Convened on the Feast Day Of the Holy Name of Jesus, 3 January 2014, the people and clergy of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael (hereafter ADOSM,) believes in all the gifts of the spirit (charismata) Apostolic Succession, and the Seven Sacraments; Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders (for both men and women), Holy Matrimony, Penance and Holy Unction administered with the unfailing use of the traditional outward and visible signs, and the form, matter, ministers and intention received of old.
We identify as an Orthodox Anglo-Catholic Church, utilizing the term “Orthodox” in the context of correct or authentic teaching, standing in stark contrast or opposition to those religious organizations that use the term “Progressive” to denote a radical and sometimes heretical departure from traditional beliefs.
On 10 August 2014, we announced that The Holy Name of Jesus Anglo Catholic Communion (HNOJACC Missouri Synod) had been merged with the ADOSM after more than three years of negotiations failed; talks which had been designed to end the unintended result of two HNOJACC orders having evolved due to misunderstandings. Even though our sister jurisdiction appears to have faded away into the night, it is unseemly to have twin competing jurisdictions each with presiding Bishops claiming legitimate authority, and so we felt compelled to bring about an end to any confusion that might have ever arisen.
Although our Bishops stand as one, we believe that each sub ordinate body should be autonomous with the individual Bishop having complete authority over his jurisdiction as long as his actions and that of his sub ordinates reasonably agree with the generally held conventions of the ADOSM, statement of faith, and commonly held moral values of society.
We do reserve the right not to extend the sacraments of Matrimony to those that practice same sex relationships, as we believe that the Holy Sacrament of Marriage was a gift given to us by God for the purpose of the birth and nurture of children as well as bringing order to family life and to society.
We also reserve the right not to confer Holy Orders on anyone, male or female, who is habitually involved in polyamorous relationships, polygamy, fornication and adultery, other sexual perversions including but not limited to same sex relationships, addicted to alcohol, substance abuser, a known repetitive sex offender or repetitive criminal, of any sort.
We do not view this as a discriminatory practice but rather as we are a completely volunteer organization with no compensated staff, receiving no financial support from public entities, and a religious organization, which under law is entitled to free exercise of its beliefs, we feel free to make this determination.
For those that are involved in same sex lifestyle or any of the aforementioned practices–who are seeking Holy Orders (ordination/incardination)–we acknowledge their constitutional rights but humbly ask that they seek out other jurisdictions that affirm their sensibilities, where they can receive Holy Orders.
Liturgy And Practice Of Faith
The ADOSM does not dictate to its Bishops, Priests, or Deacons as to which missal they must use in services. Each Bishop has the right to determine the liturgical practice of his/her episcopate, based upon the needs of the people in that episcopate, and may elect to use missals derived from the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, The Old Catholic or other sacramental and even Orthodox churches, the common denominator being a centrality of the sacramental life (especially the Eucharist) in keeping with long established Christian doctrines and traditions.
We acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is moving across the face of the Earth causing a “great awakening” and this phenomenon has led many to seek out the synergy that existed in the early church, and demonstrated in the writings of the early church fathers. Some may even combine certain aspects of Messianic Judaism with traditional sacramental worship in their private practice. We take note that as the first Christians were themselves Jews, we understand that as the individual seeks out this “synergy” we speak of, they might find certain Judaic traditions fulfilling as additions to that tradition typical of the sacramental life. We find that as Christianity is rooted in Judeo traditions, the two belief systems are compatible and the combining of certain aspects of the two does not constitute religious pluralism. But we stand by our statement of faith, which points out;
We affirm the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as interpreted by the Church, as containing everything that is necessary for salvation, and as being the rule and ultimate statement of the Faith of the Church.
However while the individual member of the ADOSM may personally see qualities in belief systems outside of Judeo Christian traditions, the ADOSM as a whole interprets John 14: 6 quite literally;
Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Therefore as a whole, the ADOSM does not advocate nor support religious pluralism by its members, which we define as combining Christianity with new age or Pagan systems.
The ADOSM from time to time and or its individual members may reach out to those who are a part of other belief systems in an ecumenical sense for the purpose of establishing dialog and peace in the world, but as a group we do not combine Christianity with systems outside of the Judeo Christian tradition. For those that choose to continue to practice religious pluralism, combining Christianity with blatantly new age or Pagan systems as a daily worship system, we acknowledge their constitutional rights to do so, but humbly ask those that are applying with this diocese to receive Holy Orders, that they seek out other jurisdictions that affirm their sensibilities, and go in peace with our blessings.
Goals For The Future
Our daily priority is to establish and maintain a faith based order, jurisdiction, or association composed of like-minded members of the clergy. The ADOSM never presumes that the sub ordinate clergy should exist to serve the needs of the ADOSM but quite the contrary, the ADOSM should exist to provide fellowship and support for those doing the work of God by serving his people. Therefore our first priority is to identify the needs of the subordinate clergy and work towards filing those needs.
As The Archdiocese of Saint Michael is a relatively new organization in the greater independent sacramental community, we realize that we have a monumental “mountain” of work ahead of us as we strive to take our rightful place alongside long standing communion and jurisdictions within the greater community of sacramental clergy. But our core college of Bishops have been a part of this community we refer to for some time and each bring to the table with them years of knowledge and expertise with which to build a strong foundation.
With this said we do have certain long-term goals and vision, which are School of Theology, Logistical Support, and Missions Program along with quasi-monastic order we may choose to establish as needed.
School of Theology
It has been a long standing dream of the College of Bishops that make up The Archdiocese Of St. Michael to establish a seminary or school of divinity, one with no fees or sliding scale tuition fees so as to make a quality theological education available to all, we will continue to work towards bringing this dream to fruition, however for the sake of practicality until such a time as we can establish our own school, we will seek out existing schools that offer low fees for credit courses, and direct the student to these entities.
Meanwhile it is our goal to establish courses that provide a modicum of the necessary education required for the Priest hood. Courses that cover the very basics of liturgical worship, the writing of homilies that stir the spirit of the congregation, and other aspects of the church that the new Priest needs to know in order to adequately minister to his/her parish.
For those ministers building local missionary churches, we hope to soon have materials available in formats that the local minister/Priest/Bishop can take to his area print shop and have printed, the brochures, handbills, weekly bulletins, and other printed materials that serve to teach the gospel, market, advertise, and spot light his/her church as well as to educate and inform the people of those local congregations.
We realize that we may never be big enough to establish and maintain a publishing house as the larger denominations do, but perhaps we can accomplish the same task on a much smaller basis. And we have faith that with dedication and perseverance along with the guidance and support from God through the Holy Spirit, we can develop a support program for the clergy of the communion.
Earlier in this document we spoke of a “Great Awakening” that is occurring throughout America if not around the world. Continuing polls of religious life in America and statistical studies that support the findings of such polls, indicate that a small demographic, but one that is growing exponentially each year, are turning to what is typically referred to as small group ministry. Reasons given by the laity and clergy involved in this growing movement generally cite a feeling of disenfranchisement from the large churches that grew out of what has become known as the church growth movement which is itself largely credited with leading to the establishment of the so called “mega-church”.
Ironically this new movement seeks to do exactly the opposite of the church growth movement in that rather than to establish “mega-churches” this new movement seeks create smaller more “user friendly” churches that in effect are more than just houses of worship but communities of spiritually minded people that gather together not only to offer praise and worship to God but to build what might be called an extended family.
This gathering together of like-minded people of God in small groups or communities is amazingly similar to the synergy that existed in the first century church. Somewhat a manifestation of the spirit of the wisdom of Jeremiah 6:16;
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”
The “old paths and good ways” of the Christian faith, those ways typical of what history tells of the early church have led to what is commonly referred to the “house church” movement also known as “home church” wherein small groups of believers meet in the homes of one or more members of the group. Largely Evangelical Protestant in their structure these groups now number in the thousands across America, actually we only know of several thousand that exist as there is no way to realistically enumerate all of these groups, those that we do know of have participated in various studies or have registered in online directories publicizing their existence.
Dozens of web sites and organizations now exist to offer a modicum of logistical support or resources to these groups, but our own studies have noted a great lack of programs to offer support to groups that practice a sacramental or liturgical format. It is to this end that the The Archdiocese Of St. Michael seeks to develop a missions program to assist sacramental groups in the establishment and growth of small group ministries around America..
Another long time dream of the founder of The Archdiocese Of St. Michaels well as other Bishops involved, is the formation of quasi-monastic orders based on the monastic orders of old. These communities would not be sequestered, nor would the participants necessarily be asked to take vows of celibacy or poverty, but rather serve as communities that promote contemplative prayer and in some cases perform a specified service to the people of God, or just serve as self help groups for those that need the discipline of a modern monastic order.
This is our vision, a Sacramental Order that honors the traditional Seven Sacraments, Charismatic, Evangelical, maintains the tradition of the historic Episcopate, neither far right nor far left, welcoming of those from Catholic as well as Protestant backgrounds, providing a spiritual home for those that view Orthodoxy; not through a specific lens colored by a single tradition but as a return to the energy and simplistic beauty of the early church that cultivated a personal relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ through Holy Communion and learning to walk in his light, truth, and ways.