Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Solemn Declaration 1893

It's been nearly two weeks since my ordination, and though what has happened has not sunk in completely, I have been reflecting some on what it means to be in an ordered ministry.

For one, I have mede some commitments that not all baptised Christians make. At both my diaconal ordination, and now at my priestly, I signed an oath in the form of the Solemn Declaration 1893. It is a document that dates from the first Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, and it fills out some of the specifics of how I am bound to uphold the doctrine of the church, as Anglicans have recieved it. This is it, in full:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
WE, the Bishops, together with the Delegates from the Clergy and Laity of the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada, now assembled in the first General Synod, hereby make the following Solemn Declaration:
WE declare this Church to be, and desire that it shall continue, in full communion with the Church of England throughout the world, as an integral portion of the One Body of Christ composed of the Churches which, united under the One Divine Head and in fellowship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, hold the One Faith revealed in Holy Writ, and defined in the Creeds as maintained by the undivided primitive Church in the undisputed Ecumenical Councils; receive the same Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as containing all things necessary to salvation; teach the same Word of God; partake of the same Divinely ordained Sacraments, through the ministry of the same Apostolic Orders; and worship One God and Father through the same Lord Jesus Christ, by the same Holy and Divine Spirit who is given to them that believe to guide them into all truth.
And we are determined by the help of God to hold and maintain the Doctrine, Sacraments, and Discipline of Christ as the Lord hath commanded in his Holy Word, and as the Church of England hath received and set forth in The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church according to the use of the Church of England; together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches; and the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion; and to transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity.

If you are brave enough to read the whole thing, you will notice something that important to today's ecclesiastical polity: I, and every other ordained person in the Anglican Church of Canada, have personally declared a desire to remain in communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion. This was a commitment before I signed, but I have now taken this as an oath, signed and witnessed by the church.

Does this change how I feel about the communion? No. Will I take this oath seriously? Yes. Do all ordained ministers in the Canadian church take it seriously? Sadly, no. For me, this declaration fleshes out pretty clearly how exactly the priestly ministry is ordered, and as I am in this ordered ministry, it orders some of my basic commitments. To be honest, frameworks of this kind are helpful to me, in the practice of submittimg myself to the church that has called me out, and part of the continuing exercise of not changing the church, but of learning from her what she has to teach me. There is much yet to learn; let us pray that she is guided by the Holy Spirit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok - I am excited and impressed by this. The blogging experience has been an amazing creative outlet for Ruth as well as opened the door to a new kind of community for her. She has found a new affinity for the computer (which in my book is always good) and shown how gifted she is at telling our family's story. To see you do this, hopefully gaining some joy from the experience, and to know that you are now a part of this community, is veryveryvery cool. Thank you for this Preston. I am a part of your audience! With much affection.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Wow! I too am impressed and overwhelmed! It is interesting to think that my own father made the same commitment.As a teenager, I often found myself asking "Does my dad really believe all this church stuff"? To see the actual words is beautiful. I'm glad we believe and I think the church is in good hands with their choice in you, Preston.
I'm glad I could inspire you, maybe you and Karen could be inspired by Chris and me in other ways...
nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 12:32:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home