Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Episcopal Church: We're kinda like Mark Twain

According to this Lead article on The Episcopal Cafe, The Institute for Religion & Democracy has lowered its expectations:
This strife within the third largest family of Christian churches worldwide will not conclude in decisive schism. Instead, liberal and conservative Anglicans will continue to realize a de-facto separation over time.
So I guess that gives us something in common with Mark Twain in that the rumors of our death have been as greatly exaggerated as his were! Looks like we'll all just keep muddling along in historic Anglican style -- putting up with those we dislike and disagree with in spite of the histrionics on the sidelines.

All of which reminds me of a piece I wrote "way back" in 2003: What if they gave a schism and nobody came?
Again this morning my email inbox was full of warnings of impending schism in the Episcopal Church. The drum beats of division that have been pounding as the Claiming the Blessing initiative gained momentum and support have risen to a crescendo with the election June 7th of the Reverend Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor in the Diocese of New Hampshire. "Grave concern over a great crisis" write the bishops of South Carolina. "Never before has the church faced such a challenge," wrote a General Convention Deputy. "Schism is inevitable," say the leaders of the American Anglican Council.

"Or not," is my reply.

What it takes to create schism is for someone to leave - and I am sick unto death with the unity of this church being placed on the shoulders of those of us who have committed to stay. When are we going to hold accountable those who threaten to leave? When will we name the actions of those who have conspired with factions of the larger Anglican communion to actively oppress and marginalize its GLBT members with what it is: fomenting schism - creating conflict - sacrificing the unity of the church to their own agenda of power, control and heterosexism?

If schism happens - and I am convinced it will not - the blame will lie not with Claiming the Blessing, the Diocese of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson or the countless GLBT Christians living out their faith journeys in the Episcopal Church. It will lie firmly at the feet of those whose will to power is greater than their willingness to embrace the other, whose commitment to crisis is greater than their faith in the Gospel and whose singular obsession with things sexual has blinded them to the Spirit's revelation via things incarnational.

The cornerstone of the Claiming the Blessing initiative has been this citation from the second chapter of Genesis: "I will bless you so that you will be a blessing." The blessing of life-long, committed relationships of people who love each other and love Jesus will not split this church - they will bless this church. The election of one of the finest priests in the communion to take his place in the House of Bishops will not split this church - it will bless this church. Committed to stay in conversation with each other we will weather this storm as we have weathered the others that doomsayers have predicted would destroy this great church of ours - and we can get back to the business of being a blessing.
Now even the IRD weather report says we're weathering the storm. And that, my brothers and sisters, is very good news, indeed!

Note to Chicken Little: the sky isn't actually falling, either.)


Murdoch Matthew said...

The sky is falling -- financially, politically, energy-wise. The church is just a little soggy underfoot.

Martin T. said...

What the IRD is saying is that we still have our heads above water and over time, we'll continue to swim into obscurity and the conservative wing of the Church will flourish. Only when it's too late will some realize that this experiment has failed.


Or not. (Speaking of Scripture, see Acts 5:38-39)

Martin T. said...

And that's exactly why it's failing.


Not biting, friend. Too busy figuring out how to add extra seats for Sunday's Forum to keep up with the crowds, planning the new member class that starts in February and getting enough Welcome Bags for the visitors who come on Sunday to the Welcome Table on the lawn.

Martin T. said...

Not trying to make you bite at anything Susan, just expressing my opinion as you are expressing yours. If only the other parishes in the country could say that.


Martin ... with all due respect, of course you are. Looking to "get a bite." Why else would you continue to invest valuable time "fishing" the comment pond on this blog?

And I'm here to say other parishes CAN "say that" ... if they move beyond allowing difference to become divisions ... if they embrace the diversity of God's already blessed human family and call them into the shared mission of proclaiming God's love, justice and compassion.

And now back to Annual Report writing.

Martin T. said...

I have some spare time in the office is all. I enjoy your blog very much. I even agree with you on some minor areas. As far as your comment about what parishes can say, you already know where I stand on that end.