The Anglican Revolution Begins In Earnest In North America; A Few Predictions; New Directions

The Diocese of San Joaquin has left the Episcopal Church, despite Katharine Jefferts Shori’s asseveration that only some people left, by an overwhelming majority vote.

This news is not unexpected, but certainly welcome.

My prediction on how this will all turn out? The Episcopal Church, as recognized in corporate documents on file with the state of New York, will be dead in 40 years, maybe less.

Yeah, that is a pretty tough prediction. I’ll be 76 when it happens, and I almost certainly won’t be in the Episcopal Church as we know it, even if my current parish and Diocese survives the changes in the future.

At GC2009, there will be blood on the floor over the leaving of whole Dioceses of the church, especially due to the fact that, even if suit were filed against San Joaquin tomorrow, nothing will be legally resolved within that time frame. General Convention will extract revenge on those conservatives who have remained within the Episcopal Church, and it will not be pretty. I’m not going to say anymore on this point, as I don’t want to give anyone ideas they may not have thought of (yet), but I am sure Mr. Beers will have all manor of things waiting for us at GC2009. That is the more or less immediate future. But, what of the real future?

Let’s look at the Episcopal Church, for a second. If TEC were a publicly traded company, is this a company in which you would buy stock? Your average Episcopal congregation has about 70 people in it. To me, this means your average Episcopal Church will likely close in 40 years. The number of churches declining in the Episcopal Church outnumbers those that are growing by more than a 2 to 1 margin. Moreover, as the church contracts, the remaining bureaucratic structure will fight to survive and force more resources from beleaguered congregations to support Diocesan offices and the national church. If you have a church with 70 people, you can hardly afford a regular full time pastor. Rather than being supported by your Diocese, your Diocese will have its hand out. That won’t last for long. I would further predict that, given the current state of affairs, as Dioceses leave the Episcopal Church, they will not be reconstituted. Rather, the liberals and property that is won through litigation will simply be attached to another Diocese. Look for the San Joaquin loyalists to be attached to either Northern California or El Camino Real (my bet is on ECR). Look for the Fort Worth Loyalists to be attached to the faltering (at least financially) Diocese of Northwest Texas. Look for Pittsburgh loyalists to be attached to Northwest Pennsylvania. And so on.

Moreover, we are churning out priests who have no Gospel with which to evangelize, but who are maintenance priests, created from the beginning to service the current constituency of the church. In forty years, that aging constituency will be pushing up the daisies. In bankruptcy parlance, this church is the equivalent of a buggy whip manufacturer in the religious sector.

On that note, given the current rates of decline, I would predict that Katherine Jefferts Shori will be the last Presiding Bishop to dwell in a swanky Manhattan penthouse and have a swanky office on Second Avenue for the entire duration of her tenure as Presiding Bishop. The 28th Presiding Bishop will continue to be a Diocesan Bishop with jurisdiction over a domestic Diocese rather than merely the convocation of American Churches in Europe. This will occur 16 years from now. At that point, the Episcopal Church will be about on the level with the Unitarians of today, numerically and, probably, theologically, only with vestments. The demand for buggy whips continues to decline. Duh.

What will come of those parishes and Dioceses that choose to realign or otherwise hold fast to the faith in a church bent on its own destruction because of some ill founded belief that the demand for buggy whips will come back?

Well, they will either fragment like the continuing church movement, or they will create a missional minded and vibrant denomination that carries forward the traditions and structure of the early Church that will some day receive into its ranks former Methodist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, non-denominational, what-have-you congregations that want to be a part of the Church Catholic. This is the crossroads at which we stand. Previous behavior being the best predictor of future behavior, I believe it will be the former which will happen. As Bishop Michael Marshall once wrote, so much of renewal heralds a time and season of reaction, not of a desire to get the right answer, but to get a different answer. So has most of the reformation of Christianity since it began.

To further paraphrase Marshall, if we are to create a household of faith like a castle where we have blown up the drawbridge, shut down the portcullis to separate those within and without it, we have missed the point of the Gospel. Rather, the new Anglicanism in North America must be like a family reunion, providing a home for Christians who know where they belong before their longings take them to new places; being truly free to explore new territory yet above all knowing where they can return and where they can be welcome even when they got it wrong. If Anglicanism does not preserve this aspect of its true self, then the experiment of the via media between Catholicism and Protestantism, the Church Catholic listening to and placing in positions of leadership rather than marginalization reformers and enthusiasts calling for a return to the Gospel and the basic teachings of Jesus Christ to bring the Church back into oneness for which Christ prayed before he died and of which a broken world is in dire need, will be lost. If that occurs, I will grieve my entire lifetime, while today, I grieve the loss of unity in the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America no more.

At a meeting today I heard from a prison chaplain who is building one Protestant Church behind the walls of a prison. Kairos, when it begins in this prison, will be a collaboration between this church (supported by a number of outside churches of various denominational stripes) and the Roman Catholic Church. Anglicanism could be this sort of thing. The future will be what we make it. Much of what I call for in this piece and pray for as regards Anglicanism requires humility that I am afraid we just don’t have. But, I remain hopeful.

The other main thing that I think is required is patience. It will take another 20 years for your average Episcopalian to even figure out what is really going on with the Episcopal Church, and that long for liberal Episcopalians who truly believe in Jesus to realize that belief will ultimately not be supported by their church; in fact, it may not even be tolerated. It will take 20 years before there are numerous Anglicans in North America that weren’t Episcopalian and carry with them all of the baggage from these times. Athanasius never lived to see the heresies that distressed the church of his time abate. So is the way of things. Is this a call to delay action? Hardly. It is a call to realize that we will feel lonely for a good long while, as Athanasius must have surely felt.

For me, all I can do is remain focused on Jesus. In the coming year, I will have a great deal to do with planting a new Kairos ministry in another prison, and this is what I am to be about. Lots of things have pointed me to this, not the least of which was a very Cursillo looking rainbow I saw on the way back from my meeting today. God is still so in charge of all things, and He will continue to be in charge of my life – if I let him, if I don’t let my own baggage get in the way, if I don’t let the Episcopal Church and its politics, its trappings, its needs get in the way of that. I still have work to do in my Diocese and in representing my Diocese at General Convention, but that isn’t the main thing.

As most of you have noticed, I haven’t been posting as much lately, and my old blogsite is still down with many gems I have written lost to me except through a tedious process of cutting and pasting from a database of sorts. I am still going to blog, but I can tell you that I won’t be commenting daily on the latest news from the Anglican/Episcopal world. I’ll probably comment on this topic more like weekly, unless some truly big news hits, like it did today. I’ll keep writing other stuff though, no doubt.

Looking at the past, this blog has been about a guy who was raised as a cradle Episcopalian who, after some interesting turns in life, got involved in prison ministry and saw church conflict when he was a kid and as a young adult, and then became a partisan in his own church and a litigator for others after GC2003 when he woke up one day and realized the values he had been taught and the experiences he had of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith no longer squared with where his own denomination was. The guy journeyed down the rabbit hole having no idea how far it would take him. Not being one to simply accept people and things the way they are and leave them there and believing he was an excellent jurisconsult and a faithful Christian naively, this man thought well, I’ll just head right down to this General Convention thingy and just give them a good what for, give them a hug, and all will be well. Wrong. He just didn’t see the buggy whips on the wall that would be used to beat people rather than drive horses as they used to.

Is this important? Maybe. What is truly funny is that all this is merely prelude. As to my remarks regarding grieving the loss of unity in the Episcopal Church no more, I’ve come to realize much of what I have written over the past three years was my grieving process with the church that raised me from my youth and educated me as an undergraduate and young adult. That institution, that feeling, that part of my life, well, is now gone and far better understood in knowing the history and what really happened before, during, and after that day during GC2003 when the revelation hit me that something major had gone terribly awry. The crazy part is that, in my blogging, I have a feeling that I never walked alone, that my rants and raves voiced the feeling of many people in a confused and terrible time in the Church Catholic, that, unfortunately, is still not over.

The only good part in all this is that the future is a bright as it could possibly be, lit by the light of Jesus Christ.

As a closing remark, I pray and hope that one certain Episcopal priest who has received offers to leave TEC for already realigned organizations but has stuck it out with his small yet growing parish in a revisionist Diocese in TEC because he will not abandon his parishioners, a genteel lay leader from upper South Carolina who like me is a Communion Conservative happily doing Cursillo before the poop was thrown at the fan in 2003 and who shares a strange affinity with me for church politics that draws us like gnats to a buglite, and my brother in Christ from Mississippi who was busy tending to the needs outlined by Christ in Matthew 25 yet making a living at it but who realized what was happening in the Episcopal Church was important and needed to be dealt with, and all of whom will be around with me, God willing, 40 years from now to chat about where all these things led, will comment on this piece, if only briefly.

Other comments, from those who have been reading my musings, are also most welcome. We’ve been walking a journey together. Sometimes, you just have to sit by the fire and talk about where you’ve been and what the hope for the future is, rather than just recounting what happened in the day immediately past, and what will happen in the day immediately approaching.

YBIC,
Brad

44 Responses to “The Anglican Revolution Begins In Earnest In North America; A Few Predictions; New Directions”


  1. 1 Gregg L. Riley December 9, 2007 at 3:29 am

    brad

    the die is cast; a new day has dawned. Given time other doiceses will vote to join with Bishop schofield and a new Anglican province in NA will be formed including our brothers and sisters from Canada.
    The question is, will WLA be part of it?

    Canon G+

  2. 2 The Rev'd Darin Lovelace December 9, 2007 at 4:10 am

    Question – maybe one that others have posed already.

    Since San Joaquin has left the Episcopal Church now, and Mark Lawrence is a priest of that diocese, what now of his election as bishop of South Carolina? Isn’t he now a priest of the Southern Cone, unless he opts out? If he doesn’t, can he be consecrated as a bishop of TEC?

    Just wondering in Iowa…

    Darin+

  3. 3 Steve Caldwell December 9, 2007 at 5:07 am

    Brad wrote:
    -snip-
    “At that point, the Episcopal Church will be about on the level with the Unitarians of today, numerically and, probably, theologically, only with vestments.”

    Brad,

    Answer me this — why do Anglican traditionalists often compare Episcopal liberals with Unitarians?

    Given what we know about modern-day Unitarian Universalism, you must mean the comparison as a compliment:

    ** faith that is grounded in reality with respect to sexuality issues

    ** commitment to social justice

    ** higher average SAT scores when compared to other denominations (1,209 out of 1,600 as reported in 2002)

    Remember that Christianity is a shrinking faith in North America — the growth of traditional faith is simply a shift of religious market share within a declining market.

    It’s worth looking at the recent Barna group study of young adults ages 16 to 29:

    http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=280

    Here’s a quote from this Barna Group study:

    “While Christianity has typically generated an uneven reputation, the research shows that many of the most common critiques are becoming more concentrated. The study explored twenty specific images related to Christianity, including ten favorable and ten unfavorable perceptions. Among young non-Christians, nine out of the top 12 perceptions were negative. Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%) – representing large proportions of young outsiders who attach these negative labels to Christians. The most common favorable perceptions were that Christianity teaches the same basic ideas as other religions (82%), has good values and principles (76%), is friendly (71%), and is a faith they respect (55%).

    Even among young Christians, many of the negative images generated significant traction. Half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

    Interestingly, the study discovered a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is ‘anti-homosexual.’ Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a ‘bigger sin’ than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.”

    So — if the traditional “biblical teaching” on homosexuality and other aspects of human sexuality don’t agree with the life experiences of modern-day young adults, what do we see as a future for Christianity?

  4. 4 R. Scott Purdy December 9, 2007 at 5:10 am

    Brad,
    Take heart. Christ reigns. This little kerfuffle in one small corner of His catholic and apostolic church does not change that. The death of EcUSA is a precursor to resurrection and revival in the Church.
    The grieving process will take years. I joined the Southern Cone over a year ago. I still grieve for my old parish and the friends who remain there, and the friends who departed for Rome, the SBC and elsewhere.
    As a fellow bankruptcy practitioner (albeit not before the bar) I take a minor exception with your “buggy whip” analogy. Buggy whip manufacturers still produced someting with inherent value – but an absence of demand. EcUSA manufacturers something – well… other,(to use a Griswoldian term.)
    You have answered the calling to be involved in EcUSA’s process quite well. It is reasonable that portion of your ministry will gradually be replaced by spreading the gospel elsewhere – hopefully on more fertile soil.
    Blessings on you brother!
    YBIC
    R. Scott Purdy

  5. 5 descant December 9, 2007 at 5:23 am

    Darin:

    No, he is the Bishop elect of South Carolina awaiting consecration.

    Steve:

    Oh yeah. Unitarian Universalism is catching on like wildfire in the United States. Growing in leaps and bounds. Influencing the community, making a huge difference in feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison. Not.

    Greg:

    That is the question for us, for sure.

  6. 6 `jean December 9, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Brad,

    You definitely aren’t alone, and at least this one occasional reader was cheering you on as you spoke truth to power at GC, HOB/D, and elsewhere within the ailing institution.

    I think your future reduction scenarios are a bit too drastic – in 16 years it’s unlikely that the TEC will be as small as the UUA, although it’s likely that the official membership will drop below 1 million. And there will be likely be some sort of remnant in 40 years – hey there still are a few Samaritans and Zoroastrians in the world, there will be a trailing remnant of the church of the general convention well past our lifetimes. You aren’t factoring in the ex-Catholic ex-evangelical source of new members; without this, the statistics would be plummeting now. Because the source of new members will be more and more disgruntled ex-something or other (which is what your average Unitarian is), the TEC will indeed resemble the UUA fellowships, at least demographically, more and more as time passes – the choice between the two will be a matter of taste in music and liturgy, and a desire to keep a tenuous connection to some of the symbols of a Christian past, or a desire to discard the entire package.

  7. 7 Matthew December 9, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Brad,

    You are not alone. Definitely not. I think you’re an optimist when it comes to the life expectancy of the Episcopal Church. I think once the decline becomes patently obvious, in about ten years or so, then matters will accelerate. That’s my realistic side speaking. My hopeful, optimistic side is still holding out for a revival of Christianity within the Episcopal Church.

    God Bless,

    Matthew

  8. 8 VestryMan December 9, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Brad, if you’re missing access to your old blog files, have you tried the “Wayback Machine”? Try http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://descant.classicalanglican.net

  9. 9 WannabeAnglican December 9, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Brad, thank you for this post.

  10. 10 Timothy Fountain December 9, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    “The other main thing that I think is required is patience. It will take another 20 years for your average Episcopalian to even figure out what is really going on…”

    Brad, your heartfelt post is like South Dakota – severe yet beautiful.

    The quoted lines struck me. I pray for patience, yet I feel an urgency tugging at me. I must always ask, “Is it Spirit or flesh?”

    This urgency takes several forms. I will turn 50 next year, and also celebrate 20 years as a priest. I still have health and energy, time (God willing) for good years of ministry ahead, and two decades of rich experience upon which to draw. Am I called to spend it as a de facto chaplain to the church of “I don’t get it” ?

    My parish delegation and I did not go to our diocesan convention last year. I just can’t get up the energy to do a minstrel show for the liberals – we go to the microphone, but it is just an excuse for their canned deceptions to be aired in response. I seldom go to anything diocesan or clerical anymore here – am I called to wither sitting around with bureaucrats, “maintenance” clergy who talk much and achieve little, and old lay people who want to be reassured that they are Episcopalians because they are somehow better than all the other stupid Christians out there?

    At the same time, there is the urgency to get the Gospel heard, and a good number of my parishioners, as stuck in the mud as some seem determined to be, are hearing it. They are precious to God and, stay or go, I feel an urgency to help them “get it.”

    I suspect that you and I are alike – our TEC days are numbered…it’s all just a matter of the details in how that plays out.

    Tim Fountain
    Sioux Falls, SD

  11. 11 Sarah December 9, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Great post, Brad. Thanks!

    I think that you’re right about the grieving.

    In fact, I’ve often thought that those of us who are ComCons and working away in the political battles of ECUSA are actually delaying the real grieving process some. It’s as if you can’t grieve until you turn off the machine, watch the heart slow down and stop, and look at the flat line of the monitor.

    And we’re still struggling — I am likely to continue that for quite some time now.

    But I am very conscious of what is lost forever, which is the church of my great grandmother.

    I tend to think that good things often come after an organization dies, but in this case, I see nothing hopeful about Common Cause and have the same thought that you have about it, only probably more pessimistic.

    So anything good that comes out of this death of an organization I tend to think will occur in some other marvelous and surprising way, which I cannot see at all.

  12. 12 Mad Potter December 9, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Brad, we will see. What the heck happened to the old web site?

  13. 13 Jeff Wallace December 9, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Brad:

    I was so appreciative of your latest blog post.

    You are so right–Christ, the Light of the world, is the only one who will make our future bright. I have great hope that some version of your predictions of the possible, but in your estimation less likely, future for Anglicanism in North America (detailed in your words, quoted below) will prove to be true.

    I am one of those folks from a different Christian tradition that came to the crossroads and via media of the Anglican/Episcopal church on Good Friday of this year. My family has been drawn profoundly closer to Christ through the ministry of our Parish. Orthodox Anglicanism can be used and has been used mightily by God to grow the Church and evangelize a lost world.

    Keep up the good fight, faithful brother.

    JWW

    “What will come of in a church bent on its own destruction because of some ill founded belief that the demand for buggy whips will come back?

    ……….[T]hey, [those parishes and Dioceses that choose to realign or otherwise hold fast to the faith], will create a missional minded and vibrant denomination that carries forward the traditions and structure of the early Church that will some day receive into its ranks former Methodist, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, non-denominational, what-have-you congregations that want to be a part of the Church Catholic.

    ……[T]he new Anglicanism in North America must be like a family reunion, providing a home for Christians who know where they belong before their longings take them to new places; being truly free to explore new territory yet above all knowing where they can return and where they can be welcome even when they got it wrong. If Anglicanism does not preserve this aspect of its true self, then the experiment of the via media between Catholicism and Protestantism, the Church Catholic listening to and placing in positions of leadership [rather than marginalization] reformers and enthusiasts calling for a return to the Gospel and the basic teachings of Jesus Christ to bring the Church back into oneness for which Christ prayed before he died and of which a broken world is in dire need, will be lost. If that occurs, I will grieve my entire lifetime, while today, I grieve the loss of unity in the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America no more.”

  14. 14 Chip Johnson+, cj December 9, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    A great summation, esteemed Brad. While, I cannot, like you, Sarah and Tim, fight the fight from within (since I have been Anglican/non-TEC since mid 2005) I am a cradle Episcopalian, of hearty stock, only two generations removed from the Church of England, and still greiving over the turns in TCGC over the past 40 + years.

    Like Timothy, I am in South Datota now, and trying to be an evangelical high-church voice in the southern Hills. As a matter of fact, my stance as an evangelical Franciscan Anglo-Catholic earned me the distinction of being refuse TEC ordination, now a badge of honor, I suppose.

    Maranatha, and de Colores,
    Chip+, cj

  15. 15 Karen B. December 9, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Brad an eloquent post. I really appreciate all you shared. Much to chew on. I share many of your predictions, but am a bit more hopeful about Common Cause. I see all the huge challenges and the terrible facts of history (how easy it is to stay focused on the negative, the things you are AGAINST, rather than the things one is FOR and shares in common with other believers). But, from all I hear of those at Common Cause gatherings or Anglican District of VA gatherings, there IS that sense of family reunion and joyous rediscovering of what we SHARE in Christ, and so that gives me hope.

    Glad you’re going to keep blogging. The cyber community that’s been created among orthodox Episcopalians/Anglicans of various stripes and affiliations has been one of the good things to come out of this crisis. My spiritual life has been enriched and broadened from all I’ve read and all the folks I’ve gotten to know through e-mail and the blogs.

    A blessed Advent & Christmas to you & your family,
    Karen

  16. 16 Connie December 9, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Brad, thank you for bringing us up to date and for sharing your insights.

    Also, my commiseration on being hacked; it happened to a forum I had administered at one time. Lots of great information and great nature photographs were lost. The organization how has a forum hosted by a company that backs up DAILY so we will have a fallback position, should we be hacked again.

    Have a blessed Advent,
    Connie

  17. 17 Tregonsee December 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    I also hope that “one certain Episcopal priest” will speak up. He sounds as if he is exactly the kind who could minister to his flock best by leading them to safety. It would be very interesting and educational to learn why he has taken a different path.

  18. 18 Grace. December 9, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Friends,

    Has the Episcopal church renounced the Nicene Creed, or forbidden the preaching of the gospel? I can’t see it. Surely, there are problems in all our mainline denominations. But, why not stay, and make a difference? Trust God to send renewal to our churches.

  19. 19 Alice C. Linsley December 9, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Brad, I agree with what you have written. The future of TEC doesn’t appear to be one of Gospel vitality and growth, but of decline and eventual death. This is what happens when people don’t face their cancer until it is in the final stages and often even then refuse to accpet that they are dying.

    One question: You don’t seem to view the Continuum as a viable option for those who want to leave TEC. You stress that the Continuum churches are in disarray and peripheral. Why? They are less divided than TEC by light years and they represent a continued Anglican catholicism. If you want to be catholic, you have only 3 choices: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, or the Anglican Continuum. The Episcopal Church hasn’t been “catholic” for many decades. Even if TEC came back to orthodox belief and practice, it couldn’t be said to be “catholic” as long as the left wing rejects catholic orders (for justice to women) and the right wing rejects catholic Tradition (for Protestantism).

  20. 20 philmoberg December 9, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    If I might offer a bit of perspective from a place that is several years further down this road than TEC(tm): I doubt it will take anywhere as long as 40 years, and probably not longer than 20, for the most part. Folks will either get bored, and seek a new diversion/thrill; or else they will meet Jesus personally, and grow so fast that they cannot stay put, and seek (as you so eloquently put it, Brad) “a missional minded and vibrant denomination that carries forward the traditions and structure of the early Church” that is eager to seek out and accept any and all people who would repent and return to the Lord. We started seeing our best leave in significant numbers in the early-’90s. Except for those in orthodox congregations with orthodox clergy (e.g. Bristol and Tariffville), and those bound by sentiment of one form or another, they were largely gone within a decade. Most of the latter have, by now, either been hurt badly enough to leave, or in the case of several dear saints I know, feel too old to start over.

    It is not merely funny, but hilarious that this, indeed, is only the prelude. The sorts of things you’ve seen on Cursillo and Kairos are only the prelude of a breathtaking and joyous journey. The night, and the weeping that endures with it, is just about over. “Oh gracious Light, pure brightness of the ever-living Father in heaven…”

  21. 21 anglicanprayer December 10, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Tregonsee – Brad’s description of that one priest could mean that he IS leading the congregation to safety, which can take a bunch of pushing and pulling and time. He runs the risk of giving up his own personal escape opportunities to do this.

    Not saying that this is the explanation, but it could be.

  22. 22 Ted McWhorter December 10, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Brother Brad:

    A small disagreemant on the longevity of PECUSA/ECUSA/TEC/WHATEVERISTRENDY: Bishop Wantland of Eau Claire notes that TEC has over $200 million in trust funds to loot before they run out of money. Mrs. Schori and Pete Beers will be persecuting orthodox Christians for many years to come. Potter is of the opinion that The lawyers will get rich. No doubt about it. That they are doing foul things with money from dead guys who would HATE what they are doing means nothing to them of course.

    Thank you for giving us these many months the opportunity to vent about and explore issues concerning the desertion of Christianity by the Episcopal Church.

    That San Joaquin is now free frankly makes me envious. They can move ahead with the Great Commission and I must stay, bogged in a dying Episcopal swamp, not daring to discuss Christianity with a soul for fear he will ask me what denomination I serve.

    Your post is eloquent, and inspiring. Great things are actually happening, not the least of which is your Kairos ministry.

    The joining another province by the Diocese of San Joaquin is a concrete and real evidence that the Holy Spirit is now setting about cutting the traces on the harness to which we have long been unequally bound. The time for action is clearly nigh.

    Some of you are aware that I began a Windsor Coalition group some months ago. I have not done follow up in any significant degree while waiting for a clear indication that the Primates will not support the heresies of TEC. I believe we are seeing that now. For the some 300 of you who indicated interest I will now contact you. Our first order of business will be to select a leadership group, and I will not be one of them. I do not wish to be in any such position. There are several younger and more qualified persons I can assure you all. At my age, cutting back is a virtue.

    Interested parties, especially in the Diocese of Western Louisiana may visit http://www.louisianacoalition.org for more information. We are in start up mode.

    Ted

  23. 23 Jill Woodliff December 10, 2007 at 1:01 am

    It’s funny. It has been in the anguish that I have found my best voice (writing prayers). Yet, I’ve had surprisingly little anger over the hacker who deprived us of our storage of 4000 posts.
    The prayers have been a bit like manna, intended to sustain us for that day, and that day only.
    Due to the marvels of computer technology, they were miraculously multiplied, like the disciples passing out the loaves. Yet the bread that was supernaturally multiplied was intended for that time only.
    I’m under no delusions about reforming TEC. Yet, God has not yet called us to leave. For what reason, I cannot say. Our self-described moderate diocese is so threatened by our voice, the resolution committee changes the wording of our resolutions so as to change the meaning (without any basis on canon law, as best as I can tell). I ask myself, why stay, but I trust God knows what is best.
    I guess I’ll lean on the Lord and write a few more prayers.

  24. 24 Allen Lewis December 10, 2007 at 1:41 am

    Great post, Brad!

    I am disappointed that you do not view the Continuing movement as viable. Whether that is from ignorance, or just because it is relatively small, so you think it cannot last. As a counter to your view of continued splintering, I suggest you go to the home page of the Anglican Catholic Church and read there of the movement within the ACC, the UECNA and the APCK toward reunification = at this point it is more like recognizing each other as communion equals. Thsi is a huge step forward. But we shall see.

    Where TEC will be in 40 years is not even on my radar. I doubt I will be around to witness that. Like you, I see it fading away into sheer irrelevance as its energy and prestige dwindle away.

    I am glad to see that you are going to focus on your ministry strengths and let the other chips fall were they may. I pray that you will find a venue in which to do that.

    Take care, brother!

  25. 25 Joe Trimble December 10, 2007 at 2:33 am

    Brad.

    Indeed you never walked alone. So much that you have shared along the way has resonated with other “cradle Episcopalians” who endured the same anguish , grieved the same loss and finally found an exquisite and liberating disillusionment. It is, indeed, all over except for the lawsuits. We can begin to see, beyond the demise of The Episcopal Church, some very good things which can come from its self destruction.

    I can give thanks that I have lost those ridiculous (it now seems) feelings of superiority to other Christians based upon pride in the Episcopal pedigree of history, polity and ritual. The emerging Anglican Church should not have that confining wall of conceit which shut us in and others out.

    Denominal barriers are coming down. How many of us were (are) Episcopalians first, and Christians second? The phase-out of Christianity in The Episcopal Church has freed us to join in a long-overdue reunion with other God-fearing and Christ-loving Christians. Churches will be planted, inside prison walls or in storefronts, homes and borrowed spaces. “Where two or three are gathered together…” Christ will be in the midst of us.

    The Episcopal Church, like a bear having gorged for a winter hibernation, has rolls of fat to live on. Its hierarchy can feed on the “fat” of seized trust funds, endowments and confiscated real estate for decades. Compare it to a real estate investment trust, with bishops the principal shareholders. It will appeal to secular-minded liberals who still want to claim membership in a “church,” a church without reverence for Scripture or serious Christian witness or moral tenets. A church about… NOTHING. They can have it, buildings and all.

    Thanks for your latest piece, Brad, which captures the transitional moment we find ourselves in. Like Tannhauser lamenting his fall from Venusberg, we can hear in the distance the strains of the pilgrims’ chorus. We will join them and continue the pilgrimage.

  26. 26 confessingreader December 10, 2007 at 2:53 am

    Great post, Brad. Eloquent, heart-felt, and simply honest.

    Thank you.

  27. 27 Sinner December 10, 2007 at 3:33 am

    Two points:

    First – this message looks only to America: but the point of being an Anglican Christian is that one need to (indeed cannot) look only to the US! That racism and US-centrism is one of the great sins of the heretic apostates.

    Soon, very soon now the Anglican Communion most certainly will throw ECUSA out. This realignmenet is worldwide: Robinson must be thrown onto the scrapheap along with Jeffrey John and Ngundane and Tutu and heretics throughout the world. And when that happens – when Common Cause is recognised as the *only* Anglican province in the US – then suddenly the “ComComs” will have no choice but to get out immediately.

    So by 2010 or 2012 you could be looking at an ECUSA of less than 50 “diocese” and many less than 500,000 attendees – after all the ASA of the Contunuum plus Brad’s first wave of “leavers” already *roughly equals* that of ECUSA – and that the tithe (non-endowment) income far supasses it.

    Soon now Shori will come begging. She will start deposition proceedings and Schofield and Duncan and every SJ priest, and also desperately try to “negotiate” a deal where SJ can be in both ECUSA and the Southern Cone. Then she will try to go to Lambeth and *she* will argue that “two recognised Anglican chrches in the US are OK”.
    Perhaps even then she will make some structural changes to grovel to the few Christians left in TEC.

    But in all of these things we must resist and must fight. The decline of ECUSA must stand as a monument to apostacy and a warning to all Christians the world over. Shori and Robinson’s name should be held in the same contempt as Joseph Smith, as Marcion, or as all other heretics in the Glorious History of the Church Militant!

    So let us not be downcast – let us Rejoice! For the Lord has showed the strength of his arm, and the fire of his anger! He is scatted the proud in the imaginations of their hearts, and has lifted up the lowly! He has dismayed and destroryed those who deserted him, and has showed his faithfulness to those who fear him!

    Truly: the actions today are nothing less than the Gospel of Christ.

    Praise to Christ the Word.

  28. 28 Sarah December 10, 2007 at 4:02 am

    Oh — there’s Admiral of Morality posting under the guise of Sinner. You know, the Admiral that just called for the three bishops to be deposed prior to the second reading of their canonical changes!

    Welcome Admiral. But . . . but . . . why do you sound so different from your post of yesterday?

    We are all So Very Confused by the sudden change of tone! ; > )

  29. 29 robroy December 10, 2007 at 5:17 am

    As things turn ugly, lawsuits and depositions and inhibitions, the slumbering pew potatoes will awaken, look around and be repulsed and leave post haste. The decline will accelerate non-linearly. Thus, 1% then 2%, now 3%, then…

    I do look to DBB imposing a Hotel California resolution in GC 09: You can check in, but you can never leave. Where will that leave South Carolina, Western Louisiana, Dallas, etc.? There won’t be an orthodox replacement for +MacPherson.

  30. 30 Tragic Christian December 10, 2007 at 5:49 am

    Wonderful post, Brad. Thank you! Please keep blogging!

    I do have to put in my two cents worth as a former Unitarian Universalist ministerial candidate:

    I’m not sure how bonded UUs are with reality. With recognized offshoot groups like UU Pagans, UUs for Polyamory, UUs for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a UU paranormal group (the name of which I forget), and historical endorsement of everything from spiritualism to eugenics, this is shaky ground to stand on.

    SAT scores denote only a prediction of how well someone will accomplish college level work. It does not denote wisdom, or even intelligence. Every stupid, foolish kid I went to college with needed good SATs to get in.

    Also: after I determined that I needed Christian practice in my life and found it in the Episcopal Church (yeah, it was All Saints-Pasadena, but still …) I would keep running into UU ministers sneaking in on their odd Sunday off or during holidays (like Ash Wednesday) that the UU church ignores. There are more closet Episcopalians among the UU clergy than is generally known.

    My problem now is that I fled the UU church when I wanted something deep, true, historically-grounded, and faithful. I went to the Episcopal Church. But now it’s looking more and more like the UU churches I fled. Time to grow a beard and look East? Time will tell …

  31. 31 Phil December 10, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Brad – a great post, and thanks for all you’ve written and done.

    Yes, it is a grieving process. I never could have imagined leaving Anglicanism behind, but, while there will always be a part of me that is sorrowful – and, I’ll be honest, even angry – at the loss of what we had, it has been surprisingly easy, even exciting, to move on.

    As Jill said, “Yet the bread that was supernaturally multiplied was intended for that time only.” Amen.

  32. 32 Bob Maxwell+ December 10, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you Brad. I’ll be glad to see whatever you post, whenever you post it.

    I have grieved along side you first as I read the HoD/B as a kibitzer from before ’03 until after GC ’06 and then when I found your blog.

    I agree with your perception of the terminal disease in TEC. As a priest in the church of God I am searching to see if there is a true reformed Catholicism in Anglicanism outside the Continuum. Alice is correct that Rome, Orthodoxy and the Continiuum are certainly Catholic. . .but is anyone else left?

    We’ve personally been so blessed. The physical healing that Bev and I’ve been blessed with, the seven orthodox bishops that I’ve been led to serve with, the three interim interims this year where I’ve functioned in effectively –all good people. Now to be standing with a great elderly deacon, sub deacons and trained vergers and presiding at mass where they want the full gospel and chanting Rite 1 as I lived it from childhood to my ordinations in ’69 and them launched out in the diocese of Chicago in ‘ 69 and N Ind in ’72, WOW!

    I really looked this year but I couldn’t find a congregation here that has a place for me as pastor or assistant, so my “plate is empty.” My tentative conclusion is that it’s either one final gift before “resting in Christ” or more hopefully being part of the answer to finding and planting reforemed Catholicism here in the southwest deserts.

    My passion for the the whole gospel for all the unchurched and my Wesleyan drive to get going along with my Asburian missionary zeal sure makes my vision see a lot of white out there in my tear blurred eyes.

    Oh, I was able to give Jeffrey the names of the RC bishops taking leadership in renewing the RC Cursillo well before he and the Archbishop of Santa Fe lew to Rome. Some of us clergy are having lunch with him this Wednesday so I’m investing a vacation day and driving up there to be with him.

    What do you do when ridin’ for the brand and the foreman rides across the river after false shepherds have bought out this particular ranch and the section bosses are still busy doing same old same old?

    Bob †

  33. 33 DeeBee December 10, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Wow – so many faces softened and twisted by grief, and yet set like flint . . .

    Re: Jill: “Yet, God has not yet called us to leave. For what reason, I cannot say. . . I ask myself, why stay, but I trust God knows what is best.”

    I think that many of us are waiting on that clear sense that God has released us to leave TEC and find shelter elsewhere, and are perhaps frustrated or despairing (as I have been at times) that this release has not come.

    Every army needs a rearguard, and the rearguard is always the most dangerous and exposed part of an army column. That position becomes even more dangerous during a retreat. Then, the rearguard’s job is to hold off the enemy long enough to allow the main part of the army to either establish a safe and defensible position, or to slip away from danger to fight another day.

    Since we are without a doubt in full retreat from TEC, and since we have not yet been given leave from our Almighty Commander to quit the field, then perhaps it is our lot to fight a rearguard action against the Worthy Opponents whom we have allowed to overrun TEC these many decades. Perhaps we are endeavoring to give the faithful remnant an opportunity to establish a new defensive position in CANA/CC/AMiA, or to slip away to the safety of other orthodox denominations and sound the warning (for our Worthy Opponents are determined and cunning, and will not be satisfied with victory in TEC).

    Even so, we fight for a Commander who will in the end be victorious. He is our defensible bulwark and our safe stronghold in the midst of the battles that we face, and even our failures and defeats will neither mar nor long delay His sure victory in His good time.

  34. 34 The Lakeland Two December 10, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Wow – does this mean the dreaded math question is history?

    Brad, we miss your blogging, your perspective. We’ve been stepping away more ourselves. Over the years, +Schofield urged us among many others not to leave – to hang in there. So this is not a step taken lightly by any stretch of the imagination. It was no surprise when +Schofield said that no one on the liberal side had ever offered to pray with him.

    Before Sunday School yesterday, an elderly member of our congregation mentioned the SJ news. As the conversation unfolded, he said that he didn’t care about what was happening in TEC as long as it didn’t affect him personally. The new TEC is already in the door, but it hasn’t stretched “his” comfort zone enough yet. This man will probably die before +Howe retires and the fight will be on to replace +Howe with an orthodox bishop (IF the new bishop can get the necessary consents). This lack of concern for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ elsewhere exemplifes how we got where we are. Nothing will be done or planned for until the comfort zone is breached. And it’s already too late.

    We L2 feel that the AC has long been on the same path as TEC, too little done too late. The +ABC’s ability to make a difference is coming to a close – possibly by his own desire. We need leaders like +Schofield, ++Venables, and the like, who are striving to put themselves under God’s authority and let Him mold them. That’s not putting God in a small box. It’s acknowledging Him to be Whom He is: God, Ruler of all.

    Please help us all, Lord, to do Your will and be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.

  35. 35 Judith L December 10, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you for this post, Brad. When my husband and I left TEC a little over a year ago, I referred to it as “crossing Jordan”. But even then, I wondered if I had the right body of water. Indeed, we crossed the Red Sea, and just last night, driving home from an obligatory “holiday party” for my husband’s workplace, we mused that, given our ages, we will probably spend the rest of our years in the wilderness. For us, it has very definite signs: worship in an “alternative” space, for one thing. Knowing that we will, no doubt, be buried from a funeral home chapel rather than a church. But, at the same time, we are more aware of our dependence on God and his daily guidance than we have ever been before. And that cannot be bad.

  36. 36 David Peek December 10, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Brad,
    Well said. Sad, but well said.
    I have tried to say much these same things in my small corner of South Carolina (DoSC) but am told to wait for Bishop-elect Lawrence. Wait for what I ask, without answer. The most telling phrase I’ve gleaned from this whole sordid affair is “contextural ambiguities.” Oh, for the return of straightforward talk. Regards to you and know others share the same heavy heart.

  37. 37 albeit December 11, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Great analysis Brad! I would add, however, that every parish has it’s unique point of “critical mass.” Some parishes can’t survive with a 70 ASA, while other parishes can get along just fine with a 35 ASA. There are so many variables including how deep the pockets of the parishioners are, what do the investments look like, what’s it going to take to keep up the maintenance on large, aging buildings, the number of clergy/laity on the payroll, etc., etc., etc.. A parish may not even know that they have arrived at the end point until they are suddenly looking into merging with another parish, left with no clergy outside of supply priests and Deacons, or can’t pay the bills anymore.

    It is my suspicion that we will see amongst the Gospel based parishes, the development of a large number “Tent Maker” (non-stipendiary) clergy, coupled with a largely voluntary lay ministry on the local level. I also expect that some parishes will be forced to figure out how to maximize the use of the current facilities, while others will move toward obtaining new and more efficient facilities. Still others will choose to cut themselves free from permanent facilities of any kind.

    In the end it all comes down to “proclaiming Christ crucified, raised from the dead, and returning in great glory.” I firmly believe, that those who are willing to undertake the Great Commission (Damn the torpedoes and TEC too!) will prosper through the service they render to Almighty God. I sure that your Cursillo and Kairos experiences will confirm this.

    Brad, let me add that you have done an outstanding job with your efforts here and for the Church at large. May the Lord continue to uphold you and strengthen you in your work.

  38. 38 Craig Goodrich December 11, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Great post, Brad.

    I’m pretty much recovered from my grief at the death of the church I was raised in; it happened in 1976, and it was the Episcopal Church, too. One of the comments above makes it crystal clear why we have to keep going forward:

    if the traditional “biblical teaching” on homosexuality and other aspects of human sexuality don’t agree with the life experiences of modern-day young adults, what do we see as a future for Christianity?

    As is obvious from this comment, TEC and all the mainline denominations are dying from a near-total lack of adequate Christian teaching over the last two generations (at least). Here’s a commenter who thinks that somewhere there were once young adults whose life experiences did agree with biblical teaching, and he thinks moreover that the future of the Church of Christ depends on having the Church teach the Very Latest Thing.

    Nobody apparently ever pointed out to him that Christianity didn’t poll at all well in Rome in 64AD, or for that matter in Baghdad in 650AD or Stalingrad in 1942AD — but Somebody once said something about the Gates of Hell not prevailing, so we keep plugging.

  39. 39 Rob Eaton+ December 11, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    DeeBee,
    I appreciate your analogy of the rear guard. And note that action may take a very long time.

    Brad,
    You’re doing good. Keep on.

    RGEaton

  40. 40 ralph December 11, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Brad,

    Great post and very interesting comments from a number of different perspectives!

    I’m on my way out like some of the others posting here. I never had the opportunity to see the Episcopal church as the grand institution it once was – I only caught the dim reflection of the past glory of the church, in the early 90s, which is when I became a Christian. Even so, I share in the grief, although perhaps for an illusion of a church that never really existing the way I imagined it once had.

    As a total novice, I went looking for a place where one could be a ‘mere Christian’, with latitude on the non-essentials but solid teaching and practice at the core. I happened onto what was Bob Duncan’s last parish before he became bishop, about a year or so after he left, and I think the parish still hadn’t moved far from where +Duncan left it parked – there were orthodox voices to be heard occasionally from the pulpit and in religious education, which made it possible to tolerate and ignore the heterodox voices also in the chorus. The place seemed to function as an uneasy truce between a few very vocal reappraisers, a small number of reasserters, and a large body of the muddy uninformed and complacent middle, and I figured that was probably what church was like in most mainline places – not great but good enough and minus the phariseeism of some churches and the silliness of others.

    Moving to another state in the northeast, the orthodox voices in ECUSA grew harder to find, to the point that I haven’t heard one from the pulpit in years – I have to go to blogs to read non-reappraiser viewpoints. I’ve heard priests claim with a straight face that they are orthodox in belief then do things set up discussion groups where the praises of Spong and Borg are sung, not to mention the incessant cheerleading of the New Thing (TM). And over time, I discovered the double language used, the parsing games played with the Creed, the state of almost all the Episcopal seminaries, the spin of the official church publications and the information hiding of the clergy, and came away feeling tricked, hoodwinked, and scammed. I went looking for mere Christianity, with a solid common core but a multitude of possible expressions, and ended up in a church using a common form but where the content can be virtually anything.

    It’s interesting that several people have mentioned the Unitarians. I was raised one and left the UUA behind as a young adult. I’m not particularly interested in belonging to a church that, aside from the ceremonial trappings, a fixed liturgy, and a top heavy administration, is trying to take me back to the UUA of my childhood. Me, I’ll take the Pearl of Great Price over the anglican variant of the 7 Principles and Purposes. I too am looking East for a home.

    Ralph

  41. 41 Alice C. Linsley December 12, 2007 at 1:36 am

    Come on home, Ralph! Mother Church is eager to nourish you after these years of malnourishment in TEC. May God bless the journey.

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  1. 1 Stand Firm Trackback on December 9, 2007 at 9:47 pm
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