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JACKSONVILLE, FL: Continuing Communion Averts Major Schism, Maintains Existing Canons

JACKSONVILLE, FL: Continuing Communion Averts Major Schism, Maintains Existing Canons
After three years of internal debate over the necessity of an overarching Canon Law, the CEEC's largest provinces have unanimously agreed to stand together
They will continue to operate under their current version of Canon Law, which was adopted in 2016

December 16, 2019

In a decision guaranteeing the continued historicity and validation of the CEEC, 98% of original churches and clergy choose continuing communion and remain globally united, with only slight adaptation to their name.

It will now be known as the Continuing Evangelical Episcopal Communion, owing to the fact their previous name is a registered trademark controlled by the former presiding bishop's office; but other than that, almost nothing has changed. The Continuing Communion is remaining with the same canons that were unanimously adopted by the original International House of Bishops at their Synod in 2016. After the House of Bishops for the Kansas-based Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches abandoned these Canons in October, every province with more than a dozen CEEC churches elected to continue under those same Canons adopting the name the Continuing Evangelical Episcopal Communion. Representing a vast expanse of churches and clergy on five continents, the footprint of the Continuing Communion is essentially unchanged. The Province of India and the Province of Reconciliation (which are the largest provinces that existed within the former Communion) have established a full communion relationship and established the Continuing Communion, giving them an unhindered path forward together.

"Apostolic Succession and valid Holy Orders are an integral part of any communion that is faithfully part of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church," said Abp Robert Gosselin, the designate to become the new General Secretary of the Continuing Communion, "and without Canons that cover the entire organization, the validity of orders becomes a significant issue." Canon Law, in its simplest sense, is the set of rules and ordinances governing the historic Church. One of the earliest sets of Canon Law under which churches operated was the Didache, also known as "The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations," and was likely written and adopted by the Church as early as circa 100 AD. It offered clear guidelines for the liturgical practices of the early church, as well as basic elements of church governance.

(For additional historical info on canons, see the article at www.britannica.com/topic/canon-law.)

Abp Charles Travis, who was formerly both General Secretary and a two-term Presiding Bishop of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, has been an ardent voice for canonicity and historicity. As the CEEC's global footprint grew under his leadership, Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican traditions began to pay increased attention to the CEEC.

Despite its growth, the CEEC also began to attract outside criticism because many of those drawn to the CEEC's convergence views had no historic church backgrounds, and therefore had little understanding of either orthodoxy or orthopraxy. During his tenure as Presiding Bishop, Abp Travis worked to deliberately deepen the understanding of those individuals traveling from other traditions towards the historical Church; underscoring the significant impact that Canons have in forming clergy, as well as the important role that Apostolic Succession plays in the sacramental stream of the Church. Without recognized Canons that are universally applicable, neither Apostolic Succession nor ordinations are historically valid, as they speak to the intent of the act.

It is this foundation of historic orthodoxy the Canons of the Continuing Evangelical Episcopal Communion seeks to protect. When the CEEC/Kansas vacated their Canons in October, the organizationally agreed upon base from which the Communion could address and correct moves towards liberal "interpretations" could no longer apply. The Canons under which the Continuing Communion remain contain specific doctrinal positions which prohibit the adoption of liberal positions such as recognition of female bishops, homosexual marriages and the ordination of individuals who engage in homosexual, premarital, and extramarital sexual conduct. In this age, these are necessary statements to the Church at large. They also protect the Communion as we move forward on a conservatively directed path that is in line with the biblical interpretation of the historic Church.

"Without the Canons, there can be no means to challenge moves toward liberalism," Abp Duraisingh James, Provincial Archbishop for India, told his House of Bishops, "since without international Canons there is no doctrinal reference point. Archbishop Travis has wisely challenged this dangerous decision."

The decision of the Continuing Evangelical Episcopal Communion to continue together under the historical Canons embraced for the last two decades has set the Continuing Communion on a solid historical footing. It gives them a reliable foundation from which to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." (Jude 1:3)

The Continuing Evangelical Episcopal Communion is a communion of the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church created by a convergence of the three great historical expressions of faith and practice which was once for all handed down to the saints: the Evangelical/Biblical, the Charismatic/Pentecostal, and the Liturgical/Sacramental traditions. For more information, visit their website at CEEC.CHURCH.


Archbishop Robert Gosselin
General Secretary (Acting)

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