Being Nice For Thanksgiving On The HOBD Listserv

Thank you, ************, for taking up what I have written.

Yes, I know it is Thanksgiving, and we are only supposed to write on what we are thankful for. While this may seem a little bit off, I think I’ll be topical in the end.

*************** is right in that it doesn’t bother anyone when a new Baptist, Prebysterian, or non-denominational (to name a few) ministry begins in our midst. Episcopalians tend to be helpful to other Christians in my estimation, and not just since the ecumenical “movement” began in recent years. My own church, St. James, had a split and then merged back together, and leased Christ Church to a Lutheran group that later built its own building, grew, and started another church in Pineville. The building was then leased and ultimately sold to a African American Baptist congregation.

Why are boundary crossings so problematic? Why are the splits problematic for us? As I pointed out earlier, these were sheep that were leaving the pen anyway. Why can we not support the Christian witness of fellow Anglicans outside the boundaries of ECUSA in our country? Also, I’m starting to think this isn’t solely about property or money either. What are we going to do with a bunch of empty churches while fellow Anglicans worship in a gym or portable buildings?

I’ve given a lot of thought to this question. Part of me says this is about power and control, liberals vs. conservatives, our usual struggles. But, something else occurs to me as well. This is all about family. It is much more hurtful for someone with whom you used to be in the same church with to no longer recognize you as family. I believe that much of the tactics I’ve found to be heavy handed by various bishops stem from a deep hurt in their hearts because some of their flock will not recognize them as leader, despite all the years of service they have given to our church, working through the arduous process of being elected bishop, and so on. That has to be heartbreaking. I read a story about Bishop Robinson visiting in a church that split from his Diocese some time ago. I think it would be interesting if those bishops who are most hurt and saddened by these things simply said so rather than retaliating. It might change a great deal. I’m not sure what the clergy and laity should do when in vehement disagreement with their bishop. But they do need to do something different then what they are doing, if possible.

I think we see this same hurt played out on the list; I don’t think this hurt is found only in the hearts of bishops. It is in all our hearts. We experience this when our particular values are questioned or ignored, when our faith is questioned, when we are accused to being un-Anglican, Puritanical, un-Christian, immoral, and so on. At the same time, we’ve got to quit taking things so personally. Hurts happen; they are unavoidable in family.

We can say this is about ecclesiology. I think that misses a whole lot. Ecclesiology doesn’t sound like a matter of the heart, and that is what I think we have at hand in our church and in our communion.

There are important matters of faith and doctrine at stake, no doubt, and I’ve written a lot about these. I think the root cause of why we can’t discuss these things sanely is because of the hurts in all our hearts over this. Often, when dialoguing with **********************, he will simply reply that I can’t treat him and his collegues in a certain way, which is a pretty off-topic response. But, I think ********************** is trying to say to me he is hurt by all this, and he doesn’t want to be hurt anymore. I think a lot of the anger I’ve experienced from others on this list has been this same hurt. I think the anger I’ve had has been from this same hurt.

One other point is that I think most of our hurts in our church stem not from first strikes, but the umpteenth round of retaliations. New people, like me, get brought into the fray and get hit for the first time by one of the retaliations, and then retaliate in turn.

I still hope and pray we can find a way through. I hope some of the above thoughts may be found helpful by folks. However, I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know if it can be.

I am thankful for our dysfunctional, broken, hurt, beautiful, traditional, inclusive, charismatic, educated, prayerful, stymied, creative Episcopal Church. I pray I can say the same thing next Thanksgiving after GC2006.

Your brother in Christ,
Brad Drell
Lay 1, Western Louisiana

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