Remarks Concerning “Reunion” Between The Anglo-American Episcopal and Orthodox Churches

The question of a reunion between the Orthodox and the Anglo-American Episcopal Church is one on which much has already been written in the present century, but very little has been done.

From the time of "THE LAST SETTLEMENT” in the XVI Century under Queen Elizabeth up to this time there has been but one Reformation in the Anglican Church during which a union between this Communion and the Orthodox Church seemed to be on the point of fulfillment. We refer here to the one that took place in the XVII Century under Charles I, king of England, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Primate, Laud.

In the reign of this monarch, a Reformation, carried on for the first time in the English Church on ORTHODOX lines, met with remarkable success. At the length one of the Orthodox Patriarchs congratulated the king on what had already been effected, expressing his opinion that a union between the Anglican and the Orthodox Communion would soon come about. But God had willed it otherwise.

In the history of the time referred to we read of how the king forbade the teaching and propagating of divers Protestant heresies, of how the introduction of Orthodox dogmas and ceremonies went on in the Anglican Church in his reign until the captivity of the king came about, and the sword of the executor cut short his life and the Reformation worthy of that man, of which we speak. We recall also how, in time, the English people began to regard the deceased king as a saint, by whom he was eventually known as CHARLES the MARTYR, and how copies of the work entitled: "Eikon Basiliky”, read by him when in prison and approved of by the royal prisoner, were everywhere in request.

The history of the NON-JURORS, and of what took place when certain British Bishops applied to the four Eastern Patriarchs in the reign of the Russian Emperor Peter the Great and of William I, king of England, is one with which Russian and other Orthodox theologians are more or less familiar. The "CONCORDAT” proposed by the Non-Jurors and the lengthy reply of the four Patriarchs from a controversial point of view, are as important as ever. This document, drawn up in Constantinople in April, A. D. 1718, was received in London in A. D. 1722. In this latter year, no less than now, the English Bishops would not for one moment admit that their Church was not already and in every respect deserving of the term: RIGHT-BELIEVING.. Hence was it that they submitted to the Orthodox Patriarchs a series of concessions, — in other words; a suggested COMPROMISE. The Patriarchs, on their side, declined to approve of anything partaking of a compromise. They reminded the English Bishops of the excommunication of the Roman Pontiff and the Latin Church, hereby giving them to understand that the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of any other Christian Church can be finally determined but by a council of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other Orthodox Patriarchs and Hierarchs. THE ENGLISH BISHOPS WERE INFORMED:

1. — That they were called upon to accept ALL the Orthodox doctrines not excepting the invocation of Saint’s and Angels and the veneration paid to the Icons.

2. — That one of the Oriental Patriarchs, or a deputy by him for this purpose, would be required to CONSECRATE the English Bishops, calling down upon them the Grace of the Holy Spirit.

That any difficulty whatever in the field of dogma such as has hitherto separated the Anglican and Orthodox Churches can be said no longer to hold good — no one would venture to affirm, if the Old Catholics had joined the Orthodox Catholic; it may well be that this would not be the case, but the Old Catholics preferred turning to the Bishops of the Anglo-American Church and accepting just such a "CONCORDAT” as had been rejected by the four Oriental Patriarchs. The said agreement was consummated by the Old Catholics when Old Catholic Bishops were communicated in America by Prelates of the Anglo-American Communion. And the Old Catholic Priests are authorised to communicate members of the Anglican Church, clergy and laity alike.

Any Old Catholic has the right to accept or reject whatever is held or rejected by one or other of the three SCHOOLS in the English Church; THE HIGH CHURCH, the LOW CHURCH, and the BROAD CHURCH School, for this is the logical consequence of a mutual reception of the Holy Communion by members of the Old Catholic and Anglican Churches.

The impossibility of a union, or, at present, of any hope of such follows from the fact that neither the Archbishop of Canterbury, nor one or other of three Anglican SCHOOLS is minded to follow in the steps of Archbishop Laud and the English King Charles I.

Mr. Brine spoke honestly on one of the meetings of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches’ Union”, when he said as reported, “the union does not indulge in vain dreams”. And to point out a few facts which may awaken some out of such dreams of Church unity and one who has worked quietly for it. We must point out obstacles which must be overcome and some questions which, as preliminaries, ought to be settled.

FIRST. — The protestant Episcopal Church is granting permission to non Episcopal clergymen to preach from her pulpits. This permission is a grеat obstacle in the way of reunion. There is no place for Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists and Congregationalists in Episcopal pulpits; that is, if the Protestant Episcopal Church is sincere in here preface to her ordinal, to wit: “No man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful bishop, priest or deacon in this church, or suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be called, tried, examined and admitted thereunto, according to the form hereafter following, or hath had Episcopal consecration or ordination”. Preaching is a function. A man cannot preach, even though he be an ordained deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church, without the license of his bishop.

An Episcopal priest’s second ordination vow reads:

“Will you then give your faithful diligence always so to minister the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ as the Lord hath commanded and as this Church hath received the same, according to the Commandments of God; so that you may teach the people committed to your care and charge with all diligence to keep and observe the same?

ANSWER I will do so by the help of the Lord”.

There is a vast difference between much of the doctrine, discipline, worship and general teaching of the great Protestant bodies and those of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and a Methodist minister, or a Presbyterian, would naturally — and honestly at that — only preach, if invited, doctrine, or any thing else, as he has received the same from his own church. But how about the Protestant Episcopal laymen in the pew? What about the little child who is being prepared for confirmation “the laying on of hands” by a Protestant Episcopal bishop? No man in the Episcopal Church is, by rubrical right, permitted even to receive communion unless he is confirmed, or ready and desirous to be confirmed. And yet in the face of all this the laymen and the child are expected to receive instruction from perhaps a Congregational or a Baptist minister, neither of whom believes in the powers of bishops as being greater than those of their own, and neither of whom believes in confirmation as the Protestant Episcopal Church teaches.

The Holy Eastern. Orthodox Church, as well as the Roman Church, would never consent to anything like this. They are both too careful to permit their children to be pushed around by “every wind of doctrine” coming from unauthorised lips, however learned or pious the preacher may be, we cannot even see how a self-respecting denominational minister could accept an invitation to preach, when he is only regarded as a layman by the Protestant Episcopal Church.

SECOND — The primary question —the validity of Anglican orders, which was under dispute for many centuries, but now recognized by the Constantinople Greek Orthodox Patriarch Meletios.

Up to this time (1922), the invariable rule has been to ordain all men coming from the Anglican ministry — not, remember, to reordain, but to pass them through all the minor orders, upward to the priesthood. While the Eastern Church does not rebaptize Anglicans she does chirsmate. Unfortunately the Roman Church rebaptizes and so we are sorry to say, does the Greek section of the Eastern Church. The Russian Church does not, but she ordains DE NOVO any person thought worthy to be received into their priesthood.

We hope that the rest of the Orthodox Churches will also give out soon its opinion concerning the validity of the Anglican ordinations as the Constantinople Church did.

After this main barrier to the "fusion of Eastern Orthodoxy and Episcopalianism” is overcome, the leaders of the Episcopal Church should act from their side on this matter as earnestly as Charles I, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Laud acted in the XVII Century.



MOST REVEREND Archbishop of Canterbury and Chief Hierarch of all England — Brother, beloved and yearned-for in Christ our God, Lord Randall, greetings; your Reverence well-beloved by us, fraternally in the Lord, we address you with gladness.

Our special committee dealing with the Union of the Churches has drawn our attention and that of our Holy Synod to the question of the validity of Anglican ordinations from the Orthodox point of view; for that it would be profitable in regard to the whole question of union that the opinion of the Holy Orthodox Church should be known upon this matter.

Accordingly the Holy Synod on this opportunity have taken under our presidency the matter under consideration, and having examined it from every point of view has concluded that as before the Orthodox Church, the ordinations of the Anglican Episcopal confession, priests and deacons possesses the same validity as those of the Roman, Old Catholic, and Armenian Churches possess, inasmuch as all essentials are found in them which are held indispensable from the Orthodox point of view for the recognition of the CHARISMA of the priesthood derived from Apostolic succession.

Indeed, on the one hand, it is plain that there is no matter here as yet of a decree by the whole Orthodox Church. For it is necessary that the rest of the Orthodox Churches should be found to be of the same opinion (in the matter) as the Most Holy Church of Constantinople.

But even so, it is an event not without significance that the Synod of one, and that the Primitian Throne of the Orthodox Churches, when taking the matter into consideration, has come to this conclusion.

Therefore, with great joy we communicate the matter to your beloved Grace as the chief hierarch of the whole Anglican Church, being sure that your Grace will be equally favorably disposed towards this conclusion as recognizing in it a step forward in that work of general union which is dear to God. May the Heavenly Father grant us to be of the same mind through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who is blessed for and ever.

Your Grace's well beloved brother in Christ and altogether well disposed. . .

July 28, 1922.


The above letter is published on the authority of Germanos, Metropolitan of Thyateiria, and Exarch of Western Europe, the representative in London of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was brought to London from Constantinople by the Rev. W. Emhardt, Director of the Foreign Mission Board of the American Episcopal Church and was handed by him to the Archbishop of Canterbury last Tuesday. Mr. Emhardt will in due course also present a copy of it to the General Convention of the American Church, which has for some time been concerned with the regularization of the admission to its administration of those Orthodox in its jurisdiction who are outside access to their own clergy. The acceptance of Anglican ordinations was, of course, a necessary preliminary to such regularization, which, since the Greek colonies in America are dependent on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is now possible.

It may be noted here that:

(1) The decision, which has not been made swiftly but after many years of patient and thorough investigation, places Anglican Orders on a parity with Roman Catholic, etc. This is the most which the Orthodox can do, seeing that Orthodox theologians do not recognize the validity PER SE of any sacrament outside the Orthodox Church.

(2) Before the decision becomes that of the whole Orthodox Church, the assent of the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Russia, as well as of the Churches of Cyprus, the Kingdom of Greece, Jugo-Slavia, Romania and Czecho Slovakia will be needed.. The political estrangement of Constantinople from Alexandria and the kingdom of Greece and the state of Russia may delay the assent of those three Churches. That of the others will probably be given in the near future.

(3) There is no present probability of other than emergency intercommunion between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches. Full intercommunion must wait for complete dogmatic agreement. But the Constantinople decision will open the door to a very close understanding between the two Churches and may well produce a real solidarity between them, the effect of which will prepare the way for future agreement.

(From “The Living Church”).

Епископы (118 изъ 138) Америк. Епископальной Протест. Церкви, принимавшіи участіе на генеральной церковной конвенціи въ Сентябрѣ 1922 г. въ г. Портландъ. Орегонъ.