Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For Canon Lawyers: New VTS Journal Launched

This will be a brief notice to my colleagues who regularly deal with the canon law of the (Protestant) Episcopal Church (USA). Under the editorship of Prof. Robert Prichard, the Virginia Theological Seminary has launched a new online Journal of Episcopal Church Canon Law. The Journal will be published online twice a year, in July and in February, and its articles may be downloaded (in Adobe Acrobat format) from its Website. Its purpose is stated thus by its editor:
The journal is intended to be a resource for all with interest in canon law and particularly for those with concern for the canonical tradition of The Episcopal Church. It is hoped that this will include the chancellors of The Episcopal Church and its several dioceses, the participants in diocesan conventions and the General Convention (who enact canon laws for The Episcopal Church), canon lawyers, and those who like the editor have responsibility for teaching canon law to Episcopal seminarians. It is further hoped that canonists and scholars from other parts of the Anglican Communion and from other religious traditions will find the material of interest.
The first online issue contains several articles of interest to church chancellors, including one on modern-day Standing Committees, an analysis of the practice in appointing the committees through which General Convention works, and a particularly fascinating history of oaths of conformity in the Church of England, which traces the evolution of the requirement in Article VIII of ECUSA's Constitution to sign a declaration upon ordination to conform to the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of the Episcopal Church (it is not an oath or a vow, for example). (Those interested in the niceties of the evolution of that provision, and the Catch-22 which it causes for ordinands today, should also consult this earlier post.)

Of especial interest to Episcopal canon lawyers, however, is a downloadable reprint of the first fifty or so pages of the very first commentary on PECUSA's Constitution and canons, authored by the redoubtable Rev. Francis Lister Hawks, published in 1841, and out of print ever since. The reprint contains Dr. Hawks's full commentary on the initial articles in PECUSA's Constitution, together with an historical explanation of how that Constitution came into being. Given that there are just fifteen copies of Dr. Hawks's treatise remaining in public libraries across the United States, and that none of them have been heretofore scanned, this is a very welcome publication indeed (OCR errors notwithstanding; they can be easily fixed).

I salute Dr. Prichard and his staff on a most welcome and timely endeavour.

1 comment:

  1. With all due respect, my impression of the Episcopal Church in American is that it follows the golden rule - "Whoever has the gold makes the rules." (And I really don't mean any disrespect toward Dr. Pritchard - it just seems like there is no rule of law in TEC - only the rule of the powerful.)