Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25-28.
The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation “with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted,” call a “founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union,” at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners.
“We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward. To him be the glory,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, convener of the council.
The full text of the bishops’ joint statement follows:
Common Cause College of Bishops Statement
In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, to whom belong all might, majesty, dominion and glory.
We, the College of Bishops of the Common Cause Partnership, meeting together in Pittsburgh, September 25-28 in the Year of our Lord 2007, solemnly affirm this agreement.
In the grace, mercy and power of God, and in repentance for past disunity and disharmony, in thanksgiving for our full reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ, to give expression to our unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as Anglicans in North America, and for the sake of our mission to extend the Kingdom of God, nurture faithful disciples through Word and Sacraments, seek the lost, and partner globally with other orthodox Anglicans, we hereby commit to do the following:
1. In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).
2. We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006.
3. In consultation with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted, we intend a founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union (see Appendix 2).
4. Those presently-participating bodies which have not yet joined the Common Cause Partnership will decide at the next meeting of their legislative bodies, either to enter the Partnership or leave full membership in Common Cause, becoming observer bodies. It is expected that all presently-participating bodies will be able to enter the Partnership.
5. We will work together on the regional and local levels and avail ourselves of the various ministries of the Common Cause Partners. We will deploy clergy interchangeably as outlined in the Articles of the Partnership. We are free to invite our fellow bishops in this College to share episcopal acts and our sacramental life.
6. The College of Bishops will meet every six months in order to accomplish our stated objectives. The leading bishop of each Partner will serve on a Lead Bishops Roundtable, which may be expanded as they may determine. The Roundtable will advise us in matters referred to it (see Appendix 3).
7. We are committed to the Great Commission. We will make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches, not resting until the millions of unreached souls in North America are brought to Christ, until all groups on the earth have indigenous churches firmly begun within them and our Lord returns in glory.
8. We ask our Chairman to inform the Primates of the Anglican Communion of these commitments in the hope that our emerging common life will commend us to them as full partners.