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Doctoral Thesis Research Essay: Analysis of the Affirmation of St. Louis

Updated: Aug 19, 2023


* see note below for image information


The Affirmation of St. Louis as a text has been in existence for almost thirty years. It is regarded as the founding document of Continuing Anglicanism. It is not so much a confessional statement, but a re-statement of Anglican Catholicism. It speaks for millions of Anglicans who wish to express a Faith which even today seems to have been dismissed as antiquated and not really relevant in a post-modern world.


The purpose of this essay is to give an overview of the events which led to the Congress of St. Louis and the incredible document known as the Affirmation of St. Louis, which gave life to a renewed Anglican experience. This essay is divided into four parts. The first part explains the reasoning behind the call for an Ecclesiastical Congress and the need for a re-expression of the Anglican faith. The second part presents the Affirmation itself. The third and fourth parts examine the legacy of the Affirmation of St. Louis, the birth of Continuing Anglican Churches, in particular the Traditional Anglican Communion, and how the Affirmation shapes the local Anglican Catholic parish.


As the Anglican Communion continues to experience institutional distress, the Affirmation of St. Louis can be a positive reminder for traditional Anglicans remaining within the Anglican Communion that there are ways of proclaiming the faith. The Affirmation can be a model for those within the entire Anglican Continuum who may wish to hold onto the essentials of Catholic Truth and Order whilst remaining faithful members of the Body of Christ.


The Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen and the Congress of St. Louis


Beginning in the 1960’s dissenting voices became stronger within the Anglican Communion as “Modernist Theology” 1 began to take hold in the Church. Modernist theology took the view that religious experience was more or less an inward encounter and deeply personal. An example of this in the United States was the Bishop James Pike affair. Bishop Pike questioned the divinity of Christ, and as a church leader this viewpoint caused scandal and controversy.


In Modernist theology, divinity lay within the individual and the role of the Church is to liberate the self from institutional constraints. An example of this in Canada was the Anglican-United Church union talks which would have united a reformation church with an apostolic church. Modernist theology breaks down barriers without concern for tradition and truth. It is no surprise that the ‘Death of God’ movement began in this era.


Though unorganized in the beginning, opposition amongst the Traditionalists grew toward the “ordination of women, the “social gospel”, liturgical revision, and the denial of basic doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the Resurrection.” 2 The Church was moving in a direction which, according to the Traditionalists, adopted “secularist thought and principles” 3 and was beginning to introduce “a number of innovations” 4 as a way to bring more people into the Church.


For Traditionalists, this was clear proof of the “abandonment of Christian Orthodoxy” 5 and it became more evident in July 1974 when four Bishops from the U.S. Episcopal Church (ECUSA) “illegally ordained” 6 eleven women in Philadelphia.


At about this time a coalition of sixteen Episcopal publications and organizations formed a fellowship with members in both the United States and Canada. This group became known as the “Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen.” 7 The creator of the Fellowship was the Reverend Canon Albert J. Dubois who in 1973 saw a need for such a coalition. He felt that this body was the best way of bringing together “loyal orthodox elements of the Church” 8 in opposition to the controversial changes about to be introduced.


The Fellowship organized itself and intensely debated the issues before it was ready to challenge the “heretical and apostate forces” 9 of the Episcopal Church. Over time, the Fellowship issued statements to the Bishops and the Church. The purpose of the statements was to keep morale up and present a unified opposition, as well as represent traditional Anglicanism.


By the mid-seventies events began to speed up for the Fellowship. The 1976 ECUSA General Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota “voted to approve the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopate.” 10 They also conditionally approved a brand new Book of Common Prayer, which was doctrinally controversial.


The Anglican Church of Canada’s decision to “support the ordination of women in 1973 in principle until 1976 when ordination actually happened” 11 was in the view of the Rev. Dr. Carmino de Catanzaro, removing Anglicans from the “traditional Catholic position into a chaotic do your own thing mode,” 12 believing and teaching “that each person can have his own truth.” 13


The Fellowship now began to focus on a practical reply to the innovations that were being put on the Church. It was decided that a Church Congress was an appropriate response. The Fellowship unanimously concluded that “nothing but an organizational separation from the Episcopal Church,” 14 could really counter the “Church’s theological separation from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”15 In essence, this was the birth of the ‘Affirmation’ and the ‘Continuing Anglican Movement.’


With a renewed sense of hope and religious zeal, the Fellowship met in Nashville, Tennessee on November 4th and 5th 1976. The issue up for discussion was the direction that any continuing Episcopal Church would take. Bishop Clarence Haden, of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, though a guest at the meeting, suggested that the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen should profess a set of beliefs. Dr. Harold Weatherby, of the Society for the Preservation of the Book of Common Prayer, added to the suggestion by recommending “principles on which a Continuing Church would be based.”16


Over the next several months the drafting committee met and on the eve of Congress presented “for definite consideration a complete draft of the Affirmation of St. Louis.” 17 After hours of deliberation, the draft was approved for presentation to the Congress. On Holy Cross Day, September 14th 1977, “at the Chase-Park Plaza in St. Louis Missouri, a gathering known as the St. Louis Church Congress” 18 took place.

The Affirmation was read out to the approximately 1,800 people in attendance at the Congress. It was “heard with rapt attention and received a standing ovation.” 19 The document was popularly acknowledged and accepted as the basic set of beliefs for the Congress and Continuing Anglicans.


The Congresses objective was to establish “an 'orthodox jurisdiction 'for those opposed to the ordination of women in the ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada" 20 and the Affirmation expressed their determination "to continue in the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church.” 21


These Anglicans lead by the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen “signed the manifesto that was to become the guiding statement of the continuing Anglican movement.” 22 Their greatest desire was to establish both order and clarity for those who “wished to maintain the faith.” 23 This desire is embodied in the declarations that made up the Affirmation of St. Louis. It is to that Declaration we shall now turn.


The Affirmation of St. Louis

Preamble

Those who attended the Congress of St. Louis committed themselves to the continuation of Anglicanism. For them continuation meant keeping “Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church.”24 Strengthened by the fact that numerous provinces within the Anglican Communion had maintained “Faith, Order, Worship and Witness,”25 and that these bodies “continue to confine ordination to the priesthood and the episcopate to males,”26 the Congress was well pleased and sought to remain in solidarity with these particular provinces and dioceses.

The Congress of St. Louis declared that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, with their illicit endeavours to change “Faith, Order and Morality (especially in their General Synod of 1975 and General Convention of 1976),” 27 had indeed left both the Anglican Faith and the Church Catholic. The Congress of St. Louis declared that laws promulgated by former ecclesiastical bodies held no power over the Continuing Anglican Church. Such “lawless Councils” 28 are “fundamentally impaired by schismatic acts.” 29


It further declared that the claim of any schismatic person or body had no authority in the Church and any action on their part was without real power and was therefore absolutely null and void.” 30 Because of this, it was up to the Continuing Anglican Church to restructure discipline, so as to strengthen themselves in the continuation of their “common life and witness.” 31 The Congress of St. Louis declared that “fundamental principles (doctrinal, moral, and constitutional)” 32 are required for the continuing church and that a “Constitution (redressing the defects and abuses of our former governments).” 33 must be implemented. In this way, the Church may carry on with a set of sound fundamental principles. With such a solid foundation, the Continuing Church asserted that they would be in a better position to maintain a continuous relationship with other “faithful parts of the Anglican Communion” 34 as well as the See of Canterbury.


With a deep trust in God and before the heavenly hosts, the signatories of the Affirmation of St. Louis pronounced, that as lawful and faithful members of the Anglican and Episcopal Churches, they would both now and in the future continue to be a legitimate unified Continuing Anglican Church in North America. Such a statement indicates that the authors of the Affirmation still held out hope, as infinitesimal as it may have been, that Anglicanism could be saved from Modernist Theology within the Anglican Communion, and that the Anglican Church in North America could be recognized as a legitimate Anglican ecclesiastical body by the Archbishop of Canterbury.


PREFACE


The Affirmation acknowledges the duty of the Church to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and that all are "saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ," 35 and it declares further their “intentions to hold fast the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith of God.” 36 Because of their declarations, the Congress proposed five “fundamental Principles” 37 : Principles of Doctrine, Principles of Morality, Constitutional Principles, Principles of Worship and Principles of Action.


I. Principles of Doctrine


Within the ‘Principles of Doctrine’, the Affirmation touches upon: The Nature of the Church, the Essentials of Truth and Order and Unity with Other Believers.


The Church is a divine creation and beyond human interference. “The Church is the Body of Christ at work in the world.” 38 The church is also a gathering of faithful and obedient people called by God to be a living expression of Christ in the world. Because of this relationship, the faithful, as a ‘Royal People’, receive “True Religion” 39 as revealed by God. The Church is not of this world and therefore, the faithful must take what is revealed by God, acknowledge it, value it, defend and teach it.


The Affirmation rejects everything which alters the Faith and bore witness to the essential principles of ‘evangelical’ Truth and ‘apostolic’ Order: Holy Scriptures; the Creeds; Tradition; Sacraments; Holy Orders; Deaconesses, and the Duties of the Bishops. It acknowledges and accepts the Bible as the “authentic” 40 revelation of God, His acts of salvation and moral requisites for humanity throughout history.


The Affirmation acknowledges the Nicene Creed as the “authoritative summary” 41 of the central themes of the Christian Faith, along with the Apostles Creed and the Creed of St. Athanasius. These Creeds are fully accepted and believed, as they have always been throughout Christian history. Also gratefully received is the Tradition of the Church and it’s teachings as taught by "the ancient catholic bishops and doctors," 42 and the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church.


The Affirmation upholds the seven Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, Penance and Unction of the Sick, as a reality of the “continued presence and saving activity of Christ” 43 amongst the faithful and as His instrument of passing on His Grace.


They especially assert the necessity of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. Baptism because it begins the process of integrating us into the Body of Christ (culminating at Confirmation when we receive the "seal of the Holy Spirit"), and the Eucharist because it is the sacrifice which unites us to the ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross and it is the Sacrament in which He feeds us with His Body and Blood.


The Affirmation proclaims that the Holy Orders of bishops, priests and deacons are “the perpetuation of Christ's gift of apostolic ministry to His Church”. 44 They declare the necessity of a bishop of apostolic succession, or priest as the celebrant of the Eucharist. Bishops are “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers.” 45


Their duty (together with other clergy and the laity) is to protect and defend the truth of the Church's Faith and Moral Teaching. These Orders consist solely of men in accordance with Christ's Will, Scriptures, and the universal practice of the Catholic Church. However, the traditional office of Deaconesses as a lay vocation for women is encouraged.


The Affirmation recognizes that all Anglican statements of faith and liturgical formulae have to be interpreted in light of its own doctrinal positions. As a matter of fact, the Affirmation renounces any right to change any part of the ancient Creeds, Holy Scripture or Sacraments.


Finally, the Affirmation declares its full intention to achieve unity with those churcheswho hold the Catholic and Apostolic Faith in accordance with the foregoing principles.” 46 Such a statement indicates that the authors of the Affirmation were hopeful that as 'Continuers' with such deep Catholic beliefs, they would be a positive representative of Anglican Catholicism and therefore deemed approachable by other Catholic and Apostolic bodies that maintained the same principles.


II. Principles of Morality


The Affirmation declares that the conscience, though possessing an inherent knowledge of right and wrong, cannot be the sole arbiter of morality. Ignorance is also not an excuse because sin has been revealed to humanity by God. Each Christian must form their own conscience through “Divine Moral Law and the Mind of Christ as revealed in Holy Scriptures, and by the teaching and Tradition of the Church.” 47


When the Christian conscience is suitably instructed, it must then affirm the subsequent moral principles: Individual Responsibility, Sanctity of Human Life, Man's Duty to God, Family Life, Man as Sinner, Man and God's Grace and Christian's Duty to be Moral. People, individually or as a group, are responsible to God for their thoughts, words and deeds because ultimately what one thinks or does will be judged by the Creator.


Human life is sacred from the moment of conception. It is sacred because humanity is God’s unique creation. To destroy His unique creation is an anathema and therefore the indefensible “taking of life is always sinful.” 48 Natural Law and the revealed will of God bind humanity’s commitment to this duty. The Sacrament of Marriage, between a man and a woman is God’s way of providing an opportunity “for procreation and family life.” 49 Sexual activities are to be practiced only within the realm of Holy Matrimony.


The Affirmation acknowledges that humanity, “As an inheritor of original sin, has broken the bonds of original righteousness,”50 by their disobedient nature against God’s authority. And by being in a sinful state, they are accountable to God’s “Righteous Judgement.” 51 However, the Affirmation also acknowledges that God loves His children and has demonstrated this to the fullest in theredemptive work of Jesus Christ.” 52 Humanity can not save itself, except by “the Grace of God,” 53 through human repentance and Divine Forgiveness. Because of this, it is the responsibility of the Church and her constituents to live a Christian life and “reject the false standards of the world.” 54


III. Constitutional Principles


The Affirmation asserts that constitutional revision is a necessity for continuing Anglicans and recommends a number of changes. However before any change, that the tried and true features of North American ecclesiastical systems be kept and utilized in the continuing church. But on issues such as the selection of Bishops, a non-political means of choosing should be created.


The continuing Anglicans should also move toward implementing a tri-partite synod, made up of Episcopal clerical and laity under a Primate. Scriptural standards for those in ministry were recommended and a constitution that acknowledges the need for concurrence of all the branches of the Synod for decisions in all matters, especially the need for extraordinary majorities required for the approval of important matters. The Affirmation also called for the re-establishment of ecclesiastical courts for the defense of the faith and to maintain discipline over all church matters.


A special constitutional assembly would be called to draft a constitution and canons to help unify and govern the continuing church. In the meantime, all were exhorted to trust in God, refer important matters to Diocesan authorities and subscribe to the Affirmation of St. Louis, inviting all to share in the fellowship and work of the church.


IV. Principles of Worship


The Book of Common Prayer is the text of worship for the Continuing Church. The 1962 Canadian edition and the 1928 American edition, at the time of the Congress, became the norm. As far as the Affirmation was concerned, “No other standards for worship exist.” 55 However, the Affirmation did allow for some regional variances. Only approved liturgical service materials which compliment the Book of Common Prayer are acceptable.


V. Principles of Action


The Affirmation calls forIntercommunion With Other Apostolic Bodies.” 56 The continuing Anglicans continue to be in full communion with the See of Canterbury and with other “Faithful” 57 members of the Anglican Communion. However, continuing Anglicans also wish to seek cordial relations with other apostolic and catholic churches, so long as it’s in accordance with “the essentials of Faith and Order” 58 of the continuing Churches. That being said, Continuing Anglicans view the non-apostolic Churches and bodies such as the World Council of Churches, as “being humanist and secular in purpose and practice,” 59 and therefore cannot associate with them.


The Affirmation states that there is a need for sound theological training. There must be a renewal of spirituality, orthodox and scholarly theological education. Under Episcopal authority, such education is regarded as “an imperative” 60 and should be encouraged.

At the heart of the constitution lies the right of congregations to control their own financial affairs and properties. Focus should be centered on worship, pastoral care, spiritual and moral maturity, personal charity and community outreach “as a response to God’s love for us.” 61 In this way, the Church can be an active witness in service to God’s will and truth, remembering always that our witness is counter to the evil which also exists in the world.


The Affirmation called for the establishment of a pension plan for clergy and other Church workers; as well as legal defense for congregations who defend their faith under the Authority of Diocesan and parochial authorities.


The creators of the Affirmation pronounced that they were Continuers. They clearly stated that they did “nothing new.” 62 They formed no new body, but continued on as Anglicans and Episcopalians. The Affirmation of St. Louis concluded with the pledge that as Continuing Anglicans, they would remain loyal to the traditions of their common Anglican/Episcopal heritage.


The Legacy of the Affirmation of St. Louis: The Continuing Anglican Church(es)


As mentioned earlier, out of the Congress of St. Louis came a new Church with the interim name of “Anglican Church in North America (Episcopal)” 63 under the jurisdiction of the retired Bishop of Springfield, Illinois, the Rt. Rev. Albert Chambers. The Rt. Rev. Charles D. D. Doren was consecrated as the first Bishop of the Anglican Church in North America by Bishop Chambers, along with a Bishop of the Philippine Independent Catholic Church as co-consecrator and the Rt. Rev. Mark Pae of the Anglican Church of Korea, who sent a letter of consent. In January 1978, Bishop Chambers consecrated four more Bishops for the ACNA in Denver and in October of the same year, the “Anglican Catholic Church was formed.” 64


The Anglican Catholic Church declared itself ‘Continuing’ "because they came out of established Anglicanism and intended no innovations; they merely sought to continue that which already existed." 65 They acted in accordance with “the seven great Ecumenical Councils of the ancient Church.” 66 Following the tenets of the Affirmation, the Anglican Catholic Church proclaimed true and valid Episcopal succession. Holy Orders were to consist only of men, although the ancient office and ministry of Deaconesses as a lay vocation for women would be permitted.


For the most part, the Continuing Church is Anglo-Catholic in approach, and their liturgies are more High-Church than Low-Church. As prescribed by the Affirmation, most of them use the Book of Common Prayer, with some using allowable Missals and other forms of worship. The King James Bible, as the Authorized Version of Holy Scripture, “is a distinguishing mark of most continuing churches.” 67


Unfortunately, during the process of ratifying the Affirmation as the new Church's Constitution, a crack in unity developed which resulted in several dioceses breaking into two American churches and one Canadian church. The principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis, as well as the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion have offered some foundation for unity in the movement, but these jurisdictions are now more numerous and on occasion fragment and then recombine.


The larger bodies in North America are “the Anglican Catholic Church, the Diocese of Christ the King (later renamed the Anglican Province of Christ the King), and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.”68 The United Episcopal Church of North America was founded a few years later “in opposition to the alleged inhospitality of the other jurisdictions towards Low Churchmen.”69


In the 2005/06 Directory of Traditional Anglican and Episcopal Parishes, published by The Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, over 400 Continuing Anglican parishes requested to be listed. It is reported that there are up to forty churches that split away from the original Continuing Church, however less than twelve churches commonly referred to as ‘continuing churches’ “can be traced back to the meeting in St. Louis.” 70 On the other hand, there were some churches that abhorred the term ‘continuing’, and came out of the Congress ordaining women. They were, to the Continuing Church, by definition “not “apostolic” and therefore not canonical.” 71


Inspired by the Affirmation, churches attempted to take control of their properties and pensions. Some were able to depart peacefully from feuding Bishops with all their temporalities. However, a criticism of this is that problems can arise when congregations are more easily able to defect to other continuing bodies. In some cases, churches were becoming preserved as “little more than congregational churches using Anglican liturgical forms.” 72


While the Continuing Churches uphold the notion of an ongoing relationship with the see of Canterbury, “Canterbury didn’t, and still has not, returned the favour.” 73 Though it should be noted that in many parts of the Anglican Communion, especially in the developing world, a cordial and familial relationship has been maintained with a number of continuing bodies.


Also of note is the 2005 “Covenant” 74 between the Anglican Province in America/Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Nigeria, as well as the fact that Continuing churches can also be members of ‘Forward in Faith’; an orthodox organization within the Anglican Communion. As a result, the link between some orthodox bodies within the Communion and the Continuing churches still exists.


Even though most of the Continuing Churches still want to maintain a good relationship with the Anglican Communion, there are some who don’t. The Episcopal Missionary Church has formally broken relations with Canterbury due to the Church of England’s ordination of women in 1992. For the Episcopal Missionary Church, the Church of England and Canterbury have “broke with traditional Anglican practice.” 74


The current environment within the Continuum is to hold Canterbury’s feet to the fire when it comes to Modernist issues. Anglican Global South Primates are seeking a new way for Anglicanism while taking an Evangelical Low-Church approach. As mentioned, most in the Continuing Churches are High-Church Anglo-Catholic and have moved on with regard to placating themselves to Canterbury and the Anglican Communion. They emphasize the Catholic Faith as expressed through Anglican heritage. For them, the principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis best represent Anglican Catholicism.


The largest Continuing Church in the World is the Traditional Anglican Communion. The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) established in 1990, consists 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. The Traditional Anglican Communion has an estimated membership of over six hundred thousand members in forty-four nations worldwide who continue to affirm the declarations made in St. Louis.


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.” 75 They re-affirmed their commitment to the doctrinal, moral and theological principles set forth in the Affirmation of St. Louis. The Traditional Anglican Communion expressively stated that any new declaration must be in agreement with the Affirmation; otherwise it is not valid as an expression of faith.


The Legacy of the Affirmation of St. Louis: The Anglican Catholic Parish


The nature of the Church, at the parish level, is that it is the Body of Christ in local communities. It is the people who gather into congregations to be living examples of Christ obediently absorbing the faith and sharing it with others. Each parish is empowered to uphold the essentials of Evangelical Truth and Apostolic Order; by affirming the Bible as Sacred Scripture, and making real God’s presence in the world.


The parish affirms the Creeds, which are statements of faith that bind the early Church with the present-day Church. They proclaim to the world the faith of the congregation. The parish expresses itself explicitly through the seven Sacraments and it supports individual members on their particular faith journey; from birth till death.


The Church pronounces on issues of morality, but the parish helps form good conscience in the individual Christian. It is primarily up to the parish at the local level to take on ethical issues that face both the parish and the secular world-at-large. Matters that affect the sanctity of human life and the family are chief issues for the parish. It is the local church that takes on the role of instructing people regarding matters of individual responsibility and morality.


Additionally, the parish can also be a place where people come and acknowledge their own brokenness, turn away from sin and accept the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ. This way, through the parish, people can reject an immoral world and begin to live the Christian life.


As part of maintaining Anglican tradition, the Anglican Catholic Churches and the Traditional Anglican Communion place as their standard, the Book of Common Prayer. The parish, as a way of remaining true to the Affirmation of St. Louis and offering continuity for local Anglicans and Anglican Catholics, use the Book of Common Prayer for its Order of Divine Services.


At the parish level, Anglican Catholic communities want to maintain good relations with other Apostolic Bodies. These bodies would include, the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Sadly, relations with Anglican Communion Churches, especially the more liberal bodies, are strained.


Generally speaking, Anglicans see the Anglican Catholic Church as truly Anglican and Apostolic. The Archbishop of Canterbury and his bishops while meeting at the Lambeth Conference at Canterbury, England 1998 ‘recognized’ the Traditional Anglican Communion in such a manner. However, locally, within the Anglican hierarchy this viewpoint varies from general indifference to outright hostility. At best, Anglican Catholics are seen as rivals for the soul of the local parishioner. It must be remembered that on the parish level, Anglican Catholics “do nothing new” and are called upon to live the Principles set forth in the Affirmation of St. Louis, which can be appealing to Anglicans seeking a new and yet familiar home.


The Affirmation of St. Louis affects the local Church because it promotes a faith that is an active witness to the evil which is present in the world. In our communities, evil permeates and it is the duty of the parish to point that out. Equally, it is the duty of the Anglican Catholic parish to point out that there is a solution to the evils in the world. It is not a solution that will appease Modernist Theology or Post-Modernism, it is not a solution that will give in to social pressure by offering alternate forms of worship and belief, but it is a solution that offers essential Truth and Order.


The parish community does not alter the Bible, change the Creeds, pervert the Sacraments or rationalize Morality. On the contrary, the parish community discerns the Bible, believes in the Creeds, experiences the Sacraments and encourages living the Christian life. This is the legacy of the Affirmation of St. Louis.


The Affirmation of St. Louis: The Magna Carta of Anglicanism


The Affirmation of St. Louis was described, by the late Perry Laukhuff, President of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, as “the Magna Carta of Continuing Anglicans.” 76 In 2007, it will be celebrating its 40th anniversary and it is regarded, by many including this author, in the same breath as the “Creeds and the articles of Religion.” 77


The Principles of Doctrine, written for the most part by the Rev. Dr. Carmino de Catanzaro, future first bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, is a definitive statement of Anglo-Catholic belief. Most of the Continuing Churches claim it as a foundation of their faith. Related Churches around the world, such as the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, the Traditional Church of England, orthodox Anglican Churches in Asia and Africa proclaim the principles of the Affirmation of St. Louis as their own.


Even the Eastern Orthodox quarterly review, Doxa has describes the Affirmation "an amazing document" 78 and similar to an ‘Orthodox Confession of Faith.’ This outside source expresses what Anglican Catholics believe, which is that it gives strength to the traditional Anglican and to read it “quickens the spirit.” 79


As the Anglican Communion continues to experience institutional distress, the Affirmation of St. Louis remains a positive reminder for traditional Anglicans within the Anglican Communion that there are ways of proclaiming Anglican faith authentically. The Affirmation is a model for those within the entire Anglican Continuum who may wish to hold onto the essentials of Catholic Truth and Order whilst remaining faithful members of the Body of Christ.


END



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  78. Laukhuff, 1.

  79. Laukhuff, 1.

* This 2006 essay served as the precursor to my Doctor of Ministry thesis. The image at the top of the page is the Portuguese translation of what would become my 2010 Doctoral Thesis entitled, in English, Recognizing Anglican Catholic Identity: An Historical Review of the Anglican Catholic Movement, the Affirmation of St. Louis and the Traditional Anglican Communion.


Original paper submitted as a course requirement for D.Min. 8526 - Ministry in the Light of Contemporary Theology - - to Dr. Jonathan R. Wilson - - Acadia Divinity College - Published on July 26th, 2006 (Revised on August 19th, 2023)


© Dr. Charles Warner 2023

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