The Second Principle in establishing the Reformed Episcopal Church has to do with the nature of her government. We are an Episcopal Church. Article XXIII states that: It is not lawful for any man to take upon himself the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send ministers into the Lord's vineyard.


The emphasis in this Article is on the importance of being 'Lawfully called and sent'. Based on the teaching of Hebrews 5:4 , it clearly teaches that 'no one may assume the duties of the ministry without a lawful call and mission.' 8 Any man who preaches or ministers the Sacraments must be given authority through the laying on of hands. Bishop Cummins said:

'Ordination, then, confers... authority to execute the offices of the Ministry; and this, as the solemn ratification and confirmation by visible sign and seal on the part of those already in authority, of the Christian community in the election..' 9


Bishop Cummins believed in the importance of the transfer of authority and recognized the importance of episcopacy for the proper ordering of the Church. He insisted that on in the 'extremist of cases' should it be abandoned. Bishop Cheney adds: 'We might believe in Historic Succession. I know that Bishop Cummins did.'10 However, Bishop Cummins did reject the notion of Apostolic Succession. He said:
The Doctrine of Apostolic Succession which professes to transmit the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of men, who by an unbroken chain, reach back to the very hands of the Apostles, and by virtue of that transmit supernatural powers- a succession which secures no soundness in the faith, but lends itself to error as readily as to truth- such a doctrine we reject as a 'fond thing vainly invented and grounded upon no such warrant of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God".11


He further adds: "The Ministry is not of the essence of the Gospel: it is not essential to the being of the Church of Christ. It is a necessity for its well being, for the proper administration of discipline and government, for the propagation and maintenance of the faith by an order of men set apart to this work, and whose care is to 'watch for souls as they that must give an account' to the Great Shepherd of Souls".12


To Cummins, the order of Church Government was secondary. This posture is wholly consistent with Article XIX. 'The visible church of Christ, is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly administered, according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.' Dr. Ray R. Sutton of Cranmer Theological House of Shreveport, LA, has said: 'Bishops are necessary for the well-being (bene esse) of the Church, but not for the Being (esse). Apostolic Succession does not reside exclusively in them. It is in the word, the Sacraments and the discipline of the Church as well as in the priesthood of all believers. Episcopacy is necessary for the best rule but its absence does not mean the Church does not exist.' 13


Principle II makes it clear that Episcopacy is both 'ancient and desirable ', even though it is not essential in order for a true church to exist, it is never the less desirable. Bishop Cheney put it well: "The Reformed Episcopalian cannot believe that within thirty years of the death of the last Apostle the universal government and polity of the Church could have become Episcopal if such a system had been repugnant to the Apostles' own teaching and practice.." 14


In other words, Episcopal Government has Apostolic approval and thus it is ancient. Secondly, it is desirable. There is practical benefit to having presiding officers in the Church.


Troubles which might grow to vast dimensions and a shameful publicity, and add to the scandals that block the progress of Christianity, if either left to themselves or entrusted to the settlement of councils or ecclesiastical courts, may be quieted and harmonized by the wisdom and godly counsel of a presiding officer (Bishop) of the whole Church. 15


The English Bishops (1661) in their response to the criticisms of the Puritans said: "Our Church doth everywhere profess to conform to the Catholic usage's of the primitive times, from which causelessly to depart argues rather love of contention rather than of peace". Their argument was the same as that of Cummins and Cheney. This is what the Church has always done. There is no compelling reason to change or alter the practice of the historic Church. Furthermore, to advocate such change is to be contentious.