low churchmen

Continuing Anglican movement

Continuing Anglican is a term used for a number of Christian churches which follow what they believe to be more traditional Anglican belief and worship. These churches have generally been formed by Anglicans who left one of the national churches of the Anglican Communion because, in their view, those churches have departed from Scriptural, historical, or orthodox Christianity. The use of the term Anglican has sometimes been controversial, as the term has often been understood to mean a church in communion with the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, which since these entities are believed to have departed from the Faith, none of the continuing churches is in direct communion with them. A few of them, however, have established communion with member provinces of the Anglican Communion which themselves are in communion with Canterbury.

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 Anglican Catholic Church in Australia and the Church of England (Continuing), were founded later. The movement represents approximately 667 parishes across approximately 20 different continuing churches.

Anglicanism in general has always been a balance between the emphases of Catholicism and Protestantism. Clergy and laity from both of those factions were active in the formation of the Continuing Anglican movement. The issues that most contributed to the founding of the "continuing churches" were the approval by ECUSA of women priests and the introduction of revised prayer books.


In 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) voted to approve the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopate and also provisionally adopted a new and doctrinally controversial Book of Common Prayer, later called the 1979 version. During the following year, 1977, several thousand dissenting clergy and laypersons responded to those actions by meeting in St. Louis, Missouri under the auspices of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen and adopted a theological statement, the Affirmation of St. Louis The Affirmation 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 of Anglican Church in North America (Episcopal). The first bishop of the church, the Right Reverend Charles Doren, was consecrated by a retired bishop of ECUSA, the Right Reverend Albert Chambers, along with Bishop Francisco Pagtakhan of the Philippine Independent Church as co-consecrator. Although expected to be the third bishop participating in Doren's consecration, the Right Reverend Mark Pae of the Anglican Church of Korea sent a letter of consent instead. The newly-consecrated Bishop Doren then joined with Bishops Chambers and Pagtakhan in consecrating as bishops, the Reverend James Mote, the Reverend Robert Morse, and the Reverend Francis Watterson. Bishop Watterson left the movement shortly afterwards and became a Roman Catholic priest.

During the process of ratifying the new church's constitution, disputes developed which split its dioceses into two American churches and a separate Canadian church. These were the Anglican Catholic Church led by Bishop Mote, the Diocese of Christ the King (now the Anglican Province of Christ the King) led by Bishop Morse, and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. In 1981, Bishop Doren and others left the Anglican Catholic Church to found the United Episcopal Church of North America in opposition to the alleged inhospitality of the other jurisdictions towards Low Churchmen.

Theological approach

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 (also known as the King James Version), as opposed to modern translations, is a distinguishing mark of most continuing churches.

The principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis and, to a lesser extent, 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 North America, but fewer than a dozen of the churches popularly called "continuing churches" can be traced back to the meeting in St. Louis. The 2005/06 Directory of Traditional Anglican and Episcopal Parishes, published by The Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, contained information on over 400 Continuing Anglican parishes which requested to be listed.

Other Anglican churches

Other Anglican bodies not in communion with Canterbury include the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) 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; the Anglican Orthodox Church, another Low Church body that was founded in 1963, and the Orthodox Anglican Communion founded in 1967.

These churches are not always considered to be Continuing Anglican churches, although the REC has recently moved to associate itself more closely with them by entering into agreements with a number of Continuing churches such as the Anglican Province of America. Both of them also have formal agreements in place with several provinces of the Anglican Communion that have been critical of ECUSA. See Anglican realignment.

List of churches

The following is a list of churches commonly called "Continuing Anglican," with the approximate number of North American parishes shown in parentheses. Some have additional affiliates in other countries.

List of seminaries

The following is a list of seminaries associated with the Continuing Anglican movement:


with a branch, Andrewes Hall (Phoenix, Arizona)

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Further reading

External links

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