Dr. William J. Tighe of Muhlenberg College, a Touchstone

contributing editor, received requests from the Vatican and from Archbishop

Myers of Newark (Dr. Tighe is a Catholic) to prepare, as an aid to ecumenical

work, summary descriptions of Anglican organizations currently active in the

United States. Having read the report

and found it an extremely informative sorting-out of a complex

subject, I asked his permission to publish it here, which he kindly




by William J. Tighe, Ph.D.

I will describe some of these bodies and organizations

briefly, confining myself, so far as possible, to the American scene.


Episcopal Church: The only member of the Anglican Communion in the United

States. It received its Episcopal orders from the Episcopal Church of Scotland

in 1784 after the Archbishop of Canterbury and other English bishops refused to

consecrate Samuel Seabury of Connecticut to the episcopate on the grounds that

they had not the legal authority to consecrate anyone who could not take the

oath of allegiance to the English Crown. The Episcopal Church today consists of

111 dioceses, nine of them (Colombia, Convocation of American Churches in

Europe, Central Ecuador, Litoral Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican

Republic, Taiwan and Venezuela) outside the United States. In 2000 it claimed

some 2,365,000 members in some 7,390 congregations (parishes). 

Forward in Faith: The current title of an organization that

originated in 1977 in reaction to the Episcopal Church’s decision the previous

year to ordain women to the priesthood. Originally entitled “The Evangelical

and Catholic Mission” it sought to bring together Anglo-Catholic and

Evangelical Protestant Episcopalians opposed to the ordination of women to the

priesthood. After the election of the first women bishop in the Episcopal Church

(in 1989) the organization altered its name in 1991 to “The Episcopal Synod of

America” as a token of its resolve to be a “church within the church”

(ecclesiola in ecclesia). In 1998 it affiliated with the much more considerable

— “considerable” in both individual and parochial membership; FIF/UK counts has

450 parishes of the Church of England formally members of it and another 450 as

“sympathizers”; 950+ clergy as members and some 350 more as “sympathizers” —

“Forward-in-Faith/United Kingdom” which originated in 1994, in the aftermath of

the Church of England’s 1992 decision to ordain women to the priesthood. (There

is also a “Forward in Faith/Australia” which was organized in the aftermath of

the Anglican Church of Australia’s 1992 decision to authorize the ordination of

women to the priesthood; this is a small, exclusively Anglo-Catholic,

organization of some 60 clergy and three parishes — although another 15

parishes are served by FIF clergy.)  The

American organization consists of about 53 “affiliated parishes” which are

parishes of the Episcopal Church, and another 8 “associated parishes” which are

Continuing Anglican, Reformed Episcopalian or “Independent Anglican” parishes;

three ECUSA dioceses — Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin — with their bishops

are also members (as also is the Bishop of the Rio Grande Diocese, Jeffrey

Steenson, although not the diocese). The American organization is also largely

Anglo-Catholic in its membership, but it has never had a clear or unified

outlook about its “ecumenical vision” or, in particular, its attitude towards

the papacy and the Catholic Church. (In this respect it differs from both its

Australian counterpart [which is exclusively Anglo-Catholic and with a

leadership that aspires to an “honorable reconciliation” with Rome] and its

English parent [which is dominated by Anglo-Papalists — Anglo-Catholics who

affirm all of the defined dogmas of the Catholic Church and who likewise seek

an “honorable (corporate) reconciliation” with Rome — but which includes some

“anti-papal Anglo-Catholics” (about 20% of the whole) and which attempts to

cooperate with the strongly Evangelical English Anglican organization opposed

to women’s ordination, “Reform.”])

Anglican Communion Network: An organization of conservative,

mostly Evangelical, Episcopalians organized in November 2003 to oppose

theological heterodoxy and moral revisionism, and particularly the acceptance

of active homosexuality and the blessing of “homosexual partnerships” in the

Episcopal Church. Its membership consists of about 10 dioceses and their

bishops (Albany [NY], Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy,

Rio Grande, San Joaquin, South Carolina and Springfield [IL]) — plus the Bishop

of the Diocese of Western Kansas (although not the diocese), and some 98 and

parishes (about 34 of them also members of Forward-in-Faith/North America) and

170 clergy in member and non-member dioceses. Its leaders largely support the

ordination of women as deacons, priests and bishops, although three of the four

remaining dioceses in the Episcopal Church whose bishops remain opposed to the

ordination of women to the priesthood (Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin) are

also members, as also is the Forward in Faith organization, whose member

parishes and clergy constitute a “non-geographical Convocation” within the

Network. The organization emerged from the American Anglican Council, an organization

of Evangelical Episcopalian clergy and laity dating from the “Briarwood

Consultations” of 1995 and 1996 which wished to oppose liberalization of

doctrinal and moral teaching in the Episcopal Church, but which was unwilling

to break with the Episcopal Church or its bishops.

Anglican Mission in America: This was an organization that

arose out of the “Briarwood Consultations” of 1995 and 1996 in the same milieu

and to a large extent among the same constituency as was to produce the

American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network, although it was

more directly linked with a movement entitled “Concerned Clergy and Laity of

the Episcopal Church” — or, more popularly, as the “First Promise Movement.” It

differed from these other bodies in that it was more willing to take action to

break with and defy those bishops of the Episcopal Church whom it viewed as

heterodox or apostate. In January 2000 two of the leading figures in this milieu,

John Rodgers, formerly Dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry (one of

the two remaining relatively conservative theological schools/seminaries in the

Episcopal Church) and Charles (Chuck) Murphy, were consecrated bishops in

Singapore by the then Archbishop of the Anglican Province of SE Asia, Moses Tay

and the then (and current) Archbishop of Rwanda, Emmanuel Kolini. Subsequently

that date the AMiA was for a time under the supervision of the archbishops of

both SE Asia and Rwanda, and is currently under that of Archbishop Kolini of

Rwanda. At the present time it consists of six bishops, 102 congregations,

approximately 120 clergy and approximately 13,500 lay members.. After it was

organized it undertook a study of the issue of the ordination of women and in

October 2003 resolved upon a “moratorium” upon the ordination of women to the

priesthood (although it continues to ordain women to the diaconate). However,

female clergy from the Episcopal Church who join the AMiA (as some two or three

have done) were allowed until recently to exercise a priestly ministry in

congregations with which they are affiliated or which wish to call them to such

a ministry, but that policy has now been discontinued. The AMiA is largely an

Evangelical organization (with some Anglo-Catholic congregations), and many of

its congregations have been marked strongly by the “Charismatic Movement.”

Although the AMiA was originally conceived as a mission to and within the

Episcopal Church, it is now effectively separate from it and draws most of its

new membership and congregations from non-Episcopalian sources.

Reformed Episcopal Church: This body was organized in 1873

by Evangelical Anglican Episcopalian clergy and laymen who objected to the

spread of Anglo-Catholic ideas and practices in the Episcopal Church and the

refusal of the generality of Episcopalian bishops (and of the triennial General

Convention of the Episcopal Church) to take measures to suppress these

practices. The REC adopted as its foundational principles in 1873 a repudiation

of jure divino episcopacy, of ordained ministers being in any sense “priests,”

of the “Lord’s Table” as an “altar” on which an oblation of Christ’s Body and

Blood is “offered anew,” of any “Presence of Christ” in the elements of bread

and wine, and of Baptismal Regeneration. In 1874 the REC went on to produce a

more clearly Protestant version of the Book of Common Prayer, and in 1875 a

more clearly Protestant version of the 39 Articles of the Church of England

(and of the Episcopal Church, as adopted by the latter in 1789) entitled the 35

Articles. The REC initially spread widely in the United States and Canada (as

well as acquiring a “sister-church” in England, the Free Church of England

[FCE]) but after 1900 it entered a slow decline which by the 1960s had reduced

it to some 5,000 members in some 100 congregations in the United States and

some 300 in some three or four congregations in Canada. From the 1970s onwards,

the REC has experienced a modest revival and increase in numbers in both Canada

and the United States (it now claims some 1,000 members in two dioceses and 10 congregations

in Canada and some 8,500 members in 140 congregations in the United States,

with 175 clergy and three dioceses), as it has attracted both firmly Protestant

and “middle-of-the-road” refugees from the Anglican Church of Canada and the

Episcopal Church in the United States, but this has also led to strife within

the REC between those who wish to maintain its clearly and prescriptively

Evangelical identity and those who want to find a via media position in which

they might recover elements of their Anglican identity. For example, while the

REC retained episcopacy as “an ancient and desirable form of church polity” it

accepted clergy from other Protestant denominations who wished to join it and

minister in it without any form of reordination, and its bishops routinely

licensed its own ordained deacons who had not yet been ordained to the

presbyter ate to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. More recently, however, its has

ceased to license deacons to celebrate the Eucharist and it has received some

Protestant clergy from other denominations as deacons, subsequently ordaining

them to the presbyterate (although it appears that the RE bishops do not

consistently follow this new practice). It has also produced a revision of its

Prayer Book that omits some of the more prescriptively Protestant additions of

1874 and had declared the original 39 Articles to be its doctrinal basis, while

relegating the 35 Articles of 1875 to the status of “an interpretation” of the

39 Articles. (It is legally unable to alter its foundational principles of

1873, however, without leaving itself liable to legal challenge to its assets

by dissenting groups within it.) This has caused contention within the REC and,

in addition, has caused its English sister-church, the FCE (a body consisting

of some 28 congregations and about 1,100 adherents) to undergo a schism in

2003-04 between proponents of a more visa media stance and those who uphold an

uncompromising Evangelical identity. The REC itself, in 2006, is in the midst

of a ten-year merger process with the Anglican Province of America (APA), a

more “centrist” Continuing Anglican body that originated in 1995. Depending

upon the persons with whom one engages in conversation, different answers will

be given to the question of whether the REC regards itself as part of the

“Continuing Anglican” movement (sometimes known also as the “Anglican


Continuing Anglican Churches: Most “Continuing Anglican

Churches” emerged as a result of the 1976 decision of the General Convention of

the Episcopal Church to authorize the ordination of women to the priesthood and

episcopate. In September 1977 the “St. Louis Congress,” which gathered some

2000 Episcopalian clergy and laity (as well as a few bishops) to take stock of

the situation in the Episcopal Church, pledged to oppose the ordination of

women and, at the appropriate moment, to erect a “Continuing Anglican Church”

which would maintain “the Catholic Tradition” of Anglicanism. It also issued

the “St. Louis Declaration” which pledged adhesion to traditional Anglican

doctrinal formulae and practices, but went on to situate them in a broadly

“historically Catholic” context, by (for example) indicating unconditional

adhesion to the definitions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils (whereas

previously Anglican formulae had limited such explicit adhesion to the first

four councils only: while the fifth and sixth councils
were in practice without opposition in historic Anglicanism,

the Seventh Council and the iconodulia that it both endorsed and prescribed has

been rejected by the more Protestant figures and constituencies in many

Anglican churches). By 1978 an Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) was in

the process of formation, and four bishops were consecrated on January 28 of

that year in Denver, Colorado. The retired ECUSA bishop of Springfield,

Illinois, Albert A. Chambers (Bishop of Springfield from 1962 to1972) and a

bishop of the Philippine Independent Church (a body that obtained its

episcopate from the Episcopal Church in 1947), Francisco Pagtakhan, together

consecrated to the episcopate a priest of the Episcopal Church, C. David Dale

Doren (b. 1915), and Doren than joined with the two other bishops to consecrate

Robert Sherwood Morse (b. 1924), James O. Mote (1922-2006) and Peter Francis

Watterson (1927-1996) to the episcopate. In addition, a letter from the Korean

Anglican bishop of Taejon, Mark Pae, was read at the consecration ceremonies,

in which the bishop both regretted his inability to be present and to

participate in the acts of consecration and endorsed the consecrations.

However, a “constituent assembly” for the ACNA, which met in Dallas in October

1978, ended in deadlock over issues of church government, and in particular the

authority of its bishops (the assembly also voted to change the name of the new

church body to the Anglican Catholic Church [ACC]). Bishops Morse and Watterson

refused to adhere to the decisions of the Dallas assembly, thus effectively

separating themselves from the ACC, and formed a body then, as now, entitled

the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), of which Archbishop Morse

remains the Archbishop and Primate (the APCK currently has five dioceses, 57 congregations,

110 clergy and 8,000 to 9,000 members). Bishop Watterson, however, subsequently

became a Roman Catholic , was ordained a Catholic priest under the later

“Pastoral Provision” and died some years later, in 1996. A short time

afterwards, in early 1980, Bishop Doren withdrew from the ACNA and formed a

more “low church” body entitled the United Episcopal Church, which still

exists, although it is rather small in numbers (one diocese, 26 congregations,

45 clergy and about 600 members). In 1983 Louis Falk, who was consecrated a

bishop in 1981, became Archbishop and (first) Primate of the ACC. In the late

1980s, under Falk’s leadership, the ACC entered into discussions with the

American Episcopal Church (AEC) to effect a union between the two bodies. The

AEC had originated in 1968 as a protest of some Episcopalian clergy and laity

against the growing theological and social liberalism of the Episcopal Church,

and it was generally less Anglo-Catholic than the ACNA. The two bodies united

in October 1991, and after the mutual reconsecrations of the bishops of both

bodies, the Primate of the AEC, Anthony Clavier, yielded the primacy to

Archbishop Falk (Clavier subsequently resigned his office of bishop and entered

the Episcopal Church, where he is currently Rector of an Episcopal Church

parish in Arkansas), and the newly united body adopted the name of the Anglican

Church of America (ACA), which it retains to this day (the ACA membership

statistics that I have been able to obtain record four dioceses, 84 congregations

and 138 clergy; for lay membership the record that I have is both incomplete

and records only communicant members, which it numbers at 5,240). However, a

considerable portion of the bishops, clergy and laity of the former Anglican Catholic

Church rejected the union with the AEC and repudiated Archbishop Falk as their

primate, and these subsequently took the name of the Anglican Catholic Church

(Original Province) (ACC – OP) which it retains to this day (the ACC-OP claims

six dioceses, 88 congregations, approximately 110 clergy and approximately

4,000 to 5,000 members). In 1997, personality disputes among the bishops of the

ACC-OP resulted in a split in that body; the minority formed a small body which

terms itself the Holy Catholic Church — Anglican Rite (and that body, in turn,

split in 1999, when strongly Orthodoxophile elements within it, who wished to

repudiate Anglicanismaltogether, formed the Holy Catholic Church – Western

Rite). Meanwhile, upon the retirement of Anthony Clavier as Bishop of the

Diocese of the Eastern United States (DEUS) of the ACA, a dispute over the

election of a successor resulted in 1995 in the secession of a considerable

portion of that diocese from the ACA. These were lead by a bishop of the ACA,

Walter Grundorf, and the body formed by this secession adopted the name of the

Anglican Province of America (three dioceses, 69 congregations, 126 clergy and

roughly 6,000 members): it has Archbishop Grundorf as its primate and is, as

noted above, currently in the midst of a gradual merger with the Reformed

Episcopal Church. There are, of course, numerous other “Continuing Anglican”

bodies in the United States and elsewhere that originated either from splits

within some of the bodies mentioned above, or from subsequent departures from

the Episcopal Church. (An example of the latter might be the Episcopal

Missionary Church which was formed by the retired bishop of the Diocese of

Dallas of the Episcopal Church, A. Donald Davies, in 1991, and which, after

Davies’ subsequent retirement, is now headed by William Millsaps [himself

formerly a bishop of the ACA]; Davies later emerged from retirement and created

another Continuing Anglican body, the Christian Episcopal Church.) I might note

here that, by contrast with the situation in the United States, Continuing

Anglicans in Canada and Australia have managed to remain for the most part

united. In Canada, the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada was originally a part

of ACNA/ACC in 1978, but became an independent body as the bishops of ACNA

began to go their separate ways in 1979 It remains the only significant

Continuing Anglican church in Canada, although, as noted above, the Reformed

Episcopal Church has a presence in Canada as well. In Australia, the decision of the Anglican Church of Australia

to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood in 1992 resulted in the

formation of a Continuing Anglican church, the Anglican Catholic Church of

Australia, which remains the only organized Continuing Anglican presence in

that continent. Archbishop John Hepworth is its current bishop, as well as

Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion. Statistical information on the

various Continuing Anglican bodies, especially concerning lay members, is of variable

reliability. Still, it seems reasonable to postulate a total lay membership of

the three most considerable Continuing Anglican bodies in the United States,

the ACC-OP, the ACA and the APCK of 25,000 to 30,000 members (of whom perhaps

5,000 live without ready access to the pastoral ministrations of Continuing

Anglican clergy or congregations), and perhaps 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide. In

the United States alone, there are probably between 40 and 45 Continuing

Anglican bodies, many of them tiny in size and some of them perhaps containing more

clergy than lay members.

The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) was formed in 1990

by Archbishop Louis Falk of the ACA. It brought together various Continuing

Anglican church bodies throughout the world. In 2006 the TAC consists of 14

bodies: the Anglican Church of America, the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada

(one diocese, 45 congregations), the Missionary Diocese of Central America, the

Missionary Diocese of Puerto Rico, the Anglican Church in Southern Africa –

Traditional Rite, the Church of Umze Wase Tiyopia (South Africa), the

Continuing Anglican Church in Zambia, the Anglican Church of India, the

Orthodox Church of Pakistan, the Nippon Kirisuto Sei Ko Kai (Japan), the Anglican

Catholic Church of Australia. The Church of Torres Strait (Australia), the

Traditional Anglican Church (England) (12 congregations), and the Church of

Ireland – Traditional Rite (three congregations). Archbishop Falk of the ACA

was the first primate of the TAC. In 2002 he was succeeded in this position by

Archbishop John Hepworth of the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia, but Falk

remains archbishop of the ACA, although he has recently announced his

forthcoming retirement, and in October 2006 its bishops chose the Rt. Rev’d

George D. Langberg, Bishop of the Northeast, as Falk’s successor.

The International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal

Church (ICCEC or CEC) is not an Anglican body, either in its origins or its

current stance, but as it has had an attraction for conservative Episcopalian

clergy and laity sympathetic to the “charismatic movement” and yet with a

liturgical and sacramental orientation it is worth mentioning in this paper.

The CEC formed out of for the most part independent churches with roots in the

Charismatic, Pentecostalist and Wesleyan traditions which, influenced by the

so-called Convergence Movement, between 1976 and 1990 began to blend

charismatic worship with liturgical and sacramental elements drawn largely from

Anglican sources. As time went on, those individuals and churches involved in

this milieu began, through contacts with Evangelicals who had found a home in

Anglican churches and with Catholics with whom they shared in anti-abortion

activism, to have an increasing sense of the traditional
(Catholic and Orthodox) view of the Church’s sacramental

nature and apostolic structure. In June 1992 one of the leaders of this

movement, Austin Randolph Adler, was consecrated a bishop by Bishop Timothy

Barker of the International Free Catholic Communion — a body of decidedly

heterodox and theosophical views — and went on to found The Charismatic

Episcopal Church of North America, of which he became and remains Primate (and,

later, Patriarch); subsequently Bishop Adler consecrated Randolph Sly to the

episcopate. In 1993 Bishop William Millsaps of the Episcopal Missionary Church

(formerly a bishop in the ACA) consecrated Dale Howard as a bishop of the CEC

and reconsecrated Bishops Adler and Sly. The church grew rapidly from 1995

onwards, but by 1996 its bishops had become concerned at the problematic

sources of their Holy Orders and episcopate. In that year they made contact

with the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil (Igreja Catolica Apostolica

Brasiliera [ICAB]), a church which had been founded in 1945 by the

excommunicated Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duarte Costa (1888-1961), who

became first Patriarch of the ICAB (he had been Bishop of Botucatu from 1924 to

1937 and after his resignation in that year was made Bishop of Maura in

partibus, remaining such until his excommunication in July 1945). Duarte Costa’s

successor as patriarch, Luiz Fernando Castillo Mendez, agreed to an

intercommunion agreement between the ICAB and the ICCEC, and on November 5, 1997 Castillo Mendez and two other bishops of the ICAB

reconsecrated five bishops of the ICCEC (later all the remaining ICCEC bishops

were reconsecrated, and subsequently all the priests and deacons of the ICCEC

were reordained; and a the request of the ICAB the ICCEC agreed to use the

Roman Pontifical for all future ordinations and consecrations). The CEC in 2002

claimed 400 clergy and 136 congregations in the United States, numerous

congregations and clergy in Kenya and Uganda, and congregations and clergy in

Brazil, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania,

Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Portugal and Switzerland. Early on in its history,

the CEC took a strong stand against the ordination of women to the episcopate,

priesthood and diaconate, a stand which it firmly maintains. This stand,

however, alienated some of the individuals and congregations involved in the

Convergence Movement mentioned above, and in 1993-94 these elements formed the

Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC), a body which derives its

Episcopal succession from the same pseudo Old Catholic and episcopi vagantes

sources from which the CEC obtained its initial Episcopal consecrations in 1992

and which allows “diocesan option” as regards the ordination of women to the

presbyterate and diaconate. As of the present year (2006) the CEC in the United

States has been experiencing a painful period of division among its bishops,

leading to resignations and separations, and in one case the conversion to

Catholicism of one of the original CEC bishops (Randolph Sly).

Muhlenberg College
Allentown, Pennsylvania

October 14, 2006