About our Communion
When considering the whole of Christian history, The Convergent Christian Communion is still very young. Although young, we have continued to grow and mature as a vibrant expression of Christian faith and spirituality. Chances are, you have never heard of Convergent Christianity and you have found yourself on these pages trying to figure out just what we mean by that. Below you will find a series of questions about our Communion - they cover the who, what, when and how of our communion. Each of these questions have been gleaned from the numerous social media and in-person interactions that our members and leaders have participated in over the past few years.
So, what is your story? How did The Convergent Christian Communion come about?
Our Communion was borne out of the vision of two ministers - the Reverend Drew Haywood-Larsen, our late founder, and the Most Reverend Kenneth von Folmar, our current Presiding Bishop. These two ministers sought to establish a community of affirming clergy and ministries within the Convergence Movement.
In early 2014, Rev. Haywood-Larsen and Rev. von Folmar laid the foundation for what is today the Convergent Christian Communion. This original association was called The Anthem Network, and was a small network of inclusive church plants within the Southwest United States. The Anthem Network was officially launched on June 15th, 2014, with the first General Assembly being held in August of that year. In 2016, upon the death of Rev. Haywood-Larsen, the General Council appointed Rev. von Folmar as the Presiding Minister of the Anthem Network.
In 2018, our Communion continued to mature as we elected to adopt the historic episcopate in apostolic succession common to all Catholic and Apostolic churches and our first two bishops were consecrated. Additionally, Rev. von Folmar was elected as our first Presiding Bishop. It was at this moment that we fully embraced the sacramental vision of our founders, and entered into what is known as the Independent Sacramental Movement.
In 2019, our Communion made another major step in our growth with the decision to embrace a name that reflected our growth and development since our founding. In an effort to clearly state our identity, our name changed from The Anthem Network to the Convergent Christian Communion.
What is Convergent Christianity?
Our communion is part of a wider movement known as the Convergence Movement. The Convergence Movement (also known as the Paleo-orthodox Movement or less commonly the Ancient-Future Faith movement) is a Christian movement that began during the Fourth Great Awakening (1960–1980) in the United States. It is largely a result of the ecumenical movement. The Convergence Movement developed as a syncretic movement among evangelical and charismatic churches in the United States blending charismatic worship with liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer, and other liturgical sources common to other sacramental traditions.
It should be noted that the Convergence Movement is not synonymous with Convergence Christianity (commonly championed by Brian Mclaren, Phyllis Tickle, etc.). In the last couple decades Convergence Christianity - borne from Emergent Christianity - has become a phenomenon primarily among post-evangelical and post-liberal Christians who have or are on the path of deconstructing their belief system in an effort to reconstruct what they see as a more authentic and open approach to faith and spirituality. An informative article about this form of Christianity can be found here. As you read about Convergence Christianity you will find a some overlap but at the same time some clear distinctions; therefore it should be understood these movements are not synonymous.
I see that you mention you are affirming, evangelical, charismatic and sacramental, in light of what I have learned so far - what does that really mean?
In saying that we are affirming, we mean that we are an open, affirming, and grace-filled Communion believing that Christ’s love and ministry are open to all - regardless of anyone’s denominational background, political party, class, race, gender, sexual orientation, or age.
In saying that we are evangelical, we mean that we are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (euangelion) and believe in living it within the world. It also means that from the Evangelical movements within the Church, we take a strong appreciation for God’s grace, faith, and Scripture.
In saying that we are charismatic, we mean that we believe in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the world today. Followers of Jesus continue to receive the gifts of the Spirit (charismata). Additionally, it means that we have a strong appreciation for restoration, renewal, and revival within the Church.
In saying that we are sacramental, we mean that we embrace the sacramental and liturgical life of the historic Catholic and Apostolic Church. Our Communion embraces the creeds, sacraments, and historic episcopate in apostolic succession of the Church Catholic.
With so many opinions about how that would look, how does that play out for the C.C.C.?
Our Communion encourages diversity in the expressions of convergent christianity. Convergent Christianity is currently expressed in three ways in our Communion. We offer these definitions as a way of starting conversation but we wish to stress these are oversimplifications and really do not capture the nuances that are present.
First Expression Convergent Christians would, in many respects, exhibit a more fully-formed convergence experience for their church communities. They would be drawn to congregations whose spiritual life and worship services are fully evangelical, fully charismatic and fully sacramental. They value worship communities and ministries that are characterized by the best elements of each of the three streams. We consider this type as first expression due to the belief that in the first few centuries of the Church it was fully evangelical, fully charismatic and fully sacramental.
Second Expression Convergent Christians find a deeper connection to fully sacramental spirituality, and. embrace what many would describe as the “high church” paradigm. The clergy within expression would lead services would be fully vested. Their church services would be a liturgical experience from beginning to end; likely including formal prayers of the people, congregational prayers of penitence, professing a Creed aloud together, and sharing the peace. These Christians embrace the sacraments in a way that is fully in-step with tradition. These Christians would be working to deliberately include more
of the free-flowing elements of a Spirit-led worship experience in their lives.
Third Expression Convergent Christians would embrace what many describe as the “low church” dominant paradigm; that which is commonly experienced in the typical Protestant congregation. They feel most at home going to a service that is some iteration of the classical non-liturgical experience. This Expression recognizes the ancient church as a legitimate voice, but mostly in their insistence on a celebrating weekly Eucharist. Third Expression Convergent Christians rely less on printed prayer books and service guides in favor of extemporaneous preaching, teaching and prayer.
What do you believe about the Holy Scripture?
We believe the Holy Scriptures are composed of the Old and New Testaments along with the Deuterocanonical Book. These Deuterocanonical Books for those following western traditions are Tobit, Judith, Additions to the Book of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 2 Esdras. While those who look toward Eastern Christianity may include 1 Esdras, Psalm 152, the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Maccabees, and 4 Maccabees.
We believe that the Holy Scriptures found in the Old and New Testament are divinely inspired. This divine inspiration was the process in which God’s concepts were clothed with the words of humankind. Our Communion is not of one mind when approaching the topics of infallibility and inerrancy. During our ordination liturgies – our clerics acknowledge the bible as containing all things necessary for salvation. You can find our more about what we believe here.
What are Holy Orders?
Our clerics are organized through the lens of Church history in which Deacons, Elders and Bishops supported the community. Prior to entering Holy Orders, our ‘Candidates for Holy Orders’ undergo thorough training and examination to ensure they are fit for the role in which they are pursuing. Our Communion does not place any gender requirement for Ordination. Our clerics are tent-makers in the tradition of St. Paul. Like St. Paul, we continue to live and work in the world while at the same time we seek to build up the body of Christ on earth. Some of our clergy are married or partnered and some are not; some may choose celibacy and others do not.
The Convergent Christian Communion does not offer wages or salaries to our ministers; we are missionaries in the sense that we act on faith in trying to establish church plants, missions, ministries and faith communities wherever we can gather the people. We are entrepreneurial. We take chances and we commit our time, talents, and treasures to the building up of the body of Christ. Like Christ, we seek to serve rather than to be served.
As outlined in the New Testament, the office of deacon is a historic ministry of service and aid within the local Christian Church. Deacons assist elders in administering the Sacraments and may perform baptisms without the presence of an Elder. They may serve the church in the following areas: Communications, Christian Education; serving as a Counselor or Chaplain or; leading a music, campus, prison, charity, justice and advocacy ministry.
The Elders of the Church are collectively called the Presbytery. The modern English words ‘Priest’ and ‘Elder’ share the same Greek root (presbyteros), as a Communion family we chose to utilize the term ‘Elder’ to better reflect our Convergent orientation. The Elders are celebrants of Holy Communion; they may offer all the sacraments except Ordination to Holy Orders.
The Bishops of the Church are collectively called the Episcopacy. Although evident in the earliest forms of the Church, the role of Bishop has evolved as the Church has grown and matured. This growth and maturity resulted in the unique sacramental role of the Bishop being the successor of the Apostles. A Bishop is an overseer of the flock and as such is called to propagate, to teach, and to uphold and defend the faith and order of the Church willingly and as God leads. Bishops are consecrated for the whole Church and are successors of the Apostles through the grace of the Holy Spirit given to them. They are chief missionaries and chief pastors, guardians and teachers of doctrine, and administrators of godly discipline and governance.
So, who is in charge?
The governance of our Communion is vested in our members gathered at General Assembly (held every 2 years). Between meetings of the General Assembly, the administrative authority of the Communion shall reside in the Bishops Council and the General Council. You can learn more about our leaders, our polity and review our Constitution and Canon by clicking the below.
Wait so are you Catholic?
In short, it's complicated. Typically, when a person says “are you Catholic” they are asking if we are Roman Catholic and we can definitively say we are not Roman Catholic. Although we are not Roman Catholic, our Communion is unapologetically and consistently catholic and we make this assertion because we embrace the sacramental and liturgical life of the historic Catholic and Apostolic Church. Our Communion embraces the creeds, sacraments, and historic episcopate in apostolic succession of the Church Catholic.
What do you mean by Connexions?
Unlike in more traditional Diocesan and Eparchial models found in mainline and canonical churches our Communion does not assign episcopal oversight through geographic means. In June of 2021, our governing Councils approved a transition to an affinity-based model. Upon adopting an affinity-based model, three Connexons were created to represent those relationships; a fourth being recently created for the Eastern Rite.
We chose to use ‘Connexion’ because it was an organizing form not historically tied to geography (like those listed above). As in early Methodism, our Connexions reflect an charism-based model (i.e., when Methodism was still part of the Church of England), with a key differentiation in our use of the historic episcopacy. In this form of governance, the fullness of the church (both lay and ordained) work in concert to achieve the work of Christ. Additionally, the term ‘Connexion’ further stresses the interconnectedness of the various parts of our Communion.
What is your Application Process?
All applicants must submit an application and pass a background check prior to being considered for membership. Each applicant will be interviewed by at least one of our Bishops. During this consideration period, our Bishops review their findings and make a decision for membership. During deliberations, a decision is made in light of the Ordained Ministry Candidate Standards as adopted by our Bishops Council. The candidate may expect a determination to be made within 60 days of receiving the application. If membership is approved, additional training may be assigned to the new member by the Bishop. All new members are admitted as provisional members for a period determined by the Bishop, with approval from the Presiding Bishop. For those located outside of the United States, your application will only be consider if there are independent methods for verifying the information submitted.
The key to attaining membership in our Communion is found in building meaningful relationships with our members and leaders. You can begin that process now by joining our Facebook Group.
If you are the leader of 3 or more clergy, and your group would like to incardinate together; please begin with the informal inquiry process and your request will be placed before a bishop immediately.
All applicants are required to complete a criminal background check, including a check of the US Department of Justice Sexual Offender Registry.
Your application will not be considered until this item is completed. The cost of the background check is approximately $12.00 and can be accessed above.
Once we become members, what is required of us?
Due to the dispersed nature of our Communion, establishing meaningful relationships can be challenging. It is therefore encouraged that members remain engaged in virtual connection opportunities offered by the Communion; as well as plan to attend the Biennial meeting of the General Assembly. Additionally, Connexions may organize alternative events to foster further engagement within the that ecclesial community.
Commissioning or Ordination by the Communion does not automatically grant membership privileges to the Member. Members are asked to tangibly support the Communion through faithful giving of time, finances and talent. We Communion recognizes that it is not always plausible or feasible for members to give financially, if a member is unable to provide financial support, they should notify their Bishop that the Bishop can advise of other ways to contribute or if necessary, authorize continued membership benefits without fear of membership privilege suspension.
To remain a member with the communion, each member must:
Demonstrate, through submission of Ember Letters, that they are engaged in Active, Accountable and Authorized Ministry.
Active: serving a minimum of 10 documentable hours per week, paid or volunteer
Authorized: authorized by a local community/ministry, the Communion, or Bishops Council for service as a pastor, staff clergy, evangelist, pastoral therapist, chaplain, Communion staff, or as the director of an educational or service ministry.
Accountable: accountable to a local church administrative body or other administrative body or to a direct Supervisor within, or known to, Convergent Christian Communion. In addition, we strongly encourage those pastors serving in a local church setting to establish a pastor-parish team to insure a healthy, transparent relationship and communications with their congregations.
Maintain active membership in a local congregation, meeting the requirements of membership, including regular worship attendance. For those who are not doing ministry in a local church it is important to maintain a spiritual home and faith community. Doing ministry is not the same as being in a worshiping community; thus, it is vital that a minister serving in parachurch ministries regularly attend worship services.
Fulfill requirements for continuing professional development, as assigned by the Bishops Council, each year.