An ecumenical conference between scholars of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions held at Nashotah House Theological Seminary on October 8-10, 2009. Entitled “In the Footsteps of Tikhon and Grafton - Anglican and Orthodox Identity, Ministry and Mission in the 21th Century,” the Anglican-Orthodox Conference featured discussions and addresses by representatives of Nashotah House and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Speakers and Moderators included:
Fr. Robert Munday - Dean of Nashotah House Seminary
Metropolitan Jonah - Primate of the Orthodox Church in America
Fr. Chad Hatfield - Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
Fr. William Olnhausen - priest at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cedarburg, WI
Fr. Stephen Platt - priest of the Russian Orthodox parish of St Nicholas in Oxford, England and General-Secretary of the UK Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius.
Bishop Melchizedek - OCA Bishop of Pittsburgh
Anne Glynn Mackoul - Executive Chair of the St. Vladimir’s Board of Trustees
Fr. Arnold W. Klukas - Professor of Liturgics and Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House
Fr. Jack Gabig - Director of the Young Anglicans Project
Bishop Frank Lyons - Anglican Bishop of Bolivia
Archbishop William Duncan - Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh
Bishop Keith Ackerman - Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy
Fr. Munday: It is with a special measure of excitement that we come to this evening’s session of this conference. We are very honored to have as our presenters tonight, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church of America, and Archbishop Robert William Duncan, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, and we’re also proud to say a trustee of Nashotah House. May we begin this session with a word of prayer.
Gracious and loving God, we thank you for your many blessings on us. Above all we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself for us. And Father, we heed seriously, the call for unity in your Church. We thank you for the fellowship that we can have this conference with Orthodox and Anglicans gathered together, united in the faith in so many ways. Father we pray your blessing on this session this evening, on our presenters—Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Duncan. We pray you would speak to us through them this evening, Father. And we give you the thanks in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Archbishop Duncan: Good evening all. What a privilege it is to be here at Nashotah, at this moment in the history of two great Christian seminaries, and two great Christian traditions. As I begin, I want to acknowledge the extent to which the groundwork laid for the covenant between St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Nashotah House Theological Seminary has become the groundwork of something very much larger—that is resumption of ecumenical conversation between two separated branches of Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I want to acknowledge and to thank Fr. Chad Hatfield, the Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s, and Dr. Robert Munday, Dean of Nashotah House, for their respective roles in bringing us to this moment. I want to thank both their faculties as well, without whom this convergence in the bilateral seminary covenant would have never been possible. I especially want to thank His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, who in recent months has become my very dear brother, for his visionary leadership in opening a long closed door.
The opening of that door has resulted in our presence here together, signaling something that will by God’s grace prove to go substantially beyond the covenant of two seminaries. I would also like to acknowledge, the presence of Bishop Melchizedek of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania of the Orthodox Church in America, my counterpart in that part of the country, with whom the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has committed to serious local dialogue. To members of the fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, as well as to trustees, students, friends gathered here, I also bring warm greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are two streams of one great river. In the earliest years, it was mostly geography that separated us. As Christian missionaries took the Gospel to the ends of the earth, in accord with the commands of Acts 1:8, the Orthodox stream flowed north and east and the Anglican stream flowed north and west. Nevertheless, as we’ve often been reminded through this conference, so many things were kept in common. In fact, we kept the same dates for Easter and similar patterns of Church life. Despite the geographical separation, an Eastern monk was actually chosen Archbishop of Canterbury in the 7th century. These things notwithstanding, it was also in the 7th century that the Primitive British Church agreed to substitute Latin practice for the way of the Old Britain’s. Our channels became ecclesiologically more distinct in the nine centuries that followed.
Historical developments from the 16th century onward, periodically opened, what I would call, canals between our two, then long separated, streams. The English Reformation saw the rejection of papal church administration along with a renewed commitment to conciliar governance. While Scriptures place as the ultimate rule and standard was asserted, appeal to the Christianity of the Fathers and of the great Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church became commonplace to justifying belief and practice. Towards the end of the 17th century, the non-jurors looked Eastward for antidotes to extreme Calvinism and Puritanism. This group of Anglicans, dispossessed by their own Anglican brothers, opened conversations with the East—conversations that led to restoration of the Epiclesis and of prayers for the dead in the Liturgy. I would say that the Orientalists of the Oxford Movement, as opposed to the Romanists of the Oxford Movement, carried these developments further.
Certainly in the evangelization of North America, ironically as Father Chad pointed out earlier in the day, the Orthodox came from the West and the Anglicans came from the East. A very broad canal of connection was opened. This happened first with the two traditions in California. As we have been reminded, the experience of missionaries of both traditions led the Episcopal Church to form a Russo-Greek Committee in 1862. Between then and the 1930s, there followed a rising tide of effort and of hope that the two streams might again become one very great river. It was the relationship of St. Tikhon and Bishop Charles Grafton, forged right here in Wisconsin, that was at the vortex of this great ecumenical reconnection.
We jump forward to today. What I would like to do in this presentation is to look at some of the great commonalities of our two streams, the Orthodox and the Anglican commonalities of inheritance and of history. Then, I would like to address some of the obstacles of that historical separation, both ancient and modern, as put in the way of the confluence once envisioned by St. Tikhon and Bishop Grafton. And lest you be held on the edges of your seats, unhelpfully tempting as of course that is in an evening address, let me announce my intent at the beginning—an intent that would embrace again, the effort and the hope that was decisively embraced here more than 100 years ago.
We are two streams that share a theology shaped, not only by utter dependence on the Word of God, but also by the witness of the Patristic and Conciliar Ages of the undivided Church. The simple summary of the great Caroline Divine, Lancelot Andrewes, the summary which Fr. Klukas reminded us this morning, Lancelot Andrewes who kept icons in his personal chapel and whose Praeses Privati are so utterly dependent on the Eastern Tradition of prayer. Lancelot Andrewes’ observation that Reformation Anglicanism stood on one canon, two testaments, three creeds, four councils and five centuries, illustrates how profoundly professional Anglicans understand ourselves to be dependent on both Scripture and the Great Tradition for our bedrock identity and believing. Now I suspect that our Orthodox brothers and sisters might be tempted to opine that that was one apocrypha too few, two creeds too many, and three councils too short. Audience laughter But Andrewes’ point is made. Indeed the fundamental declaration of the Anglican Church in North America, constituted this summer, actually moves us beyond the English Reformation view of four councils toward acceptance of all seven.
The repudiation of the theological drift of Western Anglicanism, a drift characterized by what has happened in the Episcopal Church in the United States and by the Anglican Church of Canada, the repudiation of this drift in the newly constituted Anglican Church in North America, provides a substantial footing for the future of ecumenical conversation and convergence among us. Our two traditions offer much in common in ascetical and doxological practice, especially for us Anglicans in the full flowering of the Catholic Movement. It might also, as easily, have been called the Oriental Movement. In liturgy, in art, in music, in monasticism, in devotion to the saints, not least to the Theotokos, our Lady, and in every area of the expression of the mystery of the Incarnation, we have wonderful commonalities to build on.
Moreover, the Celtic and Russian disposition to see in created things signs and sacraments of God’s endless self-revelation exhibit an unmistakable family likeness. There’s one detail that I have always considered exceedingly telling is that what the Venerable Bede reports about the monk Augustine’s procession into Canterbury. Bede says: “Before him was carried a picture of the Lord Jesus painted on a board.” Latin evangelism among the English, that is the Anglicans, clearly required icons from the beginning.
Conciliar governance and autocephalous national provinces, compared to papal or Montanist church structure, are further evidence of our common great inheritances from the Apostolic Age. It is remarkable, I think, for us Anglicans that despite 1000 years of Western papal hegemony, the English Reformation reverted to a kind of church governance far more akin to the continuous conciliarism of the Orthodox churches, that to the Montanism which continued its ascendency in the Western Catholic Church. Fundamentally therefore, the future of Orthodox-Anglican conversation finds a ground in a very common notion of how the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church ought to be structured to exercise its common life, discipline, and response to the challenge of any age. Moreover, Western Anglicanism’s long affair with strictly democratic principles and its uncritical embrace of them in the United States and Canada, now named for the corruption they are—where the ultimate sovereignty of the people is substituted for the ultimate authority of the Word. This has been rejected by Anglicanism’s mainstream, the Global South, and the Anglican Church in North America. Our two traditions now find ourselves in such similar places. The Anglicans having been subjected, to or in our freedom, experimented with alternatives, on how the Church is best governed. Furthermore, both traditions understand more clearly than ever that while there is a goodness in autocephalous ethnic or national provinces, there is nothing right about complete independence. It is only a respectful and healthy interdependence that proves itself Godly.
Now, there are serious matters that divide us. In His Beatitude’s forthright address to the inaugural assembly of the Anglican Church in North America at Bedford, Texas on June 24th, seven issues as I count them were enumerated. I will touch on the three most serious here. The Filioque represents the divergent courses of East and West. Previous Anglican-Orthodox dialogues made significant progress on the issue of double procession of the Holy Spirit. Our dialogue will have to revisit that work. Having affirmed Filioque for some 1400 years, we Anglicans, whose experience is so deeply lex orandi, lex credendi will find it particularly difficult or practically difficult to make the liturgical leap of excision. As our Orthodox-Anglican convergence progresses, it may be the final resolution of this most symbolic theological divergence; may need to involve resolution with the Roman Catholic Church as well. Whether it is easy for us to accept or not, a profess, after all, the global majority Christian position—which doesn’t make it right but makes it most significant.
The extension of Holy Orders to Godly women for both diaconal and presbyteral function among Anglicans is a matter of divergence not easily resolved. We are not far apart on deacons and deaconesses, so that that may be our dialogue’s wise point of beginning. We are in practice, and this is so important to understand, actually agreed about the episcopate, since the Anglican Church in North America does not permit it, nor does any province, globally allied with our movement, accept it, as a present possibility if the unity of the whole Church is to be preserved. Our presbyteral divergence is the substantive divergence. The 1988 Lambeth Conference spoke of two integrities within Anglicanism, and since that time, the ordination of women as priests has become quite widespread in Anglicanism. It is presently a feature of church life in half the provinces of the Anglican Communion. It is also, we note, a widespread practice among the Protestant churches. Among Anglicans, it is very important to note that it is not simply tied to the innovative tendencies of the British and North American national churches, but it is universal among Anglicans in east Africa and been long approved in principle by the most dynamic and most numerous of all the Anglican provinces, the 20+ million member Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, representing at least a quarter of the world’s faithful Anglicans. A fruitful path forward between the Orthodox Church in America and the Anglican Church in North America must involve consensus among global Anglicans. The Anglican Church in North America cannot act unilaterally, without reference to the other branches of its own ecclesial family, nor should we. Our whole recent history as Anglicans has been littered with the destruction of that modus operandi, and for our good, as well as for the good of the Orthodox Church in America, the whole effort to restore unity to the entire body of Christ, we cannot and will not act unilaterally. The numbers of global Anglicans, who believe this innovation to have been “of the Lord,” cannot be dismissed. As our dialogue progresses we will certainly ask: “Is there some mutually honoring way forward?”
Orthodoxy’s historic condemnation of Calvinism will require special attention and understanding. One might hope that the reappraisal of Rome’s historic condemnation of Luther’s doctrine of justification, spelled out in the Joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic Declaration of 1999, would be a model for the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue, now being open between us. Anglicanism’s stream has, within it, three very strong currents—the Evangelical, the Catholic, and the Pentecostal. Calvin’s teachings and insights are hugely important within one of those powerful currents; therefore hugely important to all. All the currents are essential to a healthy Anglicanism. None can be dispensed with. Clarification of the sort, His Beatitude began in his Bedford Address to the inaugural assembly of the Anglican Church in North America, will be required if our conversations are to progress.
Those three issues, not easy for us at all. In drawing my remarks to a close, I would ask what might we, North American Anglicans, bring as gifts to North American Orthodox? What might we be able to share that would truly enrich any ecumenical partnership? Our facility within culturation as opposed to enculturation will always be a gift we bring. Another way to describe this gifting is creative adaptability. It can also be the tendency that gets us into terrible trouble, as has been so well demonstrated by the recent history of North American Anglicanism. Nonetheless, we tend to see better than most what is essential and what is Adiaphora. We have been making this distinction since the English Reformation. Tied to this is being the hands and feet and heart of Jesus in any situation where there is human need. We are a great missionary tradition. This house, after all, is rightly known as “The Mission.” Sometimes, particularly in the West, we have failed to tell about Jesus while we are doing his works among those who do not yet know Him. Having admitted that however, the Anglican Church in North America is utterly clear about who Jesus is and about our call to tell about Him everywhere we go from now on, both in deed and in word. I want to say further that this combination of gifts of great strength, creative adaptability, and admission, is an aspect of Anglicanism’s remarkable growth in the Global South and the Anglican Church in North America’s immediate goal of planting 1000 new congregations in the next five years. No North American tradition has ever done this. Now our mission is clear and clearly embraced—to reach North America with a transforming grace. It is the very same mission of which Bishop Melchizedek spoke earlier in the day. We bring some great strengths to the conversation.
We also bring our brokenness. The Anglican Church in North America is the reconstituion of a once great church in the United States and Canada, a church that has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. There has been much loss, much sacrifice, and much recommitment. The Orthodox Church in America brings its own history of brokenness in Russia and in North America. Our God is always able to do greater things with those who have been brought low. Making this history a part of our conversation will also bond us together for God’s great purposes in a better day. It was Bishop Melchizedek who paid us a high compliment last summer when the two of us had lunch together. He said: “We have been watching you for years. You know who you are. We can talk to you.” I thank God for that and that the Orthodox Church in America has made such an assessment of us and that the offer to resume ecumenical conversations has been made. I thank God that His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, has graciously opened the door to us. We intend to walk through that door and take our place. We intend to be faithful and reliable partners. We know that we shall learn much and grow much. We intend to share what God has given us, not least our understanding of what the Father has given us through the gift of His only begotten Son and the power of His Holy Spirit. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah said at Bedford: “I come with arms wide open. I come to speak the truth in love.” I also come with arms wide open and to speak the truth in love. What better beginning of deepening relationship could there be in Christ Jesus? Thank you all.
Metropolitan Jonah: I’m profoundly grateful to be here and to be part of these discussions and to be able to reopen ecumenical dialogue with representatives of the Anglican tradition, because I believe we belong together. I believe we need each other—both on the worldwide context and in North America. In North America, we’re small churches. We’re small churches that have been called by God to be faithful to Him, to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be faithful to the inheritance that we have received from the Fathers, to be faithful to our Church that He has given into our care, to that tradition which He has imparted to us, and to that reality of the faith which has been implanted in our minds and in our hearts and to which He has called us, by His Holy Spirit, to be His ministers in this broken world.
We stand, I believe, at a great historical crisis—a crisis in our culture which threatens to undermine the very foundations of our culture, which threatens to undermine the Christian heritage, which threatens to undermine the moral fabric which holds our society together. Only by standing together, united in one mind, in one heart, in one faith, in one Church, ultimately will we be able to not only withstand the onslaught of secularism, of materialism, and of the licentiousness which has overtaken our culture but to fight against it. So that together we can bring Apostolic Christianity back to America, and we can make our voice heard among the din and the chaos of people crying out in despair, looking for something to give them some shred of hope. Because there is in materialism, there is in secularism, only despair.
I’d like to reflect for a moment on faith. We’ve been talking about aspects of common faith, differences, and things. But I think when we look at it, it’s very important to understand that there’s a very great distinction between faith and belief. Beliefs are the expressions of that faith—these conceptual images and categories which we have in our heads. But that faith is the living knowledge of God which has been implanted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, uniting us to Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Christ to the Father. It’s that living experience of God, that living witness in our hearts, to that reality that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, risen from the dead, that he’s come to trample down death by death, to transform life, and to transform our own lives, and to make us participants in the very Kingdom of God—to open our minds and open our hearts and open our perception to that Kingdom.
This is the content of our faith. It has many different expressions. And I think when we talk about a common faith, we’re not talking about some kind of confessional. The Orthodox Church is not a “confessional church.” It has many confessions. It has many symbols of faith. We wouldn’t discount either the Athanasian Creed or the Apostles’ Creed. We just don’t use them, and there’s lot more than seven councils. Metropolitan Jonah and the audience laughs But really, what is that? That common faith is something that we enter into by our common discernment of the truth. The dogma is not about formulas written on paper. The dogma is the vision of the Living Christ, which He has revealed to us. He has revealed Himself to us and by that has called us out. Our common vision of the faith comes from a common intuitive discernment that what these confessions, what these creeds, what the sayings of the Fathers are. It’s a common intuitive awareness that this is true, and that these point to Him who is the Truth, that these are means of ascent to that living reality of communion with Christ. And our common affirmation, I think, is a sign that we share that same vision of the truth. Because really coming together, as the Orthodox Church, as the Anglican Church, it’s not about some kind of institutional process for the reconciliation of two entities, like two corporations, and there’s that, but that’s essentially just details. It’s the mutual discernment in one another of our common identity.
The Orthodox Church, in our ecclesiology, has as its central vision, this living experience of being united in Christ by the Spirit to the Father. And we can’t bear not to be united one to another, because it’s a corporate vision. And how can we bear to not be united to those who share that same identity, that same living reality, that same vision, that same life, that same identity as the Incarnate Christ, as His body, by the Holy Spirit. This is really about our identity as Christians. It transcends all these labels—Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, all of it. It’s not about labels. It’s not about institutions. It’s about the living reality of our communion in Christ by the Holy Spirit with one another, who unites as one body, which is manifest and should be manifest and must be manifest in our communion, in the one Body and Blood in the chalice of eternal life.
And it’s precisely this, that is the goal of this dialogue,this absolute unity with one another, because there can be no other. If you want to get together and share projects, and kind of be nice to one another, it’s nice and God will bless it, but that’s not what he’s calling us to. He’s calling us to something far more profound, and it’s a calling that can only be actualized by repentance, mutual repentance, corporate repentance. Now repentance does not mean beating yourself up so you feel guilty. That’s not repentance. As St. Isaac puts it: “Repentance be transformed in the renewal of your mind.” It’s a mutual striving towards God. It’s a mutual striving towards the will of God. It’s a striving to overcome everything within ourselves, both personally and corporately, as well as institutionally, all that holds us apart. It’s a process that is going to take renunciation and detachment, because all authentic Christian spiritual growth demands renunciation and detachment. Because we have to go together on the Way of the Cross, and that’s what the Way of the Cross is. When we wear our Cross, remember it’s not just Jesus who is on the Cross, it has to be me. It has to be each one of us. That’s what it means to wear a Cross.
We have to be willing to let go of our own ego attachments. We have to be willing to let go of our desire for power and control. We have to let go of our desire for personal influence. We have to let go of our desire for personal influence. We have to let go of our desire for our personal agendas. To seek the only thing that matters, which is the will of God. The only thing. Nothing else matters. And if we can approach this, with this entirely spiritual perspective, then truly we will have harmonized ourselves with the energy of God, with the will and the power of God. So that He will actualize, and He will fulfill that union for which we strive, which I believe we mutually discern is our calling from Him. Nothing matters except the will of God. So let us strive with all our hearts and minds for the will of God. To see clearly the path by which he will lead us, mutually along the way, towards closer and closer union. Until that wonderful day, when coming together, we can share in that One Bread and that One Cup. And together, glorify the radiance and presence of the living Christ who manifests Himself in our midst. Thank you.
Fr. Munday: I know you join with me in wanting to thank our two presenters this evening, for their excellent addresses. Audience applauds We have time for questions. I’ll try to summarize the question just for the recording. The question for Archbishop Duncan is: “Can you explain your reference to the seven ecumenical councils?”
Archbishop Duncan: Surely. Again, the great councils, in the Reformation tradition, there was not unanimous agreement about going beyond the first four. And His Beatitude is of course right, there are many councils. If you go back to the dialogues that have been between the two traditions, there has been, as I understand it, an insistence on the full truth of those seven great councils, rather than simply stopping at the Fourth. There is of course much in Eastern conciliar work and in our own history of councils that build us up together, I think.
Fr. Munday: Metropolitan Jonah, would you like to add anything to that?
Metropolitan Jonah: Sure. One of the features of the Sixth Ecumenical Council is that it summarizes many of the other lesser, local councils and brings them up onto the level of Ecumenical significance. And it’s on these councils, that so much of our canon law is actually based. One of the things that will eventually need to be discussed is the complete unity within Canon Law. And it’s a wonderful, fascinating thing. All you seminarians out there who want to go into Canon Law, it can be very useful, not much money in it however. Audience laughter That’s not the case actually. But for example, the Sixth Council is a very important council. Also the Seventh Council against the iconoclasts, that’s a critically important council for us, and it also summarizes and completes the previous six.
Fr. Munday: Other questions? Way back in the back, Matthew?
Questioner #1: Archbishop? Metropolitan Jonah has laid out seven things that he says are neither catholic nor apostolic that needs to be addressed. And you responded by saying these are things that are going to have to be discussed, and we’re going to have to grow and talk about them. And I was just wondering how you feel that might look, like how that discussion is going to go, and how you feel that’s going to progress to a resolution?
Archbishop Duncan: We know what the Lord is willing and that’s that we all be one. I think the encouragement that His Beatitude has given us in drawing the distinction between belief and faith, between the matters of the head and the matters of the heart. When Fr. Chad, earlier today in one of his periods of comment, said that the West is about head and the East is about the heart, that was a moment in which my heart sang. I think that the reality is that we understand how much we yearn for one another and how at peace we are in one another’s company. And we want to find a way to be at one. The eloquent way in which Metropolitan Jonah spoke really is an invitation. I mean it was, in Fr. Klukas’ words earlier, “a moment of waltzing.” And I trust that the end of this journey will be a waltz together.
Fr. Munday: Thank you. Other questions?
Questioner #2: I guess it’s following his question. I was wondering about your comment. Were you suggesting that ACNA was going to affirm the Seven Ecumenical Councils?
Archbishop Duncan: The foundational declarations of our constitution, and say very plainly, that we affirm the first Four Councils and the Christological affirmations of the Seven Councils. That’s not going as far, as I think, we need to go. But it’s as far as these separated Anglican traditions were prepared to go. Indeed, in preparation for our council at Bedford, we had a number of congregations who really were having great difficulty with us moving beyond the first four. What I think we need to learn is a patience of the East, and yet a willingness to grow in our understanding. I believe we’ll come to that place. Where we are right now is precisely what our foundational declarations declare.
Metropolitan Jonah: If I can add, we need the knowledge of the heart. But we need very bright minds to be able to express it in appropriate categories that everybody can understand and everybody can accept—the consensus of the Church. There’s a brilliant line actually in Bishop Grafton’s essay on the third page, I think. “The Anglican Church cannot say anything different than the consensus of the Church.” This is a critical thing. If it’s going to be truly catholic and truly orthodox, it cannot differ in any way from that consensus of the Church. What Orthodoxy basically represents is that consensus of the Church, and where Anglicanism has lost some of that consensus is because of the historical situation that it’s found itself in over the course of the centuries. That actually is an incredible gift to the Church. That’s an incredible gift as we come together to Orthodoxy because it brings an understanding of the processes, of the intellectual processes of the West, that Orthodox have only looked on from a distance. Now of course we have many scholars, who have converted, who are familiar with all of that. But yet, there is this kind of living tradition of that and the reconciliation of those intellectually. We’re not talking about something that’s going to happen in two years. The reconciliation of these generations is something that’s going to take generations and generations, and yet it will be something of exquisite beauty and incredible, incredible value.
Archbishop Duncan: I think if I could add to that. What Bishop Grafton said in 1903, he projected this out, if we’re faithful in 2003. Well, a lot of things went awry in the period after the 1930s. He imagined, even then, it would take 100 years or more. But we’re at a point, friends, where we need to walk this walk together and we’ll arrive at the place where the Lord seats us together.
Fr. Munday: Father Chad, do you have anything you want to add to that?
Fr. Hatfield: I think the one thing that I would add is, sort of where we began this morning, and that is my comments from the Orthodox theologian, Christos Yannaras: “To live this, to walk this walk,” as Archbishop Duncan just said “is a risk.” And we know that it’s a major risk. And that’s why all eyes are upon this gathering today. People want to know, is there enough courage here to take the risk? And again we go back to our two figures of the day, St. Tikhon and Blessed Charles Chapman Grafton, and we keep hearing their voices. And my guess is that they’re going to keep their role as intercessors over us. And we’re going to keep hearing what’s been said. And eventually, we’ll just find that courage to take the risk and not count the cost.
Fr. Munday: I see another hand over here. The question is: “Will Rome be invited to come to this table too, as we have these discussions?”
Archbishop Duncan: What I would say about, His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is that every move we’ve made which has brought together the Anglican Church in North America, including an invitation which was not made public but was very cordially extended to him, to come to Bedford. It is certainly the case, indeed, the Bishop Chairman and I before the meeting this evening, talked about the importance of his conveying everything from this conference to Bishop Rowan.
Questioner #2: Rome, not Rowan.
Archbishop Duncan: I thought you said Rowan. Audience laughter They’re really trying to pull us into quite a walk, aren’t they, and a great number of risks. I can assure you that the Holy See knows this is going on. And I can assure you that we keep the Holy See well informed.
Metropolitan Jonah: You know the Orthodox Church is also involved in a very brotherly dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. While there are some certain points of disunity that needs to be addressed, what unites us is so much infinitely greater than what separates us. My belief is that the Anglicans and the Orthodox share more in common than the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans. And I have to say, it’s my own personal history, having grown up being discipled by an Episcopal priest who graduated from Nashotah House. That faith that he revealed to me, he enkindled in my soul, is the same faith that I bear now. And it’s the same faith as the Orthodox Church.
We may have different expressions. We may use different forms of piety, but the faith, the living experience of Christ is the same. And it’s this that I believe also, we need to discern and discover and recognize within our Roman Catholic brethren and our non-Chalcedonian brethren, which to the Orthodox is so absolutely clear for the most part, so absolutely clear that we can’t understand why things haven’t culminated in union between the Byzantine Orthodox and the non-Chalcedonians. I think it’s also been abundantly clear to many faithful Orthodox that this essential unity also exists with the Anglicans, and it’s my hope that we can work to actualize that in sacramental and institutional forms.
Fr. Munday: There’s a hand on this side. It’s been very patient.
Questioner #3: Metropolitan Jonah, the barrier, which prevents our full communion, seems to be the Anglican Church’s seven problems which needs to be addressed. Since you consider us already a body of Christians, joined to God through Christ, the Head of the Church, why are these issues not seen as problems of the Church as a whole as opposed to just Anglican problems?
Metropolitan Jonah: Well, that’s exactly how we need to look at it. Exactly how we need to look at it. Instead of seeing the Anglicans as a separate body from us, we need to see the Anglicans as part of ourselves. And that there are these particular issues that need simply to be resolved.
Fr. Munday: Sir, I can’t see that hand but please come up and let us hear your question.
Questioner #4: Archbishop Duncan, inadvertently, began to answer my question with the Roman comments. I wonder if I could get both of you to speak to the wider support of all our churches or this dialogue, beyond the Anglican Church in North America, beyond the OCA, what kind of support and willingness? I know Archbishop Williams has some reservations. I can’t speak for the Orthodox.
Archbishop Duncan: When I learned in preparation for our inaugural synod in Bedford, and I learned in conversations our invitation to His Beatitude to come and be with us, it is my opinion in the very same way His Beatitude has spoken of his assessment, that actually our closest partners historically have been the Orthodox. When, I made the invitation, which seemed a right way to get a great Christian leader to come and be so bold as to ask for a blessing—just as in a different way, we asked Pastor Rick Warren, from a very different tradition, in this very moment when we were making considerable progress, having been through a terrible warfare. I was beside myself with joy when I learned that Metropolitan Jonah was coming to make an offer.
By saying all of this to you, I say we have been so distracted in the battle that we’re only beginning. I’ve always been involved ecumenically, I’ve never been involved in a dialogue, suddenly I’m in a picture that’s reenacting the “Fond du Lac Circus.” How did this ever come about? We have a lot to think through. The Orthodox have been thinking for years about these dialogues, about this place, because what has been so clear is this passion for the unity of the Church. And this vision that the Church is all one, and that it’s unity has to be actualized. This is something for us, I think. We’re just infants as we come together as a Church. And in that infancy, there has been a great risk taken on us for which we are profoundly grateful. We are not at one level in terms of our capacity. We are not an equal partner. We understand that, and yet we want to be, and we have to grow fast. So again, I’m not sure I have answered your question, except to say, praise God that he’s done this. This is one of the great blessings of our willingness to stand pay whatever price had to be paid and the recognition by many Christian brothers that what we’ve done establishes with credibility that we stand for the same truth in the same love and will pay whatever price has to be paid for this truth, known in Jesus. So that’s where we are.
Metropolitan Jonah: I’ve discussed our meetings with the standing conference of Orthodox Bishops in America, the heads of all the various Orthodox jurisdictions in America. I believe as the Orthodox Church in America, we’re uniquely suited to conduct this dialogue. But it’s not simply a dialogue on behalf of the OCA cause obviously the Orthodox Church is something infinitely greater than just one particular local church. It’s part of a communion of churches—this healthy interdependence of a communion of churches. I’ve also, in my trip there in Maine, mentioned our talks with the Patriarch of Moscow, who happens to be the one who sent the letter while he was still a Metropolitan. The Orthodox world is looking at this as well. And I believe, of course, any kind of reunion, any kind of actualization the ACNA and the OCA coming into communion. This is communion with the worldwide Orthodox Church. And that’s what’s important. I can act on behalf of the Orthodox Church in America and in a sense the Orthodox Church in America therefore, acting on behalf of the rest of Orthodoxy in relation to this dialogue. But this is not just about the OCA and the ACNA. This is about something much larger, much, much larger. So this is a discussion that has tremendous significance and worldwide interest.
Fr. Munday: Any other questions? Yes, Father Holdsen?
Questioner #5: Yes, this is a question for Metropolitan Jonah. If we were to get all the kinks worked out, so to speak, that’s a big if, what would that unity look like to allowing Christian fellowship? Would Anglicanism have to come under Orthodox authority or would it be recognized as an autocephalous church?
Metropolitan Jonah: All of Anglicanism?
Questioner #5: Well…Audience laughter
Metropolitan Jonah: That’s way beyond me. That’s something we’d have to work out. One thing that we don’t need in this country is one more autonomous, autocephalous church. We need one autocephalous church in this country. So what I’ve discussed, of course, with my synod of bishops is that one possible direction to proceed is eventually the establishment of an Archdiocese, an Anglican-Orthodox Archdiocese, where the Bishop would sit on the Synod of the OCA or bishops…probably bishops. But how that eventually works, in the Orthodox world, in the Orthodox Church in North America, there’s a new organization forming to pull all the jurisdictions together. This will be into an episcopal assembly. The leaders of each of these jurisdictions will comprise the executive committee, basically it’s just a different version of SCOBA, Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops. But this eventually, the hope and the goal, is for this to eventually become an autocephalous American Church, an American Patriarchate, so that there will be one Patriarch for all the Orthodox in America—the Greek, Russian, Serbian, Albanian, Arab, Anglican, whatever, Eastern Rite, Western Rite, and hopefully Ethiopian, Coptic, Syrian, Malankaran, and Armenian. That’s five…the five non-Chalcedonians. But this is long-term dream, long-term process which we’re working towards because it’s only as an autocephalous Church that we’ll be able to fully participate in an upcoming, great Ecumenical Council, which may even be convened before the Second Coming, we’ll see. Audience laughter
Fr. Munday: Question over here?
Questioner #6: A question for Metropolitan Jonah. What prompted you to begin the talks with the ACNA, particularly in light, the Anglican bodies which exist which now oppose women’s ordination and fully affirm all seven Ecumenical Councils?
Metropolitan Jonah: I was invited. Audience laughter Hey, I’m a former Episcopalian. I’ve been Orthodox now for 31 years. Since, I converted in 1978, I have seen the Episcopal Church shatter into, what, 40 different continuing groups. It had always been my hope, always had been my hope, to somehow be able to influence, in some way, some kind of reconciliation, at least of these groups. I could see the Episcopal Church was heading into a direction that was going to continue alienating people. And indeed, that certainly has happened. But these other groups are groups of faithful people, and I’ve been approached by some of these groups and been in dialogue and will be in dialogue with them. My hope is that these conversations, these dialogues, could become a rallying point for people who really take the apostolic, catholic faith seriously. If all they’re into is the 1928 Prayer Book, we probably don’t have a whole lot to talk about. But if what they’re really are after is the full integrity of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and the orthodox faith of the Fathers, and a living witness to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—we can talk. And this process which we’ve begun with the ACNA can become something that these other groups can also enter into, one way or another, so that there is some reference point of stability, so that these groups are actually regrafted into the living root of the Aposotlic Church, who are not just off on their own. Three or four parishes over here. Eight or ten there. And disagreeing over God only knows what. But the movement between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism that we are instituting, I believe, can become a very significant thing that can really bring these people together. Because if they’re really serious about the catholic faith, we have to be together. We have to be together. We have to have that living Eucharistic and administrative unity together.
Archbishop Duncan: Let me add to that in terms of what I think our God has done this season and what this gracious approach from the Orthodox has done to lift us so much further. It was about 2003 that my experience in working with all, or many, of the leaders of the fractured pieces of Anglicanism. There seemed to be a sovereign move of the Lord that changed hearts in which the leaders really, suddenly, almost suddenly between 2003 and 2004, they actually were disposed toward one another for the first time. I hadn’t seen it before. And that disposition toward one another is what created the Anglican Church in North America. There’s still many other fragments that are there, but this is part of, I think, God positioning the great tradition in a place that’s exactly right for the 21st century.
The Reformed Episcopal Church, that old fragment that became a part of us, they learned, in their 135 years separation, that simply being right and separated didn’t work very well. It was wonderful to be right, but it wasn’t good at all to be separated. They brought to us a lot of wisdom of what separation is and of the importance of why we need to come back together. When this door opened, with the Orthodox, this was such a movement forward—again for two traditions that are both so committed to reaching those who don’t know Jesus with the love of Jesus and that are so common in the great commonalities, though there’s been some recent or historic divergences. If we can move in this together, and how extraordinary it is that it was to His Beatitude, that I knew I was to turn. And he took an even bigger risk. But all of this risk-taking is actually about God doing something very big in the reformation of His Church as we enter this 21st century. Others I think will be drawn into this as well, and I see in what has happened, certainly among even the Protestant churches, is recognition that there is so much in the Great Tradition that needs to be embraced, and there is so much wisdom. So where this will go, I do not know. But I believe, it’s part of that sovereign activity in this season to do a very new thing and a very old thing.
Fr. Munday: Yes, followup? Sure.
Questioner #7: Say ACNA does move in this direction, what happens if the Global South does not or the rest of Anglicanism does not?
Metropolitan Jonah: Well, I’ll be meeting with a fair number of Global South leaders next week, and you can be sure we’ll be talking about this, and we’ll be talking about some of the issues that separate us. Again, many in the Global South will have to come a distance to come to understand what it is that I think we, particularly in North America, understand about our very, very common heritage. This is not their experience of a very common heritage. But these are faithful Christian leaders who know that Jesus’ prayer is that we be sanctified in the truth and sanctified in the truth that we all would be one. I have no intuition or no sense of belief that they won’t be with us in this and won’t also come along in this road. Again, a part of my reason in the remarks I made, the initial remarks about us approaching, particularly our Global South partners, as we find our way in this fairly common practice now among us of women in presbyteral orders. I know that we will bring them, and we will do a great service for the Kingdom if we do this thing with them not only in that one issue but in the whole range of this, for the whole Christian Church. Because it mustn’t just be about just us, like the relationships that the Orthodox churches have among themselves. We simply cannot act to do our own thing. If we in fact, consult and confer and share what’s happening, what’s happened here, I believe they come along too. And that for the whole Church world throughout the world is an awesome development. They won’t be left out. It wouldn’t be right.
Fr. Munday: I think what I’d like to do instead of anymore questions is just to ask our two presenters, or three counting Father Chad, if they have any closing comments they wish to make, as we close this session this evening. Metropolitan Jonah?
Metropolitan Jonah: I think the most important thing, there’s only one motivation and that’s love—that’s the love of Jesus Christ. It’s the love for you, for our neighbor, for our brothers that we might be able to fulfill, even in a little way, that prayer of our Lord that all may be one. And I’d like to also remember that Scripture from Ephesians: “There’s one body and one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all—who is above all and through all and in all.”
Fr. Munday: Archbishop Duncan?
Archbishop Duncan: I think this, again, door that was opened to us unexpectedly by a dear brother, a leader and another Christian household because they saw us and they saw both our need and that we were brothers and sisters. This has been one of the great confirmations that all the struggle that we went through was right struggle, and that God is doing something new among us for the restoration of his Church in an age which desperately needs to know the love of Jesus Christ. So this has been a wonderful and holy two day. And I am so grateful to the Lord, so grateful to those I did not know, for their care and because they know the Lord. And as I said in the close of my remarks earlier, I was greeted by someone who had his arms wide open and I returned with my arms wide open and we do it both as leaders on behalf of our people.
Fr. Munday: The occasion, I believe providential occasion, for this conversation is, of course, the covenant partnership that Nashotah House has entered into with St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, and that is the reason for this conference. Fr. Chad, any closing remarks?
Fr. Hatfield: Well I just remind everyone that the concordat that we’ll sign tomorrow, approved by the trustees of the two seminaries, pledges the two schools to work for an historical preservation of what has been. Now sometimes the Orthodox are accused of being locked into this position which means we’re always looking back, and that’s a good thing to know from whence you have come, that helps you to find your way forward. But actually what we’ve been doing here is not just simply a trip down memory lane. What we do here is a serious work for the coming generations, and I think that that message may have been lost somewhat in so much of the volume of information that came through here today. And that’s what’s important about what we’re doing. It’s towards the future. It’s moving forward. We’ll also, tomorrow morning, pray an akathist. We’ll make some history. I’m sure an akathist has never been prayed in this chapel before that icon of St. Tikhon, but again I would ask you to pay close attention to the text cause the text will speak to us and the text will guide us. As has been such a blessing today, tomorrow we will prepare ourselves for a little crown on the many blessings we’ve received.