Canons of the Church
Effective date: 1-26-2020
Section I: Leadership and Governance
Note: It is the purview of the Presiding Bishop, sole incorporator of this church, to make the decision to associate our entire church organization with any other church organization or communion of churches. At such time that may occur, the following canons may be null and void depending on the agreement with the church or communion we associate with.
A. The leader of the church, hereto known as the Presiding Archbishop, is the chief spiritual leader and is church patriarch for life, as sole incorporator of the church in the United States of America. The Presiding Archbishop will, under personal discretion, relinquish stated leadership to a successor.
B. The Presiding Archbishop sets the mission and goals for the national church. The Presiding Archbishop may select diocesan bishops (see section D) and has the power to remove them by his or her authority.
C. Any Bishops or clergy that associate in whole or in part with this church, will be advisers to the Presiding Archbishop.
D. The Presiding Archbishop may, under personal discretion, grow this organization to include dioceses (bishoprics) in the event that becomes necessary. The Presiding Archbishop may also create a Bishops Council if so required. The Bishops Council would in this case take over all counseling actions to the Presiding Archbishop, and oversee the operations of the diocese.
E. It is our expectation that clergy will work together in a collegiate and civil manner. We encourage debate and we do not penalize others for their differences of belief and opinion; however, if for some reason we have a clergy member who is causing division or disruption within the church, this person may be removed from the church by the Presiding Archbishop without recourse.
F. Our organization will strive to provide a safe haven for all presbytery to practice their faith without fear of the rhetoric and insanity that has permeated sects within our faith. We use the Bible, the Seven Sacraments and general rubrics that were tried and true within the first 2000 years of this faith. We do understand that tolerance of differences must be a cornerstone of the faith, and clergy will be encouraged to have open discussions, without fear of retribution.
G. Whereas this organization acts as a communion of churches, there are two distinct structures: The first organizational structure of the church follows the Old Catholic ethos and recognizes the operations of the Union of Utrecht. The second organizational structure follows the Anglican and Anglo-catholic ethos and recognizes the 39 Articles.
Notes on parts A and D: The Presiding Archbishop will act as sole head of the church for a period of three (3) years from the initial date of Jan 1, 2020. The Presiding Bishop will use full discretionary authority to add, modify or remove articles from the canons, beliefs and rubrics. This process is intended to remove all bias, power struggle, politics and other distractions from the church/communion until such time the maturity of the organization justifies the existence of a bishop's council.
H. The duties of all bishops fall into a simple framework: teachers, mentors, counselors and confidants to all clergy under them. The bishops do not have the authority to add or remove clergy without the express knowledge and acceptance of the Presiding Archbishop. Any reprimands that may be set against wayward clergy must also be approved by the Presiding Archbishop.
Section II: Ordination
A. Ordination to the deaconate and priesthood can be performed at the discretion the Presiding Bishop. Our main concern is that their calling is true and that they receive the proper training to perform their duties. All exceptions to these requirements must be approved by the Primus. All candidates will serve a 6 month probationary period.
1. Candidates must be age 21 or older for deacon,
2. Candidates must be age 25 or older for the priesthood.
B. The Presiding Bishop reserves the right to incardinate a Bishop into this organization if growth dictates the need. The Presiding Bishop may also work with other Bishops of apostolic succession to consecrate a Bishop if the need arises.
Section III: Consecrations
A. Bishops must be at least 35 years of age with ministerial experience. Any exceptions to the requirements must be approved by the Presiding Bishop.
B. In the event of church growth, and if the Presiding Bishop asks that a bishop consecrate a new bishop on behalf of the church at large, that bishop must comply if they are near the candidate and it would not pose a hardship to them.
Section IV: Incardination
A. Incardination will be allowed for deacons, priests and bishops. The base requirements are valid apostolic succession, no criminal history and of proper age as stated above.
B. Any scholastic requirements will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
C. It is strictly FORBIDDEN for any affiliated member to directly recruit through word of mouth, letter, email, other electronic means or by social media. This is illicit and unacceptable to this organization. Prospective clergy must locate our resources and truly feel the calling to be part of the organization. The may locate and research us through the "general" information of the the website, job posting or general social media content. Any member who has actively recruited from any outside organization will be immediately released with no recourse.
D. Clergy who have been properly, within the canons of a previous organization, released from said organization by excardinations may seek incardination into the UECC. In the event the excardination is not final or valid, all communications and agreements with this organization are null and void.
E. All presbytery who may have minor or major injunctions against them with a previous organization may not seek incardination with this organization without a mandatory one year formation process. Any presbytery defrocked, by way of laicization is exempt from entering the orders of this organization.
F. All clergy seeking incardination to this organization must serve a probationary period of no less than 6 months.
Section V: Vacancies
A. No criteria at this time
Section VI: Ministerial Freedom:
A. While there is an episcopal structure, it is not the church leaderships’ desire to dictate how clergy practice their personal ministries. The only requirement is to be in agreement with our beliefs and canons. We do not dictate how the services are conducted, but we do have an expectation that each service will include communion and follow one of the approved books of prayer. Outside of that, churches who associate with our organization can conduct low, broad, or high church services.
A1. For the Anglican Affiliation: Approved liturgies:
A1a. High Mass: High Mass, more rigid and formal, will utilize only the 1662, 1928 or UECC specific liturgies. The 1662 BCP must have the prayers to the English Monarchy and Parliament removed for US usage.
A1b. Low mass: Less formal and more open to all faiths, the Low Mass may use the AAC specific liturgies.
A1c. Broad mass: Described as more flexible and via media; that is it is liturgical between Anglo-Catholic and Anglican. Broad may use AAC specific liturgies, or the UECC specific liturgy of A1a.
A1d. The 1979 BCP is NOT Anglican in it's structure. The 1979 BCP is unique to the Episcopal Church USA. It's usage is not recommended. None the less it may be utilized ONLY for Low Mass and Rite I will be the only valid option. Right II is not to be utilized. Permission must be granted by the Presiding Archbishop.
A2. Approved liturgies for Catholic Affiliation: Because we share many of the same ancient beliefs as the Old Catholic Churches (independent or part of the Union of Utrecht) we gladly support the Latin Mass (Tridentine), and Novus Ordo.
B. Each ministry under the umbrella of our organization will determine whether or not it wishes to officially incorporate under 501c3 status or service as an unincorporated religious association under 508c1A, or operate as a 1st Amendment Church. Any churches that affiliates with us maintain their own property and freedom to leave. We do not require they provide funding to the national church and we will not, in whole or in part, provide any financial support to them. Churches in other countries must follow their own laws.
C. We give free reign to practice ministry as one pleases so long as they do no harm to the reputation of the church by their affiliation, do not engage in illegal activities (all illegal activity will be immediately reported to the police), and do not put the church at legal risk by engaging in dangerous activities such as snake handling, poison drinking etc. We will not, in whole or in part, sign off of exorcisms or other such acts. Each party takes on that responsibility under their liability, and will hold this church harmless in all instances. Any infraction may lead to dismissal.
C1. Within the context of the autonomous operations of the individual churches, it is clearly stated that all organizations and presbytery associated with us must follow the canons and beliefs of this communion, and any general rubrics, such as clergy dress and public behavior. All organizations must also practice within the frameworks of the supported liturgies.
C2. This organization, in whole or in part, takes no legal responsibility for any actions of the affiliated entities. Each affiliated church/presbytery is hereby given notice that it is the afflictions responsibility to secure liability insurance as a blanket to secure protection for their organization. The affiliations are hereby informed that they are members of this organization based only on religious precepts, and not secular business precepts.
D. The role of the bishops, if our growth dictates forming a full diocese structure, will be to provide moral and spiritual support to the clergy. Their goal is to be servant leaders who develop others in their ministry rather than being traditional "overseers". The structure of the church is meant to maximize individual ministerial freedom; however, do expect the chain of command to be respected.
E. This organization is an Open Communion of Churches. We are open to all no matter the social status, creed, race or sexual orientation. There are no exceptions. All presbytery wishing to associate with our organizations must act accordingly. No affiliation will operate under this organization as a closed entity. This canon is directed at gay marriage, woman clergy and open communion.
F. All clergy of this organization within the universal church of Christ, voluntarily associate with this organization. This organization does not grant compensation or financial assistance. This organization provides a path for those wishing to serve the universal church as a calling, and not a business.
G. This organization will none the less agree that any independent clergy that may derive income from their own congregation may do so. It is the responsibility of the clergy in this instance, to follow all tax laws associated with that income.
H. For any clergy or congregation that may subsequently own property or other church possessions, we declare we hold no right, real or imagined, to stated property or possessions.
Section VII: Clergy Behavior
A. In general all clergy are to be respectful of all others, with disregard for personal feelings or general opinions. All clergy are to hold themselves aloof of any personal bias. They are to be respectful of the secular and theological differences of all persons they are in contact with.
B. This church takes no responsibility for the moral or legal transgressions of any member of the clergy or their congregations. Any such transgression will be cause for immediate removal from the church, with no recourse.
C. The clergy is encouraged to use social media to reach each other and the masses. With that being said any misuse of social media will be monitored carefully. Any act considered derogatory, disrespectful, illegal or otherwise unacceptable in the religious or secular realm will be dealt with by immediate removal from the organization.
D. The clergy will under no circumstance promote a political stance on the pulpit, social media or other media.
E. It is within the purview of the Presiding Archbishop to make all determinations related to reprimand. This will include but not limited to:
E1. Ad clerum, as a letter of reprimand, for any transgressions by the presbytery that may warrant the action
E2. Reassignment to a lesser office within this organization
E3. Laicized, having rights of clergy status fully removed an no longer exercised within this organization. Loss of clerical state may be recognized outside this organization.
Section VII: Hierarchy
A. The episcopal structure will be made up of archbishops, bishops, vicars general, priests and deacons.
B. The chain of command will be followed at all times.
Section VIII: All Clergy and Probationary Status
All clergy will have a minimum six (6) month probationary period, or more, as directed by the Presiding Archbishop.
Section IX: Personal Enrichment and continued formation
A. We soundly believe that all presbytery must be Christ Centered. Through two millennia, private prayer, prayer in groups and quiet reflection outside of liturgies in a physical building was proven crucial to the stability and strength of the faith.
A1. The expectation of this organization is for the presbytery to, as much as possible, balance their religious and secular life.
A2. Practice the Daily Offices, in private or with others
A3. Practice private prayer and reflection
A4. Pray the rosary (Catholic or Anglican). This is a solid practice that embraces reflection and prayer
A5. Continued Formation: We as presbytery must embark on a journey of seeking the knowledge of our Christian Faith.
A51. This organization has the expectation that all presbytery will, of their own accord, partake in the continued reading and study of the bible, christian liturgical works and to embrace the historical documents of the churches past.
A52. It is within the purview, at the discretion of the Presiding Archbishop, to designate readings or studies in an effort to ensure continued formation of any of our presbytery.
Section X: Rubrics of Dress
A. All clergy, when performing tasks such as office time, meetings, visitations or transacting church business directly with on or more individuals is required to purport themselves as clergy. The minimum requirement for dress will be clergy dress shirt with clergy collar. This will be standard for both the Catholic and Anglican organizations.
B. For clergy that rent space or own church property, and are holding the equivalent of office hours or otherwise transacting church business at said site, may have the option of clergy shirt and collar or may at their discretion wear a cassock of appropriate color per their office.
C. For our Independent Catholic Clergy that rent space or own a physical property, and hold regular services to a congregation, these dress requirements are enforced:
C1. MINIMUM Dress for the Mass (no communion) or Offices - Clergy shirt of appropriate color with collar, alb, cincture (rope or band). Stole of the appropriate color for the day and season (see note C1a).
NOTE: For any Mass where Holy Communion is held the chasuble is required. It may be fiddle-back or poncho style as fits the personal taste of the clergy.
White is the color proper to Trinity Sunday, the feasts of Our Lord, except those of His Passion, the feasts of the Blessed Virgin, angels, confessors, virgins and women, who are not martyrs, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the chief feast of St. John the Evangelist, the feast of the Chains and of the Chair of St. Peter, the Conversion of St. Paul, All Saints, to consecration of churches and altars, the anniversaries of the election and coronation of the pope and of the election and consecration of bishops; also for the octaves of these feasts and the Offices de tempore from Holy Saturday to the vigil of Pentecost; it is used for votive Masses when the feasts have white, and for the nuptial Mass; also in services in connection with the Blessed Sacrament, at the burial of children, in the administration of baptism, Holy Viaticum, and matrimony.
Red is used the week of Pentecost, on the feasts of Christ's Passion and His Precious Blood, the Finding and Elevation of the Cross, the feasts of Apostles and martyrs; and in votive Masses of these feasts. It is used on Holy Innocents if the feast occur on Sunday and always on its octave.
Green is employed in Offices de tempore from the octave of the Epiphany to Septuagesima, and from the octave of Pentecost to Advent, except on ember-days and vigils during that time, and on Sundays occurring within an octave.
Violet is used during Advent and from Septuagesima to Easter, on vigils that are fast days, and on ember-days, except the vigil of Pentecost and the ember-days during the octave of Pentecost. Violet is also used for Mass on rogation-days, for votive Masses of the Passion and of penitential character, at the blessing of candles and of holy water. The stole used in the administration of penance and of extreme unction and in the first part of the baptismal ceremonies must be violet.
Black is used in offices for the dead, and on Good Friday.
Exception: For consecration and ordination this organization allows for either white or red to be used. Red is preferred.
II. AFFECTED VESTMENTS
The drapery and vestments affected by the law of liturgical colors are (a) the antependium of the altar, and as a matter of appropriateness, the tabernacle veil; (b) the burse and chalice veil; (c) maniple, stole, chasuble, cope, and humeral veil; (d) maniple, stole, tunic, and dalmatic of the sacred ministers, and also the broad stole and folded chasuble when employed. All these must correspond with the rules prescribing the use of each color.
C2. At the discretion of the clergy, when holding the Offices and a certain formality is desired, may wear choir dress.
C3. Dress requirements for the Anglo-Catholic Ordinate will be set by the Presiding Bishop of the ordinate.
Section XI. Positions
All clergy associate with this organization voluntarily. They agree to abide by our canons and beliefs based on the associated doctrines of the christian bible. No clergy position is construed as employment, real or imagined. We offer no financial assistance or indebtedness to any property. This organization will not provided any references or assistance to any seeking visa or permanent residence outside of the requester home county.
Section XII. Leaving this organization
A. All clergy desiring to leave this organization in good faith will be required to inform their respective diocesan bishop with no less than 90 days notice. This process is in place to allow the organization to determine the effects of said vacancy. This also protects all parties involved in the process to guarantee a clergy member is not serving two masters. This organization will not process an excardination letter until the full 90 days is complete.
B. In the event that notice of intent to leave the organization is not provided, and excardination is not approved, it is within the purview of this organization to perform the following:
B1. Laicized, having rights of clergy status fully removed an no longer exercised within this organization. Loss of clerical state may be recognized outside this organization. This organization reserves the right to inform all organizations of this loss of clerical status at our discretion.
C. This organization reserves the right to grant excardination in less than 90 days as is seen fit for a member leaving in good faith.
A. The Council of Bishops, hereto called the Consistory, will be the advising body for the Presiding Archbishop with regards to church operation, theology, liturgy, rubrics, ethics and all matters of the church excluding secular activities.
B. Each member of the Consistory is seated by invitation from the Presiding Archbishop.
B1. Sitting members of the Consistory will advise the Presiding Archbishop with regards to accepting a new member to fill a seat on the Consistory. This will be a non binding, non voting advisory to the Archbishop.
C. The members of the Consistory must be an active Diocesan Bishop.
C1. Under certain circumstances, at the discretion of the Presiding Archbishop, a Vicar General in good standing may sit on the Consistory to fill a required position.
D. The number of sitting bishops on the Consistory will always be an even number of members.
D1. The responsibility of the Consistory is to advise the Presiding Archbishop on all matter of church operation within the context of the canons, rubrics and beliefs.
D2. The members of the Consistory will be voting members. The majority will be responsible for all oral and written information regarding the suggested changes to church operations.
D3. If at anytime there exists an odd number of members sitting in the Consistory, one seat will be a non-voting member. This individual will have responsibilities as an advisor only.
E. Veto Vote, vote tie. The Presiding Archbishop will hold the right, without question, to perform any of the following actions:
E1. As head of the church, negate any vote the Presiding Archbishop deems not in the best interests of the organization.
E2. The Presiding Archbishop will, without question, act in the capacity to resolve a tie vote.
E3. Table or remove any discussion previous to a vote that the Archbishop deems to be outside the operations, canons or beliefs of the church.
F. Consistory Guidelines for discussions.
F1. Under no circumstances, real or imagined, shall the Consistory discuss, or bring to vote, the topic of inclusiveness or affirmation. This organization is an open church, and all are welcome.
F2. The Consistory is welcome to discuss theological differences, but each member must at all times be tolerant of such differences. This includes, but not limited to, the essence of the Holy Eucharist.
F2a. None the less, as spiritual father, the Presiding Archbishop has the right to accept or deny such discussions.
F3. The Consistory will be allowed to discuss delivery methods of our faith; audio, video, internet, newsletters, in home services, physical church, other.
F3a. That not withstanding, this organization believes our priestly promise binds us to reach the people with the word of our Lord. Unless the delivery method conflicts in some way with the canons of the church or secular law, it is within the purview of the clergy to do whatever it takes to reach those in need.
F4. While we as Bishops will have our own personal views on salvation i.e; heaven hell, the official position should always be down to the individual, and we should ensure that all clergy and Bishops teach that there are many views on this without attacking other positions.
G. Removal of a member from a Consistory seat.
It is within the purview of the Presiding Archbishop to remove any member of the Consistory. This rule is not open for discussion within the Consistory.
G1. As the church father, the Presiding Archbishop must understand the qualification of each member of the Consistory, and determine the suitability of any sitting bishop to fill a Consistory seat.
G2. The Presiding Archbishop may perform the removal of a bishop from the Consistory with with or without explanation, justification or reasons; real or imagined.