Trying to understand the Continuing churches

Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by anglican74, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I'm trying to understand the Continuing movement, so any help would be appreicated here:

    1. I know that they went out of the Episcopal Church back in the 1970s over the issue of Women's Ordination, which is very understandable... (and by the way it's amazing to think that womens' ordination passed so long ago; it laid the seeds for all the evils that were to befall the church since then)

    2. Were the Continuing churches able to keep their buildings? It's something we in ACNA struggle with, our churches sued, congregations evicted, people's lives destroyed by malignant Episcopalian lawyers deploying the civil government to attack us, and then selling our churches to the Muslims...

    3. Why aren't the Continuing churches growing? Apart from nominal 'missionary initiatives' not far removed from TEC's 'gospel initiatives' which go nowhere, the Continuing churches are not growing; if anything, it's basically the exact same people who left in the 70s, except now they're about to head into nursing homes

    4. Connected with #3, is the Continuing movement about to hit a demographic catastrophe? When I've been to any of their churches, it seemed that 70-80% of people in attendance had gray hair

    5. Why are the Continuing churches becoming more and more Anglo-Papal leaning? I don't get the sense that the early exiles in the 1970s were this radical, but today you have these people praying the Angelus, making prayers to the saints, some even kissing icons? Labels like 'Mass' are everywhere, and incense is pretty frequent at least in what I've seen... The Continuers make the claim of 'continuing' the episcopal Church's original state before women's ordination hit the fan, but they're clearly moving away from the original Episcopal Church doctrines themselves... am I wrong on this?
     
  2. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The Continuing churches do often seem to be in a peculiar position, and the lack of unity I feel is their biggest problem. Four of them—The Anglican Province of America, The Anglican Church in America, The Diocese of the Holy Cross, and The Anglican Catholic Church—have signed agreements related to intercommunion, and are in talks regarding greater unity, while the Anglican Province of Christ the King has an intercommunion agreement with The United Episcopal Church of North America.

    A majority of Continuing churches (but certainly not all), are so extreme Anglo-Catholic as to be essentially Old Catholics; Roman Catholics without the Pope. They have bent over backwards so far to emulate the pre-Vatican I Roman Church that it's difficult to see what remains of Anglicanism about them.

    I don't know about their situation regarding keeping their buildings, but most parishes are quite small in number and the parishioners quite elderly.

    I believe that the infighting and constant splintering of the past played a big role in their lack of growth. The original continuers managed to go from one proposed body to more than a dozen (in fact, I can't keep track of the number anymore), and there were cases of whole dioceses leaving one group for another, as well as musical-chairs of a sort, featuring clergy being ordained to the diaconate in one jurisdiction, then leaving and being ordained to the priesthood in another, and even leaving to be consecrated bishops in another. If you look at most of their websites, what they state about themselves is so similar that you could switch the content with another continuing body's website and not notice the difference—so why do so many different bodies need to exist?

    In becoming familiar with the names of senior clergy in the Continuing movement, it no longer surprises me to read that bishop s0-and-so started off in the UECNA, then went to the ACC, and now runs a diocese in the ACA (just a fictitious example, but there are many just like it). In other words, they really dropped the ball a long time ago, and I don't see much of a future for the movement; they are far too parochial (pun intended) and much too set in their ways. Whether to use the missal or the prayer book, or what lectionary to employ is much more important to them than engaging in any serious outreach.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  3. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    I'm the youngest continuing priest I know. I'm 33. Steve M___ might be younger than me, I'm not sure. The local ACC guy tells me I have orders from a vagante bishop and I need to learn to celebrate the Mass from the Anglican Missal. Some of the old-timers relish being unpleasant and difficult.

    Truth be told, there are probably about 60-70 continuing parishes that are viable beyond the next decade. There is a back and forth exchange with ACNA that is helping some jurisdictions: as it becomes clear that they will not settle the women's ordination thing guys trickle out and come to us. At the same time, some of our clergy are willing to compromise and join ACNA so they can have some stability.

    Some of the clergy are, frankly, racists. Tell me the next time you see a black or Hispanic person in a continuing church. Some of these guys don't get that the times and population are changing and we need to think about things like Spanish language outreach. I think I could give myself a concussion ramming my head into the brick wall of stupidity that exists with some of the groups.

    However, there are some intelligent, faithful, and Godly bishops out there trying to make this continuing thing viable. The APA is particularly blessed in that regard. My own jurisdiction is making strides to do real gospel ministry. Those who want to look like Catholics from pre-Vatican II and do weird faux-Roman stuff are not going to be the face of the church going forward. As you have noticed, they don't reproduce.
     
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  4. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    Most of the continuing churches have acquired old Methodist or Lutheran buildings. There was a time in the 90s when you could score one for pennies. Of course, soon they'll be up for sale again. . .
     
  5. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Hello, Fr. Shane. I hope that my comments caused no offense. I know that there are many good people in some of the Continuing churches, but I must confess to being very disappointed by the movement overall.

    While I assume that most of us are religiously conservative here, I have found many of the continuers to be very far-right in their politics, and not shy about saying it. Hearing some of the things they say politically has become a real turn-off to me.

    It seems that most of TEC is ultra-Liberal, but most of the continuers (and even many in the ACNA) are far-right, and I get tired of hearing both sides spouting off on social issues that have nothing to do with either the Gospel or being a Christian.

    I agree with you that the APA (in particular, Bishop Jones) is an example of a good continuing body; orthodox, but not extreme.

    May God bless you and your ministry. Whether in a continuing body or in the ACNA, it can't be easy for those standing up for Anglican orthodoxy.
     
  6. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    No offense was taken. You told it the way it is, as I believe I did also. The continuing movement is a royal mess that is just now starting to get its act together after 40 years. The movement has been plagued by some enormous egos and a bit too much purple.
     
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  7. Shane R

    Shane R Active Member

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    I forgot to discuss the Scranton dynamic. For a significant portion of the Continuing leadership, the endgame is to achieve full communion with the Union of Scranton and specifically the Polish National Catholic Church. Somehow, this will magically save the Continuum. Actually, it is primarily a tactic to achieve the perceived validation of Rome without going through the Ordinariates. The PNCC has valid orders according to the canon lawyers in Rome. So, if we come into full communion with them, we will have valid orders too! That's the thinking anyway. Some of these guys even imagine they are going to get the Eastern Orthodox churches to recognize them.

    Of course, many of the groups are already in Archbishop Hodur's (founding bishop of the PNCC) line of succession one way or another. But I get the feeling most of them don't really know that much about the PNCC and the Union of Scranton. There are a few voices pointing out that the PNCC has a few eccentric doctrinal positions. Abp. Haverland (ACC) has said he believes the Declaration of Scranton and the Affirmation of St. Louis are compatible statements.

    The more evangelical jurisdictions (UECNA, OAC) are viewing these developments with some caution. Is Continuing Anglicanism essentially the same as Old Catholicism? That's not everyone's view.
     
  8. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yes, If those Anglo-Catholic jurisdictions enter into full communion with some of the Old Catholic bodies, then there is little to distinguish them as being Anglican. It is unfortunate that we have so many parties in the Church. The Anglo-Catholics (to a large extent) view themselves as simply the continuation of the ancient Catholic Church of England without the Pope. If that were true, then there really is no reason not to unite with the Old Catholics. The so-called "Reformation Anglicans" tend to see themselves as just another Protestant church, essentially Calvinists in copes/Presbyterians with Prayer Books. IMHO, I see Anglicanism as being both Protestant and Catholic, a reformed (small "r") Catholicism. At least that is how the Caroline Divines perceived it, and I feel that is when Anglicanism is at its best. Prayer book Catholics, not Calvinists, Lutherans, or Roman Catholics, but something unique.
     
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  9. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I do not see myself as an AngloCatholic so much as a catholic Anglican. I see the Anglican Church as a reformed catholic church. I have huge empathy for the orthodox east. Much of what we are about should be to learn from one another. We have much to contribute to the world and to the church catholic. The challenge is the authentic expression of the Christian faith in an Anglican tradition. The last fifty years has been a bit of a crisis in the Anglican world and I think we need more value on that which binds us together.
     
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