CEN—New bishop raises questions about the ACNA’s commitment to Anglicanism

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Charges the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has abandoned the historic episcopate by receiving a bishop from the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) without re-consecrating him are unfounded, the traditionalist province-in-waiting tells The Church of England Newspaper.

On July 31, American church commentator Robin Jordan charged the ACNA with having abandoned the historic episcopate when its Provincial Council of Bishops voted on June 9 to receive the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones as a bishop in good standing. Formed in 1995, the CEEC is an American Protestant denomination that has found a niche blending charismatic worship with liturgies drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, and is not normally numbered among the Anglican breakaway churches in the United States.

However, a review of Bishop Jones’ episcopal antecedents by the CEN finds that while a number of his consecrating bishops would not be recognized by Anglicans, his descent from a Brazilian bishop whose episcopal orders were recognized by Pope John XXIII places him within the apostolic tradition.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyEcclesiologySacramental Theology

32 Comments
Posted August 27, 2010 at 8:52 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Dale Rye wrote:

I find it somewhat ironic that the Church of England Newspaper, which has been the voice of Evangelicalism for a century, finds itself defending a mechanical view of apostolic succession as a chain of hands stretching back to the Apostles. For most of that century, only a fairly ardent Anglo-Catholic would have held that view of the historic episcopate. I’m not suggesting, incidentally, that Bishop Jones isn’t somehow within the episcopate, only that a view of the validity of his Anglican orders that relies on decent from a Pope is remarkably foreign to the theological universe that the CEN has occupied for most of its existence.

August 27, 10:09 am | [comment link]
2. cseitz wrote:

Is it defending the view, or reporting a charge made regarding it?

August 27, 10:28 am | [comment link]
3. Anastasios wrote:

Gee, I thought Apostolic Succession was authority decended from Our Lord.

August 27, 10:40 am | [comment link]
4. TomRightmyer wrote:

The newly elected bishop of Quincy can also trace his succession to the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil - as can the bishops of the Charismatic Episcopal Church and others. The ACNA accepted the Reformed Episcopal Church bishops from the beginning, but I think it is a mistake to receive bishops with non-Anglican successions.

August 27, 11:16 am | [comment link]
5. Br. Michael wrote:

TEC did exactly that when it went into full communion with the ELCA.  A TEC bishop is hardly in a position to talk.

August 27, 11:22 am | [comment link]
6. Don C wrote:

For those unfamiliar, the blogger Robin Jordan seems to be of the Reformed, 39 Articles, anti-Anglo Catholic variety: http://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/

Be that as it may, his point regarding the avoidance of episcopi vagantes orders in Lambeth ‘58 Resolution 54 needs to be answered. Can we appeal to Lambeth ‘98 whilst ignoring others?

Why wasn’t Derek Jones conditionally consecrated? One would think that Fort Worth would be all over this . . .

August 27, 11:35 am | [comment link]
7. Cennydd13 wrote:

I am not particularly concerned with what Mr Jordan thinks, nor do I care.

August 27, 12:14 pm | [comment link]
8. Dan Crawford wrote:

What is “Anglicanism” after all, and why all the fuss about bishops when according to both Mrs. Schori and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the only authority given to bishops is to file lawsuits? Evangelicals can’t abide bishops, Anglo-Catholics can’t live without them, but both camps in “Anglicanism” think the less they are paid attention to, the better.

August 27, 12:54 pm | [comment link]
9. RMBruton wrote:

How ironic that it has taken a Robin to ruffle some feathers. If the ac/na leadership have nothing to hide, why not just answer his questions?

August 27, 3:51 pm | [comment link]
10. PeterFrank wrote:

We were happy to answer George Conger’s questions - hence the article above.  Robin didn’t ask us until after he had written four articles about this.  That gave us pause about engaging with him directly.

August 27, 4:16 pm | [comment link]
11. Barbara Gauthier wrote:

George Conger has now posted the entire article on his website.
http://geoconger.wordpress.com/

August 27, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
12. Lapinbizarre wrote:

The Anglican Communion has traditionally required that an episcopal consecration be conducted by at least three validly consecrated bishops.  I do not believe that the question of the validity of a consecration conducted by fewer than three bishops has arisen or has been determined.

August 27, 5:47 pm | [comment link]
13. Cennydd13 wrote:

If a Catholic bishop were to convert to Anglicanism, would his episcopacy be accepted?  I submit that it would.

August 27, 7:08 pm | [comment link]
14. ChrisMitch wrote:

I took time to read through all of Mr. Jordan’s blog.  Never again.  He claims to be defending the faith, but ignores Christian ethics (being knowingly untruthful & mean spirited). I’m reminded that we will be known by our fruits. OK, so Jordan doesn’t like ACNA - Fine.  OK, his definition of Anglicanism is different (he’s become a Baptist, what should we expect?). But continuing to twist facts when his own readers gave him the answers to his questions early on? That’s not OK. He’s even involved friends to post feigned objective comments! (I see your names everywhere on this.) The intentions were clearly malicious, and that’s simply not Christian. He has ‘zero’ credibility, should repent, and ask for forgiveness.

August 27, 7:37 pm | [comment link]
15. Don C wrote:

The Anglican Communion has traditionally required that an episcopal consecration be conducted by at least three validly consecrated bishops
If a Catholic bishop were to convert to Anglicanism, would his episcopacy be accepted?

Derek Jones was consecrated by one RC bishop (or one in his line) and a host of others not recognized.

Yes, Mr Jordan is not charitable but he still brings up a valid point which has yet to be answered: why was a Lambeth resolution ignored in a body the claims to be the true representative of the Anglican church?

Can someone satisfy my conscience?

August 27, 8:05 pm | [comment link]
16. Ruthie wrote:

“Derek Jones was consecrated by one RC bishop (or one in his line) and a host of others not recognized.”

I thought this was the place to comment on the article Conger wrote? Just kidding! Actually, after my third reading of your comments, I now understand your confusion. When Conger says “one,” he’s talking about the Apostolic Lines, not the actual number of Bishops laying hands. The accusation from Jordan was on the Apostolic lines, not the number of Bishops involved.  So, when Conger says the consecration was valid, he is clearly saying there were a proper number of bishops (probably all CEEC with the same lines).

“why was a Lambeth resolution ignored in a body the claims to be the true representative of the Anglican church? Can someone satisfy my conscience?”

Now I have to ask, did you read the whole article or just the snippet above?  Here’s a link to the whole thing: http://geoconger.wordpress.com/

How I read this article is that every accusation Jordan made, Conger found to be false.  Conger and CEN don’t tend to leave stones unturned. He pretty much shows in his recap that he looked into all of Jordan’s accusations, so I would think that those that weren’t specifically answered were summarily dismissed, in effect, by Conger not mentioning them. Conger’s conclusion is that there was nothing unusual about the ACNA’s reception of Bishop Jones. Truthfully, I think Conger and CEN have proven themselves time and again to be credible sources. Jordan and friends (Bruton, Lapin, etc) do seem to be on an ACNA and Bishop Jones smear campaign as other commenters all suggest. Anyway, if my response doesn’t help on what I think is the right perspective and you’re still bothered, why not contact Bishop Jones? http://www.cana-chaplains.org  By all accounts, he seems to be an accessible Bishop, which I don’t think is true of all Bishops.

August 27, 11:12 pm | [comment link]
17. RMBruton wrote:

Ruthie,
I see the article for what it is, an attempt at damage control. The ac/na have gotten George to write an article favorable to them, and what they have done, in order to secure confidence in what they are doing. It still doesn’t satisfy questions such as those regarding Resolution 54 of Lambeth 58. I think that, ultimately this will come back to haunt them. It took Robin’s articles to bring this issue to light. One of the big complaints which the Continuing Episcopalians have had with TEC and it’s leadership has been “lack of transparency”. Well, where has the transparency been in the leadership of the Continuing Episcopalian Movement? What else are they doing which has yet to be revealed?

August 27, 11:50 pm | [comment link]
18. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

I couldn’t get past the description Jordan gave in the article for the CEEC.  He describes the CEC (the Charismatic Episcopal Church) better by what he said:
“a niche blending charismatic worship with liturgies drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, and is not normally numbered among the Anglican breakaway churches”.
The CEEC is much more of a mixed bag in regard to spirituality and worship, and is more accurately defined through a discussion of Lesslie Newbigin’s thought and writing, leading to the “Convergence” movements in the 1970’s.
  The confusion is poor reporting.
And neither of these start-ups SHOULD be “numbered among Anglican breakaway churches”, because neither ARE breakaways.  What exactly is he saying by “..not normally numbered among..”  That’s just poor writing.

Here is the CEEC’s own statement of history:
http://www.theceec.org/History_of_the_CEEC_ws.pdf
Then, to get to the root of any argument regarding CEEC apostolic succession, go to this page:
http://www.theceec.org/Russuccession.htm
What you are looking for specifically on that webpage is the name of Michael Owen on the three lists provided, as anything further in the CEEC succession is carried on through him (he became the first CEEC Archbishop)..

August 28, 5:02 am | [comment link]
19. robroy wrote:

I am not at home, so I can’t look it up, but does anyone remember the line from That Hideous Strength where Ransom is asked about why he keeps the dour Scotsman around and Ransom says that the eternally pessimistic MacPhee was one of the most important members of the team. I would not casually dismiss Robin Jordan’s criticisms.

Cennydd, I also would not throw away the central Anglo-catholic tenet of apostolic succession so easily. I think your bishop would agree.

August 28, 8:54 am | [comment link]
20. Cennydd13 wrote:

Yes, he would.  I’m also familiar with Jordan’s treatment of the ACNA; something which has been less than charitable.  His Low Church background is evident.

August 28, 12:15 pm | [comment link]
21. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

I should have mentioned that prior to Derek Jones being accepted as a de facto bishop, there is at least one (because I know this one) now certified and licensed priest in ACNA who was ordained a deacon and priest by a CEEC bishop and has now not been required to be re-ordained upon his request to be accepted canonically.  The issue of proper ordination and the lines of recognized apostolic succession was part of a rather large and extensive study over the past 6 months, and has been concluded favorably, at least for this priest I know, and for Bp Jones.
Along with robroy’s comment, this certainly has not been a matter of expediency alone, nor of simply collecting clergy bodies for the ACNA and its partners.

August 28, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
22. George Conger wrote:

In re: 17.  It is false to say “I see the article for what it is, an attempt at damage control. The ac/na have gotten George to write an article favorable to them, and what they have done, in order to secure confidence in what they are doing.”

For what it is worth, the sequence of events was

1) I read the blog posting by Robin Jordan, and thought there might be a story in this.
2) I contacted the ACNA and asked them to comment on the allegations made in the story.
3) I contacted CANA and asked for clarification of Bishop Jones’ relationship to that group and for comments.
4) I contacted Bishop Atwood of the ACNA, the chairman of the Episcopal Task Force and asked him both for a comment, and to tell me the standards/process for reception of a bishop.
5) I had two long exchanges via email with Bishop Jones.
6) I acquired a copy of Bishop Jones’ episcopal pedigree, and traced each line—-using as my reference point HB Brandeth’s work on episcopi vagantes.
7) When I came to a questionable line I stopped and went to the next one—-when I came to the Brazilian line I went no further.  I used the RC benchmark as that was the highest standard—-was the consecration valid?  I did not address whether it was licit in RC eyes as no Anglican consecration is licit. 
8) I wrote a story that addressed the issues I felt were pertinent to readers of the Church of England Newspaper: to whit was Bishop Jones a valid bishop: by doctrine and by apostolic descent.  My researches satisfied me that the apostolic descent was OK, and Bishop Atwood’s attestation to Bishop Jones’ theological soundness satisfied the second prong of the article.
9) I did not draw upon, nor was my article written in response to other issues or questions Robin Jordan raised.
10) All of this work resulted in the 832 word article that appears in Friday’s (Aug 27) Church of England Newspaper.
11) I am not an internet commentator or a pen for hire, as has been suggested but am chief correspondent for the CEN—-the oldest church newspaper in print….since 1828.
12) I am not a member of the ACNA, nor an Anglo-Catholic, nor a charismatic.

George Conger

August 28, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
23. Todd Granger wrote:

Many thanks to George Conger for his research on this story.

However, I am still deeply troubled by this.  CEEC’s own tactile succession (for their archbishop; cf. the link above in #18)  is deeply flawed, including as it does any number of episcopi vagantes.  (And oddly, including the “on again off again” Marc Antonio de Dominis, sometime Archbishop of Split, as the apostolic link for the English succession when the English line of consecrators leading to modern-day Anglican bishops stretches uninterrupted through the Middle Ages, without the inclusion of the mercurial de Dominis.)

Even though Bishop Barbosa Ferraz’s episcopal consecration was considered valid by Pope John XXIII, his prior consecration and his actions subsequent to his reception by Pope John demonstrate that he began and continued an episcopus vagans.  As noted by others, acceptance of orders coming through one of these “wandering bishops” is specifically addressed in a negative sense by the Lambeth Conference in 1958, echoing what the 1920 Lambeth Conference had resolved regarding orders through the “British Old Catholic Church” associated with Bishop Arnold Mathew.

Tactile succession isn’t a mechanical guarantee of apostolic succession in ministry, but it is necessary to apostolic succession in the understanding of catholic-oriented episcopal churches.  Why?  For the reason that Irenaeus of Lyons gives:  a public, non-secretive and observable passing on of apostolic authority (in teaching and pastoral oversight) to a bishop-elect by other recognized bishops who stand in apostolic succession.  (Whether or not this can be done through presbyters in the absence of bishops is another question - one that this particular High Church Anglican is inclined to answer in the affirmative.)  In other words, apostolic succession doesn’t just consist of believing and teaching what the apostles believe and taught (though this too is necessary), but also in being in visible, corporeal, historic succession with the apostolic Church.

Hence the rejection of the orders conveyed by episcopi vagantes, since accepting them would be to accept a mechanistic view of ordination and consecration in which the apostolic ministry of the bishop has been abstracted away from the apostolic community, the Church.  (Episcopi vagantes to a man headed or founded any number of usually tiny schismatic movements, sects and “churches” and passed their “episcopal” orders on to men who typically went on to do the same thing all over again.)

August 28, 5:31 pm | [comment link]
24. Sarah wrote:

This has been an interesting thread.  There’s the issue of the   validity of consecration—which has been nicely discussed.  And then there is the issue of the wisdom of the choices.  Todd Granger touches on that latter issue slightly/indirectly, it seems to me, with his mention of the rejection of orders conveyed by episcopi vagantes.

I suspect that one reason why there has not been much discussion about the wisdom of the choices is that “wisdom” is a more subjective matter, and “validity” is more technical and objective.

I don’t question at all whether ACNA is Anglican, and I never have.

I do question its wisdom in now numerous choices of episcopal leadership.

But that’s really for the individual to think through.  Some obviously think the selection of episcopal leadership for ACNA is incredibly wise.  Others don’t.  My theory is that the differences in those assessments has a lot to do with submerged [and submerged sometimes deliberately too] differences in theology, and more obvious differences in personality/values/etc.

August 28, 6:08 pm | [comment link]
25. Cennydd13 wrote:

I think that with the passage of time, it won’t matter.

August 29, 4:26 pm | [comment link]
26. Todd Granger wrote:

But Cennydd13, the apostolic ministry of the episcopate isn’t an adiaphoron.  If we take an “it doesn’t matter” attitude toward catholic order, then we cease to be historic Anglicans.  Otherwise, we count as cheap the efforts to maintain the historic succession at such pivotal times as restoration of the reformed Church of England at the beginning of Elizabeth I’s reign, the restoration of the episcopate after the Commonwealth/Interregnum, and the beginnings of the American episcopate.

And if we choose to ignore those Lambeth resolutions that we don’t like without there first being a consensus in agreement with us on a Communion-wide basis (whatever that may mean - but in this case, at least those Churches of the Communion with whom ACNA shares communio in sacris), then how are we any different from The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of New Westminster?  Indeed, a revisionist Episcopalian could have written back in 2003 exactly what you did:  with the passage of time, it won’t matter.  In fact, many did, and many still do.

But perhaps I misread you.

August 29, 8:13 pm | [comment link]
27. Ruthie wrote:

OK, a quick review. Jordan accuses Bp Jones’ Holy Orders of being invalid and his group of ACNA-haters (the “Jordanites”) are soon read all over the place spreading the idea. Then darn if those silly fact checkers didn’t stick their noses in and let all of us know that the orders were valid afterall.  So then Jordan blogs, ‘ah, Bp Jones’ ministry is great and we’re not after him. It’s the other part – that ACNA didn’t follow rules in how they received him!’ But since this idea has no facts to back it up, the Jordanites have to accuse a highly reputable renown correspondent of being a hired pen, then accuse ACNA of not following their own rules and create the idea that ACNA Bishops are really a secret club, and then create a lavish conspiracy theory of stories and from them we are to conclude that Lambeth was ignored. This is better than reading blogs on the Illuminati! If I become a Jordanite, can you guys help me with my demands that the government release the alien pictures from Roswell?

August 29, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
28. Don C wrote:

Just to clarify, this High Churchman is not a “Jordanite” and did read George Conger’s well written article.  I do not question Bp Atwood’s vouching of Jones’ theological soundness. And furthermore, Jones appears to have valid if irregular orders. What I find lacking is incompleteness of the explanation. If Resolution 54 was overlooked, then admit as such.  But rather its only tangentially addressed by the investigation into validity.

http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/downloads/1958.pdf
Resolution 54
Church Unity and the Church Universal - Episcopi Vagantes
The Conference draws attention to the fact that there are “episcopi vagantes” who call themselves either “Old Catholic” or “Orthodox,” in combination with other names. It warns its members of the danger of accepting such persons at their own valuation without making further inquiries. The Conference reiterates the principle contained in Resolution 27 of the 1920 Lambeth Conference, that it cannot recognise the Churches of such “episcopi vagantes” as properly constituted Churches, or recognise the orders of their ministers, and recommends that any such ministers desiring to join an Anglican Church, who are in other respects duly qualified, should be ordained “sub conditione” in accordance with the provisions suggested in the Report of the relevant Committee of the 1920 Lambeth Conference.

August 29, 11:43 pm | [comment link]
29. Barbara Gauthier wrote:

It would seem to me that the ACNA did follow the Lambeth resolution.  Note that Resolution 54 says that the Anglican Communion is not to accept “such persons at their own valuation without making further inquiries.”  The ACNA apparently did make those “further inquiries” and found that Bp. Jones was theologically sound and that his orders were valid, if irregular.

Note also that this same Lambeth Conference in other resolutions recognized “full communion” between the provinces of the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholics of Utrecht, including “mutual recognition and acceptance of ministries.” 

Resolution 14 of the Lambeth Conference 1958 runs as follows:

The Conference endorses the paragraph in the Report of the Committee on Church Unity and the Church Universal which refers to the use of the terms “full communion” and “intercommunion” and recommends accordingly that where between two Churches not of the same denominational or confessional family, there is unrestricted “communio in sacris”, including mutual recognition and acceptance of ministries, the appropriate term to use is “full communion” and that where varying degrees of relation other than “full communion” are established by agreement between two such Churches the appropriate term is “intercommunion”.

The Report of the Committee on Church Unity and the Church Universal mentions the confusing use of the terms “full communion” and “intercommunion” and says: The Committee therefore has concluded that it would be less confusing and indeed more true to reality to use the term “full communion” in all cases where a Province of the Anglican Communion by agreement enters into a relation of unrestricted “communio in sacris”, including the mutual recognition of ministries, with a Church outside our Communion. This would mean, for example, that the relation already existing between Churches of our Communion with the Old Catholic Churches would henceforth be described as that of “full communion” rather than “full intercommunion”.

Also Resolution 47:

The Conference welcomes the suggestions made by a meeting between some Anglicans and Old Catholics in Holland, that the two Churches should co-operate in practical action to meet the spiritual needs of Dutch-speaking Christians who wish to resort to Anglican Churches in that country. It is of the opinion that such practical action would not only be a valuable demonstration of the intercommunion which exists between the Anglican and Old Catholic Churches, but also a means of deepening the fellowship that exists between the members of those Churches.

August 30, 8:08 am | [comment link]
30. Don C wrote:

Perhaps I should have been more specific from the beginning and thus eliminated much of the back and forth and any perceived snarkiness on my part.

I am not questioning and am thankful of the fact that ACNA did not accept “such persons at their own valuation without making further inquiries” .  But, rather my objection (pending any explanation to the contrary) concerns the latter part of the resolution: That “such ministers . . . who are in other respects duly qualified, should be ordained “sub conditione”.

If I read the resolution correctly, the Old Catholic Churches of Utrecht are not in question but rather those “who call themselves either “Old Catholic” or “Orthodox,” in combination with other names.”

pax, Don

August 30, 10:46 am | [comment link]
31. Todd Granger wrote:

Don C, that would be my objection as well.  The bishop in question, on being received, should have been ordained to the episcopate sub conditione.

And you do read the resolution correctly.  The quotation marks around “Old Catholic” and “Orthodox” clearly indicate a soi disant character, rather than reference to the actual Old Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  The Church of England entered into full communion with the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht through the Bonn Agreement of 1931, so clearly (as Barbara Gauthier also points out above from an earlier Lambeth Conference resolution) the 1958 Resolution 54 does not mean the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, because these are not “churches” headed by episcopi vagantes.

This distinction even holds for those who received their holy orders from a bishop who stood in the episcopal succession of Utrecht, Arnold Harris Mathew, consecrated as “regionary bishop of Great Britain and Ireland” by Archbishop Gerard Gul of Utrecht (some Old Catholics of the Utrecht Union hold that Harris gained his episcopal consecration through deception).  Harris functioned as an episcopus vagans in Great Britain, ordaining hither and yon, all and sundry; and eventually declared his independence from the Union of Utrecht.  He is noted by name in the resolution (27) of the 1920 Lambeth Conference to which the 1958 resolution on episcopi vagantes refers:

We regret that on a review of all the facts we are unable to regard the so-called Old Catholic Church in Great Britain (under the late Bishop Mathew and his successors), and its extensions overseas, as a properly constituted Church, or to recognise the orders of its ministers, and we recommend that, in the event of any of its ministers desiring to join our Communion, who are in other respects duly qualified, they should be ordained sub conditione in accordance with the provisions suggested in the Report of our Committee.

All of this simply goes to demonstrate that the Lambeth Conferences clearly differentiated between the holy orders of the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and those of “Old Catholic” churches headed by episcopi vagantes.

August 30, 7:17 pm | [comment link]
32. MichaelA wrote:

Cennydd13 at #13 wrote:

I am not particularly concerned with what Mr Jordan thinks, nor do I care.

This Sydney Anglican agrees wholeheartedly with you, mate.

Robin Jordan regularly spams the SydneyAnglicans web-site whenever an article about ACNA comes up. His main aim appears to be to persuade those in Sydney that ACNA is an evil organisation. Virtually everything he writes is highly questionable and it truly is spam: one incredibly long post after another that effectively drowns out any other voice but his own.

His actions in this matter seem to have had a similar motive - muck-raking for its own sake.

August 31, 11:44 pm | [comment link]
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