ANGLICAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
Diocese of the Northeast
Rt. Rev. Brian Marsh, Bishop

A PASTORAL LETTER
October 24, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Blessings to you all!

 

This pastoral letter comes to you will all the best wishes for you at this time of the year - and always.

 

I do wish to update you on the matter we refer to as inter-communion. Two recent events have occurred that need clarification. First, the national synod approved an inter-communion agreement with our sister jurisdiction, The Anglican Province of America. Second, a prayer list was circulated recently that contained some inaccurate information.

 

Our inter-communion agreement with the APA should be regarded as largely symbolic, as it emphasizes continuity rather than change. This agreement expresses our mutual acceptance of each others' holy orders and sacraments. In a practical sense, this means that we may share clergy and receive sacraments at each others' churches. The sacraments we receive at the hands of APA clergy are as valid as those we receive from ACA clergy. It is important for us to remember that the APA was once part of the ACA and a formal break in communion never took place. In all particulars, then, the APA and the ACA have never been out of communion. Though this agreement is thereby largely symbolic, it underscores the growing unity among Anglicans. It should also be remembered that it is common practice among continuing churches to routinely share the eucharist with each other at ecumenical gatherings.

 

Last week, a prayer list was circulated that caused concern among some members of our diocese. Although entirely well intentioned, it suggested that we were now in communion with the Reformed Episcopal Church. That is not the case. We are not in communion with the REC. We do maintain cordial relations will all Christians, sharing fellowship and, in ecumenical gatherings, the eucharist. Indeed, we pray for all of God's children. But we have no formal communion relationship with any jurisdiction other than the Anglican Province of America. This could change at some point in the future and we certainly pray that we draw into closer unity with other Christian jurisdictions. In the meantime, the prayer list may be used or not as parishes or individuals may wish.

 

Last week, I attended the recent Provincial Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church. Bishop Grundorf and I had been invited to attend that synod in a spirit of mutual support and appreciation. I had expected that we would be warmly received and welcomed. My expectations were greatly exceeded. Bishop Grundorf and I were granted voice during the proceedings, giving us the opportunity to address synod on any and all issues. We were also invited to deliver formal addresses to the synod. In addition, we were accorded the honor of processing with the Archbishop of the ACC at synod Mass. Clearly, there is a strong emphasis on the growing unity of all major Continuing Anglican jurisdictions. Although we are not in formal communion with the Anglican Catholic Church, we may certainly count on mutual respect, opportunities to share the eucharist and an increasing desire to share our gifts with each other to the glory of God's church.

 

We must always remember that, although we celebrate the growing unity among Anglican churches, we are truly called to seek unity with all Christians. We will continue to pray that all of God's people may unify in the love that God has called us to express, loving Him with all our hearts, our souls and our minds and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

 

Your Brother in Christ,

 

+Brian