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10 - Formation of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC).

Updated: Dec 12, 2023


Part Six


The Traditional Anglican Communion


Chapter XV


I


A World-Wide Anglican Catholic Church


Prior to his consecration, Bishop Haley and his consecrators discussed, “how to establish an international body of Continuers.” [1] Months latter, the bishops met in Orlando Florida where they invited other bishops to come and discuss what kind of international body they wanted to create. Present were approximately eleven ACC American bishops, two from India, Bishop Woolcock, Bishop Mercer, and retired Anglican Bishop Anselm Genders (1919-2008) from Bermuda.


The Bishops did not want a model based on the 1867 Lambeth conference. They did not want a Synod system of governance and “did not seek a judicial or legislative body.” [2] The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) was provisionally formed at Orlando, Florida, USA on February 3rd, 1989, when a committee was established to plan “an international structure to be called the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC).” [3]


The following year, on September 29th, 1990, “eighteen bishops from the Anglican Catholic Churches in Australia, the United States, and Canada” [4] gathered in Victoria, British Columbia, and officially created the Traditional Anglican Communion, thus establishing a world-wide Anglican Catholic Church. A concordat was signed by the participating bishops who elected Archbishop Louis W. Falk as the new Communion’s “first Primate.” [5]


At the Victoria meeting, they also worked on ways to deal with bishops and the selection of candidates to the Episcopate. For example, when a man is elected bishop, both his curriculum vitae and statement of faith is circulated to all other bishops of the TAC. What was needed was at least a two-thirds majority for the nominee to be accepted as a TAC bishop. If the vote failed, then the TAC Province would have to go back to its General Synod and re-consider their choice. This became known as “the Haley amendment,” [6] named after Bishop Haley. What the TAC intended was to have a College of Bishops which could be “a court of last resort” [7] for individual Traditional Anglican Provinces. It would settle disputes and protect the integrity of the Continuing Church.


Many in the American ‘Anglican Catholic Church’ were in favour of the formation of the Traditional Anglican Communion and saw it as a positive thing. In October of 1989, the ACC’s Provincial Synod met in Denver and “approved the TAC concordat as it had been amended.” [8] However, after the union of the ACA with the AEC in 1991, the ACC opted out of the Communion.


The Churches forming the Traditional Anglican Communion were: The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, The Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, “The Anglican Church in America,” [9] “The Anglican Church of India,” [10] The Orthodox Church of Pakistan, The Church of Ireland (Traditional Rite), The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (Traditional Rite), The Church of Umzi Wase Tiyopiya (South Africa), The Traditional Anglican Church (England), The Church of Torres Strait, The Continuing Anglican Church in Zambia, and The Nippon Kirisuto Sei Ko Kai (Japan).


The TAC declares that their mission is to “recall Anglicanism to its heritage, to heal divisions caused by departures from the Faith, and to build a vibrant church for the future based on powerful local leadership.” [11] The Traditional Anglican Communion sets forth three goals for itself: “(1) to identify, reaffirm and consolidate in its community the elements... conduct that marks the Church of Christ... (2) To seek as a body full and visible communion, particularly eucharistic communion, in Christ, with the Roman Catholic Church and (3) To achieve such communion while maintaining those revered traditions … that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Anglican communities throughout the world.” [12]The TAC values its Anglican heritage, as well as the “Catholic heritage of the undivided Church” [13] from the first thousand years. By doing this, Anglicans remove themselves away from a sectarian form of faith and enter into a “true comprehensiveness” [14] of Catholicism.


The Communion took in its name the word ‘Traditional’ because it reflected the continuity of the Holy Spirit within the Church, which was “assured from age to age.” [15] This is expressed within the concordat with the example of a 1718 letter from the Eastern Patriarchs to the English Non-Jurors which stated, "We preserve the Doctrine of the Lord uncorrupted, and firmly adhere to the Faith He delivered to us, and keep it free from blemish and diminution, as a Royal Treasure, and a monument of great price, neither adding any thing, nor taking any thing from it." [16] St. John of Damascus is also referenced in the concordat with the proclamation, "We do not change the everlasting boundaries which our fathers have set, but we keep the Tradition, just as we received it". [17] For the TAC, Continuing Anglicans could not perpetuate Anglican Doctrine because “there are none!” [18] Not even the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, found in the back of the Book of Common Prayer, could be considered doctrine of the Church.


In his paper, Catholicity or Sectarianism, Bishop Carmino de Catanzaro wrote that the purpose of the Thirty-nine articles was to act as a counter balance between the multitude of religious groups which made up both the Church of England and the British nation during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. The articles were simply meant to keep people from falling into doctrinal error and thereby losing their catholic faith, “separation from the papacy notwithstanding.” [19]


The T.A.C. in their 1990 Concordat, upheld their authentically catholic fundamentals. They continued to declare their “intention to hold fast the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith of God” [20] as expressed in the ecumenical councils of the undivided Church. They re-affirmed their commitment to the doctrinal, moral and theological principles set forth in the ‘Affirmation of St. Louis.’


They expressively stated that any new declaration must be in agreement with the ‘Affirmation’; otherwise it is not valid as an expression of faith. The TAC further declared that they, as a communion, desired to remain in communion with like-minded Anglican Provinces and Dioceses of the Canterbury Communion, but also sought to be in full communion with the whole of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, applying the “Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886-88” [21] as the minimum standard for promoting Christian Unity. The minimum standard for inter-communion with the Traditional Anglican Communion was, and still is, the “sharing of common Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Ministry.” [22]


Today, the Traditional Anglican Communion is the largest Continuing Church in the World consisting of Anglican Catholic churches located in Canada, United States of America, England, Ireland, South Africa, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America and the Caribbean etc. The TAC has an estimated membership of over four hundred thousand members in forty-four nations worldwide who continue to affirm the declarations made in St. Louis. The Communion is so international that English is the seventh largest language spoken.

[1] Falk [2] ibid [3] Bess 194 [4] Badertscher Chapter 2, p.18 [5] Falk [6] ibid [7] ibid [8] Bess 195 [9] Concordat of the Traditional Anglican Communion 1990, Section 2:1. * In October of 1991, the American Episcopal Church merged with a significant portion of the Anglican Catholic Church (USA), and others, to form the Anglican Church in America, which immediately petitioned to be recognized as the American component of the Traditional Anglican Communion. Those Bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church (USA) who rejected this act of unification, along with the body of which they are still members (calling itself The Original Province of the Anglican Catholic Church) have since that time practically repudiated their signatures on the original Concordat and withheld their Church from participation in the Traditional Anglican Communion. The Bishops of the Anglican Church in America are all either signatories to the original Concordat or else petitioners thereto through the American Episcopal Church. [10] ibid * Anglican Church of India is the legitimate successor to the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. [11] Traditional Anglican Communion Web-site, http://www.themessenger.com.au/index.htm [12] The Most Reverend John Hepworth A decisive moment in church history [13] de Catanzaro p.81 [14] de Catanzaro p.83 [15] Concordat 1:2 [16] ibid [17] ibid [18] de Catanzaro p.77 [19] ibid p.77 [20] Concordat 3.2 [21] Concordat Preamble [22] ibid


This article was taken from the Doctoral thesis Recognizing Anglican Catholic Identity: An Historical Review of the Anglican Catholic Movement, the Affirmation of St. Louis and the Traditional Anglican Communion, which has been added to the database for scholarly works by Acadia University. For anyone interested in the complete thesis, it can be found at:


© Dr. Charles Warner 2010

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