We would like to invite you to join in an exciting opportunity that has developed recently for those who have felt called to remain in The Episcopal Church while following a different theological trajectory. Last year, 13 bishops announced the Communion Partners Plan through which we might maintain fellowship within the Anglican Communion. As a response to that initiative, a number of rectors of TEC parishes met in Dallas to formulate a vehicle through which we might give our prayer and support to one another and to the bishops and primates who are working to form a clear Communion identity within TEC. A follow-up meeting was held in Houston at which a larger group of rectors gathered with four Communion Partner Bishops and representatives of the Anglican Communion Institute to give form and definition to the fellowship that has become known as the Communion Partner Clergy.
Our progress at that meeting is best summarized by the following excerpt from a letter we drafted to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
At that meeting, we acknowledged the serious challenges of this present season in the Anglican Communion due to the actions of The Episcopal Church, reaffirmed our commitment to the authority of Scripture and creedal and historic faith, and reaffirmed our respect for the proper authority of our bishops. We articulated the shape of our obedience to God as his people in terms of service to our various dioceses and the dioceses, provinces and leadership of the Anglican Communion. The participants identified that the center piece of our common life as Communion Partners is mission grounded in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, rather than an organizational structure.
We feel that the proper expression of that mission is found in meaningful relationships that are informed by Paul’s words that we should be “…subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,” (Ephesians 5:21). We have identified five specific ways through which we can foster and strengthen such relationships.
- As the basis for healthy cooperative relationships within the Communion, we support and are firmly committed to the Windsor process and the development of an Anglican Covenant that provides a meaningful framework within which we can function theologically and missiologically. It is important to us that you know we are committed to the Windsor and Covenant way forward, and pledge to you our firm support for these stepping stones on that path.
- We desire to establish ministry relationships with dioceses in other provinces which will provide for the sharing of ideas and ministry opportunities. Such relationships will be initiated through the process of listening to our partners in order to better understand them and their particular needs, and will continue based on mutual agreement and accountability.
- We seek to facilitate access to quality theological education and practical parish experience for our partners, as well as ministry-expanding opportunities for our parishioners through contact with partner clergy and lay persons, both at home and abroad.
- Within The Episcopal Church, we are committed to supporting one another through prayer and fellowship, with a particular concern for those rectors and parishes that find themselves isolated geographically or theologically.
- Finally, we aspire to provide a positive contribution to the life of this church by witnessing to the importance of an authentic Anglican identity not only within The Episcopal Church, (USA), but also the greater Communion, by a consistent loyalty to the mission and relationships that best define our connectedness as members of the Body of Christ and His presence in the Anglican Communion.
We are excited by the positive attitude of the participants in this initiative and the prospects for a constructive Gospel-centered engagement within TEC. This is not a group being organized to reform TEC, but rather a group of co-laborers in TEC with the common purpose of sowing the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our intention is to include all interested clergy (including those in the ordination process in TEC) in this fellowship. We hope you will prayerfully consider joining us in this endeavor. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this matter further please contact us via our email at CPClergy@gmail.com. You may also visit our website at www.CommunionPartners.org.
Yours in Christ and On Behalf of The Communion Partner Rectors
The Rector’s Advisory Committee:
The Reverend Dr. Charles Alley
Rector, St. Matthew’s
The Right Reverend Anthony Burton
Rector, Church of the Incarnation
The Very Reverend Anthony Clark
Dean, St. Luke’s
The Reverend Brooks Keith
Rector, Church of The Transfiguration
The Reverend Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr.,
Rector, St. Martin’s
The Reverend Leigh Spruill
Rector, St. George’s