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Dialogue with Separated Anglican Churches Moves Forward

Jan 25, 2003 10:50 AM EST

In an historic meeting that took important first steps to dispel years of ignorance and suspicion, delegations from the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), the Anglican Province of America (APA) and the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA), met at St Paul's College in Washington, DC, 15-16 January.

The meeting was a direct result of resolutions from the 1998 Lambeth Conference of bishops of the Anglican Communion, calling for dialogue with separated Anglican churches, as well as Resolution D047 of the 2000 General Convention. A previous meeting with other Continuing Anglican churches was held in December 2002.

The Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America were invited to participate based on two main factors. First, both churches have previously engaged in ecumenical dialogues with the Episcopal Church - the REC most recently in 1993, the APA most recently in 1987, when it was known as the American Episcopal Church. Second, the two churches are in the middle of a 10-year process towards organic merger. The REC was formed in 1873 by the Episcopal Assistant Bishop of Kentucky, George Cummins, largely in response to disputes regarding liturgical and ecumenical matters. The Anglican Province of America is the successor of the American Episcopal Church, formed in 1968 in reaction over the Episcopal Church's reluctance to discipline Bishop James Pike of California.

Representing the Episcopal Church were Bishop Edward Salmon of South Carolina, chair; the Revd Stephen White, Episcopal chaplain at Princeton University; the Revd Thomas Rightmyer, retired executive secretary of the General Board of Examining Chaplains; Diane Knippers, member of the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations; and staff from the Episcopal Church's Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations.

Participants from Reformed Episcopal Church included Presiding Bishop Leonard Riches; Bishop Royal Grote, vice-president of the General Council and bishop of the Diocese of Mid America; Bishop Ray Sutton, rector of the Church of the Holy Communion in Dallas, Texas, chair of the Inter-Church Relations Committee of the REC and suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Mid America; and the Revd David Hicks, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

The delegation from the APA included Presiding Bishop Walter Grundorf; the Revd Mark Clavier, chair of the APA's Ecumenical Committee; the Revd Paul Blankinship and Frank Warren, members of the Ecumenical Committee.

By Thomas Ferguson