The Affirmation of St. Louis is the Magna Carta of Continuing Anglicans. Its lifetime has been too short for accurate and objective judgement of its importance – and I am too prejudiced an observer to make such a judgement. In my own mind, I tend to think of it almost as in a class with the Creeds and the articles of Religion. Almost all the Continuing Church bodies have claimed it as one of their cornerstones. More competent voices than mine have praised it in the highest forms. For example, the Eastern orthodox quarterly review, Doxa has called the Affirmation “an amazing document” and one that is ‘very close to an Orthodox Confession of Faith.” To read it quickens the spirit. What, then, are the origins of this moving proclamation, this great charter of our continuing faith?
On September 14-16, 1977 there took place at the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, a gathering known as the St. Louis Church Congress. This meeting had been called and announced almost a year earlier by the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen (FCC). This Fellowship was a coalition of fifteen Episcopal publications and organisations and one publication and one organisation from the Anglican Church of Canada. The idea had originated with the Reverend Canon Albert J. duBois in 1973 in preparation for the Louisville General Convention of the Episcopal Church. He rightly saw such a coalition as the best means of rallying the loyal orthodox elements of the Church in opposition to the controversial proposals which were expected to generate much heat. Foremost among these were revision of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and ordination of women to the sacred ministry,
…From its beginnings, the fellowship debated with growing concern and intensity the course it should follow if heretical and apostate forces won the upper hand in the Episcopal Church. FCC members sought to coordinate their actions and publicity with one another and from time to time the fellowship issued to the Bishops of the Episcopal Church or to the Church at large, statements intended to boost morale, intensify and unify opposition to the growing threats of hesesy, clarify its own position and keep alive the hope of preserving traditional Anglicanism. CONTINUE READING