Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shake the Dust Off Your Feet?

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

"Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you."


May I add, always depart from one another with a holy kiss.

Trinity Sunday should be about the things that hold us together. As expected, we will not hear word one about the defections from T.E.C. that are starting to hit closer to home. See the following discussion about St. Christopher's Episcopal church in Spartanburg breaking up and being reduced to mission status. The people there have voted with their feet and pocket books and left T.E.C. To the uninformed, this is unthinkable. The uninformed will say that the priest has led these people astray. Do not expect anything good to be said about their departure. No, they will get a holy "kiss off." And what about those that remain? The church will become a "mission church." This means that you and I will be paying the bills until and if they become self sufficient. Around here, being reduced to mission status is like a temporary stay of execution. My guess is that St. Christopher's property will be on the chopping block in 3 years.

And why are whole dioceses leaving the Episcopal Church? Perhaps it has something to do with a failure of leadership. Years of weak, careless leadership have emboldened people to get out of the pews and battle the powers that be in TEC. After years of struggle with TEC and trying to steer the ship back on course, have these revolutionaries now taken the approach of walking away from the field of battle by forming alliances with other Anglican Bishops and renaming their churches? Have they given up? My opinion is that this should be viewed as a leaving out of frustration at not having had any impact in changing the course of TEC over many years of staying engaged in a decent Christian attempt to be heard rather than viewing this as a cowardly retreat. In a good Christian fight, when people don't listen maybe we should shake the dust off our feet and depart as we have been instructed to do(Matthew 10:14).
Could South Carolina be the next battleground? Why is Bishop Henderson steering us towards the failing national church? With the election of Mark Lawrence as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is the other half of the state preparing to go South? You should take the time to review the visit our Presiding Bishop made to the other Episcopal Diocese in South Carolina. The summary should read "What we have here is a failure to communicate," or as I like to say "a failure to renunciate" meaning the PB and the TEC elite should cast off their wayward agendas and come back to a place us common pew sitters can understand.

After a lifetime of living, giving, bleeding Episcopalianism, and several years of studying the decline of the Episcopal Church in America (TEC), I have not seen any effective attempts by our leaders to stop the decline. Rather, it appears that our current leaders are doing everything they can to hasten the process (example).

Unfortunately, Since the election of Katherine Schori as Presiding Bishop of TEC we have seen a frightening attempt to create some sort of American Episcopal Union to counteract the growing confederacy of Anglican churches in the US. The "Federals" are busy rewriting the rules. Revisions to the canons (as one example)have been proposed which sound to many like an attempt at centralizing power.
The National Church supporting lawsuits against people who want an Anglican bishop shepherd them is another example of a powerful national organization that has lost its senses. Christians suing Christians! Blasphemy! Strike the capital letters and we have "christians" suing "christians."
Add to this the trial of Bishops who had the gall to confirm persons in the new Anglican dioceses (read it here). What a waste of our resources for our National Church Leaders to pursue an 80 year old retired Bishop. Next thing you will hear is an attempt to nullify the confirmations.
It appears that we are headed for a clash between the forces from above (the "National" Church) and the forces from below (the people, who by definition are the Church). As long as the people remain uniformed or apathetic expect the bizarre agendas of our PB to continue to dominate the field. Whenever things coming down from above run into things coming up from below, a big mess usually winds up on the floor for you know who to clean up.
What will we in EDUSC do when it comes time to choose a new Bishop? What questions will we want the candidates to answer? (Here are some samples) Are there any questions that we would be afraid to ask? What questions will we be allowed to ask?

4 comments:

  1. My friend, you have hit the nail squarely on the head. I couldn't have said it better myself.

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  2. I've read of the travails of the Episcopal Church. It is stories like this which make me glad I'm a Baptist. In our denomination, each congregation is autonomous -- in terms of business, theology, you name it. Although a congregation might be a member of a larger convention, we answer to no presiding bishop or ecclesiastical authority. Each individual member is responsible for testing the theology which emanates from the pulpit and leaving if that theology becomes heretical.

    It saves us from the problems of a centralized administration.

    Cheers.

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  3. R. Sherman, you might be interested in the discussion at GetReligion on the effects of such an approach when it comes to dealing with sex-abusers. (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3512)
    I know the local congregations are pretty good at throwing the bums out once they have been exposed, but central organization can be helpful in tracking abuses. Of course, this exposes the central organization to the risk of litigation if abusers are tolerated.

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  4. Those tracking mechanisms exist for us as well -- provided by various conventions. As it happens, our church is in the process of calling a new pastor and we've availed ourselves of virtually every record keeping mechanism known to man to ferret out any problems.

    I think there is a benefit to having some authority figure above the congregation, but I wonder whether the detriments, as those are being experienced in the Episcopal Church , outweigh them.

    cheers.

    ReplyDelete