From the Communion Partners website:

As Communion Partner Bishops, we seek to maintain the communion of our dioceses within the Episcopal Church, a “Fellowship of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer” (Preamble of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church). The larger Church is a catholic whole that includes our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion, and indeed Christians all over the world. In the face of crucial differences with our fellow Episcopalians over marriage, we seek the highest degree of communion possible consistent with these commitments.

We are grateful to God that the 79th General Convention has preserved the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, guaranteeing its continued use. While giving space for those who seek to develop new rites and new language under the guidance of their bishop, the Convention “memorialize[d] the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as a Prayer Book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and Trinitarian formularies ensuring its continued use” (Resolution A068). In adopting this resolution, the General Convention ensured that we may continue to pattern our communities after the historic Faith and Order of the Book of Common Prayer as authorized in the Episcopal Church, and that clergy and bishops will be able to vow obedience to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this church as set forth in its historic prayer book.

As bishops, we claim our apostolic ministry as teachers of the Faith, and our role as chief pastors within our dioceses, clearly articulated in the Book of Common Prayer. As Communion Partner bishops, we affirm without reservation the traditional teaching that “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and the man enter into a life-long union” that is “intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another…; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (BCP, pp. 861, 423). This is the teaching of Holy Scripture and of the Anglican Communion, articulated in resolution I.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998. At the same time, we recognize that other Christians of good will and commitment hold contrasting convictions about marriage. There is deep disagreement, which leads to a difference in teaching and practice among dioceses and congregations of our church.


The General Convention has, through Resolution B012, made liturgies for same-sex marriage available for all congregations that wish to use them, as authorized by their rectors or priests-in-charge (§7). How this will be dealt with in each diocese may differ. B012 has also provided (at §8) a structure that, in the face of our profound differences in teaching over marriage, preserves the role of bishops as chief teachers, pastors, and liturgical officers by allowing us to call upon the ministry of other bishops of the Episcopal Church, in exercising supplemental episcopal pastoral care in those congregations of our dioceses that desire to use these liturgies and seek this form of oversight. This creates a helpful space of differentiation, set within the wider communion of baptism and faith that we continue to share, however imperfectly.

Our church is called episcopal in order to indicate the primacy of bishops and dioceses within our polity, an ancient catholic principle. The diocese, not the congregation, forms the basic unit of the Church. We believe that the provisions of B012 for supplemental episcopal pastoral care enable the local adaptation of the historic episcopate, as provided in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, as a means toward unity within our church and with the wider Anglican Communion.

The convention has also acted to protect clergy and congregations who cannot, for reasons of theological and pastoral conviction, affirm such rites. Resolution B012 clearly underlines the canonical pastoral responsibilities of rectors and priests in charge (§7). Congregations that maintain the traditional teaching on marriage, no matter what their diocese, have an equal claim upon the pastoral care of the church. We offer our own ministry of pastoral care in such congregations as bishops in furtherance of that goal.

Read the rest.

About The Author

Dr. Christopher Wells is Director of Unity, Faith, and Order for the Anglican Communion, and served for 13 years as executive director of the Living Church Foundation, Inc.

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[…] always been some ACNA congregations within geographic boundaries of Communion Partner dioceses (Communion Partners is an informal grouping of orthodox rectors and bishops ministering within the Episcopal […]