Episcopalians (Anglicans) in North America are painfully aware of the fact that there have been, and continue to be, groups who leave The Episcopal Church because they believe it has ceased to be truly a Church of The Anglican Way.
Such exits began in the 19th century with those who formed the Reformed Episcopal Church, continued in the 1960s with those who left because of the Civil Rights commotions and other matters, further continued in the late 1970s with those who opposed women's ordination and radical reform of the Prayer Book, and even further continued with those who have left more recently over the new sexual agenda and trampling of biblical authority in this Church.
The result of all these secessions over a period of over a century is that there is a very mixed "Continuing Anglicanism" in North America.
It includes extreme Anglo-Catholics at one end and extreme Charismatic Evangelicals at the other, with many other varieties within the spectrum. It can be confusing to Anglicans abroad and at home.
It is usually easy to determine why each group, whether large or small, exited The Episcopal Church; but, it is more difficult to ascertain what it is that each group intends ands practically seeks to continue. Thus my question, Continuing What?
I think that exiting groups have given much more thought to why they leave then to what it is they wish to establish and propagate as "the true Anglican Way" in their separation. So much seems to depend in their separation on such matters as: when a group left the Episcopal Church; what form of churchmanship they practiced when they left; what kind of leadership they had and what kind of priests served them; how deep and wide had been the theological and liturgical experience of the group as a whole; what social and political affiliations they had; how The Episcopal Church is behaving and what the Archbishop of Canterbury is saying, and so on.
What I would like to do is to write a comprehensive essay in which I seek to state and to evaluate what it is that the growing number of "Continuing Anglican Groups" are looking to be and do. Maybe this is not possible but I think I ought to make an effort.
Precisely, what is it that each group is seeking to continue into the 21st century in terms of what was/is known in The Episcopal Church and in Anglicanism generally? And does this "what" include in the long term the hope of re-uniting with the Anglican Communion of Churches?
It may be that there is a greater harmony, amongst and between the thirty or more continuing groups, in mindset and intention than appears to sociological enquiry at the present, and if so I would like to discover what that basic harmony is—plus accurately report what it is that the Continuers are seeking to continue.
I ask for the help of the busy persons who run these groups! Please write to me at: email@example.com MANY THANKS
The Revd Dr Peter Toon, President of The Prayer Book Society of the U S A. for 2007. And do visit our www.anglicanmarketplace.com & www.pbsusa.org