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Continuing Anglican Movement

From Academic Kids

The Continuing Anglican Movement is a group of Christian churches which follow the Anglican tradition but which split from a province of the Anglican Communion because of what they considered to be its rejection of orthodoxy. The movement originated in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada. Related churches in other countries, such as the Church of England (Continuing) and the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia were established later. The most controversial issues were the decisions made in various countries to ordain women and to create new modern-language editions of the Book of Common Prayer.

Several thousand dissenting clergy and laypersons met in Missouri at the St. Louis Congress in 1977 and formulated a theological statement, the Affirmation of St. Louis, which expressed a determination "to continue in the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church, doing all things necessary for the continuance of the same." Out of this meeting came a new church with the provisional name, Anglican Church in North America. During the process of ratifying the new church's Constitution, disputes developed which split its several dioceses into two American churches and one separate Canadian church. These are the Anglican Catholic Church, the Diocese of Christ the King (later renamed the Anglican Province of Christ the King), and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.

The continuing churches are generally Anglo-Catholic in approach, and their liturgies are usually more high church than low church. Most of them use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer that preceded the prayer book adopted by ECUSA in 1979, although some use Missals and other forms. The use of the Authorized Version of Holy Scripture (KJV) as opposed to modern translations is an identifying mark of most continuing churches, as is the rejection of the ordination of women.

The principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis and the thirty-nine Articles of Religion provide some basis for unity in the movement, but these jurisdictions are numerous and often splinter and recombine. Reports put their number at somewhere between 20 and 40, mostly in the United States. Only about a half-dozen of the churches popularly called "continuing churches" can be traced back to the meeting at St. Louis or to lines of bishops connected to the Anglican Communion. The term has become a catch-phrase for Anglican churches outside the Anglican Communion, regardless of their origin and outlook.

Other Anglican groups

Other bodies not in communion with Canterbury include the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States, which left the Episcopal Church in 1873 in opposition to the advance of Anglo-Catholicism; the Free Church of England, which was founded in 1844 for similar reasons; and the Charismatic Episcopal Church, founded in 1992, which holds to a belief in Pentecostal gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Charismatic Episcopal Church does not consider itself to be Anglican, but many of its members are former members of ECUSA and worship is conducted using a version of the Episcopal Church's liturgy of 1979. These churches are not generally considered to be Continuing Anglican churches, although the REC has recently moved to associate herself more closely with them by entering into agreements with several continuing churches and also with conservative elements in ECUSA itself.

The recent consecration of Gene Robinson as ECUSA's Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire gave the movement a boost, but has also increased interest in other churches, in particular the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). While it has much in common with the continuing churches, AMiA is a mission under the supervision of the Archbishop of Rwanda and the Archbishop of Southeast Asia, and thus through them claims communion with Canterbury (although it is not yet recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury).

Acting on an earlier promise to settle the issue of the ordination of women, AMiA recently decided against ordaining women to the priesthood. Several who became priests in ECUSA before joining AMiA remain in good standing. In general, Anglo-Catholics favorable to AMiA have been opposed to the practice while some who refer to themselves as "evangelical," meaning charismatic, have supported it. The older continuing churches do not approve of the ordination of women to the diaconate, a practice that AMiA allows.

External links

The following is a list of continuing and similar churches, with the approximate number of North American parishes shown in parentheses. Some have additional affiliates in other countries.

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