From the Presiding Bishops of the Anglican Church in America and The Anglican Province of America
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace and Peace to you all in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This Pastoral Letter comes to you with every good wish for you and for the parish churches of the Anglican Church in America and the Anglican Province of America. It is our expectation that this letter will be read in every parish within our sister jurisdictions and distributed to all who may wish to share the news of our ongoing reconciliation process.
Nearly two years ago, bishops of the Anglican Church in America and the Anglican Province of America signed an agreement of reconciliation between our two national churches. This reconciliation agreement represents a historic step forward in the realignment of Classical Anglicans in the United States and, indeed, throughout the world. It has been a catalyst for closer cooperation between groups of Anglicans who share a common theology and a unity of purpose. The reconciliation agreement and the attendant cooperation that has been engendered by it cannot be minimized. It is an important document and will no doubt be long regarded as a necessary step in the reunion of Classical Anglicans.
At the present time, both the ACA and the APA have agreed to hold concurrent synods at a common location in October, 2014. These synods will bring our two jurisdictions together for worship and fellowship. Business sessions will be held separately, as is appropriate to individual jurisdictions. This is yet another way in which we may join together as Christians in an atmosphere of mutual support and cooperation. Some have suggested that these meetings will result in the complete reunion of our two jurisdictions. This is not the case. It is premature to enter into serious talk of such reunion when there are many preliminary details that must be worked out and many other issues resolved. Complete reunion between our jurisdictions, if and when it happens, must be left to the grace of God. It is our task to discern, as best we can, God’s will, placing ourselves at His service and in the service of His church.
There are many things that have been achieved up to now. The Reconciliation Committee has produced a common Constitution to be proposed for adoption by the synods of both jurisdictions. The committee is also working on a unified set of canons. Such practical work is being done faithfully by those who are committed to accomplishing the work of the church in a cooperative manner. There are, we confess, historical issues, as well as issues of the heart, that must be dealt with first. As many of us know, the past history of our churches has often involved considerable heartbreak. The many fractures, schisms and improper activity have all caused great pain and injury within God’s church. Much pain, along with its attendant trust issues, still remains. These should be discussed in a forthright and transparent manner. But we need also remember that, as Christians, we must be prepared to adopt an attitude of forgiveness for those who we perceive have injured us, just as we must also adopt a penitential approach to those we may have harmed. This is God’s way. And we pray that He will be pleased with our work, as we seek to promote healing and full reconciliation.
Lastly, we have no particular plan aside from doing the work of God. Rumors may abound. It is perhaps natural, given our past history, to assume that there is some hidden strategy that is being covertly put forward. Such is not the case. Although many options may be discussed in various committees and among individuals and small groups, we remember that we are synodical churches; any final decisions on important matters must come before the councils of the church for ratification. But it is in the discussions, as well as within the small and large groups and committees of our churches, that we will most certainly discern the voice of God. He will speak to the unification of His church and lead us to the way and manner of that unification. But until full reconciliation is finally achieved, we must seek only to greet each other in love, working to heal the church and seeking to do no harm to any of God’s people. We must embrace each other as faithful Christians and committed Anglicans. And we must always pray to God to teach us the way. Because we can never find our way without the certain guidance of Our Lord.
Your Brothers in Christ,
The Most Rev. Walter Grundorf
The Most Rev. Brian Marsh