Saturday, July 01, 2006

ECUSA would become the "off brand"

Episcopalians Shaken by Division in Church - New York Times

Not stirred? Quoting from the NYT article (my emphasis):
Their parish, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, is solid and strong. It has 3,000 members, a historic stone building in good repair and a well-loved minister. But to the Episcopalians at St. Luke's Parish in Darien, Conn., who gathered with their pastor to grapple with the past week's news about their denomination, it was as if their solid stone church had been struck by an earthquake.
. . .
"So in other words," Martha Cook, a university professor and member of the vestry at St. Luke's, asked her pastor at the gathering, "the conservatives could literally take over our rightful spot in the Communion, and the majority of the American church would be on the outs?"

The pastor, the Rev. David R. Anderson, answered that while it was far from settled, "the scenario the traditionalists were seeking could actually come to pass."

"The vast majority of the Episcopal Church would be considered the 'off brand,' "
Father Anderson said.
Bewildered conversations like this took place in many Episcopal parishes last week.

For parishes that identify with the right or the left pole on the issue of homosexuality, allegiances are clear. But the vast majority of parishes are somewhere in the middle, with members on each side of the debate who feel connected to the Episcopal Church and to Anglican tradition, said the Rev. William Sachs, a St. Luke's member who was recently named director of the new Center for Reconciliation and Mission at St. Stephen's Church in Richmond, Va. "What's really going on in the pews of Episcopal churches is they don't necessarily want to align with either side," he said. "They want to get on with life. They want this thing resolved."
. . .

. . .
The parishioners at St. Luke's met in a lounge hung with an oil portrait of a rector who served the church from 1863 to 1912. Everyone in the room was white, many white-haired — a group atypical in the context of the global Anglican Communion, in which the typical member is now black, young and living in Africa.

"I used to be Communion ├╝ber alles," said Judy Holding, a student at Yale Divinity School and a chaplain at Greenwich Hospital, "but now I'm asking, at what price Communion?" Ms. Holding said later: "At a certain point for me, it's not worth the price. I would not sign that covenant if it means we have to compromise Christian love and social justice."

Father Anderson asked how many in the room had even heard of the Anglican Communion before 2003, when Anglican archbishops in places like Nigeria and Uganda began protesting the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. Only a third of the 30 parishioners in the room raised their hands.
. . .
Father Anderson closed the gathering with a brief sketch of Anglican history. Queen Elizabeth I gave the church the Book of Common Prayer, he told them, and the church came to be distinguished by its flexibility.

"We've never been bound by common belief, but by common prayer," he said. "Anglicans have always had a generous openness. I just feel that now there's a cold wind blowing. As someone here said tonight, it feels un-Anglican to me."
Indeed. What price communion? Schism often results in new growth. ECUSA could become the neo-Aglicans, and the so-called Anglicans would be the Un-Anglicans. I rather doubt the Un-Anglicans could produce, or attract, a Samuel Johnson, a John Donne or a C. S. Lewis. So be it.

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