Thursday, 6 October 2011

More horrors from The Episcopal Church

Since the last Lambeth semi-Conference, the Anglican Communion seems to have ‘moved on’ regarding the Episcopal Church in America. As I suspect may have been the hope, people have grown used to TEC’s ‘presence’. Moreover, the divisions that have already taken place there may have done much to lower the level of noise coming from our neighbours across the Atlantic.
Yesterday, however, came news of yet another round of strife in what now seems to be a ‘mopping up’ operation designed to winkle out the last pockets of formal ‘resistance’ in TEC.
You can read all about it at Kendall Harmon’s website here, which has links to the other relevant websites, and if you’ve got the stomach for it, you can read comments from this side of the water at Thinking Anglicans here.
To be honest, I’ve not waded through it all. Life is tough enough already and the whole thing is deeply depressing. What seems to have happened is that the Bishop of South Carolina is being accused of ‘abandoning the Communion of the Episcopal Church’, which is formally defined as any or all of the following:
... by an open renunciation of the doctrine, discipline or worship of the church; by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the church; or by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the church or another church in communion with the church.
Now I would have thought that under the first section a great number of priests and bishops in the Western churches would have technically been guilty of abandoning the Anglican Communion a long time ago. Are not the virgin birth or the physical resurrection part of the ‘doctrine’ of the Church?
That notwithstanding, this accusation seems to have become an almost McCarthyite way in which TEC has been able to accuse its enemies — McCarthyite, because it is both selective (the ‘enemies of the state’ being just one section of the community, ‘them’, not ‘us’) and because the enemy is truly reviled in the process. It is also, of course, conveniently selective.
In fact the whole thing is utterly contradictory in tone and nature to what we are simultaneously assured is the real ‘character’ of TEC, and quite contrary to the kind of sentiments at the heart of Rowan Williams’ declared views on the nature of Church, of judgement and of salvation.
In this respect, it is worth reading through the speech given by BishopMary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real in California to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s conference on women’s ministry in the Church of England, held at Lambeth Palace on Monday 19 September 2011. Gray-Reeves’ presence is, of course, an example of how TEC is rehabilitated at Lambeth, despite its ongoing transgressions.
To judge from the speech, mild-mannered bishop Mary will sit down and get along with anyone, including a fellow bishop at Lambeth with whom, she said, she was ‘miles apart on our views and our theology’.
That is the smiling face of TEC’s episcopate. You do not want to meet the other one.
Is that coffee I can smell, or faggots of wood going on the fire?
John Richardson
6 October 2011
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  1. Where Rowan is at the moment, they don't charge you with deserting the Communion, they torch your church instead, preferably with you inside it. Some bits of the Anglican Communion prefer the direct approach, others use lawyers. All of them are resistant to whatever he thinks he can achieve.

    As we all approach another yet discussion about female episcopacy, it's good to be reminded about just what it means in practice. Here we have one woolly lady from El Camino Real (I tried reading the speech, but it really made no sense at all), and another one dishing out the sort of stuff that the Spanish Inquisition would have been proud of onto the unfortunate Bishop Mark and his diocese. So much for talking, and dialogue, and disagreement.

    I feel as Luther must have felt when surveying the horrors of the medieval church - so many years, so much progress.

  2. I waded through that speech, and I must say that I came away shaking my head.

    Looking at this with Bishop Lawrence's situation in mind brings up a different image:

    The drumbeats of the progressive revolutionaries and the sounds of the guillotine being wheeled into the square.