To give and to receive
The Episcopal Church and the Convocation have much to share and learn from our Anglican and ecumenical partners. From them, and from the local members of our own congregations, we discover what it means to be a European raised in a particular country and shaped by a particular language, culture, and denomination. At the same time, we have a special and timely experience to share with other Christians as the European scene changes and an increasingly unified Europe comes into being.
To give and to receive, in common commitment to a common mission, is what we look forward to on this journey in faith together.
A Brief Overview
The four Anglican Communion jurisdictions in Continental Europe are:
- The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe (of The Episcopal Church)
- The Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe, (of the Church of England)
- The Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, and
The four Anglican jurisdictions in Europe have recently agreed to a covenant to guide their relationships and collegial ministry. The “Porto Covenant,” named for the city in which the bishops of these jurisdictions first began exploring the possibility of such an agreement, is a work of considerable good will and collaborative effort on the part of all five bishops.
- The Porto Covenant - agreed in November 2020.
The Episcopal Church is in full communion with The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, and with The Church of Sweden. The Episcopal Church is currently exploring a full communion relationship with the Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern - ELKB (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria).
A Brief History of COABICE
In 1994, five bishops of four jurisdictions formed the College of Anglican Bishops in Continental Europe (COABICE). Each became assisting or assistant bishops in one another’s jurisdictions and the bishops began serious discussions or consultations to envision how the jurisdictions could work together more closely.
The first consultation: 1998
The first consultation of Churches of the Anglican Communion in Continental Europe, with the bishops and one representative clergy and one lay delegate from each of the four jurisdictions, met in Madrid for three days in 1998. The commitment to work toward a possible European Province within the Anglican Communion was clear. Delegates were unanimous that any combined jurisdiction needed to preserve the special character and cultural identity of the different Anglican Episcopal congregations throughout Europe, of which there are several hundred, many with centuries of tradition.
Delegates addressed a letter to the 1998 Lambeth Conference reiterating their commitment to resolve the anomaly of parallel Anglican jurisdictions and their belief that the future would involve the establishment of an Anglican Province in Continental Europe. The Lambeth bishops adopted a resolution encouraging ‘continued exploration towards appropriate provincial structures for Anglican Continental Europe in partnership with other Churches in the service of the common mission of the Church’.
The second consultation: 1999
The second provincial consultation of bishops, clergy and lay delegates took place in Porto, Portugal, in May 1999. The Consultation was enriched by the presence of bishops representing the Old Catholic Churches and of the Nordic and Baltic Lutheran Churches of the Porvoo Agreement, as well as representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, serving as consultants. It was agreed that we should continue building more visible Episcopal collaboration and actively seek closer bonding by building closer relationships amongst the jurisdictions and the many parishes.
The consultants were asked to study the possible forms of a province — to include the Anglican jurisdictions and the churches in communion — the Old Catholic Churches and the Lutheran Churches of the Porvoo Agreement. Their proposals were based on three principles: a) unity in mission is reflected in unity in structure; b) bishops symbolize and guard the unity of the church; and c) the particular gifts and ministry of each jurisdiction should be maintained and nurtured.
The third consultation: 2000
The third consultation was held in Frankfurt, Germany, in June 2000, with the same participants as Porto. As the discussions got underway, it became apparent that it was difficult to even begin talking about a possible new structure when the nature of our common mission together was not clear. After lengthy discussions, the Consultation “agreed on the task of the consultative process in which we are engaged: to continue to work for a common ecclesiastical life that goes beyond cooperation and embodies appropriate structures”.
We established a series of Partners in Mission (PiM) consultations, involving all the parishes of the various jurisdictions in a given region to build up and strengthen our common mission together. A PiM Planning Group was established for parishes and parishioners to share liturgy and ministry and to develop a common mission.
To move forward, we’re now exploring together the mission of our parishes, individually and together, and of Anglicanism as a whole in Continental Europe. While the leadership of the bishops is crucial, bishops cannot do this alone. All of the parishes must assist in defining our common mission, out of which an appropriate structure should also become clearer.
For more information, see Provincial Consultation documents.
« This web page was based on material prepared by Helena Mbele-Mbong, Geneva, Convocation lay representative to the Provincial Consultations since 1998. »