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A Proposed Society for the Catholic Renewal of Anglican Mission
Developing a Personal Rule For Life.
Part of a series on Anglican mission:
When at the Anglican Convocation of the West’s 2023 Clericus and Synod, all people, Lay and Clergy, were charged with developing a Rule of Life, and applying it not just to one’s personal life, but to one’s ministry; or to a church, chaplaincy, oratory, church plant, or even, if we all agreed, as a Convocation as a whole. Lay, Clergy, univocational, bivocational, all had a charge to discern and pray about a rule.
I meditated on this and the community that was thinking about mission in this way. While the convocation has never had an abundance of resources, it has been home, and one that, while over the years it has had quirks, has felt like the quirks of a family more than the quirks of an institution. I have been part of the Convocation of the West for nearly 10 years, when it was the Diocese of the West (REC), and have always found it to be a unique, compelling expression of Catholic Anglicanism. I remember one year at our annual clericus, a visiting bishop saw this group of about 15-20 clergy all gathered. He said “This is so remarkable! Everyone is so different, but they all get along; they are laughing and not arguing! As Anglicans go this is an unusual group.”
And in my experience, he was right. It is an unusual group, an unpretentious representation of Catholic Anglicanism, not stuffy, not overly Romeish (typically more aligned to either Classical Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy). A group that is not particularly Three Streams, yet remains Evangelical and creatively mission-minded. A group of Anglo-Catholics respectful of the Prayer Book, preferring it to the Missal as the primary expression of liturgy and spirituality. And most importantly, the community has always had a sense of humor, namely by not taking “self” too seriously. The Convocation, after all, did in 2016 adopt the acronym “COW,” representing a predominately rural community of Anglican churches. I have at various points advocated for changing (even if just for an April 1st issue) the newsletter title from “The Line” to “Moos from the COW.” This sort of Anglicanism is able to retain joy amidst struggle (comparatively low resources, small churches, threat at times of death-by-institution-despite-sustainability) and doesn’t put its faith in the institution for legitimacy; rather it upholds traditions in the Prayer Book and faith in the reality of Christ present in the Sacraments. To me this is has represented a firm confidence in Anglican Patrimony (regardless of whether in APA, REC, ACNA), through valid sacraments, but looking respectfully but not enviously towards Catholic siblings in the East as well as West, all while open to dialogue and working with Evangelicals.
After Clericus, I wanted to record what I believe has made the community unique to me, especially since the culture of the community has largely been picked up organically or through direct discipleship (of which I have been one). As time goes by, there are fewer to directly define what I have found to be compelling for nearly 10 years.
With some personal bias (especially in adapting a predominately 1928 BCP liturgical community towards a “Prayer Book Catholicism” accommodating 1662, 1928, and 2019 BCPs), I have written this culture into the form of a society, since that is what it has been1 (in light of multiple overlapping jurisdictions/dioceses in American Anglicanism). But as of this writing it is hypothetical. I am reticent to claim anything as a formal society that only has one (unless one is Monarch of Pointland), but as it is a spiritual-theological exercise, it is real and has had benefit: it is a personal Rule, and fences the boundaries of my personal expression of Anglicanism in continuity with the English Catholic tradition, Evangelical mission, and Catholic ecumenism. At a time when various quirks and controversies in ACNA, Continuum, Gafcon, and the Anglican Communion make the future of Anglicanism look tenuous, it was a settling exercise in spirituality: why be Anglican? Surely not because of an institution, but because of a spirituality of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in regards to worship, sacraments, prayer, and mission. So, along with my piece on Anglican Worship and Church Music, this has become part of my ministry philosophy.
As a proposed Rule, this can serve as a manifesto for a society-in-formation (I can be contacted here for those interested). Since it is more of a casting of vision than a present reality, I’ve omitted governance clauses I wrote for membership and maintenance of the rule within a community.
The Society for the Catholic Renewal of Anglican Mission, or SCRAM, was my working title, poking fun at obscure members-only groups that seem impossible to become part of the in-group, at the same time as the Anglican propensity for episcopoi vagantes “I’m going to do it my way” groups that separate rather than work together. In other words, the Society equivalent—that of obscurity—of taking the moniker “COW.” More seriously, as below, I call it “The Caroline Society (of Catholic Anglicans)” but in my heart I think SCRAM.
Feast of St Lawrence, 2023
The Anglican Diocese of the West was established in the 1990s under Bishop Richard Boyce, and continued under Bishop Winfield Mott, both of whom sought to retain Anglican Spirituality, Prayer Book worship, and Catholic Order, with Ecumenical Charity. Bishop Mott often said that “a sectarian Catholic is an oxymoron” and applied the aphorism as the primary philosophy of the Diocese of the West, in contrast to the division and exclusivism prevalent in the years following the Affirmation of St Louis. As the Diocese of the West gathered parishes and ministries to itself, it earnestly sought and established communion relationships with various continuing Anglican groups, including functioning within the Anglican Province of America and the Reformed Episcopal Church. In 2016, it reorganized as a regional convocation within the Missionary Diocese of All Saints of the Anglican Church in North America, and has continued under the same ethos under the excellent pastoral leadership of Vicar General Michael Penfield.
Vision and Purpose
The Caroline Society seeks to form out of this foundation; not as a replacement but as a supplement, to strengthen and crystallise the foundation and ethos that was established as an unwritten culture in the Diocese of the West/Convocation of the West, and continue within, but not limited to, the Convocation of the West. By contrast to a diocese, a society operating as a sodality—a religious community independent of a particular diocese, geography, or jurisdiction—is not subject to sustainability clauses, to loss of relationship due to diocesan transfer, or to concern with the institutionalism of the larger church structure.
As a community of Christians who worship according to the Book of Common Prayer as we have received through the classical Anglican tradition, we uphold Catholic faith and order, practice missionary flexibility, and express ecumenical charity. To this end, we seek here to form a society as defined above to be preserved, strengthened, and enlivened through common Principles of Community & Fellowship, Liturgical Norms, and Rule of Life. Through this we hope not just be sustained by but grow in our common culture and sensibility, as we seek to make disciples and receive those friends in Christ we have not yet met.
Name of the Society
The Caroline Society (Carolina Societas Catholicorum Anglicanorum) is so named for the Caroline Divines, which is to say it is under no specific patronage; rather it is so named because of deriving inspiration from a movement — inclusive of, but not limited to, King Charles the Martyr, Lancelot Andrewes, William Laud, Jeremy Taylor, John Donne, and George Herbert — in a pivotal time for the English Church, which proved a refining time for Anglican identity in contrast to Puritan and Roman opposition. It was self-aware to be a church consistent with the early councils and fathers, representing a reformed Catholicism in the English tradition. The Caroline church, while tragically cut short by a hostile political climate, established practices as a Reformed Catholic Church, one far more sympathetic to Eastern Orthodoxy, while remaining differentiated from Romanism, Lutheranism, and Presbyterianism. Scholarship of the last 100 years has noted the interest of the Divines, most especially Lancelot Andrewes and William Laud, in Eastern Orthodox theology. This thread continued through the Scottish non-jurors, and was picked up variously by the Anglo-Catholic revival in the 19th Century. Such a connection has been noted by Martin Thornton.2 Further, recent scholarship has made the case that the Caroline Divines as a movement in historical context have strong ecumenical points in common with the church of Rome after the Second Vatican Council.3 As such the Caroline Society seeks to uphold Orthodox Reformed Catholicism in the English Liturgical Tradition.
We are Orthodox Catholic Anglicans, clergy and lay, seeking to sustain and grow a community by following a common rule of life, core theological commitments, liturgical sensibility, and applied spirituality.
Principles of Community and Fellowship
Threefold Identity and Purpose: Prayer Book, Catholic, Ecumenical
Prayer Book in Spirituality
We look to the Book of Common Prayer as the primary identity through which the Anglican Tradition has been practiced and which has been a bulwark against the changes of Western culture, worldview, and morals. We look first to the Prayer Book for the doctrine and ceremonial of the Apostolic church. The historic Book of Common Prayer,4 together with the Ordinal, continues to be a primary identifier for Global Anglican Identity, by its fruit the Prayer Book has been tried and proven as a universal (Catholic) model for ascetical life, community prayer, and the celebration of sacraments. (hereafter “Prayer Book Anglican”)
Catholic in Faith and Order
Caroline Divines and the Oxford Movement emphasized the theological and sacramental continuity of the English church throughout its history—from Patristic, to Medieval, to Reformation. We look to these movements as we aspire to integrate the same historic continuity with contemporary expressions of Orthodox Catholic Anglicanism.5 (hereafter “English Catholic”)
Ecumenical in promoting Catholic unity
Seeking participatory relationship with Evangelicals as well as Catholics, with missionary flexibility and working together where there is agreement as Christians.6 (hereafter “Ecumenical Christian”)
Common Affirmations of Belief
Prayer Book Anglican: Affirm the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration or the 1977 Affirmation of St Louis Principles of Doctrine and Morality7 as defining our Anglican identity in relation to the global communions8 of Anglican churches of varying churchmanships.
Ecumenical Christian: Affirm Declaration of Scranton as Ecumenical Christians seeking universal (Catholic) unity in the Body of Christ.
In affirming the Vicentian Catholic emphasis of the Declaration of Scranton, we affirm where agreeable to 1.b.i and 1.b.ii the Old Catholic - Orthodox Theological Commission Joint Statements9
Liturgical Norms (common sacraments)
Prayer Book, English Catholic, Ecumenical
Prayer Book: Prayer Books of the Society, which contain the rites for Sacraments of the Gospel and the Ordinal, including translations, and modernizations. (e.g., An Anglican Prayer Book, 1662:International Edition, &c.)10
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and those books which preceded it, especially 1549 and 1637, are the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.
Other National Books of Common Prayer, based upon 2.a.i.
1928 English (Proposed)
1954 South African
2019 ACNA Book of Common Prayer &
2019 ACNA Book of Common Prayer, Traditional Language Edition
The recommended norm, according to 2.a.i., for ACNA Holy Communion is the Anglican Standard Text reordered conforming to the 1662/1928 Books of Common Prayer11
The Holy Communion according to 2.a. is to be celebrated as the principal service of the church, observed on the Lord’s Day, and should be celebrated or attended in all able communities.
Optional Missals which augment the Books of Common Prayer in 2.a.
The English Missal
The American Missal (Lancelot Andrewes Press)
Other Sarum Use additions to BCP12
And vernacular translations thereof.
2019 BCP, Renewed Ancient Text13 as a modern Ecumenical-Catholic rite in common with the Novus Ordo pattern of celebration, following when the historic Prayer Book liturgy and ceremonial (2.a., 2.b.iv.2.) cannot be reasonably followed in one's context.
Recommended: PNCC ceremonial rubrics
As Prayer Book Catholics, we seek historic, reverent, prayerful worship in our liturgy. Inspired by the practice of the Eastern Orthodox, we see a balanced approach which is neither casual nor rigid, accurate but not fastidious. Stuffy is to be avoided as much as flippancy.
Pastoral Rites for the Sacraments of the Church
Ecumenical Christian: We remain open to the Holy Spirit, and view with charity the varieties of cultural expression, evangelism, and mission. For worship and other services that do not involve or contradict Sacraments of the Gospel (2.a.) or other sacraments (2.a. & 2.b.), we uphold flexibility for local contextualization and creative expression, as well as ecumenical cooperation with fellow Christians and their ministries.
Rule of Prayer & Christian Living
The Rule here listed is the standard to which members commit to follow, not as a legal requirement, but the spiritual target to which each member aspires.
Imperfect prayer prayed regularly is more important than perfect prayer prayed sporadically.
Prayer Book Anglican:
Follow established practices of the Classical Prayer Book tradition: resist the temptation to reinvent the wheel.
Daily Prayer Commitments
Lay, Minor Order, or Deacon: Family Prayer or the Daily Office as able.
Priest or Bishop: Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer
Regular self-examination from Exhortations of the Prayer Book
Seek a Spiritual Direction relationship with one supportive of any of the three Common Affirmations of Belief. Seek a Mentor, Confessor, or Spiritual Father, if the Spiritual Director is not the same person.
In addition to Principles of Community, discern and follow a personal Rule of Life under guidance of 3.b.i.
Christian Proficiency, Martin Thornton
Ages of the Spiritual Life, Paul Evdokimov
Way of Christ, Trinity Mission
from The Declaration of Scranton:
Teach the essential Christian truths by the proclamation of the Word of God and by the instruction of the faithful;
Seek truth and practice charity when discussing controversial doctrines;
Set, in accordance with the teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ, an example for the faithful of the Church.
Practice hospitality as an intentional missionary vocation14
Commit to seek opportunities for prayer and worship with non-Anglican Christians.
Affirming calls by Roman, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, we commit to honor and care for God's creation.15
Agreed procedures if a society of believers were to form around this rule and set of norms, in order to maintain community, without episcopal oversight, or financial structure. Such governance protects the rule and administers who is a “member.”
To be considered primarily if established as a formal society providing a structure of formal leadership, including episcopal oversight and finances, beyond the voluntary association committed to in Principles of Community and Fellowship).18
Appendix I: Specialized prayers for use within the Society
“[Continuing as a community] is important to us, as we have been a strong support for each other and have our own style and customs. The Missionary Diocese of All Saints context allows us to be a missionary presence in the western U.S. in the Anglo-Catholic tradition in which the Diocese of the West was formed.” – Win Mott, 2016
The Diocese of the West was the only diocese in the so-called Continuing Church movement to enter the ACNA and has existed since the 1980’s.
English Spirituality, Introduction
1662, those books which preceded it, and those books which follow its direct lineage.
Texts contextualizing our Anglo-Catholicism:
Allchin, A. M. (1988). Participation in God: a forgotten strand in Anglican tradition (Anglicanism and Orthodoxy)
Lossky, Nicholas (1991), Lancelot Andrewes the preacher (1555-1626) : the origins of the mystical theology of the Church of England (Anglicanism and Orthodoxy)
Langham, Mark (2018), The Caroline Divines and the Church of Rome (Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism)
Braaten & Jensen (1998), Union with Christ (Lutheranism and Orthodoxy)
The 1990 Traditional Anglican Concordat: “Each member Church or Province of this Communion shall have authority to adopt its own Fundamental or Solemn Declarations consistent with The Affirmation of St. Louis”
“It is my contention that there are essentially three types of Anglicanism in the world today […] Canterbury Anglicanism, GAFCON Anglicanism, and [Affirmation of St Louis] Anglicanism.
GAFCON Anglicanism is the ideology associated with the Global Anglican Future Conference, the 2008 meeting of bishops from mostly Third World Anglican provinces, which was instrumental in the creation of the currently named Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)
[St. Louis Anglicanism] is the ideology set forth in the Declaration of Scranton and the Affirmation of St Louis, both of which require us to maintain the faith and practice of the undivided Church. Beyond that, Scranton or St. Louis Anglicanism is what N.P. Williams described in Northern Catholicism: “Catholicism which is neither Roman nor Byzantine; which is non-Papal, but at the same time specifically Western in its outlook and temper.”
Old Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission (1987), The Road to Unity: A collection of agreed statements of the joint Old Catholic - Orthodox Theological Commission
Jerusalem Declaration: “We uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.”
“We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.” BCP 2019 p. 767.
1990 Traditional Anglican Concordat: “This Communion retains and approves the formularies of the classical Anglican tradition authorized prior to the emergence, within some Churches or Provinces of 'The Anglican Communion,' of those departures from orthodox Faith and Practice which made necessary and precipitated the Congress of St. Louis. The standard of Faith and Worship of this Communion is that expressed in the first Book of Common Prayer, and Ordinal, of Edward VI and in the following revisions: [1662, 1962, 1928, 1963, 1926, 1954, and The Church of England Deposited Book of 1928 and such other editions or revisions of the Book of Common Prayer]”
While the “Renewed Ancient Text” is not based upon the Prayer Book or the English Catholic tradition, and therefore cannot be unreservedly recommended, it is a corrective to the revolutionary liturgical changes to the Eucharistic tradition begun in the late 20th century. Such use, if RAT is to be used, emphasizes the broadly Catholic and Ecumenical Christian charisms of the Society rather than the Prayer Book.
“To practice hospitality towards each other and the world by creating regular social spaces in which life is shared with each other and into which people outside the community are invited. The intentional practice of hospitality reflects a desire to share our lives in Christ with each other and with other people.” https://thedht.org/mission-communities
Texts for living in God's creation:
• Theokritoff, E (2009) Living in God's Creation
• Chryssavgis, J, et al (2013) Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Environment, Nature, and Creation
• Pope Francis (2015) Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home