Saturday, July 08, 2006

Consequences consequences

Falls Church News-Press Opinion: Schism is a small price to pay
Is size all that matters to the Anglican Church? It appears that the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, is willing to steamroll gays to prevent a seismic schism that would decrease membership rolls. . . . The painful nature of this debate brings up existential questions that leaders such as William seem unprepared to face. For example, is the more successful church the one brimming with members based on bigotry or is it the smaller institution walking in righteousness? . . . If the church thinks Equal-lite is the solution, it is headed for a schism. In a sense, this skirmish is no longer about gay people in the Anglican Communion. It is about whether the church is still a conduit for spiritual integrity and intellectual honesty. If members can no longer be true to their beliefs, then the institution will have lost much of its power and meaning. Is a church that dictates one’s conscience rather than allowing one to live as his conscience dictates worth saving? . . . As a practical matter, most church-goers won’t even notice the missing malcontents if the Anglican Church splits. . . . Yes, bigger can be better, but the Anglican Church may soon learn that the size of ideas matter more than the size of membership lists.
The HooK: "There have to be consequences"
Vander Wel says the new bishop is out of step with the Anglican Communion's governing body in England that in 2004 asked the Episcopal Church to express regret for consecrating Bishop Robinson and to place a moratorium on approving any more gay bishops.

"This is a fatal blow in the Anglican Communion if the Episcopal Church does not comply," says Vander Wel. "The Anglican Communion will cease to be as it exists."
. . .
Vander Wel, however, says the resolution does not go far enough-- because there are no built-in consequences for violating it. "The Episcopal Church is an undisciplined church," he says. "I have a little boy, and it'd be like saying don't throw food off your tray; and he throws food off his tray, and I don't do anything about it. There have to be consequences."

But the Diocese of Newark now has a metaphorical handful of Cheerios cocked and ready to test mother church. Just last week, on June 28, it nominated an openly gay priest as one of four candidates to be its next bishop.
The Rev. Brian Vander Wel is associate rector of Charlotteville's Christ Episcopal Church.

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