Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25-28.
The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation “with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted,” call a “founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union,” at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners.
“We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward. To him be the glory,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, convener of the council.
The full text of the bishops’ joint statement follows:
Common Cause College of Bishops Statement
In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, to whom belong all might, majesty, dominion and glory.
We, the College of Bishops of the Common Cause Partnership, meeting together in Pittsburgh, September 25-28 in the Year of our Lord 2007, solemnly affirm this agreement.
In the grace, mercy and power of God, and in repentance for past disunity and disharmony, in thanksgiving for our full reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ, to give expression to our unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as Anglicans in North America, and for the sake of our mission to extend the Kingdom of God, nurture faithful disciples through Word and Sacraments, seek the lost, and partner globally with other orthodox Anglicans, we hereby commit to do the following:
1. In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).
2. We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006.
3. In consultation with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted, we intend a founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union (see Appendix 2).
4. Those presently-participating bodies which have not yet joined the Common Cause Partnership will decide at the next meeting of their legislative bodies, either to enter the Partnership or leave full membership in Common Cause, becoming observer bodies. It is expected that all presently-participating bodies will be able to enter the Partnership.
5. We will work together on the regional and local levels and avail ourselves of the various ministries of the Common Cause Partners. We will deploy clergy interchangeably as outlined in the Articles of the Partnership. We are free to invite our fellow bishops in this College to share episcopal acts and our sacramental life.
6. The College of Bishops will meet every six months in order to accomplish our stated objectives. The leading bishop of each Partner will serve on a Lead Bishops Roundtable, which may be expanded as they may determine. The Roundtable will advise us in matters referred to it (see Appendix 3).
7. We are committed to the Great Commission. We will make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches, not resting until the millions of unreached souls in North America are brought to Christ, until all groups on the earth have indigenous churches firmly begun within them and our Lord returns in glory.
8. We ask our Chairman to inform the Primates of the Anglican Communion of these commitments in the hope that our emerging common life will commend us to them as full partners.
The Articles of The Common Cause Partnership
Article 1: Name
The Name shall be called the Common Cause Partnership (CCP).
Article 2: Basis
1. The CCP is a federation of Jurisdictions and Ministries in North America, known as Partners, which affirm the Covenant Declaration and the Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partners, which are attached to these articles. Each jurisdiction accepts one of the historic Books of Common Prayer as the primary standard for worship. The autonomy of the individual Jurisdictions and Ministries, and their constituent bodies, is in no way restricted or superseded by membership in the CCP.
2. The Jurisdictions and Ministries of the Common Cause Partnership at the time of its inception are the American Anglican Council (AAC); the Anglican Communion Network (ACN); the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA); the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC); the Anglican Province of America (APA); the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA); the Anglican Essentials Federation (AEF); Forward in Faith, North America (FIF/NA); and the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC).
Article 3: Tasks
The CCP has five tasks:
(1) Furthering mutual understanding of its Partners with a view to eventual union when deemed appropriate;
(2) Propagating the truths of the Gospel as articulated and practiced in the historic Anglican way;
(3) Taking appropriate public and private steps in common causes in order to speak with one voice and act in concert for the welfare and witness of its Partners;
(4) Pursuing a communal, charitable and organic relationship with the world-wide Anglican Communion; and
(5) Support planting congregations by Partners.
Article 4: The Leadership Council
The governing body of the CCP shall be the Leadership Council.
(1) The Leadership Council is empowered to conduct the current business of the CCP. It represents the CCP in its external relationships both nationally and internationally. It is also available to provide spiritual and practical counsel for the Partners. It decides on admission into the Common Cause Partnership.
(2) The Leadership Council consists of the chief officer of each Partner, plus one member of the clergy (in whatever order) and one lay person from each Partner. The Leadership Council shall elect annually the Moderator of the Partnership from among the chief officers of the Partners. The General Secretary and Treasurer shall be elected annually by the Leadership Council from among its clerical and lay members.
(3) The members of the Leadership Council shall be elected by the Partners they represent for a term of five years, subject to re-election. Upon the expiration of the term of office of a member of the Leadership Council whose membership is a consequent upon his holding office in a Partner, the Leadership Council is authorized to seat a replacement chosen by that Partner.
(4) The Leadership Council shall hold at least one meeting annually. The travel expenses for members shall be paid by the Partner which they represent.
(5) The General Secretary shall work in assistance to the Moderator of the CCP. He shall maintain communication between the CCP Jurisdictions and Ministries by appropriate means. He shall receive from the Partners regular reports about their status. He shall prepare the agenda for sessions of the Leadership Council and is responsible for keeping its minutes. With the Moderator, he is responsible for seeing that decisions taken are carried out, as well as for correspondence and the distribution of reports. An Assistant to the General Secretary may also be elected.
(6) The treasurer shall oversee the financial operations of the CCP, and shall submit regular financial reports on its financial standing.
(7) The Leadership Council may designate an Executive Committee to include, but not limited to, the Moderator, General Secretary, and Treasurer. The Leadership Council shall give the Executive Committee such authority as they deems appropriate.
Article 5: Partnership
(1) Any Jurisdiction or Ministry may apply for membership in the CCP if it supports and practices the principles stated in Articles 2(1) and 3. An application, in the form approved by the Leadership Council, shall be filed with an Admissions Committee appointed by the Moderator. The Admissions Committee shall examine the application and report to the Leadership Council for disposition. The application shall always include the following items:
a. A copy of the constitution (and canons) of the organization concerned.
b. A written report on its origin and historical developments.
c. A report on its present ministry to include:
i. The total number of congregations in North America.
(for the purposes of membership, a parish is defined as a self-supporting congregation with a full-time minister. All other congregations are defined as missions)
ii. Contact information for the listed congregations.
iii. Consecration information for all the bishops of the applying Jurisdiction or Ministry.
iv. Current ecumenical relationships with other jurisdictions.
(2) Each member agrees to pay an annual membership fee to the Partnership treasury in an amount fixed by the Leadership Council.
(3) If a member ceases to follow the principles of Article 2, membership in the CCP can be terminated by a two-thirds vote of the Leadership Council.
Article 6: Communications Office
(1) The CCP may maintain and fund a communications office which would be responsible for the creation and dissemination of informational materials for the CCP, and other communications duties as assigned by the Leadership Council.
Article 7: Mission Work
(1) In order to foster missionary cooperation among the Partners, a Mission Committee shall hold at least one working session each year. More sessions may be held, if necessary. The Committee shall consist of two representatives from each Partner appointed by its chief officer. The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Moderator of the CCP in consultation with the Leadership Council.
(2) The Mission Committee shall be available to provide coordination and assistance in forming and cultivating mission congregations begun by the CCP members, and shall make itself available to provide help in establishing corporations, administering an Anglican parish, finding supply clergy for holy days and seasons and fostering a greater sense of engagement in the mission of wider Anglicanism worldwide.
(3) The Mission Committee may nominate to the Leadership Council bodies engaged in fostering the mission of Anglican churches, both in North America and worldwide, for admission as CCP Mission Associates.
(4) Travel and accommodation costs for members of the Mission Committee shall be borne by the respective Partners they represent.
Article 8: Education
(1) In order to provide for the education of all its ministers, lay and ordained, an Education Committee shall hold at least one working session each year. More sessions may be held, if necessary. The Committee shall consist of no more than two representatives from each Partner member appointed by its chief officer. The Chairman of the Committee shall be appointed by the Moderator of the CCP in consultation with the Leadership Council.
(2) The Committee shall evaluate theological education standards for the Partners and make recommendations to the Leadership Council concerning guidelines for common theological examinations which may be used by the Partners of the CCP. The Committee shall also be responsible for providing and, if needed, producing materials for use in Christian education.
(3) The Education Committee may nominate to the Leadership Council bodies engaged in fostering the work of ecclesiastical education in the Anglican churches as CCP Education Associates.
(4) Travel and accommodation costs for members of the Education Committee shall be borne by the respective Partners they represent.
Article 9: Regulations
(1) Whenever possible, decisions shall be taken by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, a three-quarters majority shall be sufficient for matters of general business. Elections to office shall be held by ballot, with a simple majority of votes cast being sufficient for election.
(2) A simple majority of its members shall constitute a quorum of the Leadership Council of the CCP for the transaction of business at any meeting.
(3) If a Partner makes a recommendation to change any of these articles, such motion shall be treated as general business as provided in the second sentence of Section 1.
(4) A decision to dissolve the CCP may be taken only by a four-fifths majority of the votes cast at a special Leadership Council meeting convened for that purpose.
(5) Partners are free to withdraw from the CCP by action of their own governing bodies at any time.
Article 10: Privileges
(1) As evidence of the union existing among the several Partners, a delegation of clergy and laity from each Partner may be sent to the legislative assembly of another Partner upon the latter’s invitation to take part in its deliberations.
(2) At the Consecration or Ordination of Bishops or other clergy of one Partner, the Bishops and Clergy of the other Partners may be invited to participate.
(3) The Clergy of the several Partners shall be entitled to officiate transiently in the congregations of other Partners, subject to the canonical requirements of these Partners, and shall also be eligible to hold a cure of souls in them, subject to the respective regulations of said entities.
(4) Communicant members of any Partner shall be received by a congregation of another Partner on presentation of a letter of transfer.
(5) Congregations of any Jurisdiction may transfer their membership to any other Jurisdiction on such terms as may mutually be agreed upon by the Jurisdictions.
(6) The Partners, recognizing the fact that they are working together in the same great cause on behalf of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and on the same basis, pledge each to the other their co-operation, compassion, support and prayers.
Article 11: Conciliation of Disputes
In recognition of the pledge set forth in Article 10, section 6, if a dispute arises between two or more Partners and such dispute cannot be resolved according to the biblical mandate of Matthew 18.15-17, the parties to the dispute shall submit circumstances and issues in dispute for conciliation as follows:
a. The Leadership Council shall choose three persons, at least two of whom shall be among its members, to serve as a mediation panel. The persons so appointed may not be in any way related to any party to the dispute by way of family connections, employment, or institutional affiliation.
b. The mediation panel shall assemble within three months of an appeal to afford the parties to the dispute opportunity to present evidence and arguments in support of their respective positions, and the panel shall deliberate as necessary to resolve the circumstances and issues thus presented. In all matters the panel shall seek first the reconciliation of the parties to the dispute; but if reconciliation is not possible it shall propose a non-binding solution to the parties within three months, which they shall be free to accept or reject.
c. No CCP Partner shall take any dispute to a Primate or Primates, nor shall any CCP Partner bring any dispute before any court of law or chancery, without first attempting in good faith to resolve the matter in accordance with the provisions of this article.
Proposed to the Partners
August 18, 2006
A. College of Bishops organized: September, 2007
B. Theological Statement and Articles ratified by all Partners
C. CCP Leadership Council 1 (Article 4): week of December 3 or January 6
a. Organizing meeting
b. Leadership elected
c. Communications office created (Article 6)
d. Committees named:
i. Executive (Article 4)
ii. Admissions (Article 5)
iii. Mission (Article 7)
iv. Education (Article 8)
e. Additional task forces created:
v. Prayer Book task force
vi. Episcopate task force
vii. Budget adopted
D. Province by province visitation and appeal for recognition of the “separate ecclesiastical structure in North America”
E. CCP Leadership Council 2: Advent, 2008
a. Reports and adoption of work from committees and task forces
F. Constitutional convention for an Anglican union held at the earliest possible date agreeable to all the Partners
Issues for the Lead Bishops Roundtable:
Within the stated timeline, we intend to address the following items:
How we can best exercise our episcopate in common.
A Rule of Life for bishops.
The ways and means of a mutual review of candidates for bishop before consecration.
Stating and maintaining a common Anglican ethos.
How we will live together with bishops and congregations and dioceses that do ordain women and others that do not ordain women, affirming that we will not violate anyone’s conscience on this matter.
The relation of clergy and congregations to bishops. Will our dioceses be rigidly fixed or flexible, allowing for affinity-based arrangements?
The shape and nature of our common episcopal oversight. Will it be conciliar as it was in the early church and as it is maintained in some parts of the Orthodox churches and as it is reflected in some aspects of the Anglican Communion? Will it follow a more hierarchical model? Or will it be modeled after the Western institutional structures, such as the federation model, with which we have been familiar in The Episcopal Church?
Exploring ways to form a leadership “pipeline” from congregational life onward that will lead candidates to offer themselves for ministry, including ordination, in an expanding, mission-minded Church.
Exploring resources for the bishops’ care for clergy and their families, including burned-out clergy and clergy families in trouble.
Exploring with the seminaries of the Church how they can best serve us and how we can support them in our new mission context.
Exploring a Common Cause electronic newsletter, with the intention of incorporating the various newsletters of the Partnership members.
Exploring the standards, spiritual and moral, of ordained and lay leaders.
Consistent with resolutions of Lambeth Conference, seeking to draw continuing churches, not members of the Common Cause Partnership, into fellowship.