Reformed Episcopal Church Holds 54th General Council

The Council focused on missionary activities, reconciliation, and the election of a new presiding bishop

“During the first day’s worship, the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy, preached as homilist. He and then-Presiding Bishop Leonard Riches exchanged mutual forgiveness and reconciliation between the Diocese of Quincy and the Reformed Episcopal Church. They highlighted the mistreatment and ill-will that occurred between the Episcopal Church and the REC in Illinois during the Bishop Henry John Whitehouse and Bishop Charles Edward Cheney era.”

 

Bishops, clergy, and lay delegates gathered from across the North American continent to meet on June 11-13 for the 54th General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC). While the denomination broke away from the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1873, the REC has since joined common cause with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), signing on as one of its founding members. The Council was hosted by the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church and was held northwest of Philadelphia in the town of Blue Bell, PA. In its three-day span, the Council focused on missionary activities, reconciliation, and the election of a new presiding bishop.

During the first day’s worship, the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy, preached as homilist. He and then-Presiding Bishop Leonard Riches exchanged mutual forgiveness and reconciliation between the Diocese of Quincy and the Reformed Episcopal Church. They highlighted the mistreatment and ill-will that occurred between the Episcopal Church and the REC in Illinois during the Bishop Henry John Whitehouse and Bishop Charles Edward Cheney era. As successors of these two leaders, Ackerman and Riches joyfully announced that they recognized one another as co-laborers in the Gospel of Christ.

Following these events, the Rt. Rev. Royal Grote was elected Presiding Bishop of the REC without opposition. Similarly, the Rt. Rev. Ray Sutton was elected Vice President of the General Council without opposition. Both serve in the Diocese of the Mid-America. Retiring Presiding Bishop Leonard Riches submitted his final and poignant presiding episcopal report. The REC accepted the trial use liturgies of the ACNA for the Daily Offices and Holy Communion. Archbishop Robert Duncan, head of the ACNA, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Reformed Episcopal Seminary.

Over the course of the council, delegates received greetings from many honored guests, including Bishop John Guersney of the ACNA Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, Bishop John Fenwick of the Free Church of England, and Presiding Bishop Walter Grundorf of the Anglican Province of America. The Council witnessed much encouraging news in the realm of international missionary work. Bishop Jasmin Millic of Croatia shared how the REC is not only planting new parishes, but also helping bring reconciliation to a land once fraught by bitter strife. Bishop Gerhard Meyer of Germany officially announced and disseminated German translations of the Book of Common Prayer. The Rev. Matthew Colvin shared about his family’s vital labors in teaching and midwifery in the Philippines. Finally, Bishop Charles Dorrington of the Diocese of Western Canada and Alaska  reported that twenty-three new churches had been planted in Cuba. Throughout these presentations, the efforts and aid of Canon William Jerdan were often noted and appreciated.

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