Celtic - Anabaptist- Ministries
I have been appointed to the archepiscopacy. My first
inclination was not to accept the office of archbishop,
nor to have the archepiscopacy in the CAC. I was and
am concerned about perceived ranks in the ministry.
The Anabaptist tradition, which our communion shares,
is anti-hierarchical. And while the Celtic tradition had
bishops, they were not hierarchical in the way bishops in
the Catholic tradition were and are; rather, they were
relational, as in a family. So, "bishop" and "archbishop" in
the Celtic tradition meant something quite different from those offices in the Catholic tradition. Further, while some Anabaptist groups have bishops, they are certainly not hierarchical; they are more like senior pastors in the local faith community.
The Celtic Anabaptist Communion is an Anabaptist fellowship with equally strong Celtic influence which also welcomes other Christian traditions. One of my goals as founder of the CAC was and is to honor and be true to our Anabaptist and Celtic heritage, tradition, and ancestors -- ancestors who were persecuted by other Christians, hierarchical and non-hierarchical alike.
My vision is to remain true to the teaching and spirit of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament. In that spirit, I would like to point out Jesus's attitude toward position, titles, etc., in His kingdom. I would ask everyone, especially those who feel called to ordained ministry, including the episcopacy and archepiscopacy, to carefully read and ponder the words of Jesus as found in Luke 22:24-27; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:42-45; and also please pay special attention to Matthew 23:1-12.
In these verses, Jesus gives a lesson and a warning to his followers: It is not to be with them the way it is with the world. In the world, humans seek status, position, titles, and authority over others; it is not to be that way in the church. But what happened? The Catholic Church came to model itself upon the Roman Empire, with a hierarchy just as rigid, structured, and pompous -- and even more so.
The root of this problem -- the desire for status and power -- was evident even in the Apostles themselves, as the preceding Bible verses show! Even they argued over who was the greatest! So, the temptation has been there from the start; it's a part of human nature -- it's a part of why we need redemption. Yes, it's the very pride that Satan had.
That's why I was so concerned about assuming the title of archbishop and implementing the archepiscopacy in our communion. In the CAC, no one has spiritual authority over anyone else -- no one is "over" anyone spiritually. And that's the way it should be in the entire Body of Christ, if indeed we are true to the teachings of Christ. So, my question and concern was: How -- if at all -- can the archepiscopacy be used without violating the teachings of Christ?
After discussing this with my friend, Archbishop Rodney Rickard -- himself of strong Celtic heritage -- I feel I can now accept the office of archbishop and include archepiscopacy in our communion, with the following understanding and definition of the position and office:
The function of an archbishop in the CAC is simply to be a pastor and "anamchara," or "soul friend" to other bishops, just as a bishop should also be that for other pastors -- in short, a servant of servants, and a slave to all, as Jesus Himself put it.
In that sense, and that sense alone, will we have the archepiscopacy in the CAC -- not to satisfy someone's sense of self-importance or to elevate them to a position of authority, spiritual or otherwise, over anyone else. In this respect, many church bodies and individuals have succumbed to the world and abandoned the will and teachings of Jesus Christ, but it will not be so in the CAC -- we will not lord it over anybody. Men have made earthly lords, but they never should have made them in the church.
There will not be many archbishops in the CAC because there is not a need for many due to the nature of the office -- archbishops being pastors to other bishops. The surest way for anyone not to be appointed to the office of archbishop is an unbecoming desire and seeking of the office. This should automatically disqualify a person from the position and will indeed do so in the CAC.
These are the stated beliefs and practices of the CAC concerning archepiscopacy.
In the love of Jesus --
Abp. Michael Wrenn,
CAC founder and presiding bishop