Does the new American Anglicanism ignore its own unique tradition of Eucharistic Worship?
Some thoughts for consideration from Peter Toon
Not a few involved in (a) the recent secessions from The Episcopal Church, and (b) the participation in the new forms of Anglicanism (Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Mission in America, Convocation of Anglicans in America, and so on) believe that they are experiencing a “new reformation,” where the Anglican Way in North America is being recovered in pristine, biblical purity. What other Anglicans and Episcopalians see as a copying on to the Anglican label of the ethos and methods of popular, generic Evangelicalism, to them is a real renewal and reformation, that has global dimensions, and is closely allied with the missionary-minded and biblical emphasis of five or so African Anglican provinces.
So to be within this developing and changing new Anglicanism is often exciting and even exhilarating—and for some there is a prospect of the great pilgrimage to the Holy Land in June! Indeed, so much energy is taken up with working for growth in numbers and planning defense against enemies that there is little time for much else. For example, little time or interest seems to be given to examining the authentic Anglican tradition of worship and doctrine, adopted by the Protestant Episcopal Church and, guided by the providence of God, in its early years, after the departure of the American colonies from Great Britain.
The Common Cause Partners, who may be said in general terms to represent the new Anglicanism, chose in their theological basis to bypass the specific tradition of worship and doctrine of The Protestant Episcopal Church (1780s-1960s), and to commit instead to the larger tradition that is common in the constitutions of most African Provinces, that is, the Formularies of the Church of England as ratified in 1662 (the 39 Articles, the BCP and the Ordinal). This choice makes sense for Common Cause in that it is the African Provinces, which have been deeply involved as the supporters of the New Anglicanism from the beginning, with tiny Rwanda leading the way.
Supporting , but not generally expressed, reasons by the new Anglicanism for going with the 1662 Formularies, and not with the minority tradition of the 1789/1892/1928 (USA) Formularies, could be the following:
This is the Liturgy used by the Seceders of 1977 (“The Continuing Anglicans”) usually in a “high-church” or “anglo-catholic” way and with apparently little missionary zeal—thus not attractive to the new Seceders, who emphasize the Great Commission of Matthew 28.
This is the Liturgy totally abandoned by the Episcopal Church in 1979 when it adopted its new Prayer Book—and this innovatory Prayer Book of 1979 has been the favored liturgy of the new Seceders inside and outside the Episcopal Church. It is the Prayer Book of the New Anglicanism.
Thus, going with the 1662 Formularies allows the new Anglicanism not to have to deal seriously either with the Seceders who preceded them, or the falsely called “BCP 1979” that has been so widely embraced in its midst; but it does allow them to go hand in hand with their African sponsors, as if history began in 2000!
The 1789/1892/1928 USA Tradition
What is it about the American Anglican Liturgical Tradition which gives it a special place in the family of Anglican Liturgies?
The Order for Holy Communion, as created by the new Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. in the 1780s, and as accepted by the Church of England at that time as an acceptable form of the Anglican tradition, has several major roots. Obviously one was the Order of 1662; another were the modifications and additions made to this Order by the Non-Jurors in the eighteenth century and then made a part of “The Scottish Communion Office” of 1764. The changes incorporated in this 1764 text were all towards following the structure and content of the Eucharistic Prayers of the ancient Churches of the East. In reality, this meant having a clear Oblation (the offering of the holy gifts of bread and wine to the Father) and Invocation (request of the Father that by his Word and Spirit the gifts will become the Body and Blood of Christ) in the Eucharistic (Consecration) Prayer.
In contrast, the 1662 Order avoids any Oblation and works on the premise that the word of the Lord Jesus Christ stating that “this is my Body” and “this is my Blood” is sufficient; for where the Lord speaks the Spirit makes effective what he says.
However, the fact of the matter is that the American Communion Order and Office is different from the 1662 in emphasis and layout, and, in being so, it reflects what may be called the older high-Anglican (not Anglo-Catholic) approach to the Liturgy pioneered and propagated by the learned Non-Jurors after 1689. For all its existence—until the radical innovations of the 1960s and following—the only authorized liturgy for American Episcopalians in the PECUSA was this Communion Office; and thus it is to be regarded as the American Anglican form of the Eucharist .
[Note it was not preserved in Rite One of the 1979 book as people suppose. Rather, something that looked like it but had a different structure, collects, lectionary and devotional and theological content was substituted—see further for details the book by Tarstano & Toon, Neither Orthodoxy nor a Formulary, from www.anglicanmarketplace.com ]
It is to be regretted, even lamented, that this unique American Communion Service is little known and rarely used in the new Anglicanism, and is only found in use amongst the older Seceders of 1977 vintage, as well as in a few churches within TEC (e.g. St John’s, Savannah).
An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) from AMIA via PBS
It is possible that there will be a beginning of the use of the American Communion Service first of all in AMIA and then in other forms of the new Anglicanism in the years to come. How so? In contemporary English using the texts as presented in the very new An Anglican Prayer Book (from www.anglicanmarketplace.com) . In this Prayer Book there is printed in full the three North American forms of the Anglican Order for Holy Communion – the 1662 (used in the colonies and again today in USA and Canada), the 1928 American, and the 1962 Canadian. Thus a congregation may use one only or all of these forms throughout the year.
Any expression of American Episcopalianism or Anglicanism that does not possess and use its own distinctive Order for Holy Communion is not being true to its heritage and is keeping from the people a participation in that heritage of worship, doctrine and devotion.
True Reformation and Renewal often means recovering what was lost and using it with new energy.
Let there be a revival of the godly, reverent, informed and devout use of the American Communion Service.
www.pbsusa.org firstname.lastname@example.org February 19 2008 Dr Peter Toon