[NOTE: the Episcopal Synod of America (ESA) has, since this convention, become Forward in Faith (FiF), joining with a similar organization in England.]
The following is the official Good Shepherd Declaration issued
by the ESA in response to the departure of the Episcopal 72nd General Convention
from Biblical belief and morality into neo-paganism.
AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE EPISCOPAL SYNOD OF AMERICA
TO ALL FAITHFUL PEOPLE IN THE ANGLICAN TRADITION
In spite of the faithful efforts of many bishops and deputies, within and beyond the Episcopal Synod of America, the Episcopal Church in General Convention assembled refused to uphold orthodox doctrine and restore godly discipline, while acting to persecute the faithful. The Convention has thereby created substantial impediments to the practice and advance of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Convention refused to affirm the biblical standards of sexual morality by:
-- failing to approve the Kuala Lumpur Statement;
-- promoting continued study (with the prospect of eventual approval) of the blessing of same-sex unions;
-- allowing dioceses to extend insurance coverage to "domestic partnerships" of clergy and lay employees; and
-- rejecting a proposed canon requiring of all ordained people sexual fidelity within marriage and abstinence from sexual relations outside it. The convention refused to restrain or discipline those who flout such standards.
By passing amendments to Title III, the Convention also provided canonical authority for the persecution of those who cannot accept the ordination of women as priests and bishops, contradicting the basic Anglican principle that the Church cannot demand of her people what cannot be proved from Scripture.
The 72d General Convention has passed judgment upon itself.
It has become clear to us that the Episcopal Synod of America must more fully and thoroughly continue in its mission to "be the Church," proclaiming the Gospel and shepherding the faithful. We see our faithful pursuit of this mission as an essential element in the emergence of an orthodox Province of the Anglican Communion in America. We are delighted that many others share this vision.
We are not leaving anything or going anywhere. While praying and working for revival in the Episcopal Church, we have planned for a number of years for a new province, a structure which would proclaim true doctrine and allow us to go forward with the work God has given each of us. We will continue to be who we are. We have waited patiently for the right moment, and now is the acceptable time.
In working to establish this Province:
-- We have diocesan bishops who have declared with whom they are in communion. Their dioceses constitute the centerpiece of our community of faith. When faced with canons which violate their informed consciences, they will obey their consciences. Those dioceses will continue to be the Church; in effect, to function as the core of the Province we have wanted to be.
-- We invite parishes outside the geographic boundaries of those dioceses to apply for episcopal oversight, as their situation requires. Bishops of the Synod and of the American Anglican Council have stated their readiness to respond to such requests. Should action be taken by a local ordinary against a Synod parish for requesting such oversight, this community will consider that action to be of no force and effect. We acknowledge that some parishes may find it necessary to seek corporate separation from the institutional Church, and we pledge our solidarity with them.
-- Individual believers in hostile parishes, and those who currently have no orthodox parish home, are encouraged to seek a compatible local community, or begin efforts to build one. In this activity, we have the support of the American Anglican Council and the North American Missionary Society. The former offers a place of succor for those witnessing in the structures of the General Convention, and the latter offers aid in planting new congregations.
-- We call upon all orthodox Episcopalians and orthodox associations and ministries to join us in this task of renewal, revival and rebuilding.
-- We are encouraged by the support we have already received from overseas bishops and provinces of the Anglican Communion, and will work energetically to extend our fellowship and work for the Gospel with them.
-- We welcome association with jurisdictions of the Continuing Anglican movement, the National Catholic Church (formerly the Polish National Catholic Church), the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and other judicatories. We invite them to meet us in discussions designed to lead to concordats of intercommunion. We look forward to closer association with these jurisdictions.
Freed from the necessity of expending our efforts in the vain attempt to reform an institution which we believe has lost the desire to be reformed according to God's revealed will, we anticipate our common future with confidence and hope. We invite all Christians of good will to join us as together we turn toward our mission in the fields which are ripe for the harvest. We pray the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, upon this effort and all who make it.
By the Episcopal Synod of America, in Legislative Body Assembled, at
The Church of the Good Shepherd
July 29th, 1997
Further action by the Synod on July 30:
From: Pete Moriarty <DPMoriarty@AOL.COM> Subject: Response of the Episcopal Synod to the 72d General Convention, Part 2
At the 9th annual meeting of the Legislative Body of ESA, the following
was adopted and promulgated:
The Episcopal Synod of America pledges our solidarity with one another and our unwavering commitment to stand together with our ESA bishops as we respond to the actions taken at the 72d General Convention which mandates the ordination and placement of women priests in every Diocese of this Church.
We hereby declare that:
1) We will resist all attempts to force us to compromise our theological opposition to these legislative amendments, and we will do so without regard to whatever temporal or ecclesial consequences may be inflicted upon us by the hierarchy of ECUSA. Any canonical or disciplinary actions taken against Synod bishops or clergy for upholding our "recognized theological position" will be interpreted as an action against all of us, and we will respond accordingly.
2) We also stand in solidarity with all members of our Synod who serve in dioceses which are unsympathetic to our position, and we are committed to finding a way to provide alternative episcopal oversight and pastoral care for them. This is especially needful in those dioceses where the bishop has ordained non-celibate homosexuals and condoned the blessing of same-sex unions. We believe that such alternative episcopal ministry should be invited by the diocesan bishop, but we must respond to appeals for our help even when this is not the case. We call upon all congregations desiring alternative episcopal oversight to make this known to their own bishop, the Presiding Bishop, and the Synod bishops.
3) We see the time approaching in the near future when some special provision must be made to consecrate new bishops who uphold our theological convictions. We hope this can be accomplished by the proper canonical route but, should this be denied, we will feel compelled to act anyway.
4) We appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the Presiding Bishop Elect of ECUSA to assist us in our efforts to maintain our continued witness in the Anglican Communion. We will also take our case to the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, next summer, and to other Provinces throughout the Communion who are supportive of our cause.
5) We likewise stand in solidarity with the American Anglican Council, commend that body for its resolve to stand firm in the Faith, especially with regard to the AAC bishops who have committed themselves to provide pastoral and episcopal ministry in dioceses where it is determined to be necessary, and thank them for their courageous support.
By the Episcopal Synod of America, in Legislative Body Assembled, at
The Church of the Good Shepherd,
July 30th, 1997
Additional information on activities of the Episcopal Synod of America may be found on the ESA Web Site
-- Pete Moriarty
[COMMENT: In my opinion, the declaration was exactly the right thing to do. It puts the ESA in the position of being able to retake the Episcopal Institution for God. If the leadership and followership will be obedient, I believe that is still possible. The pseudo-liberal fortress is a house of cards -- which will topple if we can find sturdy leadership to pull out the props.]
It also leaves open the possibility of exiting totally from the Episcopal Institution, renouncing its communion with the Episcopal General Convention totally, and becoming an independent province in the Anglican Communion. The biggest problem is finding sturdy leadership which will in fact move in this direction. E. Fox.]
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