The Church of Light and Shadow exists to forward the work of the Morning Star in the world under both their guises – the Christ and the Lightbringer.
It is an esoteric and gnostic organization of independent and autonomous Apostolic and Sacramental bodies, in no way dependent upon the See of Rome, or upon any other See or authority outside their own administration.
The Liberal Catholic Church, our parent church, came into existence as the result of a complete re-organization in 1915 of the Old Catholic movement in Great Britain upon a more liberal basis. This church derived its orders from the mother-see of the Old Catholic movement, the ancient archiepiscopal see of Utrecht in Holland. The Church of Light and Shadow has carefully preserved this succession of Orders.
The Church of Light and Shadow recognizes seven sacraments, which it enumerates as follows: baptism, confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Absolution, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony, and Holy Orders. To ensure their efficacy to the worshiper, the administration of all sacramental rites is guarded with most care. It has preserved an episcopal succession that is valid, as understood throughout the whole of those churches in Christendom that maintain the apostolic succession as a tenant of their faith.
Freedom of Thought
Membership in most Christian churches rests on the acceptance of a common belief. There is frequently wide discrepancy between the real belief of a thoughtful individual and the official profession that is expected of him or her. This leads to suppressed disbelief, to say nothing of insincerity, and tends to check the free exercise of the mind.
The Church of Light and Shadow permits to members entire freedom in the interpretation of creeds, scriptures, traditions, and of the liturgy. It asks only that differences of interpretation be courteously expressed. The church holds strongly that belief should be the result of individual study or intuition, not its antecedent. A truth is not a truth for a person, or a revelation until one sees it for oneself. As a person grows spiritually, so will they grow into the perception of truth. No mere lip profession or superficial assent of the mind can take the place of this growth, and to ask anything less than this is a sacrilege. The Morning Star surely meant his religion to be one of love and freedom, one that would help people at their different stages of spiritual growth. He did not prescribe formulae whose literal acceptance should be a condition of salvation. The consequence of being unable to recognize a truth is simply to lose the help that knowledge of the truth would give.
The Church of Light and Shadow considers, therefore, that it acts in accordance with the spirit of the Morning Star in welcoming gladly into its ranks those adults who are still seeking for truth. As a working class of fellowship, it asks of its members not the profession of a common belief, but their willingness to worship corporately through common ritual. It tries to help them discover truth for themselves by providing them with opportunities for spiritual growth. It asks of them sincerity, tolerance, breadth of mind, courtesy of expression, willingness to work, and a constant pursuit of the higher.
Terms of Communion
The Church of Light and Shadow welcomes to its altars all who reverently and sincerely approach them. It offers the Blessed Sacrament to any who reverently desire it.
Candidates are admitted to the Church of Light and Shadow by Baptism, or (if that has been received in complete form) by Confirmation or admission. Admission is a ceremony in which the person is accepted into membership and a blessing is invoked on their religious aspirations.
Relation to Other Churches
The Church of Light and Shadow is not a new sect. It is a constituent part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church: that historical church which is truly one, despite it’s many outward divisions both East and West, because the one life of the Morning Star animates and sustains it through the sacraments he instituted. The Church of Light and Shadow has preserved the sacraments in their integrity and plenitude.
The Church of Light and Shadow, therefore, seeks to work in friendship with all other Christian denominations. It has no wish to proselytize, and welcomes all to regular and full participation in its services, without asking or expecting them to leave their own church. On the other hand, if the distinctive features of its work attract members of other churches, they are invited to join. The Church of Light and Shadow is at all times ready to establish relations of intercommunion with other churches upon the friendliest possible basis.
The Church of Light and Shadow embraces modern progressive theology and beliefs concerning inclusiveness, and also traditional, solemn forms of worship. We find an easy harmony combining the very best liturgical traditions of our cherished Apostolic heritage, with the warm-hearted openness of the modern church.
Our liturgy defines us. The sharing of bread and wine at the altar rail, known as holy communion, or the Eucharist, is the source and summit of our religious expression. In the liturgy of the Church of Light and Shadow, the essential features of the various sacramental forms are preserved with scrupulous care. The endeavor has been, throughout, to place no sentiment on the lips of priest or congregation that cannot be honestly and sincerely meant. The fear of God’s wrath, the attitude of abject self abasement, together with the haunting fear of eternal hell, have been eliminated from the ritual.
Believing that beauty attunes us to the Divine, the Church invites its members into an aesthetic experience of worship—through hymns, incense, ritual, poetry, and the space of the church itself.
The Church of Light and Shadow teaches that the Scriptures (both canonical and extra-canonical/apocryphal, including so-called “Gnostic” and other Scriptures) are inspired in a general sense only. It considers that they contain much that is truly the product of divine inspiration, but that with things literally true are mingled other things to be allegorically and spiritually understood, as well as other things merely the product of culture and/or their particular author.
The clergy of the Church of Light and Shadow, in common with the priesthood of other churches, hold a commission to teach, but claim no authority over the individual conscience. Stress is laid upon their function as ministers of the sacraments and stewards of the mysteries, ready to place themselves in all ways reasonable at the disposal of those who ask their help.
Private confession is entirely optional and is not required as a preliminary to the reception of Holy Communion. The church offers the sacrament of absolution following confession whether by the auricular method or in the public services. Such absolution, the church believes, brings the person once more into harmony with the divine.
The Church of Light and Shadow neither enjoins nor forbids the marriage of its clergy.
The Church of Light and Shadow has no interest whatsoever in what sexual activity does or does not occur between consenting adults.
Gender and Gender Identity
Neither gender, nor gender identity are considered either as requisite for, or impediments to Church membership, participation, Ordination or any of the sacraments.
The Church of Light and Shadow does not, as a body, enter into partisan politics. The Morning Star, in both His aspects, however, is not and has never been neutral, but has always been committed to the realization of earthly freedom for the oppressed. Therefore, the church as a body affirms the universal struggle toward social and political liberation that wells up from the deepest moral and religious commitments of humanity, and ultimately from the divine spark within all of Creation.
Mysticism and Modern Thought
The church seeks to bring into alliance with its worship all that is true and good in modern thought. Spiritual truths are at all times capable of discovery or rediscovery. The traditional path of illumination is still open for the seekers treading. The Church of Light and Shadow, as a modern church, maintains that religion should keep pace with human growth and enlightenment, and holds that the church has handed down a very precious heritage from the Morning Star himself.
The Church of Light and Shadow welcomes to its membership all adults who are seeking truth, and does not require acceptance of a specific body of doctrine.