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Canons

Nicene  Church International

Canons

Table of Contents

Preamble

Introduction

Canon One: The Ministry

Canon Two: Archdioceses

Canon Three: The Diocese

Canon Four: The Parish

Canon Five: Worship

Canon Six: Doctrine

Canon Seven: The Sacramental Ministry

Canon Eight: Fundamental Right to Life

Canon Nine: Religious Orders and Communities

Canon Ten: Catholic Concord

Preamble

Our founding vision is to make manifest the Kingdom of God to the nations of the world and to express the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With Sacred Scripture, the traditions of the Church, and the Holy Spirit as our guide, we seek to experience the full nature of the living, historic, catholic, church in its sacramental communion with a personal God, its charismatic joy in the Spirit, and its evangelistic zeal to share our blessed hope with all people. To those who seek a deeper experience of God in the sacraments, a more profound communion with His Spirit, spiritual growth, community with fellow believers, and service to a broken world, we the Primus Archbishop, Archbishops, Bishops and Priests of the Nicene Church International (hereafter referred to as the Nicene Church, or NCI) do hereby present these Canons as a guide for our community. These Canons speak to the particular needs of our present ecclesiastical life and are to be observed under the loving care of our Bishops.

Introduction

The NCI shall be served by Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in Apostolic Succession under the Lordship of Jesus Christ with a Metropolitan Archbishop as Chief Pastor. Other offices of ministry are recognized, as described in these Canons, and the priesthood of all believers is to be exercised in the whole community.

Community Structure: The NCI is governed by the Synod of Bishops, and presided over by the Primus Archbishop, who shall be elected by the Synod.

A Diocese is presided over by a Diocesan Bishop. Each Diocese is composed of Parishes. Parishes may include Minor Orders and lay ministries, such as Subdeacons, Catechists, Lectors, Lay Preachers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Pastoral Leaders, etc., and are presided over by a Priest, or a Deacon.

Canon Approval and Amendment: These Canons shall be approved, and may be subsequently amended, by a consensus of the Synod of Bishops.

Canon One: The Ministry

I.  The Primus Arch-episcopate

A.  The Primus of the Nicene Church International

1. The duties of the Primus include:

a. The setting of vision of the Nicene Church, serving as a “father in the Lord” to the Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops, other clergy and laity of the Nicene Church:

b. Presiding as president of the Synod of Bishops, whenever the Synod is called into convention;

c. The calling and oversight of meetings with the Archbishops, Bishops and other clergy for the purpose of spiritual nourishment, mutual edification and the implementation of vision for the Nicene Church;

d. Visiting the Archdiocese and Dioceses of the Church for the purposes of:

(1). Holding pastoral consultations with the Bishops and, with their advice, with the Lay and Clerical leaders of the jurisdiction,

(2). Preaching the Word,

(3). Celebrating the Sacraments.

2. The Primus shall be elected by a consensus of the Synod of Bishops and shall serve until relieved of the Primus Arch-episcopate by action of the Synod of Bishops, retirement or death.

3. The Primus may appoint a Chancellor to assist in carrying out the duties of the Primus Arch-episcopate. The Chancellor shall assume the duties of the Primus Arch-episcopate whenever the Primus is indisposed, or when the position of Primus is vacated by action of the Synod, retirement or death.

II. The Episcopal Office

A. Archbishops

1. The duties of the Archbishop include:

a. The setting of vision for the Archdiocese, serving as a “father in the Lord” to the Diocesan Bishops, other clergy and laity of the Archdiocese;

b. The calling and oversight of meetings with the Bishops and other clergy of the Archdiocese for the purpose of spiritual nourishment, mutual edification and the implementation of vision for the Archdiocese;

c. Visiting the Dioceses of the Church for the purposes of:

(1). Holding pastoral consultations with the Bishops and, with their advice, with the Lay and Clerical leaders of the jurisdiction,

(2). Preaching the Word,

(3). Celebrating the Sacraments.

2. The Archbishops shall have authority to administer guidance and discipline over the bishops, in conformance with Holy Scriptures, apostolic tradition, and these Canons of the NCI. Any disciplinary action deemed necessary must be presented to the Synod of Bishops for ratification.

B. Diocesan Bishops

1. The Diocesan Bishop shall be first and foremost shepherd of the flock, maintaining the oversight of a parish, developing and initiating its vision and strategy, the said parish being recognized as the Cathedral of the Diocese.

2. No one shall be consecrated Bishop unless he is a priest in the NCI, and is twenty-five years of age or older.

a. The clergy and laity of a diocese shall recommend to the Synod of Bishops their nominee for Bishop of the diocese in which the recommended Bishop shall serve.

b. The recommended Bishop may be elected at a subsequent meeting of the Synod of Bishops, with the consecration following as determined by the Synod.

c. The Bishop may serve in his office for life, or until retirement.

3. A Bishop shall confine the exercise of such office to the Diocese in which elected, unless requested to perform episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof, or unless authorized by the Synod of Bishops, or by his Archbishop, or the Primus, to act temporarily in case of need within any territories not yet organized into Dioceses of the Community.

4. The duties of the office of Diocesan Bishop include:

a. The setting of vision for the Diocese, serving as a “father in the Lord” to the clergy and laity;

b. The calling and oversight of meetings with the Clergy of the Diocese, both publicly and privately, for their spiritual nourishment and mutual edification;

c. Serving in the Synod of Bishops;

d. Serving ex officio on all Parish Councils within the Diocese;

e. The ordination of priests and deacons;

f. The regular visitation of every parish in the Diocese for the purpose of

(1)  The administration of the Sacraments,

(2) The preaching of the Word of God;

g. The administration of the Diocese.

5. The Bishop may appoint Diocesan officers to assist him in the administration of his duties, but shall by no means diminish the pastoral responsibilities of his calling.

6. All Bishops and Archbishops shall labor together according to the spirit of local bylaws and Canons.

C. Auxiliary Bishops

1. Auxiliary Bishops shall be nominated by Diocesan Bishops and elected by the consensus of the Synod of Bishops. The Auxiliary Bishop serves at the direction of a Diocesan Bishop and shall not possess the right of succession.

2. The duties of Auxiliary Bishops include:

a. The setting of vision for the Mission,

b. The calling and oversight of meetings with the Clergy of the Mission, both publicly and privately, for their spiritual nourishment and mutual edification;

c. Serving in the Synod of Bishops; and

d. The administration of the Mission.

D. Synod of Bishops

1. The Synod of Bishops shall meet when called to do so by the Primus of the Nicene Church. An assembly of the Synod shall be called not less than once each calendar year. The Synod shall be subject to the call of the Primus for exceptional circumstances at all other times.

2. The Primus shall be elected by a consensus of the Synod of Bishops present and shall serve until relieved of the Primus Arch-episcopacy action of the Synod of Bishops, retirement or death.

3. In the event the Primus Arch-episcopate is vacated by sudden illness, retirement, or death, the Chancellor of the Primus shall assume the duties of the Primus. The Chancellor shall, within ninety (90) days of the vacancy, call the Synod of Bishops into session to elect a new Primus Archbishop.

4. The Primus may recommend a successor to the Primus Arch-episcopate, but such recommendation shall not be binding upon the Synod of Bishops. Selection of a successor Primus shall be bound only by these Canons, conscience, reason, and the action of the Holy Spirit.

5. The Primus shall act as president of the Synod when in session. When the Synod is not in session, the President pro tem shall act as the administrative head of the Church, and shall see to its day-to-day operation.

6. The President pro tem of the Synod shall be elected by a consensus of the Synod of Bishops present and shall serve until relieved of the Presidency pro tem by action of the Synod of Bishops, retirement or death.

7. The assembly of the Synod of Bishops shall be open to the participation of all, but only bishops shall have a vote on issues of faith, practice and morals. All such actions shall be by consensus.

8. The Primus, or the President pro tem of the Synod, may summon the Synod by special call to a closed meeting in the event of exceptional circumstances. Such special call meeting shall consist of the bishops only. The Secretary of the Synod, if not a bishop, may be present to keep the record. A special closed meeting may be summoned during the regular meeting of the Synod, or at any other time.

9. The Secretary of the Synod shall be appointed by the Primus and/or President pro tem of the Synod and shall serve until relieved of the Secretariat by the Primus and/or President pro tem, retirement or death.

10. A Synod of Archbishops may be created whenever the number of archbishops shall be three or more. The responsibilities and powers of the Synod of Archbishops shall be established when such a Synod is created, but its creation, operation or administration shall not contravene the rules promulgated for the Synod of Bishops.

III. Priests

A. The candidate for Priesthood shall be a male communicant in good standing in the NCI, having reached the age of 21 years (or 18 years of age in the case of exceptional maturity as judged by the Episcopal authority), and having completed the preparatory requirements for priesthood during a period of postulancy. (See requirements for ordination)

B. Before ordination to the Priesthood, there shall be submitted to the Diocesan Bishop a letter of intent, including a spiritual history of the applicant, an application from the Candidate, and a letter of recommendation from the priest(s) giving pastoral oversight during postulancy. The Candidate shall be recommended to the Bishop by Priests within the Diocese who attest to the call of God on the Candidate’s life.

C. The ministry of a Priest includes:

1. Pastoral oversight of a Parish and/or other ministries;

2. Administration of the Sacraments;

3. Teaching and preaching the Word of God;

4. Serving the diocese by working closely with the Bishop in unity with other Priests and Deacons;

5. Pastoral oversight of those preparing for the Deaconate;

6. A priest may serve in his ministry for life, until retirement.

IV. Deacons

A. The candidate for the Diaconate must be a communicant, at least 21 years of age (or 18 years of age in the case of exceptional maturity as judged by the Episcopal authority), and in good standing in the NOC, having completed the preparatory requirements for the Deaconate during a period of formation.

B. Before ordination to the Diaconate, there shall be submitted to the Bishop a letter of intent, including a spiritual history of the applicant, an application from the Candidate and a letter of recommendation from the priest(s) or deacons(s) giving pastoral oversight during formation

C. The ministry of the deacon includes:

1. Caring for the sick, poor, and needy;

2. Assisting the Priest or Bishop in the administration of the Sacraments;

3. Teaching and preaching the Word of God;

4. Assisting in Parochial administration.

D.A Deacon may serve for life, until retirement, or transition to the order of Priest.

V. Candidacy for Holy Orders

A. Upon receipt of application for Holy Orders, the Bishop and at least two priests shall interview the applicant. Upon the acceptance of the application for Holy Orders, the Bishop shall admit the applicant to Formation, working closely with the Candidate to the Order of Priest to develop and monitor a program of preparation for Holy Orders. The Bishop, or a Priest, or a Deacon may work closely with a Candidate to the Order of Deacon to develop and monitor a program of preparation for Holy Orders.

B. Preparation for Holy Orders shall include theological training, practical experience, psychological evaluation, and spiritual formation, with pastoral guidance provided throughout the period or preparation, including forensic background check.

VI. Receiving Clergy from Other Christian Bodies

A. Non-Apostolic Succession

1. If a person ordained or licensed by another Christian body not in apostolic succession of Bishops should apply to the NCI for Holy Orders, a Bishop and at least two priests shall interview said clergy, giving consideration to his knowledge of Scripture, theology, Church history, liturgy and practical pastoral experience.

2. The Candidate having fulfilled the requirements of Candidacy, the Bishop may ordain the Candidate to the office to which he is called.

 

 

B. Apostolic Succession

1. If a person ordained in apostolic succession should apply to the NCI for Incardination, a Bishop and at least two priests shall interview said clergy. If the Candidate has met the requirements for ordination, his orders shall be received.

2. Candidates from other faith communions with Apostolic Successions shall be thoroughly questioned concerning their reasons for leaving their communions prior to receiving Incardination.

VII. Minor Orders and Ministries

A. Minor orders and Ministries including, but not limited to, Catechists, Lector, Acolyte, Eucharistic Ministers, and Pastoral Leaders may be appointed by the Bishop, with guidelines for the training and selection of such persons being established by the Bishop.

B. The ordained ministry is called chiefly to equip and lead the Church. The whole people of God are a royal and priestly company who offer to God the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving through the stewardship of their time, energy, money, and spiritual gifts. In all its life and work the NCI shall encourage the ministry of the whole Church of God.

VIII. Correction and Grievance

A. The correction of communicants, Deacons, Priests, and Bishops shall be administered by the authoritative council or body immediate to the situation, and in consultation with the Bishop immediate to the situation.

B. Grievances shall also be heard by the authoritative council immediate to the situation, with consultation with the Bishop immediate to the situation.

C. All corrections and grievances may be appealed to the next higher level of authority, and may, at that authority’s discretion, be entertained or dismissed.

IX. Presiding bodies of the Ministry

A. The Synod of Bishops

1. The Synod of Bishops is comprised of all active Bishops of the NCI

2. The Synod of Bishops shall have jurisdiction throughout the NCI.

3. The Synod of Bishops shall meet at least annually.

4. The Synod of Bishops shall be presided over by the Primus Archbishop.

5. The President pro tem of the Synod shall act as chair of the Synod under the direction of the Primus.

B. The Parish Council

1. The Parish Council is comprised of the Pastor of the Parish, and additional members appointed by the Pastor, or as directed by the By-Laws of the Parish.

2. The Parish Council shall have jurisdiction over the Parish in accordance with the bylaws of the local parish.

3. The Parish Council shall meet at least annually.

4. The Parish Council shall be presided over by the Pastor.

Canon Two: Archdioceses

Summary:

A. An Archdiocese consists of all Dioceses in a specified geographic area, and shall be under the direction of an Archbishop. The Archbishop and the Bishops, Priests and Deacons shall work together to establish and prosper God’s Church in the area of the Archdiocese.

B. The spirit of government in every Archdiocese should be that of selflessness, with the Clergy and other leadership working together in a spirit of concord, a bonded community freely and generously consenting to the Lord’s leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I. The formation of an Archdiocese

A. Additional Archdioceses may be formed when several dioceses have sufficient need to work together for the greater good of the Church.

B. An Archdiocese is formed by the consensus of the Synod of Bishops.

II. The Archbishop

A. The Archbishop of an Archdiocese shall be elected by the Synod of Bishops from nominees submitted by the ordinary Bishops of the dioceses of the new archdioceses.

B. An Archbishop shall have oversight of the Archdiocese, but shall also have particular leadership in the life of his Diocese and Parish.

C. The duties of the Archbishop include the pastoral care of the Diocesan Bishops within the Archdiocese, working closely with them to establish and implement the vision and work of the Church at both Archdiocesan and Diocesan levels.

D.  The Archbishop shall be under the authority of the Primus Archbishop, and the Synod of Bishops. .

II. Record Keeping

The Archdiocese shall present an annual report to the office of the Primus Archbishop, based on the compilation of diocesan reports by March 31.

Canon Three: The Diocese

Summary:

A. Diocese shall be formed from parishes within a specified geographic area, by the Synod of Bishops, and shall be formed under the direction of a Diocesan Bishop. The Bishop shall chair the Bishop’s Council, and the Bishop, Priests, and Deacons shall work together to establish and prosper God’s Church in the area of the Diocese. It is the goal of the NOC that the Diocese shall be of such size and organization as to facilitate meaningful pastoral oversight of the Parishes and Clergy by the Diocesan Bishop.

B. The spirit of government in every Diocese should be that of selflessness, with the Clergy and other leadership working together in a spirit of concord, a bonded community freely and generously consenting to the Lord’s leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I. The formation of the Diocese

A Diocese shall be formed of Parishes within a specified geographic area, by the Synod of Bishops.

II. The Diocesan Bishop

A.  The Bishop of the Diocese (also known as the Ordinary) shall not only have oversight of the many Parishes of the Diocese, but shall have particular leadership in the life of his Parish.

B.  The Parish of the Diocesan Bishop shall be recognized as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese.

C.  The Bishop is the ordinary authority on all matters of doctrine, worship, pastoral care, church order and discipline within the Diocese.

D.  The Diocesan Bishop shall be under the authority of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese in which the Diocese resides, and shall look to him for pastoral oversight and shared vision.

E. No Bishops may perform Episcopal ministry in a Diocese without the express permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

 

II. Record Keeping

A. The Diocese shall present an annual report to the Archdiocese, based on the compilation of Parochial Reports and including other information concerning Diocesan life.

B. This report shall be delivered to the Archdiocese no later than February 28.

Canon Four: The Parish

Summary:

The Parish, as the local expression of the NCI, shall consist of those communicants who, under the direction of the Bishop, covenant to share in the life of the Diocese through worship, ministry, financial support and prayer.

I. The Formation of the Parish:

A. A Parish shall consist of all persons enrolled as communicants therein.

B. Any congregation desiring to be received into union with the NOC shall declare its desire thereof, duly certified of said congregation, by means of the Letter of Intent. This being done, it shall be at the discretion of the Bishop to admit the Parish into union with the Diocese.

II. The Calling of a Pastor

A. The Pastor must be approved by the Diocesan Bishop.

B. The Parish Council may submit their recommendation (if any) of a new pastor, looking to the Diocesan Bishop for fatherly direction and oversight.

III. Ownership of Property

A. The ownership of the property of the Parish shall be determined by the Constitution and By-Laws of the local Parish.

IV. Parish Government

A.  The Pastor of the Parish has full authority in all Parish concerns, in conformance with the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Tradition, and the Canons of the NCI, as well as the Parish Bylaws.

B. Councils

The Parish Council shall function according to the By-Laws of the local Parish.

1. New members shall be confirmed by the Pastor.

2. The Pastor shall be an ex officio member of the Parish Council
.
C. The spirit of government in every Parish should be that of selflessness, with the Clergy and other leadership working together in a spirit of concord, a bonded community freely and generously consenting to the Lord’s leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

V. Record Keeping

A. Parishes shall keep an accurate Parish Register, recording baptisms (with parentage, date of birth, sponsors or witnesses, date of rite, etc.) confirmations, marriages, burials, number of communicants, and other important information.

B. Parishes shall keep accurate records of financial contributions.

C. Parochial Reports

1. It shall be the duty of every Pastor to deliver to the Dioceses, a report of the preceding year including the following information: the number of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials and other official acts; the number of baptized persons and the number of communicants within his Parish; the Treasure’s report for the past year; and other information concerning the state of the Parish life.

2. The year reported shall be the calendar year.

3. The report should be received by the Diocese no later than January 31.

Canon Five: Worship

Summary:

Worship in the NCI shall be liturgical, charismatic, and evangelical, with suitable vestments worn by the Clergy.

I. Liturgical

A. The principal worship service in the Nicene Church shall be the weekly Celebration of Holy Eucharist on the Lord’s Day.

1. The service shall follow the shape of the historic liturgy of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

2. The Eucharist shall be celebrated with the elements ordained by Jesus Christ himself, bread and wine.

B. The Approved Rites of the Church includes those found in the Anglican, Roman and Eastern Rites, and other traditional/historic rites, as approved by the Diocesan Bishop.

C. In keeping with the spirit of the early church, the shape of the historic liturgy shall be followed, always maintaining that blessed liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. We reject the introduction or use of any modern liberal liturgical revisions which detract from the historic faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

D. Vestments which are suitable to an occasion of high praise should be worn by the Clergy.  The normative attire for the principal Sunday service is:

1. Priests: Alb and Stole
2. Deacons: Alb and Stole or Cassock, Surplice and Stole.
3. Celebrant: In addition to Priest’s attire, the Celebrant wears a Chasuble.
4. Other forms of traditional vesture are suitable.

II. Charismatic

A. The worship offered to God in the NCI is not only liturgical but also charismatic. As such, the worship event should lend itself to the activity of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the congregation. This includes freedom of prayer and praise, operation in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and regular prayer for the sick accompanied by anointing with oil.

B. All worship music should bring glory to God. Recognizing the various backgrounds and cultures of the individual parishes, it is nevertheless desirable that the worship music should represent both the rich tradition of the historic faith and the contemporary expressions of praise.

Canon Six: Doctrine

Summary: The NCI adheres to the unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first eleven centuries of its existence.

I. The Authority of Holy Scriptures

The NCI recognizes the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God. The Holy Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition serve as the authority on all matters of faith and practice.

II. Catholicity

A. The essentials for Catholicity are:

1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as the inspired word of God, are the rule and ultimate standard of faith.

2. The Apostles’ Creed, as the Baptismal Profession; and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.

3. An Episcopate which must be able to trace its Apostolic Succession back to the Apostles.

4. The seven Sacraments of the historic Catholic Church are affirmed and practiced.

III. The Spirit of Theology

A. The NCI recognizes that doctrine is not only intellectual assent, but a living relationship with Almighty God and His Church.

B. It is incumbent upon the leadership of the Nicene Church to develop and maintain an atmosphere for growth and understanding in theology and doctrine. We adhere to the classical statement of ecumenicity: “In essentials – unity, in non-essentials – liberty, in all things – charity.”  While celebrating the diversity within orthodoxy, we also strive to avoid a schismatic spirit which would elevate non-essentials or non-consensual beliefs and practices above the Father’s will that there be a spiritual and visible unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

IV. Stewardship

Summary: The followers of Jesus Christ are called upon to be faithful stewards of time, talents and treasures of the praise and glory of God

A. Saint Paul said: “The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may share in every good work.” (2Cor. 9: 6-8)

B. No person shall be bound to give any percentage of his or her all or increase, but shall give as he or she is able, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and good conscience.

C. Each ministry, parish, Diocese and Archdiocese is encouraged to support the Nicene Church as the Lord allows by sharing a percentage of  their donations to the authority to whom they report.

Canon Seven: The Sacramental Ministry

I. Sacraments of the Church

Summary:  The seven sacraments—Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick—are the life of the Catholic Church. Each sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace.

 

A. Baptism

The first rite of initiation into the church which signifies the cleansing from original sin and conferral of sanctifying grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

B. Confirmation

Through the anointing with oil and the laying on of hands, the bishop or duly authorized priest confers the graces of the Holy Spirit upon a Christian. In receiving the Spirit, the Christian is strengthened with the gifts he will need to take on an adult role in the Christian community.

C. Holy Eucharist

The celebration through which we renew and participate in Christ’s birth, sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. During this celebration we receive the Real Presence of the actual Body and Blood of Christ, given to us under the forms of bread and wine for our spiritual nourishment. The practice of the NOC is that all baptized believers are welcomed to the Table of the Lord.

D. Confession

We acknowledge that a sincere prayer of sorrow to our God will bring the response of His forgiveness. We also believe that Christ left us a special sacrament which is a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ and His loving forgiveness. Also called the sacrament of reconciliation, Penance can be celebrated in two ways:

1. Individual absolution is usually preceded by a Christian’s confession of personal sins. The priest’s prayer of forgiveness or absolution is said for each sincere penitent, at which time his additional gift of grace is imparted.

2. General absolution is sacramental absolution, given once to a large number of people, especially when the number of penitents is too great to allow for individual confession of sins.

E. Sacrament Unction

Consists of the anointing of sick members of the Christian community with oil, and prayers for their healing and forgiveness. The effects of this sacrament are strength and peace for the Christian in the face of his illness, and physical healing and recovery according to God’s will.

F. The Sacrament of Matrimony

With regards to the family, we believe marriage is a holy covenant between one man and one woman, as equal partners, though different in function.  Primarily, a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and the wife is to respect her husband.   It is a great mystery, but when the two become one flesh, it is a picture of Christ and the Church, His Bride (Eph 5:31-32). It is the commitment of the Church and her bishops, in every case, to work toward the healing and restoration of the marriage covenant. We believe that God forgives those who have had the unfortunate experience of a divorce.  When the marriage covenant is dead, or abuse has occurred, a divorce may be the only option to restore one to life.  This is not a simple issue, and should not be fully addressed in this context.

G. Holy Orders

The sacrament through which the Church sets aside people for the special service of ministry to the Christian community. This sacramental act is called ordination. There are three ranks or major orders in the ministry of the Church. They are deacon, priest, and bishop.

Canon Eight: Fundamental Right to Life

A. Right to Life

The rights of human beings flow from their transcendent dignity as creatures made in the image and likeness of God. Certain fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person precede those of society. Societies and cultures must recognize that these rights — foremost the right to life – have their foundation in God and are not derived from, nor subject to, the civil order.

1. Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his/her existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life (Jer. 1.5; Ps. 139.15).

2. Converts and other persons with previous involvement in the tragedy of abortion must be met with open arms in the love and forgiveness of Christ. Pastoral care must be wisely and carefully applied in these cases with the goal of leading these persons, through the sacrament of reconciliation, to full communion with the faithful.

B. Euthanasia

Euthanasia is morally wrong. Thus an act or omission which, of its self, or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, the Creator.

C. Contraceptives

The use of a contraceptive that simply prevents the creation of life in the womb is a matter of conscience.

Canon Nine: Religious Orders and Communities

Summary: Religious Orders and communities may be established and maintained according to the approval of the Archbishop, and under the direction of a Bishop Visitor or Protector.

Religious Orders

A. A Religious Order of this Church is a society of Christians in communion with their Bishop Visitor who voluntarily commit themselves for life, or a term of years, in obedience to their Rule and Constitution.

B. To be recognized, a Religious Order must be approved by the Bishop Visitor.

C.  The Bishop Visitor or Protector shall be the guardian of the Constitution of the Order, and shall serve as an arbiter in matters which the Order or its members cannot resolve through its normal processes.

D. Any persons under vows in a Religious Order, having exhausted the normal processes of the Order, may petition the Bishop Visitor or Protector for dispensation from those vows.

Canon Ten: Catholic (Universal) Concord

In obedience to the call of our Lord to Christian unity the NCI seeks to have dialogue and fellowship with all Christian bodies everywhere, and to enjoy inter-communion with those bodies which hold to the Catholic faith, or seek a greater understanding of the ancient faith of the apostolic fathers.  In an effort to further that dialogue and fellowship, the NCI has established several levels of interaction with the willing members of other faith bodies.  These include Mutual Solace, Sodality, and Fellowship.

Mutual Solace

In the relationship of mutual solace, it only requires agreement on the Lordship of Christ Jesus. Persons in this level minister to one another as individual believers through prayer and counsel, and are open to the actions of the Holy Spirit to lead the relationship into a deeper level of loving care and support.

Sodality 

This level of relationship is built on a shared belief in the efficacy of prayer and Christian action in the world to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.  In this level of relationship, sharing in the Table of the Lord (Eucharist), which is open to all baptized believers, and the sharing of clergy for exhortation and instruction is the hallmark of interaction with other faith communities.  Emphasis is on the commonly shared beliefs of all Christian faith bodies and is free of divisive emphasis on those points theology.

Fellowship 

In this level of relationship, differing faith communities may come together in shared belief based on the ancient church of the apostolic age with interaction through all the seven sacraments established through Sacred Scripture, Ancient Tradition, and the Orthodox practice of the early church as provided by the Early Church Fathers.  No faith community in Fellowship with the NCI need change its name, or abandon its own historic character.  All that is needed is a heart open to the actions and gifts of the Holy Spirit and the loving embrace of the apostolic ideals embodied in Christ’s desire, “That they be one.”

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