|No Compromise of Truth: No
Limitation of Love ...A Quick Look at the Episcopal Synod
What is the Episcopal Synod of America?
The Episcopal Synod of America (also called "the ESA" or simply "the Synod") is a fellowship of Bishops, Clergy, and Laity who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who uphold the Evangelical Faith and Catholic Order which is the inheritance of the Anglican Way, and who work, pray and give for the reform and renewal of the Church with "no compromise of truth and no limitation of love."
What does the ESA believe?
* We believe what the Church has always believed in the way that Anglican Christians have always believed it. The ESA affirms the historic Anglican insistence that the Church is under the authority of the Bible, which is the Word of God written.
* We believe that Scripture is rightly understood by Reason enlightened and informed by the Holy Spirit, Who is at work in the Church's genuine Tradition, which is consistent with Scripture and with itself. We recognize that the work of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus Christ (Who is the perfect revelation of the Father) present and alive in every generation.
* Because "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever," we may not add things to or subtract things from the revelation given us in Him. We believe that Christianity is the religion revealed by God himself, and that therefore we are to live in conformity to that revelation, however mmuch that may set us at odds with the values of the present age.
* We believe the Doctrine of the Trinity and accept the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as God-given. We accept the teaching of Jesus that we are to address God as "our Father." We reject the false teaching that such "inclusive" or "expansive" substitutes for the Names of the divine Persons as "Mother, Child, and Spirit" or "Mother, Lover, and Friend" are allowable or necessary to present the gospel in the present day, but instead we see them as a regression into long-discredited heresies or a reversion to paganism.
* We accept Holy Matrimony (the life-long union of one man and one woman) as a God-given institution and the foundation of the Christian family. In union with the consistent Scriptural teaching of the Church (recently reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference), we hold that genital sexual activity is permissible only within marriage and that those who are not married are called to holy abstinence. We therefore must oppose all movements within the institutional Church to legitimate homosexual behavior, extramarital sexual activity, and the "culture of divorce." * We affirm the sanctity of life and oppose both abortion and euthanasia.
* We uphold the Order of the Church as found in the New Testament, taught by the Church Fathers, and practiced by the Church throughout the ages and in all variety of cultural settings. Particularly, we uphold the principle that, as women and men have equal but different roles within the human family, so it is in God's family, the Church: We fully support the ministry of women within the Church, but must reject the notion women must do the ministry of men in order to gain equality or justice.
Why does the ESA continue to oppose the ordination of women?
Because we believe that, just as the family is ordered in a God-given way, so the Church is ordered in a God-given way. Together with the great majority of the world's Christians, we believe that the example of the Lord Jesus, the teaching of Scripture, and the unvarying practice of the Apostles Jesus chose continued throughout the ages by their successorsindicate that the ordination of women as bishops and priests is not a development in obedience to God's will for his Church.
As we see it, the basic issue is not ordination as such. Rather, it is whether we accept that Jesus' revelation of God the Father - in word, in action, and in the testimony of his chosen witnesses - is final for this and every age. We see it as of a piece with other contemporary assaults on the Christian revelation, such as the attempts to legitimate "inclusive" or"expansive" language for God and moral behavior that is clearly at odds with Scriptural standards.
Anglicans have never claimed that the Apostolic Ministry which is their Christian heritage is their exclusive possession; rather, it is a gift held in trust with all those Christians who have retained it. For any part of the Church so radically to alter something that is the common property of the Body of Christ - without genuine consultation with the other parts - ishigh-handed arrogance. We do not believe that the Episcopal Church and the other provinces of the Anglican Communion have any authority to change the Apostolic Ministry in this way: In principle, it is no different than would be a unilateral attempt to add a new book to - or delete one from - the canon of Scripture.
How long has the ESA been around?
Our ancestry goes back to the early seventies and the Coalition for the Apostolic Ministry, which was organized in response to the campaign to allow women's ordination in The Episcopal Church. As it became evident that the challenge to the Church's faith and order involved more than just the ordination question, the Evangelical and Catholic Mission was founded in 1976 with the purpose of teaching the Episcopal Church back into the biblical and traditional Anglican Way.
In 1988, the bishops of the ECM called a special Synod, which met in Fort Worth, Texas in June of 1989. More than 2,000 Episcopalians from all over the country then organized the Episcopal Synod of America "to be the Church within The Episcopal Church" by preserving and extending the historic Apostolic Faith during a time of change and confrontation, in opposition to the prevailing revisionism in the structures of The Episcopal Church.
What has the ESA done since its founding?
* We have proved to be the pacesetters for the increasingly active and vocal traditional and conservative Episcopalians. Our members have participated in the formation of other groups, such as the International Bishops' Conference on Faith and Order, the American Anglican Council and The First Promise group.
* The ESA has worked in partnership both here and abroad with these and other groups, such as Forward in Faith (our English counterpart), the Ekklesia Society and the Prayer Book Society, toward a common goal of upholding biblical faith and apostolic order in the Anglican family of Churches. We have maintained an effective presence at the GeneralConventions of 1991, 1994, and 1997, where our independent reporting has won compliments even from some of our opponents. Most recently, we were among the groups present and active around the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which saw several major advances for traditional Anglican Christianity.
* As the largest and most organized of the major traditional groups within The Episcopal Church, we have also had the honor of being the principal target of that Church's increasingly angry revisionist wing.
* Ten times annually, we publish a highly regarded newsmagazine, Foundations, which is committed to keeping its readers up-to-date on the activities of all traditional Anglicans and their opponents. Four times a year, our respected theological journal, The Evangelical Catholic, is included with Foundations. We also provide tracts and pamphlets on a variety of subjects related to our mission.
* Because we recognize the importance of orthodox clergy to the maintenance of faithful witness, we have developed a Deployment-Referral Service to help congregations and clergy find one another during search processes. We also publish a tract which puts into useable and useful form the canon law relating to the filling of a parish vacancy, which helps keep vestries and search committees informed of their rights and obligations and can help keep diocesan officials from exceeding their authority at such times.
* We maintain contact and theological exchanges with several Anglican jurisdictions which presently are not involved in the official Anglican Communion in anticipation of the day when full unity in truth will be restored between us. It is now possible for Anglicans who are not members of The Episcopal Church to become Associate Members of the Synod and forcongregations that are not part of The Episcopal Church to be granted status as Associated Congregations of the Synod.
What is the ESA's mission today?
The Good Shepherd Declaration (adopted by the Synod in July 1997) says it best:
"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 have said from the beginning that we intend to be the Church. We will continue to be who we are. We have waited patiently for the right moment, and now is the acceptable time."
We take great encouragement from the fact that the 1998 Lambeth Conference (Resolution III.2) has called upon the Provinces of the Anglican Communion"to make such provisions, including appropriate episcopal ministry, as will enable" those who share the Synod's doctrinal commitments to continue to live as full and active members of the Communion. We will continue our efforts to make this recommendation a reality on this continent.
How is the ESA organized?
The ESA has members throughout the United States. They are organized in affiliated and associated congregations and chapters, whose representatives meet in regional convocations to select clergy and lay delegates to the Synod's Legislative Body, which meets during its annual National Conference.
How can I become a member of the ESA?
Individuals who are members of the Episcopal Church may join the Synod by signing the Declaration of Common Faith and Purpose, which is available from the National Office or through our internet web site. Individuals who are not members of The Episcopal Church may become Associate Members in the same way.
Congregations in The Episcopal Church may affiliate with the ESA by endorsing the Declaration and applying to the Council for recognition as Affiliated Congregations. Congregations in other jurisdictions may associate with the ESA by endorsing the Declaration and applying to the Council for recognition as Associated Congregations. (Forms and instructions for congregational affiliation and association are available upon request from the National Office.) Ten individual members of the ESA may request recognition as a Chapter.
What can I do?
* First of all, please pray for God's continued blessing upon the work of the Episcopal Synod of America.
* Second, join the ESA and encourage others to do so as well.
* Third, make a pledge or other financial contribution for the support of the work of the ESA as a tangible expression of your own faith in and commitment to the revelation of Jesus Christ and the authority of Holy Scripture.
* Finally, urge your own congregation to affiliate or associate with the ESA. If that is not possible, work to organize a Chapter in your local area.
How can I get more information?
Call or write:
The Episcopal Synod of America
Telephone 817.735.1765 or
Electronic mail: ESANHQ@compuserve.com
Web site: http://www.episcopalsynod.org