Baroness Caroline Cox, several times this past weekend, quoted Archbishop Ben Kwashi: “We have a message worth living for; we have a message worth dying for; don’t you [in the West] compromise the message we are dying for.”
I heard from a friend in England several weeks ago that an announcement was imminent that would be very good news for the orthodox in the U.S. I learned from others that it would involve a plan for churches to connect to the Anglican Communion apart from the Episcopal Church – this is what we have been waiting for since the vestry letter September 2006. It was reported that this would have the blessing of the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury. I hoped that this would allow Christ Church and churches like ours to disassociate from the Episcopal Church with the blessing of Canterbury, yet still remain a member of the Anglican Communion.
This is the news I’ve been waiting for but, I’m sad to say that it is not good news.
It turns out that the four U.S. bishops have only resurrected an old idea that was earlier rejected as inadequate by orthodox Episcopalians, i.e. the Presiding Bishop’s plan for alternate episcopal oversight. The plan of the four Windsor bishops is unworkable on every level. It will not help orthodox churches in hostile dioceses because it depends on the good will of revisionist bishops towards their orthodox congregations. For no reason at all bishops can say “no” to episcopal visitors (Communion Partners), and can still require churches to financially support the Episcopal Church (in their lawsuits against conservative congregations!). How is this good news for traditional churches? And for churches like Christ Church, it provides no way to connect to the Anglican Communion apart from the Episcopal Church. No wonder the Presiding Bishop endorsed it; it’s her plan and she gives up nothing! The plan of these four bishops is a last gasp from a dying institution.
Not only does this plan fail to address any real issues, it threatens to change the focus of discussion in dangerous ways. Instead of calling the Episcopal Church to repentance for breaking the trust of the Anglican Communion, these four (and other Windsor bishops?) are now figuring out ways to let the Episcopal Church continue with what it is doing now and in the future. The problem for these four bishops is not the Episcopal Church, but orthodox churches and dioceses that threaten the unity because they can no longer associate with the Episcopal Church. The strategy is to blame Peter Akinola and Bob Duncan for the disunity we face, rather than the Episcopal Church who repeatedly refused to respond positively to the pleas of the Anglican Communion.
Everything in this discussion hinges on the “pendulum.” Windsor bishops are 100% invested in the idea that the Episcopal Church, that has swung wildly to the liberal side, will one day swing back to a moderate centrist theology. But there is no indication in recent history or church history in general that there will be such a swing. There is no pendulum. Instead, I believe, the Episcopal Church is set on a trajectory away from mainstream Christianity that will never again intersect with mainstream Christianity. There are simply two churches within the Episcopal Church today with two totally different theologies and agendas. My concern is that we might get 5, 10, 20 years down this road before realizing that the likes of Louie Crew, Presiding Bishop Schori and Bishop Jon Bruno (and the next generation of revisionists that will control the Episcopal Church) will never concede to anything like a more balanced view of theology and morals.
Bishop Lillibridge gave a forceful address at the Diocesan Council last Friday for the essentials of the faith (See the next blog entry–KSH. It was heartening to hear him so strongly upholding the core teachings of the faith as nonnegotiables. As he attends the meetings of the Windsor Continuation Group in the months proceeding Lambeth we need to be praying for him. I will ask him to take to their meetings our concerns (and of many in West Texas from the feedback we’ve received) that churches who cannot in conscience submit any longer to the Episcopal Church be given a way to continue being “Anglican.” Hopefully this Continuation Group will uphold some of the disciplinary portions of the Windsor Report, something that hasn’t happened to date.
I am thoroughly energized by what God is doing at Christ Church these days. Our effort at Council last week was a remarkable witness to the vitality and life we are experiencing in the Holy Spirit. Leslie Kingman and Linda Camp, and the over 200 volunteers, deserve a huge thanks for showing our bishops and diocese that we are positive about our future and that we want to help guide and influence our diocese. Caroline Cox was overwhelmed by the spirit of our worship and fellowship on Sunday. I also appreciate the work the vestry and others are doing to collect information on the areas pertaining to the realignment.
The following is offered with the unanimous support of our parish leaders (meeting at the vestry retreat a few weeks ago) to assure our congregation that we continue steadfast in our mission and core values:
As the Vestry of Christ Church
Â»We remain firmly committed to Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture.
Â»We are prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom and direction in light of the dilemma within the national Episcopal Church.
Â»We are preparing for our future, valuing our community and our rich heritage.
–The Rev. Chuck Collins is rector, Christ Church, San Antonio, Texas