Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ecclesiastical Musical Chairs

APCK diocese goes to the ACA, APCK diocese splits off into new jurisdiction, REC parish goes to AMiA, REC parish goes to APA, now the latest. . .

Anglican Province of America Diocese of the West Joins Reformed Episcopal Church

By David W. Virtue


In a move that could have serious implications for the Common Cause Partnership, an entire diocese of the Anglican Province of America with some 22 plus churches has fled that Anglican jurisdiction and allied itself with the Reformed Episcopal Church in America (REC).

"I pray that you will understand that we are not leaving the APA out of any anger but are entering into the REC so we can fulfill what we have been working on for the past ten years. By transferring to the REC we remain in intercommunion with each other and still brothers," wrote the Rt. Rev. Richard Boyce, OCD Bishop of the Diocese of the West (DOW/ APA.)

In a series of letters obtained by VirtueOnline, Bishop Boyce announced this week that he was taking his diocese out of the APA and formally bringing it into the Reformed Episcopal Church, a move that angered the Presiding Bishop of the APA, the Most. Rev. Walter Grundorf, who promptly relieved Boyce of his position as Bishop and appointed the Very Rev. Douglas King as interim administrator of the DOW.

"You are no longer the Diocesan Bishop of the DOW of the APA as of September 5. I have named the Very Rev. Douglas King as interim administrator." Grundorf then said that all DOW priests and parishes wishing to leave the APA must send a letter of their intention to him and request Letters Dismissory. He then said that until he hears from them, they remain in good standing and has his and the APA's full support.

He concluded his letter saying that the letters would provide for an "orderly transition" to the REC. "We have made such orderly transfers in the past between REC/APA and I hope and pray that this will be no exception."

Boyce responded from his parish in Seattle, saying that Grundorf's understanding of the meaning of the word "jurisdiction" was a misconception on his part.

"I have not resigned my jurisdiction nor has coadjutor Bishop Winfield Mott. We have only requested the REC to receive the Diocese of the West (DOW) which has not been acted upon."I would remind you that the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) has similar beliefs, traditions and practices on the Sacraments and Holy Orders particularly as they pertain to women's ordination."

The DOW is a jurisdiction. I would refer you to Article 2., Sect. 6 of the Constitution of the Anglican Province of America (APA), and Canon 16, Sect. (a) and (e) which refer to the Bishop's jurisdiction. If you recall since the third century tradition has said that "Where the Bishop is, there is the Church, where the Church is there is the Bishop". Boyce went on to say that the Anglican Communion has stated through the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the basic unit of the Church is the Diocese, and you do consider yourself as Anglican.

"Boyce said that no one is required by the Constitution or the Canons to send the Presiding Bishop a letter of resignation when leaving the APA. A letter Dismissory is from Diocesan Bishop to Diocesan Bishop.

Boyce blasted Grundorf saying that provincial protocol was a recent invention, "as I do not find it stated anywhere in APA documents. You, as Presiding Bishops have authority only to conduct the meetings of the House of Bishops (HOB) and to take orders for the consecration of Bishops.""As a result of this restriction you have no authority to declare that I am no longer the Diocesan Bishop of the DOW."

Boyce argued that the APA Constitution states that a bishop shall confine the exercise of his office to his own Diocese. "Therefore as a Presiding Bishop with no authority, and functioning as a Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern US (DEUS), you must not intrude into the affairs of the DOW."

"There is no authority conferred to you by the Constitution of the APA nor by the Canons of the APA to appoint the Rev. Douglas King, nor anyone else as an interim administrator of the DOW. This action would appear to follow The Episcopal Church (TEC) as in the case of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

"DOW Priests and Parishes do not need to send you a latter of intention of staying members of DOW. This is a Diocesan matter for DOW.

"This supposed protocol has no standing in the Constitution of the APA nor in the Canons of the APA.

"No Article of the Constitution of the APA or Canon of the APA prevents the DOW from effecting a merger with the REC, with whom we are in communion, as is the APA. We are following the time-line established by the APA and REC as this is the ten year mark leading to the merger. We just plan to do this before the rest of the APA."

Grundorf wrote to all the parishes of the DOW responding to Boyce's letter saying that while he was not totally surprised, "I am disappointed. I am also disappointed that the REC did not discuss this with me if indeed they are fully aware of all of Bishop Boyce's plans.

"The Presiding Bishop said the DOW "still exists" with some having notified him that they had no intention of leaving the APA."Bishop Boyce has resigned from the APA, therefore he is no longer the Bishop of the APA/DOW." Grundorf who then said he was appointing King to serve as interim administrator "until such time as we can determine who is leaving and who is staying. I will then call an extraordinary Synod to reorganize and elect the appropriate officers." Grundorf said there would be no attempt to claim church property or funds. "For all concerned in the APA and the REC, this transition must be done in a proper and orderly manner."

The PB said that one of the subjects to be addressed at their next Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA) meeting will be "jurisdiction hopping."

"I am well aware that the motivation of this action has been driven by the Common Cause Partnership (CCP). While I support much of what the CCP stands for I, along with many others, have reservations as to what will be the final decision on the ordination of women, which most of the CCP members enthusiastically support. We have stood our ground for the last 30 plus years to the theological innovations of the Episcopal Church and I do not think we should abandon our principles at this point."

One observer told VOL that APA's Diocese of the West's decision to secede was to join Common Cause by way of the REC. It is believed that, in time, CCP will form the basis of a new North American Anglican Province, an orthodox alternative jurisdiction separate from The Episcopal Church and coming under the oversight of the newly formed Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON.)VOL could not obtain comment from leaders of the Reformed Episcopal Church.



Anonymous said...

As a general rule, I do favor stability to endless alphabet soup.

BUT, sometimes, movement is necessary despite the stress and strife it entails. For example, I find it hard to blame any extramural Anglican for leaving the Liberal/Liberation/Modernist theological bent of 815 and Cantuar and York.

Likewise, given the confused and confusing state of extramural jurisdictions about what authentic Anglicanism, I only pray that "musical chair" moves not be about personal ambition or conflict, but rather to clarify matters of theology.

Indeed, it is time to untangle the closet Continental Protestants and closet Continental Paptists from the midst of true protestant, catholic, evangelical Formulary Anglicans. And sometimes, a diocese shift or two is what is needed to clarify our lines of difference so that we can have honest, Christian debate about them and so the laity can cast the their ultimate vote with there feet.

As is, most extramural jurisdictions in North America are a crazy, mixed-up jumble of the old, inconsistent, incompatible Anglican parties. IMHO, it is high time for some clarity and coherence. The people deserve something more than smoke-and-mirrors or bait-and-switch.

Ken said...

APCK diocese splits off into new jurisdiction

I haven't heard of that one. When did that happen?

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

That was some time back (2002?); the Diocese of the Holy Cross (Bishop Hewett's group) is a break-away portion of the APCK. I believe it was rooted in a dispute over divorce and remarriage of bishops.

Anonymous said...

The Diocese of the Holy Cross was originally a diocese of the Episcopal Missionary Church (+Patrick Murphy, first bishop). It withdrew from the EMC and was independent for a couple of years. Its bishops, clergy, and parishes were received into the APCK. Later the bishops, some clergy, and some parishes withdrew from the APCK; the Diocese of the Holy Cross was reconstituted. Bishop Murphy was succeeded by Robert Waggener (who left to go to Western Rite Orthodoxy) and now Paul Hewett.

David Sprunk+
Diocese of the Holy Cross

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Father Sprunk,

That's for the further clarification.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps out of vain curiosity, who is the Diocese of the Holy Cross in communion with now that it has purged itself of the TEC (then ECUSA), and APCK? Does it have any ecumenical intentions?

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

It is in FACA now, but I'm not sure if it is in "full communion" with any other bodies.

Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

Bishop Hewett seems to be hopeful about the CCP. . .

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. How is FACA or CCP better than the APCK?

Anonymous said...

A Letter to All Saints & the Deanery of Virginia
The Very Reverend Glenn M. Spencer

You may have heard or read about the events that have occurred over the past several days within the Anglican Province of America’s Diocese of the West [DOW]. On September 4, 2008, Bishop Richard Boyce, long-time Diocesan Bishop of the DOW, announced to Bishop Grundorf his intent to leave the APA effective immediately, and to merge his entire diocese into the Reformed Episcopal Church [REC], subject to the REC’s approval.

This action has been publicized on-line and has generated much discussion, not all of it fruitful or accurately presented. Based on the articles available on-line, one might conclude that the APA is splitting, or at least facing a significant crisis. I can tell you without hesitation that this is not the case. However, I would like to address these legitimate concerns, and to provide a more accurate explanation as to what is happening, why I believe it is happening, and where we at All Saints Anglican Church and within the APA’s Deanery of Virginia stand.

What Has Happened Over the Past Several Days. By way of background, the APA is a canonical jurisdiction that consists of three dioceses: The Diocese of the Eastern United States [DEUS], the Diocese of Mid-America, and the Diocese of the West [DOW]. We in Virginia are a part of DEUS, and our Diocesan Bishop is Bishop Grundorf. In addition to his role as our Diocesan Bishop, Bishop Grundorf also serves as the Presiding Bishop of the APA.

On September 4, 2008, Bishop Boyce of DOW wrote a letter to Bishop Grundorf. Bishop Boyce stated that he intended immediately to leave the APA and to transfer not just himself individually, but his entire diocese, consisting of maybe twenty parishes, into the REC. Bishop Grundorf correctly responded to this letter by informing Bishop Boyce that an orderly and canonical procedure exists for any such transfer, and that Bishop Boyce had not followed that procedure. Based on the extraordinary circumstances with which he was faced, Bishop Grundorf, as provided by our canons and as shepherd of our church, immediately relieved Bishop Boyce of his position as Diocesan Bishop and appointed an interim administrator for the DOW. Further, he explained the mechanism whereby individual parishes and priests within the DOW, if they wished, could transfer into the REC. He reaffirmed that all DOW priests, clergy, and laity remain in good standing with the APA and have its full support.

While Bishop Grundorf is disappointed with Bishop Boyce’s decision, he has not forbidden a transfer for those desiring it (contrary to what some on-line articles have suggested). Instead, he has insisted that proper procedure be followed for any parishes and priests of the DOW wishing to transfer to the REC. He has reiterated the canonical impermissibility of a bishop unilaterally removing his entire diocese from the APA’s jurisdiction. His goal is an orderly transition in a charitable manner that does not bring scandal on the church.

Bishop Grundorf is absolutely correct in his response. Dioceses cannot, as a body, leave the jurisdiction of the APA. There is simply no canonical mechanism whereby that may occur. Instead, the canons allow for individual parishes, and individual priests, to transfer to another jurisdiction based upon their individual requests for transfer, or “letters dimissory.” As the several articles on-line indicate, Bishop Boyce insists that canonically he retains the full right to move his diocese into another jurisdiction; he is simply incorrect in his reading of canon law. I would be happy to discuss this further with any one who wishes to discuss canon law in more detail.

Why Bishop Boyce has Taken This Action. While I cannot read into the heart of Bishop Boyce, I believe it is fair and appropriate for me to address why I believe he has attempted this maneuver. My impression is that two factors have contributed to his decision.

a. Common Cause Partnership. First, and perhaps most apparent, is Bishop Boyce’s stance, vis-à-vis Bishop Grundorf’s, on what our relationship should be with Common Cause Partnership [CCP]. As you may recall, in January 2008, Bishop Grundorf made the decision to adopt a “wait and see” approach to the APA’s possible affiliation with Common Cause Partnership. This decision was wise, pastoral, and correct. While we share many goals and beliefs with members of CCP, the majority of those jurisdictions who belong to CCP approve of women’s ordination and include women whom they believe to be validly ordained to the priesthood. The issue of women’s ordination goes to the heart of the priesthood and to the validity of the sacraments; it is a position with which we cannot in good faith align ourselves. This issue is still being sorted out within CCP, and Bishop Grundorf believes that the best approach is to let it become settled, and then make a final decision as to whether alliance with CCP is in his flock’s best interest. Further, while CCP currently is only an alliance of various Anglican jurisdictions, it has all appearances of the precursor to a jurisdiction. Many of its leaders have made clear their intent to make it one giant jurisdiction, the North American Anglican Province, under the oversight of the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON). Its members would thus lose their own identity, their individual canons and Constitution, and become a part of the jurisdiction of CCP. This is no small matter, particularly if that giant jurisdiction contains women “priests.” We all desire unity and a common cause with other Anglicans; the question is at what cost, and at what point do we slip into heterodoxy under the purported banner of “unity.”

Bishop Boyce, unlike Bishop Grundorf, has for years strongly supported alliance with CCP. Without question he believes that Bishop Grundorf made the wrong decision in adopting a wait-and-see approach. The REC, unlike the APA, is a member of the CCP. Therefore, one reason I believe that Bishop Boyce is attempting to merge into the REC is so that he can become a member of CCP.

b. Inability/Unwillingness to Comply with APA Canonical Requirements. At the most recent APA Synod, in July 2008, our national registrar, Fr. Bill Perkins, announced that he had never received from DOW the canonically-required credentials and documentations from the diocese’s priests, and from the bishop himself. Properly documented credentials are the prerequisite for a priest to minister within the APA; yet this diocese under Bishop Boyce’s leadership simply had never provided that information. At this past Synod, it was made clear to Bishop Boyce and to all clergymen in the APA, that no one will be permitted to continue as a clergyman-in-good-standing without presenting his required credentials and documentation to the registrar. Bishop Boyce’s inability or unwillingness to correct this disorder, as well as several other irregular practices within the DOW, may have been another impetus for his action last week.

Where We Now Stand. First, the DOW has not left the APA. No canonical method exists for a diocese to leave our jurisdiction; it simply cannot by law occur. Instead, two bishops (Diocesan Bishop Boyce and Bishop Mott) have left the APA, and likely at least some of the DOW parishes will follow. Others will remain within the APA/DOW; several parishes have notified Bishop Grundorf that they have no intention of leaving the APA or the DOW and feel that they were left out of Bishop Boyce’s decision-making process. For those that do depart, where they end up (the REC or another jurisdiction) remains to be seen, as the REC has not yet addressed Bishop Boyce’s request. Only time will tell how this issue settles. Bishop Grundorf intends to give parishes adequate time to determine where they stand, then to call an extraordinary Synod to reorganize and elect the appropriate officers.

Second, Bishop Boyce’s unfortunate action, while disrupting to some extent the peace of the church, has no palpable effect on All Saints or on the deanery of Virginia. We remain, as do all member of DEUS and the great majority of parishes within the APA, committed to our Presiding Bishop and to our church. We do not see this event as an emergency or as a crisis. It is, as I said, unfortunate; however, Bishop Boyce’s departure, and the departure of any individual parishes and priests who may wish to request transfer, may in the end be better for all concerned. We do not count our strength or our success by numbers, but by our feasting on the sacraments, commitment to the creeds, and faithfulness to the Prayer Book. There will be times of numerical growth, and there will be times when our numbers may dip. This is a natural part of life in the Church, and nothing to fear. Our jurisdiction is not splitting or fracturing. Some parishes from DOW will request to transfer. But others will remain. The APA by God’s grace is strong and solid; we are, and will be, fine.

Third, as many of you know, we are in communion with the REC. I do not know whether that will change, though I doubt that it will. Quite frankly, the REC has yet to comment or take action upon Bishop Boyce’s request to join them. It is probable that they had no notice of his action ahead of time and, as several of Bishop Boyce’s own parishes, were caught by surprise. Regardless, we remain in communion with the REC, and within a few days Bishop Grundorf will issue a joint statement with the REC concerning this matter. I will provide that to you when it is released.

Conclusion. While this matter has been presented on some websites as a crisis or a threat to the APA, it simply is not. It is unfortunate, but it will be resolved. I hope this letter has shed some light on these issues and has answered some of your questions. As always, I am available and would be happy to talk to any person or groups about this matter further. My new email address is

Fr. Glenn Spencer
All Saints Anglican Church
Charlottesville, VA

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Spencer makes three critical statements: (1) That the APA and the REC are in communion with each other; (2) that the REC is a member of Common Cause; and (3) that members of Common Cause have women "priests".

If all three of these statements are correct, and I believe they are, then despite Bp. Grundorf's belief that "The issue of women’s ordination goes to the heart of the priesthood and to the validity of the sacraments; it is a position with which [the APA] cannot in good faith align [itself]", it is already in communion with women who purport to be ordained priests.

The further consequence of that is that the waiting is over and the seeing has already been done.

John A. Hollister+

refore, of cour

Anonymous said...

Fr H.,

Is being a "member" of Common Cause the same as being in Communion with its priestesses?

Admittedly, the APA and REC are walking a fine line, but perhaps they are just on the right side of it.


Voyagis+ said...

I see my old friend Glenn Spencer is still enmeshed in the "Continuing Saga." Most of us are forming a new province - Anglican Church in North America, with +Duncan as titular head. Duncan, of course has ordained women and this will be sorted out. Bluntly the faithful remains of Anglicanism need to form critical mass, and that quickly before people start wandering off, mostly in the direction of Rome. Glenn and I had a mutual friend, Lou T. who longed for continuing unity. He didn't live long enough to see it. We have a REAL chance to accomplish this, let's not mess this up - we probably won't have another chance.

Rev. Nicholas E. Voyadgis
Sheridan WY