United Episcopal Church of North America

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United Episcopal Church of North America
The UECNA crest.
ClassificationContinuing Anglican
OrientationCentral Church; Low Church
PolityEpiscopal, (with Apostolic Succession)
LeaderPeter D. Robinson
AssociationsInter-Communion with Anglican Catholic Church, Diocese of the Great Lakes and the Anglican Province of Christ the King
RegionNorth America
FounderCharles D.D. Doren
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Separated fromAnglican Catholic Church
Congregations20 parishes and missions [1]
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United Episcopal Church of North America
The UECNA crest.
ClassificationContinuing Anglican
OrientationCentral Church; Low Church
PolityEpiscopal, (with Apostolic Succession)
LeaderPeter D. Robinson
AssociationsInter-Communion with Anglican Catholic Church, Diocese of the Great Lakes and the Anglican Province of Christ the King
RegionNorth America
FounderCharles D.D. Doren
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Separated fromAnglican Catholic Church
Congregations20 parishes and missions [1]
Part of a series on the
Anglican churches not in the Communion
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Christianity · Western Christianity · English Reformation · Anglicanism · Controversy within The Episcopal Church (United States) · Book of Common Prayer · Congress of St. Louis · Affirmation of St. Louis · Bartonville Agreement · North American Anglican Conference


Albert A. Chambers · James Parker Dees · Charles D. D. Doren · Creighton Jones · William Millsaps · Council Nedd II · Stephen C. Reber · Peter D. Robinson · Peter Toon


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United Episcopal Church of North America

The United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) is a traditional Anglican Christian church that is part of the Continuing Anglican movement. It is not part of the Anglican Communion.

The UECNA describes itself as "embracing the broad base of ceremonial practice inherent in the Historic Anglican Communion - The Anglican Catholic Episcopal Tradition."[2] The UECNA uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, in the USA, and the 1962 edition of the Canadian Prayer Book north of the border. Occasional use of older editions of the Book of Common Prayer is permitted on occasion.

The changes in the mainline denominations that it and other continuing churches object to include the acceptance of abortion, the ordination of women, and changes to the theology of the Book of Common Prayer. They also object to more recent innovations such as the ordination of openly homosexual clergy, but these were not at issue when they broke with The Episcopal Church.


Founding of the UECNA[edit]

Bishop Charles D. D. Doren, the senior of the four bishops consecrated at Denver for the Continuing Church on January 26th 1978, is considered the founding Bishop of the UECNA. The church was established in 1981 after three parishes left the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) to create the UECNA as a home for Anglicans of the Low Church orientation in reaction to the new Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Catholic Church. The Standing Committee of the new jurisdiction invited Bishop Doren, the retired ACC Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic States, to be their first bishop, and subsequently, the first Archbishop.

In more recent years, it has described itself as representing Central Church as well as Low Church Anglicans. The church's Constitution and Canons have been modelled on the PECUSA's 1958 Code with some amendments, including the provision for the Presiding Bishop (usually called the Archbishop) to be at least 40 years of age, provision for the erection of dioceses in Canada, and the circumstances in which the jurisdiction will consecrate bishops for overseas. The title of the senior Bishop has shuffled back and forth between Presiding Bishop and Archbishop over the years being given as "Archbishop" in the 1981 draft constitution, but being replaced with "Presiding Bishop" in 1991, when the draft of the 1996 Canons was adopted. The change in terminology was widely ignored, and at the 2011 General Convention amended the Canons to recognize the use of the title Archbishop for the Presiding Bishop of the UECNA.

Under the leadership of Archbishop Doren (1981–1989) and Archbishop Knight (1989–1992), the UECNA grew to over forty congregations. In 1988-90 these were divided between the Diocese of the Ohio Valley and five missionary districts - New England, Midwest, West, South and East. So far this has represented the high-water mark of the church's prosperity.

The UECNA underwent a protracted decline during the early 1990s due to the illness and increasing incapacity of Bishop Gramley (1992-96). When the summons to General Convention was issued in 1996 only seven parishes responded, and they proceeded to place the three Missionary Districts into suspension, and the church was administered as a single diocese from then until April 2010. The Rev. Stephen Reber, Sr., was elected as bishop-coadjutor and consecrated in September 1996. Bishop Gramley died shortly thereafter.

During the late 1990s, Bishop Reber traveled many thousands of miles reactivating old UECNA parishes and receiving new congregations into the jurisdiction. He also continued Bishop Gramley's policy of relaxing the rather aggressively Low Church stance of the jurisdiction allowing the range of churchmanship within the United Episcopal Church to broaden. However, unlike the ACC and APCK, the UECNA still requires from candidates for the ministry a commitment to uphold the doctrines contained in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer. In 1999 the UECNA entered into a short-lived intercommunion agreement with the Anglican Province of America causing the ACC to suspend its intercommunion agreement with the UECNA. However, that action was not mirrored by the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

In 2007, intercommunion with the ACC was restored after a lapse of eight years, so that the UECNA now has cordial relations with both the ACC and the APCK.[3] Currently, the three churches are exploring opportunities for greater cooperation and the possibility of achieving organic unity. Bishop Presley Hutchens of the ACC addressed delegates to the UECNA convention of 2008 and discussed the possibility of uniting the ACC and UECNA.[4] Subsequently, Bishop Robinson of the UECNA pointed out that the two bodies will have to reach agreement on the status of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion in order for further progress to be made.

At the 2008 General Convention, the clergy and delegates elected three suffragan bishops with the intention that they would serve the UECNA and also assist the ACC and APCK when requested. Two of them subsequently departed the UECNA for the Reformed Episcopal Church, leaving the Right Rev. Peter D. Robinson as the sole suffragan bishop in UECNA until his appointment as Bishop of the Missionary District of the West in November 2009. Bishop Robinson succeeded the Most Rev. Stephen C. Reber as Archbishop (Presiding Bishop) of the UECNA on September 6, 2010, and was elected and confirmed at the 10th General Convention in May 2011.

By October, 2013, there were 20 UECNA congregations in 13 states including: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The UECNA also has clergy in Canada.

Historic Episcopate[edit]

The UECNA traces its apostolic succession from the Church of England as follows:

And from the Scottish Episcopal Church the line is traced from:

Intercommunion agreements[edit]

See: Anglicanism

The UECNA has effected intercommunion agreements with a number of other Continuing Anglican churches. Those presently in effect are with:


The United Episcopal Church is governed on a day-to-day basis by its Bishops who work with their standing committees, Diocesan Conventions/Convocations, and the General Convention.

The General Convention consists of two houses. The larger is the House of Delegates which currently consists of one clergyman and two lay representatives from each parish and mission of the UECNA. The House of Delegates has a President, who is usually a priest. The present holder of this office is the Rev. Jim McTaggart, Rector of St Joseph Anglican Church, Branson, MO. The House of Delegates is the Lower House of the General Convention. The lower house elects the Treasurer, and Secretary to the General Convention.

House of Bishops[edit]

The upper house of General Convention is the House of Bishop which consists of all UECNA bishops in good standing in the UECNA. At present it membership consists of:

Bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church, The Diocese of the Great Lakes, and the Anglican Province of Christ the King may sit in the UECNA House of Bishops and have voice, but not vote.

Business may be originated in either house of General Convention. After a first reading it passes to the other House of General Convention for review and approval. If amendments are made it must be approved and returned to the originating House and be approved as amended before going to the Presiding Bishop for signature. The Presiding Bishop has a limited right of veto.

National Council[edit]

The National Council is composed of the Presiding Bishop, two other bishops, three priests and six laypersons. The Bishops are elected by the House of Bishops and the clergy and lay members are elected members by the House of Deputies. The Council also contains two representatives from the women's auxiliary, the United Episcopal Church Women (UECW). The National Council meets regularly each year, usually on the second Friday after Easter. However, the Presiding Bishop has the authority to convene special meetings should circumstances require.


The doctrinal position of the United Episcopal Church is defined by the Declaration of Conformity contained in Article VIII of the UECNA Constitution which grounds the doctrine of the Church in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Common Prayer (1928) and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (1571/1801) stressing the jurisdiction's continuity with the English Reformation and the old Protestant Episcopal Church. This is intended to center the Church's doctrine firmly in the 'Classical Anglicanism' tradition as contained in the historic formularies of the Church; the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer. These, in turn, refer us back to the inerrant Holy Scriptures and the Ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church.

While the UECNA acknowledges that Affirmation of St Louis among its founding documents, it occupies a far less important place in the Church's life and teaching than it does in that of the Anglican Catholic Church, and the Anglican Province of Christ the King. The Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Peter Robinson, is on record as stating that the Affirmation of St Louis primarily addressed the controversies of the 1960s and 70s and was a manifesto for reform to prevent activist revisionism ever gaining a foothold in the Continuum. Its main influence in the UECNA was that it guided the Church's reform of its Constitution and Canons in 1981-84. The Affirmation was not intended to materially alter the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church which remains grounded on Holy Scripture, the three Creeds, the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church, the Book of Common Prayer and the Articles of Religion.

On moral issues, the UECNA is most clearly in line with the Affirmation of St Louis, which in itself reflects the broader Augustinian tradition of Moral theology as understood by the Western Church. The Affirmation in particular affirms

- Individual Responsibility before God for one's acts.

- The Sanctity of Human Life "from conception to natural death"

- Man's Duty to God as set forth "in Natural Law and by the revealed Word of God"

- The indissolubility and sanctity of marriage "between one man and one woman."

- The Sinfulness of Man

- That man is saved by Grace only

- The Christian's Duty to be Moral

In September 2012, the Presiding Bishop issued a statement affirming the UECNA's House of Bishops support for those church bodies opposing the HHS Contraception Mandate. The UECNA is opposed to same-sex marriage, and condemns abortion on Biblical, moral and ethical grounds.

In ceremonial matters, Bishop Robinson points outs that the UECNA has a greater diversity of churchmanship and ceremonial practice than it did in the 1980s. However, the church is very insistent that ceremonial use conforms to traditional Anglican or Episcopalian customs. Historically, the minimum of vestments required for services in parish churches is surplice and tippet (rochet, chimere and tippet for bishops.) At the other extreme, the 1559 Ornaments Rubric represents the maximum of vesture and ornament contemplated by the compilers of the BCP.

While the UECNA is now a broader church than it was in the 1980s, and has one or two High Church parishes, it still primarily serves those whose churchmanship was Central to Low/Evangelical.

Ordination and lay leadership[edit]

See: Episcopal polity

The UECNA's leadership is divided among lay leaders and ordained ministers as follows:


An Anglican altar

Those in ordained positions (including students admitted to postulancy) include the following:[10]

Lay leadership positions[edit]

In addition to Lay Readers and Diocesan Readers, the following lay ministries exist in the United Episcopal Church

United Episcopal Church Women[edit]

The UECW is an official organization of women who serve the church. Their particular focus is to raise funds for the missionary work of the Church.

Order of St. Benedict[edit]

Crest of the Order of St. Benedict

The church recognizes one monastic order, which is named the Order of St. Benedict.[11] The order uses a modified version of the Rule of St. Benedict.[12]

Membership is open to married or single men and women over the age of 21 who are convicted that they are called to the religious life.

The order has no established communities and does not establish communities. Instead, "[m]embers provide for their own living quarters and obtain their livelihood through secular or religious employment".

The stages of development are:

  1. Postulant - one who has made application to the abbot, been accepted to the order, and awaits investiture as a novice.
  2. Novice - one who vows to a testing period of one year. These vows are taken in the presence of the abbot, or a priest appointed by the abbot.
  3. Professed member - one who takes final vows of the order. These vows are taken in the presence of the abbot.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ UECNA website.
  2. ^ The United Episcopal Church - An Introduction (UECNA 1990, rev. 20130
  3. ^ Excerpts from the website of the UECNA
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ViHz7oPK60&NR=1 Youtube video of the Convention
  5. ^ www.anglicancatholic.org - Chambers Succession
  6. ^ ACC Website; Chambers Succession
  7. ^ The UECNA records preserve the program for Bishop Reber's consecration, which names Bishop Harvey as the principal consecrator.
  8. ^ UECNA records
  9. ^ http://www.anglicancatholic.org/acc-uec.html
  10. ^ UECNA ordination guide on-line
  11. ^ http://unitedepiscopalchurch.org/anglican-osb/rule.html
  12. ^ Order of St. Benedict

External links[edit]