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