The rub of course is when what is right and what is wrong becomes the stuff of ecclesiastical politics; and this, unfortunately, is where we are. But, as much as I dislike it, most rank and file parishioners did not care about the details of the allegations that were brought against me, nor did they understand the questions of church polity which beggared the dispute. Such matters as ecclesiastical constitutionality reside in galaxies far away from where they live their daily lives ”“ thank God.. So after enduring this season of trials, while not entirely unscathed”¦and who knows what allegations may yet be forth coming”¦ I remain thankful for the broad unity we share as a diocese and with a strong desire that as much as possible we may move forward together. As you have just heard in the video, there is an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Together is where we need to be for what lies on the road ahead; for this is not a time for us to drift into individualistic or false realities.
I say often to congregations, “Face reality as it is: Not as it was: nor as we wish it were: but as it is.” The reality is that as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina we have unique opportunities and unique challenges. The remarkable English scholar, missionary and bishop, Stephen Neill once commented that “To be a bad Anglican is the easiest thing in the world; the amount of effort required in a minimum Anglican conformity is so infinitesimal that it is hardly to be measured.” But he went on to say, “To be a good Anglican is exceedingly taxing business.” If we substitute Episcopalian for Anglican we have just as telling and true a statement for our challenge today. To be a bad Episcopalian is easy. Just drift with the flow of whatever cultural stream carries you and you can be an Episcopalian. I remember reading as a seminarian, Bishop Allison’s debate with O.C. Edwards on evangelism. Fitz, as you might imagine was for it. If memory serves me well, Fitz opened with the line “You can be anything and be an Episcopalian. You can be immoral, and you can be heretical; as long as you are not tacky. And apparently there’s something tacky about evangelism.” Yes, it’s easy to be an Episcopalian sitting in the pews. But to be a good Episcopalian today, well this church is no place for ostriches or for the spiritually, intellectually, or morally lazy. There is a theological, moral and demographic challenge every minute (just follow Kendall’s blog and you’ll know what I mean). I should, however, qualify the statement, when I suggest it is easy to be an Episcopalian””good one or bad one””for if we take seriously the recent Hadaway Report, the biggest challenge in many parts of our country may soon be actually finding an Episcopal parish to attend.