Independence from England meant a break with the authority of the Bishop of London. What’s more, many existing priests were loyal to England and new priests had to travel to England to be ordained. Ordained authority was hard to come by in the Episcopal Church in the United States, and the laity exercised significant leadership. Our first Presiding Bishop, William White, who like Thomas Jefferson was a student of John Locke, became a champion of shared governance by all orders ”” laypeople, clergy and bishops. His feast day happens to be July 17, after we’ve finished our business and gone home again, so be sure to remember him then.
So it seems auspicious to me that we are beginning this 77th General Convention ”” in which the structure of the Episcopal Church promises to be one of our principal concerns ”” that we are beginning on July 4. Just as we celebrate the distinctive democracy of the United States on Independence Day, we should celebrate the distinctive polity of the Episcopal Church that became part of our DNA because of the circumstances of the American Revolution in which our church was born.
But, as many of you may be thinking right now, celebrating July 4 isn’t that straightforward. You don’t have to scratch the surface of July 4 very hard to expose the horrors of colonialism that the United States inherited from Great Britain and continues to impose on so much of the world.
Read it all.