Generous Orthodoxy  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meltdowns in the "Anglican" parallel world

After a very brief Internet search this morning, I have uncovered so many awful stories from my denomination that I can only feel semi-despairing (a Christian can never be ultimately despairing). Breaches within breaches and divisions within divisions give a sense of utter chaos and breakdown.

I have attempted to understand the differences between AMiA, ACNA, CANA, etc. but it all seems increasingly irrelevant as these mini-communions fight with one another and split from one another, with bishops in Rwanda 8000 miles away engaging in power struggles and accusations flying through cyberspace.

I have many cherished and dearly beloved friends in these various iterations of flight from The Episcopal Church and I hate to say anything negative about their serious and prayerful decision to "walk apart." To me, however, the whole scene makes The Episcopal Church seem positively sane, even though its theological drift and dictatorial management style drives me to distraction. The consortium of seven churches in Northern Virginia, including historic Truro and Falls Church, has just lost its long legal battle to keep its buildings. Now those huge, vibrant, and youthful congregations will undoubtedly spend more millions to build new buildings and the body of Christ will be further torn apart. It all seems heartbreaking to me.

Even though I have felt more or less homeless in The Episcopal Church for a long time, I cannot and will not leave. I am profoundly grateful for the (few) bishops with evangelical (and catholic) convictions who remain, like Ed Little of Northern Indiana. It should be noted, however, that Bishop Little has written persuasively of the perils awaiting evangelical Episcopalians down the line, and there is little question that these perils exist. There has been one sign of real hope recently, and that is the way that the Bishop of the "upper Diocese" of South Carolina came to the defense of the much more conservative Bishop of the "lower" Diocese of SC as he faced the possibility of action from the national church. This unexpected move from Bishop Waldo was truly a breath of the Spirit, and Bishop Lawrence of the "lower" Diocese is now free, at least for the time being, from being persecuted.

These reflections are very limited in nature. I have not been involved in making any decisions about congregations or clergy who have decided to go or stay. I am certainly a long way out of the loop. But reading even a small amount of what's available from responsible Internet sources depresses me beyond words. One split leads to another, and another, and another...