Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Charismatic Episcopal Church Patriarch Answers Questions About His Church

Posted by David Virtue on 2008/10/1 13:40:00 at VirtueOnline:

CHARISMATIC EPISCOPAL CHURCH PATRIARCH ANSWERS QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS CHURCH

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
10/1/2008


Archbishop Craig Bates
In light of recent developments in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC), a number of defections from its ranks, and the worldwide realignment taking place in Anglicanism, VOL asked Archbishop Craig W. Bates, Patriarch of The International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC) and Primate of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, NA how he viewed the changes and his hopes for the future.

VOL: Archbishop Bates: Many thanks for taking the time out for this Interview.

Archbishop Bates: Thank you for the opportunity to address your questions and open a conversation with you. As a former Episcopalian ordained a priest in 1980, I have appreciated your comments and analysis.

VOL: The CEC began in 1992. The birthplace of the Charismatic Episcopal Church states it was in Southern California as a convergence movement. Can you explain what this means?

Archbishop Bates: Around 1995, several of the American Bishops thought it wise to pursue a strengthening of our apostolic lines in an attempt to address the question of validity and verifiability. Let me say, I was not involved in these conversations because I did not become a Bishop until November of 1997, after the event occurred in Libertytown, Maryland. I came into the CEC in 1995. I never questioned the validity or verifiability of our orders as I recognize both Old Catholic and Anglican Orders.

VOL: According to Wikipedia, The Charismatic Episcopal Church began when a variety of independent churches throughout the United States, began to blend evangelical teaching and charismatic worship with liturgies from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, inspired by the spiritual pilgrimages of modern Evangelicals like Thomas Howard, Robert E. Webber and Peter E. Gillquist and the ancient Christian writers and their communities. These men, along with theologians, Scripture scholars, and pastors in a number of traditions, were calling Christians back to their roots in the primitive church. Is this a fair statement of your origins? Is that your understanding of the origins of the CEC?

Archbishop Bates: Some of these men are no longer with the CEC. Howard and Webber went to Rome. Gillquist went to the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

VOL: In your opinion, why did they leave?

Archbishop Bates: Dr. Tom Howard, Dr. Webber, and Fr. Peter Gilquist were never members of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. All these men, through their writings, were and remain influential to many of us.

VOL: On June 26, 1992, Randolph Adler was consecrated the first patriarch and primate of the ICCEC with Timothy Michael Barker of the International Free Catholic Communion of which the CEC is a constituent member. What was Bishop Adler before he joined CEC? Is he still a bishop in good standing with CEC?

Archbishop Bates: To my knowledge and that of others, The Charismatic Episcopal Church was never a "constituent member" of the International Free Catholic Communion. Bishop Adler was consecrated that first Bishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. The International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church was formed a few years later and the title of Patriarch came around 1996. The only concordat was with the Episcopal Missionary Church when Bishop Donald Davies was their Presiding Bishop. Bishop Adler has retired and remains a Bishop in good standing in our communion.

VOL: In 1997, the ICCEC sought and acquired consecration and ordination of all of its clergy by the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church. What was the significance of that move?

Archbishop Bates: No response

VOL: In 1992, on the day of Adler's consecration, the ICCEC adopted the following vision statement: "The Charismatic Episcopal Church exists to make visible the Kingdom of God to the nations of the world; to bring the rich sacramental and liturgical life of the early church to searching evangelicals and charismatics; to carry the power of Pentecost to our brothers and sisters in the historic churches; and finally, to provide a home for all Christians who seek a liturgical-sacramental, evangelical, charismatic church and a foundation for their lives and gifts of ministry." Is that still your mission?

Archbishop Bates: Our vision in essence remains the same as that in 1992. We have done some modifications of the statement, but it does not change the statement in essence. For example, we have added a mission to the least, the lost, and the lonely stressing that we also have a mission of evangelization.

VOL: How large is the CEC? How many parishes do you have in the U.S. and worldwide, how many dioceses and parishes are there?

Archbishop Bates: We are presently working on our demographics. We have 100 churches and missions in the United States and roughly 1,500 parishes worldwide that are in 32 Dioceses. In a few weeks, I can give you the total membership. Our largest membership is outside the United States, with the largest group in East Africa.

VOL: You say you are not a member of the Anglican Communion nor are you in fellowship with The Episcopal Church (USA). If there is a split in the Anglican Communion, would you consider becoming a member of say, GAFCON or an alternative Anglican Communion, if it was orthodox in faith and morals?

Archbishop Bates: We were never part of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, or the Continuing Church Movement. Our roots are and remain in the convergence movement that grew out of Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, and Independent Charismatic Churches.

We have many friends in the Anglican Church, the Continuing Churches, CANA, AMiA, the Reformed Episcopal Church, and in the Episcopal Church. We are sympathetic to them and the work that is being done by the Anglican Network and GAFCON. We will continue to nurture those friendships and seek conversation and working relationships. We also seek relationship with all orthodox bodies in Protestantism, and with Rome and Orthodoxy.

VOL: There will be, in all likelihood a new North American Anglican Province that will be orthodox in faith and morals, recognized by the Council of Primates of the Global South led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. Would you consider aligning the CEC with such a body? If not, why not?

Archbishop Bates: We are active in informal conversations with many in Anglican circles. Many of the leaders are long time friends of ours and we encourage them in their work. We have not sought nor are we seeking membership in the various Anglican groups at this time. Again, this is not because we are opposed to what they are about or the actions they are taking.

It is because they have much internal work to do as groups in or recently departed from the Episcopal Church. Since this is not our history, we can only pray for and cheer on our brothers as they seek God for what is next for them. We pray for the visible unity of the whole church catholic.

And, we will unite with whoever seeks this visible unity. We also recognize that the task before the church is difficult. We must enter into the process of unity recognizing and appreciating the various traditions and the diversity within the church catholic. This is the task before the Anglican Network and GAFCON, and you are more aware than am I of the sensitive issues that face us. I do however want to refrain from commenting on their concerns.

VOL: In 2007 Archbishop Randolph Sly resigned from the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and left his Cathedral (The Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration) in Potomac Falls, Virginia, to become a Roman Catholic. This move sent shock waves throughout the CEC. What was the cause of his leaving?

Archbishop Bates: I will refrain on the reasons for Randolph Sly being received into the Roman Catholic Church. You have to address your questions to him. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Randy Sly. He is a man of highest integrity and faith. I consider him a dear friend. I know that in the future, particularly around the issues of the Pro-life Movement, we will work together, pray together, and fellowship together. Let me also state that he was extremely instrumental in the founding of our communion. All who are in the field of liturgy respects his work on convergence worship. Much of the foundation of our communion was laid by Randy Sly and for that we are deeply appreciative.

VOL: You say your movement is not a split off from anyone else, but in this ecumenical age can you afford to go it alone indefinitely? Can you see the ICCEC and CEC aligning itself with another body larger than itself in the foreseeable future?

Archbishop Bates: I don't think the church should remain divided. The CEC is a very small branch of the larger catholic tree. We are not developing separate from our brothers and sisters. We are aware of what is happening in the various communions, networks, and denominations and we continue to learn and benefit from them. I cannot predict the future. There remains the task of developing our own communion while at the same time seeking fellowship with others. Where there is common ground we will join with others and where there is difference or diversity we continue to communicate with charity and respect. We also come to our older brothers in Rome, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and the Reformation with a humble and teachable spirit. We have much to learn.

VOL: The ICCEC claims its apostolic succession via Timothy Michael Barker, the leader of the International Free Catholic Communion and the Rebiban line via the schismatic Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duarte Costa who founded the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Brazil. As I understand it then you are recognized by neither Rome nor Canterbury. Who then is your apostolic loyalty and allegiance?

Archbishop Bates: Our loyalty is to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

VOL: Is Union with Rome an eventuality for the CEC?

Archbishop Bates: I cannot address the question of unity with Rome. It would be silly, at best, for me to suggest that Rome at this time is even interested in ecumenical dialogue with the CEC. This is a question you need to address to their ecumenical office. We are not actively seeking re-union with Rome. We are seeking relationships with Roman Catholics on a local level and continue to work closely with Roman Catholics in ecumenical activities, social action, and the Pro-life movement. And, in all of this we take a humble posture recognizing and appreciating their long and ancient history. As I have stated, we seek ecumenical activity with all communions and denominations including Orthodoxy, Anglicans, and Protestants.

VOL: The Charismatic Episcopal Church believes orthodoxy and orthopraxy to be the essence of the apostolic faith of the New Testament Church and holds the ancient Apostles' and Nicene Creeds as their official doctrinal statements. The ICCEC is not, nor has it ever been, affiliated with the Protestant Episcopal Church USA or any other denomination. The majority of churches in the ICCEC in the United States do claim an Anglican identity, however, and use the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Why the 1979 Prayer Book which many other Continuing Anglican Churches believe is heretical and not in accordance with the import and teaching of the 1929 or 1662 BCP?

Archbishop Bates: Our choice in the early days was to use the 1979 BCP and the Catechism of the 1979 BCP as provisional. Many in the Anglican Communion influenced us in our early days. We found the 1979 BCP conducive to convergence worship. I cannot comment as to the objections by many in the continuing church to the 1979 BCP and to their preference for 1928 and 1662. I am aware of the issues but you need to talk to them. I have concerns about the 1979 BCP and the 1979 Catechism. Our San Clemente Declaration has addressed some of these concerns. We are in the process forming our own Prayer Book and our own Catechism. This will take time. I also have problems with the 1662 and 1928 Prayer Books, and as a former Anglican, I believed the 1979 BCP, though not perfect, was an decent attempt at returning to a Patristic understanding of the Churches liturgy and correcting some of the over compensations of the Reformation.

VOL: Many of the ICCEC's founding congregations were largely independent churches with roots in the Charismatic, Pentecostal Wesleyan and Third Wave Evangelical movements. Pentecostal scholar H. Vinson Synan reports that the ICCEC is the first church emerging from the Pentecostal-Charismatic revivals of the last century to use the term "Charismatic" in its official name. With the rise of Pentecostalism in the world, why is the CEC not growing at the same rapid rate as it offers a liturgical and seemingly coherent alternative to fast growing Pentecostalism especially in Latin America?

Archbishop Bates: I believe convergence worship is growing in America and around the world. The CEC continues to grow perhaps at a slower rate. There has been a decline in America due to our recent conflicts. Yet, there are churches showing growth and we continue to grow in the developing nations. Convergence is a young movement.

VOL: What was the fallout of Archbishop Sly's departure? How many clergy and laity were lost?

Archbishop Bates: We lost seven Bishops and roughly 60 parishes and clergy in the fallout from the previous two years. I am not sure of the number of laity that left. Bishop Davidson in Kansas City can give you a better understanding of the exact numbers of churches that were affected by Randolph Sly's leaving.

VOL: Following the split, you met in Thomaston, Georgia, June 7-8, and issued a statement re- dedicating yourselves to "the ongoing work of unity, charitable engagement, and truth-seeking. The commitment continues." Has that in fact happened?

Archbishop Bates: No response.

VOL: You later reported that the Most Rev. Frederick Fick, and his auxiliary bishop, The Most Rev. Donald Miles, also resigned from the Charismatic Episcopal Church in late May. The resignations of a majority (but by no means all) of the clergy and parishes of the Great Lakes Diocese also left. He publicly stated his loyalty to his brothers and pledged to work together with you as you built this church for the next generation. The bishops were disappointed by this unilateral departure taken without their advice and counsel. You said it was a "breakdown" in communication. Was there more to this and where did he go?

Archbishop Bates: You need to talk to Bishop Fred Fick and Bishop Don Miles as to their reason for leaving the CEC. Again, I consider both Bishops as friends and pray that our paths will cross in the future.

VOL: The Most Rev. Philip C. Zampino and the clergy and laity of Life in Jesus Community in Maryland also resigned from the CEC. Why did he resign and what has become of Bishop Zampino?

Archbishop Bates: You need to talk to Bishop Zampino as to his reasons for leaving. Bishop Zampino has long been a leader in Renewal in both the Episcopal Church, the CEC, and in the larger Catholic community. His ministry has touched many in a very positive way. The Life in Jesus Community is composed of faithful men and women who have sacrificed a great deal to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Bishop Zampino had a significant influence upon my ministry and I remain thankful for this man of courage and boldness who in the early days of renewal in the Episcopal Church faced misunderstanding and sometimes persecution.

VOL: What do you see as the future of the CEC? You have said you want to open an administrative office in New York City. Is this a reality? The See of your Church is in the New York Metropolitan area. What are you doing about evangelizing the lost?

Archbishop Bates: The administrative office is in Malverne, New York, (122 Broadway, NY 11565) separate from Cathedral Offices and we have hired a full time administrative officer, The Rev. Dn. John Garrett. Dn. John served for over two decades in the United States Army and retired as a Lt. Colonel. He has taught in the War Colleges and was part of strategic planning at the highest levels during the Gulf War.

We are having our first American House of Bishops under my leadership Oct. 6-10. CEChome.com will report on the meeting, and if you have questions I am open to communication with you. Our churches are active in Evangelism.

I cannot comment on all the churches but we have Alpha going on in many of our congregations, we have ministry to unwed mothers, feeding programs, ministry to addicts, prison outreach, primary and secondary schools, street evangelism, social outreach, home groups, Households of Prayer, Healing Centers, work with children with special needs, etc. Intercessor, my Cathedral, has various levels of evangelism and we are committed fully to reaching the least, the lost, and lonely and have a long history of doing this. Check out my website, Intercessorchurch.com or Intercessorchurch.org.

VOL: Thank you Archbishop.

END

Archbishop Bates recently returned from a visit to East Africa.
Here are excerpts from his narration of that trip.

"The Charismatic Episcopal Church is growing in East Africa. Not only are many seeking to come into fellowship with us, but also the existing churches are growing, both in numbers and in social ministries to the poor. We have seen our churches running orphanages, primary schools, feeding programs, and the digging of wells.

Theological Education is increasing and we now have two significant pieces of land where we can build Theological Colleges. We are also making contact with many mission resources so that we can expand the ministry to those in great need. The Bishops in East Africa are in unity!

They love the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and all have renewed their commitment to the vision that has been given to us. Though they minister under tremendous need with almost no resources some do not have transportation or cathedrals but their faith in the Lord Jesus and in the CEC does not waver. In fact, they work even harder to advance the Kingdom under the authority of their Patriarch. The CEC in Africa is thoroughly convergence and operates under government by consensus.

The real challenge facing the Bishops of East Africa is asking is where do we go from here? There is no doubt in their hearts that God will provide the resources to move forward.

Our first phase of development is the gathering of basic demographic information. We are surveying both what exists and what are the needs of the Church. For example we know that there are as many as 340 churches in Uganda that reach almost 500,000 confirmed members. Every Diocese has an outreach to HIV/AIDS orphans. One church serves 240 orphans. Every Diocese has nursery and primary education. One Diocese has a lively program of making goats available to families and another is involved in the distribution of donkeys. The story is similar in Kenya. In Tanzania we saw a primary school that has grown from 10 students to over 300 students in less than three years.

The greatest challenge faced every day is finding the financial resources needed to do this important work, not just for the survival of programs, but also to expand and meet the incredible needs of the people of God. I know that through the International Development Agency, and the work of our Church worldwide, we can partner together to advance God's work of charity and justice. There is great hope for our Church in East Africa."

END

1 comment:

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