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February 15, 1977 New "Entity," Evangelical and Catholic Mission, Formed 77045

Episcopal News Service

GRAPEVINE, Tex. -- A new "ecclesial entity" in the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical and Catholic Mission, has been formed by a group of eight bishops who were carrying out the decision of nearly 250 persons in Chicago last December when they reaffirmed their opposition to the action of the General Convention last fall in approving the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. The Chicago conference was called by the Coalition for the Apostolic Ministry and Bishop Charles T. Gaskell of Milwaukee.

The new group, authorized by the document, "A Statement of Action," which was approved by the Chicago conference, is designed to be "a witness for the renewal of Apostolic Faith and Order in the Anglican Communion."

Twelve of the 16 bishops and many others present at the Chicago conference signed "An Evangelical and Catholic Covenant," which declared, concerning the ordination of women to the episcopate the priesthood, "... we will not accept the sacramental acts of this new ministry," though the signers stated they intended to "uphold this faith and order within the Episcopal Church."

The eight bishops and their advisors, meeting at the Bishop Mason Retreat and Conference Center in the Diocese of Dallas, set up a series of four Evangelical and Catholic Congresses, which will begin this spring on the East Coast, continue to the West Coast, and conclude in Minneapolis, the site of the controversial General Convention where women priests and bishops were authorized.

The bishops reviewed the current state of the Church and especially some of the widely publicized events. They said there continues to be "confusion concerning both Faith and Morals."

Bishop Stanley Atkins of Eau Claire, who was elected the first chairman of the Evangelical and Catholic Mission, said, "We are convinced that these matters are neither uncertain nor confused in Holy Scriptures and Tradition. We find a deep need for a renewal in the spiritual and moral lives of churchmen."

The bishops set in motion the organization of several task forces, which will include membership from Africa, Canada and the Caribbean as well as the United States. The members of the task forces will be announced later, Bishop Atkins said.

Attending the February meeting in Grapevine were Bishop Atkins, Bishop A. Donald Davies of Dallas, Bishop William H. Folwell of Central Florida, Bishop Gaskell, Bishop Albert W. Hillestad of Springfield, Bishop Addison Hosea of Lexington, Bishop Victor M. Rivera of San Joaquin, and Suffragan Bishop Robert E. Terwilliger of Dallas.