August 31, 2006

That's My Church! Really!


The Episcopal Church continues its break-up. It appears there is going to be a meeting in New York next month to discuss a framework for dealing with "alternative primatial oversight", by which is meant, I believe, the requests of several diocese and parishes to break their ties with the Episcopal Church and transfer their allegiance to others in the Anglican Communion hierarchy, most notably several Anglican diocese in Africa. (A simpler way of thinking of it might be to call it Bishop-shopping.) This, according to the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the ECUSA:

I have become aware of a great deal of speculation regarding a meeting that will take place in New York in mid - September. I would like, therefore, to offer a few clarifying words on what has been conceived as an opportunity for those of differing perspectives to come together in a spirit of mutual respect to exchange views. Shortly after the General Convention, Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, shared with me some conversations he had had with the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding the whole notion of “alternative primatial oversight” and the difficulty in making a response. Though application for the same had been made to the Archbishop, it was clear in our conversation that the Archbishop, though symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, has no direct authority over the internal life of the Provinces that make up the Communion.

Regular readers will know that I have been wrestling with the Episcopal implosion for some time and have at least been toying with the idea of simply pulling up stakes and heading for Rome. Well, you will be interested to hear that I have now decided firmly against that. Indeed, it really came to me as I attended a Catholic wedding last weekend. This is my Church too, dammit. I'm a "Cradle Episcopalian" and nobody is going to make me give up forty one years' worth of my beliefs, practices and rituals. It's true that the Church itself is coming unglued, but there is bound to be a conservative rump in some form or another. If my own parish goes with it, so much the better. If not, I will find another Episcopal/Anglican church in the neighborhood that does.

Sorry to disappoint the LMC and my other Romish friends, but there it is. And you know what? I feel much better about the whole thing now.

Speaking of Bishop-Shopping, here's the website for the Anglican Church of Nigeria's Mission, which includes a presence in the United States. The big news seems to be that the rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, VA, has just been elected Missionary Bishop for the entire convocation of Anglicans in North America.

I've an idea this is the shape of things to come for the more conservative parts of the ECUSA.

UPDATE: Speaking of us heathen 'Palies hanging out at a Catholic wedding, the Anchoress has a nifty post on what non-Catholics should and should not do about an RC Communion, as demonstrated by Dubya and Bubba. Yips! to K-Lo.

Posted by Robert at August 31, 2006 10:20 AM | TrackBack

I want to stay, too. For the music if for nothing else!

What do you think of Khatami coming to the National Cathedral?

Posted by: Sarah at August 31, 2006 11:43 AM

Meh. Typical blinkered moral relativism. There is no "good" or "evil" per se, only different ways of trying to achieve peace. I'm not the slightest bit surprised.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at August 31, 2006 12:13 PM

Same dilemma, same conclusion (so far), but I have the benefit of having the Anglican Communion Institute in my backyard. There will be a split, ant it appears that split will have the participation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has indicated that some provinces or parishes will be relegated to "associate" status, while the more conservative ones would still be in full communion. I believe it was Bette Davis who stated it best: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride."

Posted by: Aggravated DocSurg at August 31, 2006 01:31 PM

The first time I attended an Irish Catholic wedding, I found myself standing and kneeling and crossing myself half a beat behind everyone else in the congregation. A guide to the proceedings for pagan atheists would have been enormously helpful.

The bride's father was career Army, BTW. I suspect he's utterly disgusted that the National Cathedral is hosting Khatami, and not even slightly surprised.

Posted by: utron at August 31, 2006 01:31 PM

I'm a member of the Presbyterian Church USA, and it too is having its problems. Many in my church are troubled; I am not. Why? Because the denomination means nothing ... Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic ... what matters is one thing and one thing only: Christ Jesus. Those who cling too tightly to a given denomination really need to ask themselves: "Who is my Lord? Christ or this denomination?"

Personally I don't care if my local church stays with the PCUSA or goes with someone else or splits entirely. As long as the name of Christ is proclaimed with clarity and boldness, the local church is in the right place. If Christ is not central to the church, then the church has bigger problems then denominational ones.

Posted by: AZ at August 31, 2006 01:36 PM

Robbo, what if Benedict engineers an Anglican rite for the RCC? Change your mind? Come closer to the light, mommie is in the light . . .

Posted by: LMC at August 31, 2006 01:53 PM

Yes, you guys have way better music than us Roman Catholics do! And we sure have our own problems.

I have been watching you guys, wondering what's going to happen. The pastor at the Episcopal Church by my house is quite, quite liberal. I read about the Episcopal high school in Austin (in Texas Monthly) that had a huge blowup over teaching "Brokeback Mountain." Some parents were upset about the very explicit sex scenes. (Can't say I blame them.)

I have to disagree with the commenter who said denomination doesn't matter. It does matter if a denomination won't take a stand on moral issues. Is abortion right or wrong? Is the death penalty right or wrong? Should clergy living together without being married be elevated to the level of bishop? Should that behavior even be condoned for the clergy at all? Shouldn't unmarried clergy be expected to be celibate? Or, at least, to live alone?

If a church won't position itself clearly on one side of a controversial issue (ie, take up for the defenseless), then what on earth is it for? Jesus was not a wishy-washy guy. No, He wasn't for the form of the law over the substance, but He stood for what was right. Throwing the moneychangers out of the temple was not taking the middle way. He rescued sinners -- and told them to sin no more. He didn't give people a free pass to do what felt good.

Posted by: class factotum at September 2, 2006 02:35 PM