The following is a copy of a document from the desk of Archbishop Thomas Henry Jr., regarding the meaning of being a church in the Convergence Movement. The following document has been released to the public per Archbishop Henry's permission. Bracketed text in the article refers to emphasis added by the editors of The Communion Courier.
In this day and age many are chasing [apostolic] succession for validity yet validity is not achieved unless you have the whole pie. All of the ancient churches have maintained that Protestant orders are defective because they change the understanding of [the] ministry and the meaning of the Eucharist. They have departed from the full deposit of the faith. Many churches, to come back into communion with other branches of Christendom, have taken the Chicago-Lambeth approach towards some type of unity, which involves upholding the following:
1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the Word of God that contain[s] all things necessary unto Salvation and Holiness in Christian living; 2. Two Creeds: Apostles and Nicene, although the Apostolic Communion of Churches recognizes the Creed of Athanasius' validity as well; 3. Two Gospel Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord's Supper (known also as the Eucharist or Holy Communion); [and] 4. The Historic Episcopacy, locally adapted.
The fourth prerequisite depends on several factors. [It is] the understanding of the Eucharist as being more than just a symbol. [It is] a belief in the three-fold ministry of deacon, presbyter and bishop[—]bishops being the proper pastors of the church that have apostolic sanction. Since bishops are guardians of the faith, they must hold to the historic faith.
The Convergence Movement in Christianity is the desire to have a church where the three historic streams of Christianity converge in one place[—being sacramental, evangelical, and Spirit-filled]. There is a understanding that the sacraments communicate the grace of God; that the Eucharist like the Church Fathers and many of the Reformers said was more than just a symbolic one. It [is] a Mystery, a Real Presence. Many Reformers like John Calvin defined it as a Real Spiritual Presence [just] as some of the Church Fathers did.
The[re is also an understanding that the] Church is evangelical; the Christian Church is founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preaching is important in the life of the Christian Church. An understanding that salvation is according to the grace of God as Paul says in Ephesians by grace through faith apart from [any] man's works. This faith is manifested as a living faith that is witnessed by others with the works it produces in one's life.
The[n, there is the understanding that the] Church is pentecostal or Spirit-filled; there is a recognition of the modern work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian Church, [as Convergence Christians]. The sign gifts are to be in demonstration in the whole [of the one holy catholic and apostolic] Church, [and] the four-fold ministry operating through the clergy of the whole Church with support ministries found in Romans 12:6-10 and 1 Corinthians 12:28.
This type of church enjoys the richness of the faith combined to form one mighty river [unto the Lord our God]. Many times [within the Convergence Movement] people just want the part they are accustomed to and not the whole loaf. Yet the fullness of the faith is for you and your children. This type of church is truly apostolic, filled with the grace of God that changes lives.
If you don't plan on connecting with the ancient churches or if you have no desire to be Convergence, then there is no need for apostolic succession because it is of no benefit to you, [and there is furthermore no need to be Convergence by claiming or operating in some capacity of its tenets].
From the desk of Archbishop Thomas Henry Jr.
APOSTOLIC COMMUNION OF CHURCHES
This communion of churches—the Apostolic Communion of Churches—is a Convergence communion. What that means is that we are sacramental, evangelical, and Spirit-filled.
We are governed by our Archbishop and Chief Apostle, Apostolic Council, and House of Bishops. Our founder is Archbishop Thomas Henry Jr.