Monday 4 January 2010

Liberal Ordinariates for Anglicans

I imagine that I am going to make a proposal to General Assemblies and equivalent bodies of Unitarian denominations worldwide (no limit to my worldwide ambition) if the Anglican Communion Covenant comes into being and Anglican liberals and progressives become thoroughly marginalised.

It will be to set up Unitarian based Liberal Anglican Ordinariates, in other words congregations that can be run by Anglicans and peopled by Anglicans using Anglican liturgies, although some in their new freedoms may wish to revise these (which they will be welcome to do at whatever pace wished).

An Ordinariate should be one congregation at a time; however, there may be occasions when they might consist of more than one congregation. The new congregations and their trusts will be independent, and sorry but Bishops who join will have the same status as any minister. In a generous offer, these will automatically join the ministerial roll of the General Assembly, and lay readers will become recognised Lay Preachers and Lay Leaders too. Practices such as ordination can continue. The only conditions are that promises regarding doctrine and practice cannot be made, and the Ordinariates will be expected to be fully inclusive and without discrimination. Otherwise the Anglicans can run these units as they wish.

This means that any reading of creeds inside the Ordinariates will have to be non-binding on any individual or grouping. It also means that any sexual or sexual orientation discrimination regarding ministry in the Ordinariates will be intolerable. No other Unitarian church would be expected to carry out such a practice of reading creeds, but these should be tolerant of Anglican sensitivities in the Ordinariates where the creeds are a memorial of the tradition of the wider Church.

Ordinariates would be welcome to use the Flaming Chalice symbol, and use their own related symbol which would be similar to the symbol of the Anglican Communion Lambeth Conference. This would be in a bizarre recognition of the work of Archbishop Rowan Williams, who brought about such tolerant bodies by defective intention.

The Ordinariates will be expected to join in with Unitarian regional meetings (in northern Britain, for example, the Yorkshire Unitarian Union) to give their points of view and to keep in touch with wider Unitarian issues, but of course they can organise themselves as distinctively and culturally Anglican. They do not have to use the Unitarian name, but would have to say they are affiliated (in Britain, say) to the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches or (in the US) to the Unitarian Univeralist Association. They may choose names for these ordinariates either based on the wider Christian tradition or Anglican saints: for example The F. D. Maurice Liberal Anglican Ordinariate.

Unitarians will concede that in these Ordinariates there may well be a tendency to clerical exclusivity regarding sacramental worship. This will be a matter for the Ordinariates themselves, in their congregational voting, but cannot be imposed. Unitarians would expect that traditions, such as, for example the moderate Anglo-Catholicism of Charles Gore, might well continue and add a new dimension to the Unitarian family. There might also be continued reference to balancing scripture, tradition and reason, whereas, of course, Unitarianism is not a commitment to doctrine (unitarian) but to reasoning, active toleration and freedom - and thus a diversity of views and practices. Ordinariates may also wish to reach out to Old Catholic related and Liberal Catholic groups, where appropriate, and engage in other ecumenical and interfaith activities. In turn the Unitarian tradition might be enriched.


Murdoch Matthew said...

Your Ordinariates might work. Anglicans love big words. Though the U.S. Unitarians have been roiled by some groups that want to bring back talk about God. Mainstream Unitarians consider that rather passe.

Given liberal stances of the U.S. United Church of Christ, I've wondered whether something like UCC-Anglican Rite could be arranged. The U.S. Church is pretty congregational already.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

There are potentially more providers in the United States than in the UK. But the URC could do the same in the UK, though they support two actual not three actual orders of ministry (whereas Unitarians, effectively, leave it open to the imagination - or one)

James said...

Go for it.

See if you can get the Center for Progressive Christianity onboard, and then see if you can get TEC interested, and use the word "Liberal Episcopalian Ordinariate" instead, perhaps even create a convocation of Episcopalian Ordinariates named after Katherine Jefferts Schori. Would it not be appropriate for the first female Presiding Bishop to lead her people in an exodus from the Anglican Communion?