Posted by: Fr. C. | July 25, 2014

Sailing Off…Folly Beach

Storm Warning at Folly Beach

Storm Warning at Folly Beach

Folly Beach is a city, located on historic Folly Island, in Charleston County, South Carolina, United States. Foley Beach is the new Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Folly Beach has an informative, slick website. So does Abp. Foley Beach. The Folly Beach website gives the traveling Anglo-Catholic, perhaps on their way to a congress, a good feeling about stopping in for a bit. Unhappily, the Foley Beach website doesn’t.

Let’s set the stage. At stake, here, is the success of the Anglo-Catholic Congress called by Forward in Faith North America, (FiFNA) for Ft. Worth next July. The Congress, so far supported by the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, Festival of Faith™, and a bunch of other folks. The congress, modeled after those of the same moniker in the 1920s and 1930s, looks to be a sort of grand unified field theory of the Anglo-Catholic movement.

To be sure, since the first breach of the ordinal with the illegal “ordination” of women in the 1970s in the Anglican world, the catholic party amongst Anglicans has proved fissiparous. “Jurisdictions” have proliferated and, amidst colorful recrimination and an almost frank Donatism amongst various parties, the movement has fallen on hard times. The threads are held together with a common sacramental understanding based upon the Affirmation of St. Louis. Comes now the problem.

The conveners of the pan-Catholic Anglican Congress, or whatever name will be adopted, are mobbed up with ACNA. ACNA will be presided over by Abp. Foley Beach. A look at his declared stands on key issues proves that he is no catholic. Indeed, quite the opposite.

I believe in taking a man at his word, particularly prelates. Or, keeping with our nautical metaphor, in the words of Popeye the Sailor, “I sez what I means, and I means what I sez! Usk, usk, usk.” Let’s see what he sez, or at least has approved. (With thanks to a good priest who does not wish to be named—at least as yet.)

Foley, not Folly, Beach

Foley, not Folly, Beach

First, there is the pronouncement on the website, “We are an Evangelical church in the Protestant tradition.” Not an Anglican Church in the Catholic tradition, mind you, or anything close. We can spot that as it is in a geographical area not known for its friendliness to catholic causes, but let’s go on to historical “information” given on the site.

“The Anglican Church began as the state church of England.” Apart from the fact that even Cranmer might disagree with this, it is simply not the case historically, certainly from an Anglo-catholic perspective. Of course, if this is true, the Roman Catholic priest was right when he said to me that, “The Anglican Church was founded on the political whim of Henry VIII, a depraved syphilitic.” And, so the website continues, “We are an Evangelical Church in the Protestant tradition.’

The sacramental perspective, or rather the lack thereof, is even more disturbing. Archbishop Foley Beach’s Cathedral church sure has an informative website, but I couldn’t find a single mention about the sacraments on it. They don’t speak of the sacraments. Their doctrine seems to be thoroughly Protestant. Indeed, there is nothing about the Eucharist except a small, yet thoroughly off-putting, bit:

“At most of our services, we celebrate Holy Communion, and if you are a baptized Christian you are welcome to receive the bread and wine. You may take the bread and then drink from the common cup, or you may dip the bread into the wine (called “intinction”).”

So it is at the Eucharist, the source and summit of the faith, all baptized Christians “are welcome to receive the bread and wine.” Forget about Confirmation, no need of that. Never mind “real presence” which is nowhere mentioned. Just “bread and wine”, not Body and Blood. It looks like receptionism to this reader. At best, this is nothing more than Zwinglianism, which represents the absolute worst of Protestant theology. As Flannery O’Conner once said, “If its just a symbol then to hell with it.”

Finally, let’s look at the treatment of Holy Orders down at the Beach. For Anglo-Catholics who do not believe Orders are divisible, there is a problem. There is a female deacon (not a deaconess) on staff at the cathedral. He will “ordain” female deacons. It doesn’t really matter though. As a self-identified Evangelical Protestant (with a Zwinglian sacramental theology), clearly, Foley does not intend to ordain Catholic clergy anyway.

So, how does FiFNA, while it is tied up in an unnecessary “study” of “women’s ordination” with “ordained” women on the study panel explain this? How does it explain being mobbed up with an archbishop who, to be perfectly blunt, is a Presbyterian in drag? How does it hope to attract the non-Canterbury Anglican-Catholics (and, yes, it is a generic appellation) to the party?

In the maritimethere is a great tradition with respect to foundering ships.  The departing crew strips everything off of value for survival that they can carry.  When a ship is is left on a beach, it is said to be “hulked”. Hulking was a common fate for wooden ships, especially if they had lost some of their masts and rigging in bad weather or were no longer seaworthy.  Then, the denizens of the shore, who had no involvement with the crew of the hulk, no sense of the ship’s history or purpose, simply descend on it and take away what they can to adorn their own abode.  A miter, a Communion set, even a prayer book, do not a Catholic make, particularly when they are carried off by those with no connection to the once proud barque.  I fear that is the case out at Folly Beach, and the rest of the fleet, no matter how tiny and scattered must resist that fate.

I am sure there will be howls that I lack charity or am trying to sabotage the effort at a Congress.  Mind you, I am fully committed to see the Congress be a success. In our broken witness and the silliness of “jurisdictions”, we are in desperate need of unity. Christ himself commands it. But, I subscribe to Popeye the Venerable’s teachings, and I mean what I sez.  Surely  I am a weak man and, unlike St. Paul, I don’t think I can stand being shipwrecked yet again. And surely, shipwreck will result for Anglo-Catholics on the rocks and shoals of Foley…er…Folly Beach.  Those who are sailing too close, hoist up and let out aways further from that shore.




  1. I do not see myself as a negative person, and accept that Foley Beach is likely the right fit for our Province due to the overwhelming pietistic Evangelicalism that rules the day in the ACNA. That said, as an Anglican priest trying to be faithful to my vocation, I found your post a comfort to my heart. I found you words clear, true, and to the point. Thank you for that.

    Why do we think that we are so smart with all of our methodology that we can ignore the wisdom of the Patristics, the Nicene fathers, and those Reformers who have taught and modeled faithful Christianity to us?

    It seems that as a province we are as a-historical and vapid as the culture around us. We are informed by our own catholicity that is 1 week to 20 years old; and we think it is Christianity.

    • Reverend and dear father, Your comment poses the question succinctly as we approach the Anglican-Catholic Congress in July, “Why do we think that we are so smart with all of our methodology that we can ignore the wisdom of the Patristics, the Nicene fathers, and those Reformers who have taught and modeled faithful Christianity to us?” I, for one, do not. I am not of the school of pietistic Evangelicalism, nor to I account our Catholicity as a new thing. I know that I am part of an English orthodox church (with apologies to Bp. Grafton), with it’s roots in the earliest Christianity in England. That’s pretty early. God has allowed us to exist, flourish, fall, re-trench, flourish again through Oxford, and struggle for identity. Yet, we still are here. It is time to sort the “flavours” of Anglicanism and see whether a unified version in a Catholic understanding will stand and prosper alone.

  2. Thank you for your words, Father. I look forward to hearing more about the Anglo-Catholic Congress. I am not in a region or network where I have been exposed news of it’s existence, but will do some googling for sure.

    Christ’s Peace to You.

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