14 July 2008

Why TEC is valuable to the Lambeth Conference

As we head into Lambeth, I offer this reflection for your edification. It is part of an article by the Rev’d. Samuel Gregory Jones (left), rector of St. Michael's Raleigh. He is also on the board of General Theological Seminary. Fr. Jones blogs at The Anglican Centrist. My thanks to Fr. Jones for permission to use part of his article.

The quote is from a larger article about the consecration of William White, second bishop of The Episcopal Church. White was the most important figure in our church’s founding. You really should take a few minutes to read the whole article, Recognizing Bishop White. Fr. Jones has done an excellent job explaining the importance of Bishop White.

One fact that I would like to point out is that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Peterborough consecrated White. This secured an English Apostolic succession for us.

As we go into a Lambeth Conference season - let us not forget that The Episcopal Church has a significant place in the Communion - not because we are Americans, but because, by providence, our own founding effectively gave rise to the Anglican Communion itself. Not only does The Episcopal Church owe this in great part to the leadership of William White - but so too does the entire Anglican Communion. White led the process which established the reality of Anglicanism bigger than the established churches of Great Britain, resulting in a global communion of Anglicans united by affection, faith and common prayer. All of us should bear that in mind as we continue in this life of Christ together - in this province and all.

I believe that White may be seen as a representative figure of the comprehensive Anglican leader. Like him, we continue to need leaders in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion who:

· Treasure the faith and order of the Prayer Book tradition, allowing revision as provided for in the first preface of 1549, while not requiring it to be radically revised either;

· Value the doctrinal witness of that Prayer Book, and the prayer books and articles of faith which have followed since 1549; understanding that the Articles of Faith in particular, contain a number of differently understood points, and in general have not been required in the Episcopal Church ever, or the wider Anglican Communion for decades;

· Cherish the continuity of connection and communion with the See of Canterbury;

· Believe in the equal honor and dignity of all four orders of ministry, and works toward a truly conciliar ecclesiology in which all orders share in authority and governance;

· Supports high-level theological education for all leaders, especially clergy;

· Manages to bridge gaps cultural and theological within the wider Anglican fellowship for the sake of the unity which the Holy Trinity calls us to exhibit as a people called to inhabit in the triune life of God