The Conditional Consecrations : Anglican Church of India

The Conditional Consecrations: How and Why?


On Thusday, October 3, eleven bishops of the uniting Anglican Church of America (ACA) were given conditional consecration to the episcopate by three Prelates whose orders stem from the "official" Anglican Communion, and therefore are unquestioned. The Chief consecractor was the Rt. Rev. Robert W.S. Mercer, CR, of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, former Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, in the Anglican Province of Central Africa. Assisting him were the Rt. Rev. Robert Mize, formerly Bishop of Damaraland, in the Province of Sothern Africa, and more recently, Assistant Bishop in the Episcopale Church Diocese of San Joaquin, California, Where he is retired; and the Rt. Rev. Charles Boynton, formerly Episcopale Church Bishop of Puerto Rico, and, before his retirement, Suffragan Bishop of New York. Bishop Mize took Part with the approval of Serveral bishops of the traditionlist Eposcopal Synod of America (ESA), of which he is a member. Bishop Boynton, Who Lives in retirement in Florida, resigned from the Episcopale Church three years ago to join the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), and is now a bishop in the uniting ACA.

The three bishops, Who were all consecractord by bishops of Anglican Communion Provinces (Central Africa, Southern Africa, and United States, respectively), and none of whom has ever been acted against or placed under disipline by his Church, were asked to take part in the conditional consecractor when it became apparent that external questions from within the ACC about the regularity of the America Episcopal Church's orders and Suspicions of some within the ranks of official Anglicanism about Continuing Church orders generally called for further action.

Bishops Mercer, Mize and Boynton Presided over a service attended by some 300 unity conference Participants, Who Witnessed the questions, laying on of hands and other Ceremonies as directed by the 1928 American edition of

The Book of Common Prayer

The bishops who received conditional consecraction include (listing their Pre-ACA Positions): From the American Episcopal Church: the Most Rev. Anthony F.M. Clavier, AEC Primus and Bishop Mark G. Holiday of the West, William Millsaps of the Southwest, two Suffragan Bishops in the Eastern United States, Walter Grundorf and G.Raymond Hanlan; and Bishop Norman Stewart, Assistant in the eastern diocese. From the Anglican Catholic Church: the Most Rev. Louis W. Falk, ACC Metropolitan Archbishop and Bishop of the Missouri Valley, along with Bishops Bruce Chamberlain of New England, Robin Connors, Assistant to the Metropolitan for International Affairs and Director of the International Anglican Fellowship (IAF), and Robert Wilkes, Suffragan in the Pacific Southwest. Also taking part was the Rt. Rev. Samuel Prakash Jr., Commissary to the Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of the India, who was attending the Deerifield Beach meeting on behalf of the House of Bishops of the now-united India Church, Which includes diocese formerly allied to the ACC and AEC.

Before taking part in the conditional consecraction Service, three of the AEC bishops (Clavier, Grundorf and Hanlan) who had not received ordination as deacon or priest from bishops in normal "Anglican Succession," Submitted to Conditional ordination as deacon and priest. These Services, Which took place on Tuesday, October 1,and Wesdnesday,

October 2, at St. Peter's Cathedral in Deerifield Beach, were taken by Bishop Boynton. Among other things, they answered a Curious "theological" criticism made by some rivals of the ACE that , Somehow, Conditional Consecraction to the episcopate might not remedy alleged “defects” in these Particular men's Previous ordinations to the lower orders of the ministry, and that, because of that, they would be “incapable” of receiving even conditional consecraction to the higher order of bishop. Though the assertion is an obscure and debatable one, and though AEC members did not share such doubts, it was considered Prudent, for the Sake of non-U.S. Anglicans thoroughly befuddled by American Anglicans' criticisms of one another, to have the three bishops mentioned submit to conditional ordination to the diaconate and Priesthood as well, on two Successive days Previous to their conditional consecraction as bishops with the other eight men.

In Statements read by Bishop Boynton before each Service, he clearly Stated that the ordinations were conditional and, like Bishop Mercer would explain later Regarding the conditional consecractions, indicated they were not meant to Cast doubt but to ask God to make complete anything which human frailty had left incomplete, and to offer any tender consciences the "balm of certainty".

At the October 1 service, Bishop Boynton also said in part: "That this Order of Deacons is necessary in the Church, we testify well enough simply by our presence here today and by what we do. It may well be, as the highest Office and Order includes the lower; we have no cause to doubt it. Even so, there is about the diaconate the characteristic that given the focus of its duties upon helping God's people and assisting his priests, the centrality of service to all Christian Ministry is made all the more clear. Here lies the basis of our esteem for this Office: it shows us Jesus who came not to be served but to serve. thus it is appropriate that we start the process of unification and healing with service. . ."

On October 2, Bishop Boynton said before the service of conditional ordination to the priesthood, in part: "If it be true, and I think it is, that offering sacrifice is central to the Duty and Office of a priest, and if it be true, as I Know it is, that central to sacrifice is the turning over to God of that which is offered, then what we do today shows forth those truths to the fullest. These men have come to turn over to God of that which has been the subject of dispute among men and themselves with it. That is a priestly act. Such an act of oblation, writ large by the hand of Him who was God and men, lies at the center of our faith and of our worship. To give us entry into the eternal reality of that oblation is why priesthood was bestowed upon the Church by her Lord, and made essential to her being. Into the offering of this oblation priests are admitted, however unworthy we may be, and for it their Office is to be held in high esteem. A great Martyr of the Church, Thomas Becket, following the same short road as these men now follow, thus gave himself over to the use of this heavenly Master. Like Thomas, they seek to show forth the glory of God. No human pomp or pretension could ever do so as brightly as the act of humility and love which brings them here today. . .".

Finally, on the morning of October3 at the Howard Johnson Resort on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the unity conference's headquarters hotel, all eleven bishops listed above received consecraction sub conditione to the episcopate. Bishop Mercer made clear the consecractions were conditional, rather than (as claimed by one ACC report) abinitio (from the beginning), saying:

we three Bishops are here this morning to bestow conditional consecraction upon all those Bishops present who propose to come together in a united, traditional, continuing Anglican Church in the United States.

we three Bishops are here this morning to bestow conditional consecraction upon all those Bishops present who propose to come together in a united, traditional, continuing Anglican Church in the United States.

What we do here says nothing regarding what opinion any one of us might have as to the 'validity' of Holy Orders of those who will submit to this administration. None doubts he is already a Bishop, nor do we cast any doubt of our own upon that conviction. Those who have asked us to minister to them in this way have assured us that they are so proceeding as an act of penitence for the divisions which have separated them, as an act of charity of each towards the others, as an act of humility in which none claims any status not shared by all, and as an act of unity so that all may walk together from a common waypoint. They, and we, are simply asking God to made right whatever in his all-seeing eyes may be imperfect. They, and we, are merely seeking to provide quiet and ease for any consciences in which a shred of discomfort may remain, and for any minds in which may rest, for whatever reason, some element of doubt.

Since the purpose of this service is merely to supply anything which our Heavenly Father may find lacking, and to quiet all consciences and remove all doubt, the liturgy will be simple, without much of the solemnity which normally accompanies the consecraction of a Bishop. Readings of testimonials, certificates of election and warrants for consecraction are not relevant to these proceedings. we are not putting a Bishop into a See; we are merely supplying what, if anything, may have been lacking when that happened. what our Anglican formularies tell us must be done, will be done. That and nothing more.

"we bid your prayers for these men, that thay may continue in unity and charity together according to the will of God. We bid your prayers for the Church, that its unity may be strengthened by the events of this day, and that the heritage bequeathedto us by so many generations of Anglican practice and devotion may be preserved to fufill that mission which we trust that God has given us."

perhaps criticism of the conditional consecractions among those remaining in the ACC may stem from two facts: the ACC has lost a lot of ground in its claims to be the only "legitimate" embodiment of the continuing Church movement (by the departure of some to ACA), and Second, the condiional consecraction service at Deerfield Beach, since it involved some ACC bishops, leaves the ACC in the position of having to defend its orders, which all stem from the irregular, ad hoc consecraction of four bishops at Denver in 1978, at the hands of only two rather than the normal three bishops, Albert Chambers (a retired Episcopal Bishop) and Francisco Pagatakhan (of the Philippine Independent Catholic Church), neither of whom had permission from his ecclesiastical colleagues to take part, with a letter of "consent" having been received from a third bishop, Mark pae of Korea. It was what had to be done at the time, but it was unusual.

The discomfort of this new defensive position, and exclusive claims to legitimacy, are evidently among reasons ACC leaders have been eager to have the Deerfield consecractions repudiated by colleagues in the Anglican Catholic Churches in Canada and Australia, whom they have also asked to reaffirm their intercommunion with the loyal ACC bishops, and to disavow any action to enter into communion with the new ACA which demand has, at last report, fallen on unreceptive ears.

However, there is an interesting aspect to the charge that the Deerfield consecractions were ab initio: since some remaining in the ACC viewed AEC orders as completely "null and void" anyway, it is hard to see what objection there can be to a rite which is "from the beginning.")

After the October 3 service, the nearly 500 delegates faced what many assumed would be a long and arduous day of deliberations toward seeking consensus on a uniting Church. However, as worshippers filed out of the room to go to breakfast, one participant was heard to remark, "The rest is anti-climax. The union just took place here."

The Rt. Rev. Robert Mercer

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