in fact really are, for their belief is that they and they alone are the true catholics who have corrected the errors of the Romans and Orthodox. And that’s a tough nut to get past. We of course have our own impediments, but we have to begin with clear view of each other.

    But there were also some 70,000 or so at the time in 1976 that signed the Affirmation of St. Louis and left for the Continuing Anglican world. Many are more Rome-oriented… but this “twig” if you will… might be picked up as well if not hardened off into permanent schism… of the usual joke about being in love with being a bishop in a church of one plus a dog. But the fact that these earlier folks left over doctrine rather than sexual practice may be of some interest. The reality is somewhat different in that I found them collectively as varied as the Episcopal Church however, so I’d make no guarantees.

    The negative is that Anglicans love dialogue. For them, dialogue so often affirms importance and conveys status, and once when someone has been used to crowning English kings… and struggled with finding the equivalent in the US by claiming a number of US Presidents as Anglicans… then there may be a difference in “seekers” goals rather than convergence on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I do believe Met. Jonah sees this danger, but for many Anglicans, they would vastly prefer the legitimacy of this sort of discussion without consequences than a dialogue that actually drives a process towards change. I think the very English love of style and form is a vulnerability here… just as it can be anywhere. But I have no idea how you move a dialogue that has studiously avoided going anywhere since the first ecumenical discussions into a dialogue which leads to unity – unless it is led by the Holy Spirit.
    Prayer is a good beginning… but it needs to be widespread, heartfelt, and guided.

    I think Met. Jonah is sincere and he has my best wishes and full support, but if you read the ACANA stuff after his first pitch last summer, the ACANA folks seemed to expect something more like a quid-pro-quo, than I think we as Orthodox would concede. This suggests very little aquaintance of these Anglicans with an Orthodox Church that can say no to Rome for 1,000 years. The pikers have only been at it 500 or so! LOL! Yet I think the real sense at the time among the Anglicans is that the Orthodox and ACANA might form a new protestant denomination. This is sadly mistaken, but I’m not sure the Anglicans were clear on this. Could there be a path of economy that for a while would tolerate a special situation? Way above my pay grade.

  9. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Antiochian friend says:

    I think we should support Metropolitan Jonah’s effort to preach the Gospel to the conservative Anglicans who are trying to find their way. He is calling to the lost sheep
    like a good shepherd.

    I really feel for these Anglicans. They need a home and I am thankful the Metropolitan is seeking them out. Let’s not forget, +Jonah’s childhood years were spent in this church.
    He understands them and knows what they are looking for. He is perfectly suited to evangelize them.

    Many of them have lost church property to the national church and have made great sacrifices because they want to follow the true faith. God is seeking them out and Metropolitan Jonah is allowing God to use him as His instrument to save those who are trying to find Him.

    Let’s be supportive when one of our bishops plays the role of evangelist.

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      Robert says:

      I am all for being supportive and I too “feel” for these Anglicans.

      Some assumptions are made:

      1.) “Anglicans who are trying to find their way” – really? We should ask them if they are “on their way” to another home. Or, more likely, they are comfortably on the via media.

      2.) “+Jonah’s childhood years were spent in this church.” – no, sorry, he was a member of the Episcopal Church, not ACNA. Two hugely different outfits!

      3.) “He understands them and knows what they are looking for” – Possibly, not so sure about that one. See #2.

      4.) Evangelizing? – since when is dialogue considered evangelizing? Let’s hope ACNA members don’t read AOI combox entries. :)

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        Chrys says:

        Point #2 is anachronistic. There was no ACNA – or predecessor group – before 1996. (The ACNA was found at the end of 2008.) So – when +Jonah was growing up, the future members (if they were alive) would certainly have been part of the same organization. So, yes, he could reasonably be expected to know enough about them to have some understanding of who they are and what they might be looking for.

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          Robert says:

          You funny! The ice gets thinner.

          He was all of 19 years when received into the Orthodox Church.

          Let’s streeeeeetch our imaginations.

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        Antiochian friend says:

        The dialogue begins the conversation. Then those who have ears to hear will respond.
        But if Metropolitan Jonah isn’t there to plant the seeds for those who are ready, then there can be no harvest. We have no way of knowing who in the ACNA will respond positively to Met. Jonah’s message but the important thing is, he is delivering it, regardless of who or how many continue on to learn more about our faith. Even if he is only planting seeds that someone else will harvest years from now, he is doing what God wants him to do. My priest became Orthodox years after he first became acquainted with it. Have faith and trust God.

        They were Episcopalians before they were ACNA. And he grew up in that same church.
        There is nothing to be stretched here. The Episcopal Church put Metropolitan Jonah on his path to Orthodoxy.

        Try to have a little faith in what he is doing.

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      Jolynn Ruggerio says:

      Indeed we should be supportive of Metro Jonah and all of our heirarchs,

      He is not the only heirarch nor is first to evangelize. And indeed evangelization falls equally on all of us, first in our own homes.

      When our families live fully an Orthodox lifestyle, we will become icons of the church and the unchurched will be naturally drawn to us ( or persecute us), And should want to be what we are.

      “Save yourself and thousands around you will be saved.” St. Seraphim of Sarov

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        Antiochian friend says:

        No, he is not the first. And yes it falls on all of us to do the same. But it is an imperative that the bishop preach the Word of God to everyone, regardless if they are Orthodox or not.

  10. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Of course we want this to go well! If anyone can initiate it, Met. Jonah is a natural. It will of course take far more of our other Metropolitans to make it happen and be accepted, and it should… ACANA would be buying into the whole church lock, stock and smoking double barrels.

    The fact is that it will take an immense amount of patience. And then it will inevitably come to a point of decision. I think putting the welcome mat out is excellent. But it is a long road to move from separating oneself from a church that saw itself as the penultimate church… the “chivas regal” of churches someone called it… to come to the point where the natural next step of attaching oneself to the Living Body of Christ as a physical and real incarnate institution in a way that has not been seen as important to their theology. It’s a big step, and babies don’t move from crawling to running the pole vault without a lot of preparation, growth, and grit.

    Have they got the spiritual muscles for Orthodoxy? (Sometimes I’m not sure I do either!) They may need a breather. Institutionally this would be the norm. On the other hand, they are on the move and maybe can see the importance of settling into firm foundations. I’d love to see them become Orthodox.

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      Antiochian friend says:

      You are right. It will take patience and preparation. And it will take faith that planting seeds now may not yield for years. But they may be ready to hear, at the very least.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    James, thanks for that insight regarding their “love of dialouge.” Good thing to be on the watchout for. Still, +Jonah is right to reach out to them. I heard his speech at Bedford, TX in June. He was loving, and kind, but firm as well. He said things they wanted to hear (abortion bad, 7 ECs good) and some that they didn’t want to hear (no priestesses; deaconnesses, we can talk; Calvinism: a heresy.) So he wasn’t presenting a false picture of what Orthodoxy is.

Care to comment?

*