CANONS ECCLESIASTICAL OF THE APOSTOLIC EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The most recent edition of the Canons Ecclesiastical of the Apostolic Episcopal Church was promulgated on 6 December 2019.
In these Canons, the phrase “the Church” shall be understood to mean the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
I. OF THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
1. We profess to be a Branch of the Eastern Church and, therefore, a valid branch of the Universal Church, whose Symbol of Faith is the apostolic, eastern confession, and whose Orders through Episcopal Succession are derived from the ancient Eastern episcopate which is traced back to the primitive Church of the East and to the Apostles and to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The character of the Church shall be that of an Autogenic and Autocephalous Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction or Part of the Body of Christ that is the One Holy Eastern Catholic and Apostolic Church, in spiritual union with all jurisdictions recognizing the ecumenical unity of the Undivided Christian Church, prior to its first division in 1054 A.D.; and as such to perpetuate the Ancient Catholic Apostolic Faith, teachings, traditions, customs, practices, rites, ceremonies and discipline as spread by the Apostles of Jesus Christ and their successors in all parts of the world; and to maintain in unbroken succession the Line of the Apostolic Succession derived from the merger and fusion of the Syrian-Antiochene, Syrian-Malabar, Armenian-Uniate, Chaldean-Uniate, Syro-Chaldean, Order of Corporate Reunion, Old Catholic, Non-juring and Anglican branches of the Undivided Church and conferred upon the Apostolic Episcopal Church through the act of consecration of His Beatitude Mar David I, same having taken place in England, June 6th 1946, at the hands of the Patriarch of Glastonbury, Mar Georgius I, and five Bishops of the ancient Catholic Apostolic Church, known as The Catholicate of the West; and to teach the said Faith in accordance with the definitions of the Sacred Scriptures, the ancient Creeds and the seven Ecumenical Councils, and as preserved in Holy Tradition; and to preach the Gospel, administer the Sacraments, offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and Divine Services; and by class and correspondence instruction and the issuance of appropriate diplomas in recognition of accomplished work; and to declare and ordain duly prepared and qualified candidates to the offices or orders of ministers, deaconesses, deacons, priests, bishops, archbishops, metropolitans, primates and patriarchs as the case may be; and to establish and affiliate branch churches and religious centres, and religious orders and societies; and to acquire property through purchase, gift and legacy; and to publish religious literature; and to cultivate the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and in particular the gift of Divine Healing; to work for the Reunion of Christendom and the Peace of the World according to the understanding of Universal Brotherhood; and to declare and prepare for the ultimate manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ generally referred to as His Coming Again in Glory and Truth.
a. The Church is both Traditionalist Anglican and Orthodox in its ethos. The Church is a voluntary religious non-profit association dependent on its Canons.
3. a. In 1932 the legislature of the State of New York gave particular legal status to the Apostolic Episcopal Church by enacting a special article of the Religious Corporations Law (art. 3-A., chap. 597 of the Laws of 1932) which became a law on April 1, 1932, when it was signed by the governor, Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt, subsequently President of the United States. In 1933 the law was amended providing for granting of ecclesiastical degrees of orders in theology, which became a law on April 3, 1933, when it was signed by Gov. Herbert H. Lehman. Under this legislative charter, which remains in force today, the Apostolic Episcopal Church, its Metropolitan Synod, its parishes, and its religious orders derive their original organization.
b. The Apostolic Episcopal Church has mandatory tax exemption as a church under 26 US Code 508(c)(1)(A) and donations to it are tax deductible under 26 US Code 170(b)(1)(A)(i).
c. The Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church is constituted a corporation sole with perpetual succession in the State of Hawaii, with file number 314114 D9.
c. The Western Orthodox University is defined as an integrated auxiliary of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, being its seminary. It is a 501(c)(3) organization and a public charity under IRS Code section 509(a)(1).
d. Over the years, the Church has expanded its activities from its origins in New York to other states in the United States and where this is the case, the authorities in those states may be authorized by Metropolitan Synod to form such corporations and other entities as are necessary for the conduct and good order of the affairs of the Church, without prejudice to the Church’s parent organization and its integrated auxiliaries.
4. The Church is International in character, and is represented in various countries by Provincial and Regionary Bishops and/or Vicars General whose duty it is to minister to those persons who desire to receive the ministrations of the Church, to support ordinands and lay ministers in their completion of the various tests and pre-requisites for admission, and to be responsible for the organisation and financial administration of the Church in their respective territories.
5. Where the duties of clergy and other members of the Church are described below, they shall be understood as if the phrase “provided such an action is compliant with all relevant secular laws and regulations in the jurisdiction(s) where it is to be performed” were postpended in each case. It is recognised that in some cases, particularly in respect of marriage laws, the law may vary widely from one jurisdiction to another, and what is legal in one place may not be legal elsewhere.
6. No part of the Canons of the Church shall be understood, interpreted or relied on as offering guidance or advice on any aspect of secular, civil or criminal law whatsoever. All persons affected by these provisions are recommended to seek independent legal advice before proceeding.
7. Changes to these Canons may be made by proposal of the Metropolitan Synod, a simple majority being sufficient, and assent of the Primate, or by the Primate motu proprio.
II. OF THE FAITH AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH
1. The Apostolic Episcopal Church regards the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith, and as containing all things necessary to salvation.
2. We accept the Apostles’ Creed, as the Baptismal symbol, and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
3. We accept seven sacraments: baptism, anointing (confirmation or chrismation), communion, penance, holy orders, marriage, and holy unction. The Eucharist (Holy Communion, Mass or Divine Mystery) is definitely regarded as a sacrifice.
4. We are guided by the Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins: that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all is truly Catholic (universal).
5. The chief Mission of the Church shall be:
- To bring into clearer manifestation the Ancient Fourfold Mission of the Universal Church, viz.:
a) True Apostolicity.
b) True Prophetic Office.
c) Unbiased and unhampered preaching of Christ the Messiah.
d) Demonstrating DIVINE LOVE through true pastoral work.
- To awaken in the minds and hearts of mankind all over the earth the Blessed Hope of the Return of Jesus the Christ, and to prepare ourselves for His Coming.
- The awakening in man of his true destiny, that he may once again exercise those charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, with which the Church was once so generously endowed.
- To demonstrate before the world the Grace of the Sacramental Life as it can manifest in body, soul and spirit.
- To revive and practice the Divine Gift of Healing.
- To act as a center for the reunion of Christendom; especially Eastern and Western Branches of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic and Orthodox Church.
III. OF MEMBERSHIP OF THE CHURCH
1. Membership of the Church is as follows:
a. The Clergy, consisting of those men who have received Holy Orders in the Church, or have been incardinated into it having received Holy Orders in some other body, and who either hold current Faculties or are retired from active ministry. The Church admits married or unmarried men to its clergy; it does not admit women to Holy Orders, but preserves the ancient lay ministry of Deaconess.
b. The Laity, consisting of those persons who fulfil a Lay Ministry within the Church, or who seek its ministrations through adherence to its worship and affiliation with its mission.
IV. OF THE GOVERNANCE OF THE CHURCH
1. The system of governance of the Church as a whole is through the Metropolitan Synod. The Metropolitan Synod shall consist of the Primate and Presiding Bishop, who is its Ecclesiastical Administrator (except under the provision of Canon IV 7 (b) below), together with senior members of the clergy nominated by him. A member other than the Primate may resign membership of the Metropolitan Synod in order to retire from the active exercise of their office within the Church. The Primate may remove a member from Metropolitan Synod for cause, and shall normally publish his judgement. There is provision for lay representation on Metropolitan Synod as and when there is a sufficient permanent lay presence to enable members to be elected; ultimately this provision would allow for a full House of Clergy and House of Laity to be formed when the Church is of sufficient size in the future.
2. Although a bishop of the Church is customarily appointed to a titular See, appointment to the Episcopal Order is conferred ad personam (to the person concerned) within the Church and does not automatically carry with it the implication of territorial diocesan governance or hierarchical responsibility for clergy and communities. To a large extent, clergy and their communities function autonomously provided that they remain within the ethos and requirements of the Canons of the Church.
3. Appointment of a bishop or priest to an office which has specific responsibilities for governance is recognised through an additional appointment to a position as Provincial, Regionary, Head of Mission or similar. Such appointment will be formally made through the issuance of Faculties by the Primate.
a. Clergy who are retired from office may not ordain or consecrate any person, nor issue any clerical appointment, without specific Faculties in each instance issued by the Primate. Retired clergy may, if they wish, assist serving clergy in the administration of worship and in such administrative duties as shall be agreed from time to time by the Provincial in charge of the mission where service is to take place, or by the Primate if there is no Provincial appointed. This measure shall not prevent retired clergy from acting within any other communion in which they serve bivocationally.
4. Due to geographical distance, the Metropolitan Synod is rarely able to be convened in person. The Metropolitan Synod or a committee thereof is empowered to undertake specific duties and commissions that may arise from time to time as a result of the referral of matters either by the Primate or by other members (including by non-members of Metropolitan Synod who have petitioned a member on a given matter). Such referral shall be by means of a specific Act in each instance. A committee of Metropolitan Synod shall be constituted by the Primate. Where practicable, meetings of Metropolitan Synod or committees formed therefrom may be conducted by electronic means or via telephone conference.
a. In the event of a referral which requires as a precondition the participation of the full membership of Metropolitan Synod, the referring member of Metropolitan Synod shall have the responsibility of informing each of the other members, including any who are not contactable by electronic means, and obtaining from them an acknowledgement of their receipt of a notice of the matter at hand before any deliberation takes place. If an acknowledgement is not obtained from any member, then the full Metropolitan Synod cannot be constituted and any vote or decision made under such circumstances shall be invalid on that account.
5. All contentious matters for decision by the Metropolitan Synod will be resolved by means of unanimous decision where possible. Simple majority shall not by itself be considered sufficient means of resolving an issue since the Metropolitan Synod shall be charged with the responsibility to reflect all aspects of opinion within the Church and to guard against division within its membership and the possibility of schism. Where possible, Metropolitan Synod shall seek compromise and act not only from personal conviction but with the overall good of the Church in mind.
a. Any member of Metropolitan Synod may appoint another member as their proxy should they wish, but shall do so afresh on each occasion when this is required, and shall appoint said proxy by means of written notice to the Primate as Ecclesiastical Administrator.
6. All candidates for ordination or incardination, and all candidates for consecration to the Episcopal Order, shall normally have received the unanimous support of the Ordination Committee of Metropolitan Synod before being admitted.
7. The Primate and Presiding Bishop is the administrative Head of the Church. The Primate holds office for life or until his retirement or resignation. A former Primate shall have the designation Emeritus Primate for so long as he remains a member of the Church. The Primate’s office embraces responsibility for the Church as a whole, and the formal role of the Metropolitan Synod as presently constituted is to advise him and assist him in the process of its sound governance.
a. The Primate shall appoint his successor from among the bishops who are members of Metropolitan Synod. If he fails to appoint a successor, or if that successor is prevented from taking office by reason of illness or death, then the power of appointment is vested in Metropolitan Synod which shall nominate a successor from among the bishops of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
b. A Primate preparing for retirement in his final months of office may delegate the role of Ecclesiastical Administrator of Metropolitan Synod to his co-adjutor cum jure successionis.
8. The acts of the Primate and Presiding Bishop motu proprio are binding upon Metropolitan Synod, and shall usually take the form of Primatial Decrees. The Primate is not obliged to seek the advice of the Metropolitan Synod, but shall normally do so (at least in respect of referral to a committee of Metropolitan Synod) according to his judgement in the conduct of any business which has a bearing upon the Church as a whole or that is contentious or potentially contentious in nature. In rare and exceptional cases where in his view the good of the Church demands it, and in particular to prevent any danger of the Church falling into schism or apostasy, the Primate may overrule a decision of Metropolitan Synod and impose his own Decree in its place. The decision of the Primate is final and not subject to appeal.
9. In proceedings of the Metropolitan Synod, silence shall normally be construed as assent. A member of the Synod who dissents or wishes to ask for time to reflect or pray on or discuss an issue further must make these feelings known to fellow members of the Synod at the earliest opportunity, and bears the responsibility for doing so himself. For practical purposes, it is assumed that members of the Synod will respond to matters before them within twenty-four hours of their receipt.
10. Correspondence concerning the Church that is sent to the Primate or the Secretariat, excepting matters of a personal nature, will normally also be copied to relevant members of the Metropolitan Synod. Except in cases where pastoral confidentiality has been specifically requested and granted in advance, correspondents and clergy must not assume that their correspondence with the Church will not be shared with members of the Metropolitan Synod. The Metropolitan Synod undertakes, however, that any matters of sensitivity will not be discussed outside the Synod except with the express permission both of the Synod as a whole, and wherever possible that of the correspondent concerned.
11. The governance of parishes of the Church in the State of New York shall be in accordance with the provisions of Article 3A of the Religious Corporations Law of the State of New York.
12. No person may incorporate any corporation, or establish any non-profit or other entity using the name “Apostolic Episcopal Church” without first having received the consent of Metropolitan Synod, nor may any website be maintained that uses the name and distinctive emblems of the Apostolic Episcopal Church without receiving the consent of the Primate.
V. OF CONDITIONS OF ADMISSION AND INCARDINATION OF CLERGY
See also Canon X: Of Ordination and Incardination
1. Candidates for admission as clergy in the Major Orders must be men.
2. Prospective ordinands are welcome to discuss their plans at an early stage before completing their educational pre-requisites; this enables them to be attached as lay ministers to one of the Church’s Missions or intercommunion partners while in training. It is expected that ordinands will complete a bachelor’s degree in theology or divinity, or an equivalent qualification, from a seminary or university whose educational standards are regarded by the Church as acceptable. The Church maintains the Western Orthodox University as its Seminary, which trains ordinands via correspondence and mentored study for the issuance of credentials in theology for the purposes of ordination in the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
3. Nomination of a candidate for ordination or incardination should be addressed to the Secretariat, which may be made direct if the country in which the candidate lives does not have an Official Representative. The application should clearly set forth the basis for membership, provide copies of all religious and academic credentials, and further testify to the applicant’s good character and creditable work in Christian service. For prospective incardinands, full information on Holy Orders previously received and on ministerial work to date should be included, along with a Letter of Consent from the prospective incardinand’s Ordinary, stating that he has no objection to the application being made and will grant Excardination to the candidate in the event that he should complete the process successfully.
4. The Primate, either directly or through the Director of Ordinands in that country or other Representative, makes inquiry into each application and will then refer the matter to the Ordination Committee of Metropolitan Synod. The Ordination Committee will report to the Primate on the suitability of the candidate, and must normally agree unanimously that he is suitable in order for him to be admitted. The decision as to whether the candidate should be admitted to a course of study leading to ordination, or should be incardinated, and under what conditions of additional preparation, if any, will then be communicated to the candidate; which decision, whether favourable or unfavourable, is final and not subject to question.
5. The Church may allow for bivocational service within those Churches with which it is in intercommunion. Clergy serving in churches with which the Church is in intercommunion may be incardinated to serve in the Church on a temporary or permanent basis without prerequisites, on application to the Primate who will issue them with Faculties.
VI. OF THE DUTIES OF CLERGY AND LAY MINISTERS
1. Clergy and lay ministers of the Church are expected to exercise a purposeful Christian ministry in keeping with the position of faith and mission of the Church, and to propagate the Church by every proper means in their power. They are required to maintain contact with the Primate or his Representatives, and to advise promptly of any change of address.
2. Clergy may express their vocation through self-supporting parish or missionary work, or through following a suitable profession, such as teaching, counselling or other secular work that offers opportunity for the provision of service to others and that is not contrary to Christian principle.
3. Clergy in the major orders may not bear arms or otherwise compromise their office through inappropriate secular engagement. They may not serve in the armed services except in the capacity of chaplain or occupy the position of judge of a secular court. They may engage in political campaigning or run for political office only with the permission of Metropolitan Synod and only insofar as such activity does not compromise or reflect discredit upon the Church or infringe upon the requirements to maintain the Church’s status as a Federal tax-exempt body. As ministers of religion they are exempted as a matter of conscience from serving on juries.
VII. OF DISCIPLINARY PROVISIONS
1. Any member of the Church may approach the Metropolitan Synod and request a hearing of a matter of concern or seek advice and spiritual guidance. It is always best to seek advice earlier rather than later in a situation that may have implications for present or future difficulty or conflict. Members should not be concerned in so doing that they are wasting the Synod’s time or burdening its members unduly; it is better that they do so than that a small problem be allowed to grow into a large one where early intervention would have prevented this. In usual circumstances, because of the practical difficulties of constituting the full Synod, such a hearing will be comprised of a committee of Synod members delegated by the Primate.
a. Clergy who serve bivocationally will normally be subject both to the disciplinary procedures of these Canons and to the canons of the other communion in which they serve. Where there is any conflict between them and these Canons, these Canons shall have primacy.
b. Contact with the Metropolitan Synod should be made via the Chancellor and the Secretariat, whose contact details are available on the website of the Church.
2. Proceedings of the Metropolitan Synod regarding the discipline of members shall normally be public. Any member of clergy who is the subject of proceedings before the Metropolitan Synod shall have the right to be accompanied or represented by a solicitor or other person trained in Canon Law, or a friend. The Metropolitan Synod shall have the right to delegate any part of their representation during the proceedings to an attorney, solicitor, advocate or other person trained in Canon Law. All legal representation shall be at the expense of the party who employs it.
3. In the event that the behaviour of any member of clergy or lay minister gives rise to concern, any person, whether lay or ordained, shall have the right to report the matter to the Metropolitan Synod using the contact information on the website. It shall be the responsibility of the Metropolitan Synod to provide pastoral care for those involved, with the intention that the matters that have given rise to concern be investigated and dealt with as is necessary. If, despite this, the behaviour concerned continues, the Metropolitan Synod may issue an official Ad Clerum or other Notice dissociating itself from the behaviour concerned and suspending the faculties of the person in question on a temporary or indefinite basis.
a. The same arrangements shall apply in the event of any dispute between clergy or between clergy and laity that has Church-wide implications and thus requires the involvement of the Metropolitan Synod. It is also open to the Metropolitan Synod to convene a formal hearing in relation to any such dispute.
b. Clergy and lay ministers are required as a condition of their obligation of Canonical Obedience to inform the Metropolitan Synod immediately in the event that they are convicted of any criminal offence or are involved in any situation, whether criminal or not, that is liable to be injurious to the good name of the Church.
c. Clergy and lay ministers must not issue statements that are or may appear to an observer to be made on behalf of the Church as a whole without clearing those statements in advance with the Metropolitan Synod. This applies in particular to any statements made to members of the press.
4. A member of clergy or lay minister who is subject to the measures detailed in Canon VII:3 but who subsequent to censure desists from the behaviour concerned and expresses repentance for his or her actions may have this fact recorded in an official Notice issued by the Metropolitan Synod and may have any penalty fully or partially remitted.
5. In the event that a member of clergy or lay minister is accused of misconduct, the complaint must be made to the Metropolitan Synod with full details of the matters complained of, and this must be signed by the person or persons concerned. Anonymous accusations will not be accepted.
a. A formal hearing before the Metropolitan Synod shall be arranged and the member of clergy or lay minister concerned shall be requested to attend the hearing together with his or her representatives. A notice period of twenty-eight days will normally be given. Clergy or lay ministers who are unable or unwilling to attend the hearing may submit evidence in writing for the consideration of the Synod. Where geographical considerations make a hearing in person impractical, it is open to the Synod to conduct a hearing by electronic means or to delegate authority to a senior member of clergy based in the geographical area concerned.
b. The Synod will consider the evidence and representations made to it and will find the allegation Proven or Not Proven. For an allegation that is Proven, the Synod may impose sanctions including the admonishment of the member of clergy or lay minister concerned, and the suspension or removal of his or her faculties. In exceptionally severe cases, the Synod may recommend to the Primate that the sanction of excommunication, which is the most serious available to the Church, be applied.
6. An appeal against a ruling of the Metropolitan Synod may be made to the Primate within twenty-eight days of the publication of the ruling, setting out the grounds for appeal including the substantive evidence under which the ruling may be deemed unsafe. The Primate shall hear any appeal in person, giving a notice period of twenty-eight days for the hearing, and he may choose to be accompanied by any legal or other advisor. If the member of clergy or lay minister is unable or unwilling to attend the hearing, he may submit evidence in writing for the consideration of the Primate. The Primate after due prayer and consideration has the right to endorse or overturn a decision of the Metropolitan Synod, and will normally publish his judgement.
7. A member of clergy of the Church who resigns from membership shall not normally be eligible for readmission except in special circumstances. A member of clergy seeking such readmission shall make application to the Metropolitan Synod giving a full account of the reasons for his actions. The Synod shall investigate the matter and issue a ruling within fourteen days of receiving the application for reinstatement. No member of clergy of the Church may be readmitted after resigning for a second time.
8. Clergy are under obligation to regard the promises made at Ordination as binding in conscience. All clergy and lay ministers serve under Canonical Obedience to the Primate and in so doing accept the authority of the Primate and the right of the Primate to delegate any aspect of that authority to the Metropolitan Synod or any other member of clergy.
9. All members of the clergy and all lay ministers of the Church are bound by these Canons at all times while they remain members of the clergy or lay ministers of this Church. In accepting the role of clergy or lay ministers, they accept both this obedience and the authority of the Primate and the Metropolitan Synod in administering the Canons and, with the help of God in prayer, in rendering any form of judgement based upon them.
10. Where a member of clergy or lay minister of the Church is diagnosed with any physical or mental ailment that will affect the performance of his duties, he or she must inform his or her Ordinary directly.
a. Clergy and lay ministers are required to inform the Church in the event that they are diagnosed with any form of mental illness or mental impairment, and are likewise required to disclose any past such diagnoses upon joining the Church. The Church does not bar persons from ministry on these grounds. However, it recognises that in the interests of the safeguarding of the faithful, it may be necessary to provide additional support and oversight for the member concerned. It must be understood that such support and oversight is inevitably limited by the scope of the Church as a voluntary organisation with restricted facilities. In some cases, these facilities may not be sufficient to manage particular situations effectively. In these cases, the Church will take appropriate action to protect the best interests of all parties concerned.
11. No member of clergy or lay minister may form an intimate relationship of an exclusive nature, whether celibate or not, with another member of clergy or lay minister of the Church, nor with any candidate for ordination or incardination.
VIII. OF THE SACRAMENTS
1. We are a Church in valid apostolic succession from Jesus Christ and the Apostles and practice the seven sacraments handed down to us through their tradition, that is to say: Baptism, Anointing (Confirmation or Chrismation), The Eucharist (Holy Communion, Mass or Divine Mystery), Penance, Holy Orders, Marriage, and Holy Unction (Anointing of the Sick). We may vary the way in which these sacraments are performed, for example through the use of different liturgies, providing always that the Orthodoxy of the sacrament in matter, form and intent is preserved. We understand the sacraments to be outward signs of an inward spiritual grace.
2. With the exception of the sacrament of Holy Orders, clergy of the Church should not normally deny the sacraments to those who ask for them, provided that the reasonable discretion of the minister shall apply with regard to the choice of the time and appropriate place for their administration. The minister should also have regard as to whether the clergy of other denominations may be better placed to serve in the particular situation concerned.
3. The Church recognises that Holy Baptism may in theory be performed by any adult provided the correct form, matter and intent is present. However, it is usually performed by the clergy. The use simultaneously of the spoken formula of the Holy Trinity and of water by the minister of the sacrament are considered obligatory. The usual means of baptism in the Church is by aspersion or affusion, although where the layperson concerned requests it and it is practical to arrange, baptism by submersion is also permissible.
4. A bishop is usually the minister responsible for Confirmation. However, in cases of necessity, a bishop may issue Confirmation Faculties to an experienced priest. Priests may in other situations administer Confirmation where a bishop is not available, specifically in the case of the baptism of adults, the admission of a baptised adult to full communion or the baptism of a person in danger of death.
5. The Eucharist may either be celebrated in Latin, in the languages of the historic Orthodox liturgies, or in the vernacular.
a. Wine must be used during the Eucharist; this is defined as the fermented juice of the grape; the use of unfermented grape juice is not permitted. It is acceptable for Communion to be given either by intinction or into the hand.
b. The Church approves for use The Divine Liturgy. Holy Eucharist. According to the Order and Usage established in the Apostolic Episcopal Church, published in 1943 by Archbishop Brooks. The ancient, historic divine liturgies of St. James, St. Mark, St. Clement, St. Gregory, St. Thaddaeus, and St. John are all authorized for use in this church, as is the Book of Common Prayer (1662 and other editions up to 1928). Other liturgies may be authorized for use in cases of pastoral necessity.
c. Those who wish to receive Holy Communion should first have received Confirmation. However, admission to Holy Communion is ultimately at the discretion of the celebrant, and exception may be made, for example, in the case of a person in danger of death.
d. A person who is excommunicated from the Church may not receive the Sacraments until they have completed such penance and corrective action as may be prescribed for the lifting of the excommunication, and complied with any conditions that may be attached thereby.
6. Where it is desirable the Blessed Sacrament may be exposed for the purposes of prayer and adoration.
7. The Church makes auricular confession available to its members along with pastoral counselling so far as resources permit. We recognise that the seal of the confessional is absolute.
8. Holy Matrimony is understood by the Church to be a sacrament, following the definitions of St Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, supp. Q.42). The policy of the Church is that two baptised persons of the opposite sex who are not under any impediment preventing them from marrying may proceed to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony provided that such a service is permitted by law in the jurisdiction concerned and any applicable legal requirements have first been complied with.
a. Marriage is not to be undertaken lightly. The member of clergy should in each case satisfy himself that the couple are fully aware of the solemn and lifelong nature of the promises which they are to make, and of the duties of Christian family life, particularly with regard to the upbringing of children.
b. It is not a requirement of the Church that marriage be legally registered, except where it would be illegal not to do so. The Church records all sacramental marriages equally and does not distinguish based on whether they are legally registered or not. Where a couple intend not to register their marriage legally, they are recommended to seek legal advice to ensure that appropriate provision is made in the event of the death of a spouse or the breakdown of the marriage.
c. The Church recognizes all forms of Holy Matrimony that have historically received the sanction of the Church, following for precedent the practices of the Church in England throughout the ages.
9. The Church will permit divorced and remarried persons to marry, provided that the minister concerned is satisfied that the moral intentions of the couple concerned are in keeping with the nature of Christian matrimony. The Church maintains a tribunal for the consideration of the marital state, which is empowered on behalf of the Church to issue an annulment of a marriage that has not been validly contracted or a dispensation for divorced persons to remarry. Such decisions are made within the Church and have no bearing upon civil law.
10. No member of clergy shall be compelled to celebrate any form of marriage, to conduct any form of blessing or to marry persons who have been previously divorced if this is not in accordance with his conscience.
11. Sacramental Certificates must be issued for all baptisms, confirmations, and blessings. Clergy must issue their own sacramental certificates and maintain a record of these in a register. All certificates for Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders and appointments in the Church itself are issued centrally. Sample forms of wording for sacramental certificates are available from the Metropolitan Synod.
12. Holy Oils are available from the Ordinary to clergy of the Church. In the case of the Oil of the Sick, a priest may bless oil when necessary, but shall do so during the same service in which the oil is to be administered.
13. Clergy must not attempt to conduct services of exorcism involving human or animal subjects without first having sought and been granted the permission of the Metropolitan Synod in each case. There are serious legal implications that may follow from such services. Experienced clergy of the minor order of Exorcist and above may apply for a faculty to exorcise places and objects (only), which is a less problematic area.
14. Clergy who wish to undertake healing ministry that involves physical contact with subjects are strongly recommended to seek accredited training in their chosen method. They are also advised that they may require insurance cover to undertake such ministry. No healing ministry should take place without a second person being present to act as a witness.
IX. OF THE CLERGY AND LAY OFFICERS
1. Clergy members of the Church are those ordained to the following Major Orders: Deacon; Priest; Bishop. Persons in Minor Orders are those admitted to the Orders of Cleric; Ostiarius; Lector; Exorcist; Acolyte; Subdeacon. Lay Ministers may also include such offices as Minister of Music. The Order of Deaconesses is a lay Order within the Church. Any professed religious and laity who shall belong to named religious orders, societies or sodalities designated as being under the Church’s protection shall also be regarded as part of those persons affiliated to the Church where appropriate. The Primate may upon recommendation of the Metropolitan Synod appoint to offices including those of Chancellor, Registrar, Treasurer and Secretary, each of which may also be held by a layperson, and shall in each case define the responsibilities of the office concerned. Such offices as are applicable to monastic communities may be created. The Primate may create additional offices within the Church as are necessary for its proper administration.
2. No member of clergy or person in minor orders or person holding a lay office of the Church shall be considered an employee of the Church under any circumstances whatsoever. All appointments within the Church are made conditionally upon this understanding.
3. The Church makes no distinction between those of its clergy who undertake secular work and those who are able to undertake ministry without the need for a secular occupation.
4. Those ordained to the Minor Orders of Ostiarius, Lector, Exorcist, Acolyte and Subdeacon may discharge the responsibilities particular to those offices. It is not necessary to receive the minor orders before ordination as a deacon, although it is generally considered useful. All persons in Minor Orders are responsible to the Metropolitan Synod who may delegate this authority to a bishop as their Ordinary or to a priest.
5. The Church preserves the ancient lay order of Deaconess and will set aside women to this order.
6. Deacons are men ordained to the Diaconate. They may perform funeral services (but may not celebrate a Funeral Eucharist) and baptisms. At Holy Communion, they should read the Gospel, may preach the homily, and should assist the priests and bishops present. They may perform marriages and blessings of civil marriage. All Deacons are responsible to the Metropolitan Synod who may delegate this authority to a priest. A Deacon is addressed as The Reverend X, or in speech by his Christian name.
7. Priests are men ordained to the Priesthood. They may celebrate the Eucharist, perform marriages, blessings of civil marriage and baptisms, anoint the sick, hear confessions and perform funeral services including a Funeral Eucharist. They may administer Confirmation in conformity with Canon VIII:4. All Priests are responsible to the Metropolitan Synod and will be assigned to an Ordinary. A priest is addressed as The Reverend Father X. A senior priest may be designated an Archpriest.
8. Bishops are men consecrated to the Episcopate. They can perform all ecclesiastical duties and confer all Holy Orders; they may also administer Confirmation. A bishop is addressed as The Most Reverend X, or in speech as Bishop [Christian name]. A Chorbishop is a full bishop with limited faculties, and the equivalent of a suffragan bishop in other churches.
9. The consecration of a bishop is valid when performed by at least one bishop and witnessed. A photographic record of the key stages in the ceremony should also be kept. All Bishops must be in valid Apostolic Succession.
10. All clergy below the rank of bishop shall be assigned to an Ordinary who will be responsible for their pastoral advice and guidance as required.
11. Clergy who wish to accept any lay or ordained office in another communion concurrently with their position in this Church must first seek the permission of the Metropolitan Synod.
12. Clergy who are approved to serve bivocationally are subject to restrictions on bivocational service such that:
a. they may not serve in any body that confesses a position on Faith that is substantially different from that of the Church;
b. they may not serve in any body that includes clergy who have been excommunicated or deprived of faculties for disciplinary cause from the Church or any of its associated communions, or that admits such clergy to sacramental roles as visitors.
13. The Apostolic Episcopal Church retains its own independent jurisdictional descent from the Order of Corporate Reunion and its clergy are automatically members of its own branch of that Order. The Apostolic Episcopal Church is not associated with any other group using the name of the Order of Corporate Reunion and membership of such groups is not permitted for clergy of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
14. All clergy shall keep a criminal record background check on file with the Church at all times, and must produce this as a condition of admission to ordination or incardination.
15. Members of clergy commit to a minimum term of service of five years under the terms of their Oath of Canonical Obedience. During that minimum term, the member concerned may not request excardination to another communion.
a. A member of clergy who is still within the minimum term concerned but nevertheless feels unable in conscience to continue in ministry under the aegis of the Church may ask to be placed on the Inactive List and will remain there until the expiry of his minimum term.
15. The Primate may confer, and the Metropolitan Synod may recommend to the Primate that he confer, emeritus or honorary titles on clergy who have performed signal service to the Church. The Order of St James and the honorary degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology awarded by the Church under its powers delegated by the State of New York are the Church’s main means of such recognition.
X. OF ORDINATION AND INCARDINATION
1. In conformity with Canon V:4, all candidates for ordination or incardination must normally have received the unanimous approval of the Ordination Committee of Metropolitan Synod.
2. A candidate for ordination shall have made proper application and shall have provided evidence of his religious and secular qualifications along with details of suitability for ordination and a criminal background check. He must provide evidence that he has been baptised and confirmed. The Church looks for candidates well versed in the Christian faith, with a clearly expressed vocation, and whose ministerial intentions are such that the Church is an appropriate vehicle for that vocation. In selecting any candidate for ordination, the Church will have regard to its available resources, which may limit the number of otherwise suitable applicants who can be accepted in practice. In particular, candidates cannot generally be ordained in a country where effective episcopal oversight cannot be offered.
3. The Church does not usually ordain persons with serious criminal convictions, even in the event that the person concerned can show that he has taken sincere steps to reform his life since being released from gaol. In the case of minor or spent criminal convictions the discretion of the Ordination Committee of Metropolitan Synod will apply as to whether the candidate can be approved.
4. All candidates for Holy Orders must complete appropriate educational prerequisites before they can be ordained priest. These are defined by the Church as a standard of theological education that is a first degree in theology, or its equivalent. Candidates may meet these prerequisites by demonstrating prior theological studies at a legitimate institution, or by demonstrating ministerial service that has clearly shown them to have an adequate educational background for the proper discharge of the duties of ministry.
a. All candidates are encouraged to continue their theological education after receiving Holy Orders. Evidence of such commitment to personal development shall normally be looked for in any candidate for the Episcopate. As a guideline, a candidate for the Episcopate must demonstrate through proven accomplishment that his professional standing in ministry is equivalent to the doctoral level.
b. Candidates for Holy Orders will not be debarred from the completion of educational prerequisites for financial reasons wherever possible.
5. Candidates who wish to incardinate from other churches must be able to produce Letters of Excardination from their current and any previous denomination in the event that their application is accepted. They will be required to explain fully their reasons for wishing to incardinate, and may be required to complete additional educational prerequisites. They may be required to be reordained subconditionally. Candidates will not be incardinated where it is not possible to offer effective episcopal oversight in the country concerned. The Church does not recognise any form of ordination that is not conducted physically by the laying on of hands by a bishop in the Apostolic Succession.
a. Bishops are permitted to incardinate from churches with which the Church is not in intercommunion only on rare occasions, and particular conditions may be attached to their admission.
b. Clergy wishing to incardinate from or serve bivocationally in churches with which the Church is in intercommunion can be admitted by the Primate subject to a Letter of Consent from the Head of their current church. They may be issued with temporary or permanent Faculties as appropriate.
6. Holy Orders are bestowed in public services at which Holy Communion is celebrated. Those wishing to become candidates for Holy Orders should be aware that they may be required to travel to a country in which bishops of the Church are resident in order to be ordained. The bishops of the Church are not usually able to accept invitations to travel overseas for the purpose of conducting services of ordination, nor can they accept ordinands who are not resident in a country where there is an existing mission to which they can be attached for training. For all new clergy the first year is probationary, and permanent faculties are issued upon satisfactory completion of that year.
7. Once Holy Orders are bestowed, they are permanent and cannot be resigned. However, clergy wishing to return to lay life may execute an Instrument of Resignation from Active Ministry if they wish, which will enable them to remain within the Church as retired or inactive clergy. Clergy should also have regard to the provisions of Canon IX:14 with respect to minimum terms of service and their effects.
8. Clergy wishing to resign from the Church in order to exercise their ministry in another denomination must apply to the Metropolitan Synod for an Instrument of Excardination subject first to the terms of Canon IX:14.
a. Resigning clergy are reminded that any form of re-ordination to the Holy Orders they have previously received that is not specifically conducted sub conditione is inherently blasphemous.
b. The admission of a person who is either under canonical obedience to this Church, or who is under the penalty of excommunication or other grave sanction imposed by the Church, to any other communion without Letters of Excardination having first been issued is regarded as a grave ecclesiastical discourtesy. This Church will not admit a communion that acts in this manner to any form of dialogue or theological co-operation, nor will it permit its members to serve in that communion bivocationally.
XI. OF FINANCE
1. The Metropolitan Synod may appoint a member or non-member of the Church to act as Treasurer. The Treasurer shall be responsible to the Metropolitan Synod. He or she shall maintain accounts for the Church and shall present these at regular intervals. He or she will not be responsible for the accounts of individual communities, parishes or clergy.
2. No member of the Church’s clergy shall be entitled to receive any form of stipend or emolument whatsoever from the Church in recompense for their membership or service within the Church, and nor will the Church be responsible for the individual expenses of clergy. All clergy are to be fully self-supporting and shall offer their service to the Church voluntarily and without expectation of financial reward. They shall be responsible for their own tax affairs and in respect of any activities, such as community, parish, wedding or funeral ministry, for which they may receive donations, are considered by the Church to be self-employed.
3. Clergy and mission communities undertaking public ministry may solicit financial contributions from their community or parish in order to support the clergy, and some communities or parishes may be in a position to pay their clergy a stipend. Clergy shall not make their ministry conditional on receiving financial contributions, providing however that they shall not be required to offer ministry if it is not possible to cover their normal expenses in doing so. Such financial contributions shall be accepted by the relevant authorities of the parish or community on behalf of the clergyman, community or parish concerned and not on behalf of the Church.
4. It is strongly recommended that all communities and parishes that wish to solicit financial contributions should appoint their own treasurer, and that their treasurer should be responsible to the organising committee or council of the community or parish concerned. All such accounts are wholly independent of the Church and are the responsibility of the community or parish concerned solely. Whether or not a treasurer is appointed, all clergy must keep proper records of offerings received in the course of ministry and of the expenditure of those offerings. Such records shall be made available for inspection on request by the Metropolitan Synod or their deputed officers.
5. Clergy may also solicit a donation for the performance of the following services: funerals; blessings; healing ministry such as exorcisms; baptisms. They shall reduce their suggested donation in the event of proven financial need, though they will not be obliged to perform a service without their expenses such as travel and materials having been covered. For the funerals of babies and very young children, clergy should seek to cover expenses only.
6. Where an offering is given to a clergyman for a specific purpose, it shall be used for that purpose provided said purpose is not contrary to the law.
7. All clergy shall exercise integrity in their handling of money and specifically in the handling of money in the context of their ministry.
8. Clergy may discuss donations to specific works of the Church outside of the immediate concerns of their community or parish when potential donors wish to initiate such a discussion. A report of this discussion must be sent to the clergyman’s Ordinary who will determine whether the donation should be accepted and what conditions, if any, should attach to its acceptance.
9. The Metropolitan Synod shall have discretion to hear any proceedings relating to finance as those proceedings relate to the conduct of individual members of clergy or the Church as a whole, but shall not have responsibility for the financial affairs of autonomous communities, parishes or other external ministries of the clergy.
XII. OF RELATIONS WITH OTHER CHURCHES
1. The Church is a fully independent and autocephalous communion as recognized by law, and is not subject to the rule or jurisdiction of any other church.
a. The Church affirms that it is the sole and exclusive legitimate successor of the Apostolic Episcopal Church (The Holy Eastern Apostolic and Catholic Orthodox Church) as organized by Archbishop Arthur W. Brooks in 1925 and 1930.
2. The Church may execute agreements of intercommunion with fellow communities. In doing so, it will look for a substantially identical position on faith and for a canonical (as distinct from Apostolic) descent of the given community from an established historic communion. However, it should not be thought that intercommunion implies dogmatic agreement on all matters of faith and practice.
a. No communion shall be entitled to state that it is in intercommunion with the Church unless a specific written agreement exists in support of this.
b. The Church does not recognise “chains” of intercommunion, and holds that each church is autonomous as to its links of intercommunion.
c. Ecumenical matters are the normal remit of the Ecumenism Committee of Metropolitan Synod.
3. In order for the Church to recognise any sacrament as valid within its own boundaries, that sacrament must have been celebrated with the proper form and intent by a sacramental minister who has been ordained in the Apostolic Succession.
4. Clergy of the Church may if they wish accept invitations to preach or minister in churches that hold the Apostolic Succession. They may if they wish accept invitations to concelebrate the Eucharist with ministers of other churches who are ordained in the Apostolic Succession.
a. Clergy are always recommended to seek the guidance of their Ordinary in advance on all such matters, particularly where they involve churches with which the Church is not in intercommunion. They may also refer any matter to the Ecumenism Committee of Metropolitan Synod.
5. Clergy of the Church may if they wish choose to accept invitations to preach in churches not holding the Apostolic Succession. In the event that they should concelebrate the Eucharist with other ministers who are not Apostolically ordained, their own participation secures the validity of the sacrament.
a. Since these areas can involve significantly divergent views on fundamental matters of faith and practice, clergy are always recommended to seek the guidance of their Ordinary and/or the Ecumenism Committee in advance, particularly if they are inexperienced in such matters.
6. Clergy of the Church may if they wish accept invitations to participate in ecumenical and inter-church projects with other Christian churches and communities, providing they are compatible with the position on faith held by the Church. They may participate in local or regional committees that have been established to represent different religious groups (including non-Christians) within a particular area, but should have care to ensure that they do not compromise their witness in so doing.
a. These matters can require considerable sensitivity and all clergy who wish to be involved in this work must satisfy their Ordinary in advance that they have undergone sufficient training and are appropriately experienced.
7. Having first obtained the consent of the Metropolitan Synod, one or more bishops of the Church may participate in the ordination of a deacon or priest, or the consecration of a bishop, in and for another church with which the Church is in intercommunion.
a. No member of clergy of the Church may participate in the ordination or consecration of any member of clergy for another church without first having sought and gained the explicit written consent of the Metropolitan Synod. “Participation” in this case is defined as being present in any capacity within the Sanctuary. Permission is not required to be present at such a service solely as a member of the congregation without taking an active role in the ordination itself.
b. No member of clergy shall participate in any service of ordination or consecration at which:
(i) any participant in the service is a former member of the Church, without first notifying and obtaining the permission of the Metropolitan Synod;
(ii) any participant in the service is a member of the Church who has not obtained the permission of the Metropolitan Synod for his participation;
(iii) the ordinand or consecrand is a person who has been removed from membership, excommunicated or censured for disciplinary cause by any church or other body that is in intercommunion with the Church, or who is a member of a church or other body that includes such persons among its clergy or customary ecclesiastical visitors.
c. Members of clergy as a matter of canonical obedience are reminded that they may not participate in any service that involves the ordination of a woman to the Major Orders. This is a disciplinary issue within the Church and not in any respect a commentary on the validity of the ordination of women.
8. In accepting any invitation from another church or community, clergy of the Church shall have regard to the principle of mutual respect in interdenominational relations. This principle requires that there should be a mutual understanding and respect for the theology and polity of each church or community involved, such that although significant differences may exist, there is an agreement that such differences should be put aside during the given occasion, in as far as is possible, in the interests of ecumenical relations and fellowship. However, clergy should avoid placing themselves in situations where they are deemed to have consented or to have given implied consent to teachings which are against their conscience or against the fundamental principles of these Canons.
a. The Church does not seek to proselytise or convert others to its beliefs in its relations with other communities and no member of clergy should seek to use such opportunities for these purposes.
b. No member of clergy of the Church should feel under pressure to discuss the affairs of the Church beyond the normal bounds of such discussion with the public.
c. Although members of clergy of the Church should not deny or deliberately conceal their clerical status at any point, nor allow any misunderstanding as to their status to go uncorrected, they are not obliged to declare that status openly in situations where to do so would in their judgement be inappropriate or undiplomatic.
Promulgated 6 February 2015 a.d.
Revision 6 December 2019 a.d.
(L+S) +JOANNES EDMUNDUS TIT. SARDIS, Primate
CODES OF PRACTICE
I. CODE OF PRACTICE CONCERNING CLERGY DRESS
1. Clergy are required to wear appropriate vesture when administering the Sacraments, and should dress appropriately when taking funerals, visiting the sick and appearing at any other function where they are to offer ministry. It has been the practice in the Church since its inception for its clergy to wear Anglican-style vesture.
a. It is the free choice of the clergyman concerned as to whether he wishes to wear clerical dress when not exercising such functions. There is no obligation that clergy should wear clerical dress “on the street” or when undertaking secular responsibilities. Equally, for some clergy, it is recognised that the wearing of clerical dress is in itself a form of ministry.
2. The clergy shirt shall consist of a shirt with contrasting white collar, or a white shirt with white collar. The clerical shirt may be in any colour. The “tunnel collar” or “Roman collar” or alternative collar style is acceptable providing the collar is white and contrasts with any other colour used for the body of the shirt. Any member of the clergy may wear a pectoral cross, although for those below the order of bishop this should be discreet and not overly demonstrative. Devotional medals may be worn if wished.
3. Cassocks may be worn as part of the dress of clergy in the Church. The cassock should be black, with matching cincture. Bishops may wear a black cassock piped with red, with a rose-purple cincture. Bishops may wear a choir cassock of rose-purple piped with red or an unpiped cassock of blue-purple. Either the Roman or Sarum style of cassock is permitted, although the Roman is preferred.
(L+S) +JOANNES EDMUNDUS TIT. SARDIS, Primate
II. CODE OF PRACTICE CONCERNING CHILD PROTECTION
The purpose of this policy is to protect children who may come into contact with clergy of the Church in the context of ministry, and to ensure that clergy can work within a supportive framework that sets out clear guidelines for their actions.
2. Criminal Record checks
Every member of clergy of the Church shall, if based in the United Kingdom, be required at the time of application for ordination or incardination to produce a recent check obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service and/or the Police National Computer. For clergy based outside the United Kingdom, and where no equivalent national or state system for the provision of criminal record checks exists, they shall be required to provide a notarized affidavit affirming that they have not been convicted of any criminal offence.
No person who has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register or its foreign equivalent, or convicted of any sexual offence, shall be admitted to any form of ministry involving children.
In the event of non-sexual minor criminal offences (such as driving offences) the discretion of the Church shall apply in any decision to allow the person concerned to be admitted to ministry. Advice and guidance on such matters is available from the Metropolitan Synod on a confidential basis.
In ministering to children and young people below the age of eighteen, all members of clergy of the Church shall ensure that they are accompanied by a second responsible adult at all times. If the second responsible adult is not present, ministry may not take place.
In the event that a member of clergy of the Church participates in the running of any youth organisation such as a club or Bible study group, they shall ensure that a register of attendance is kept of each meeting. If the group consists of members of both sexes, the second responsible adult present shall be of the opposite sex to the clergyman.
4. Avoidance of false allegations
Clergy shall conduct themselves in such a way as not to facilitate the making of false allegations by young people. In particular, in the event that they are placed in a situation where they feel that their integrity is at risk, they shall have the full support of the Metropolitan Synod in immediately removing themselves from that situation or activity. Clergy must not give lifts to children and young people under the age of eighteen without a second responsible adult being present.
5. Child protection policies of other organisations
Clergy will observe the child protection policies of other organisations when involved in activities within those organisations.
6. Designated child protection officer
Each mission or parish of the Church must appoint a member of clergy as its designated child protection officer.
(L+S) +JOANNES EDMUNDUS TIT. SARDIS, Primate