This brings me to the… more profound… reason for my support of Judge Ortbal’s reasoning: at the root of TEC’s fracture lies our General Convention’s failure to engage our church’s own identity, an identity rooted in the deeper character of unitive mission that ought to inform our life. In brief, the Church’s unity is given in her “apostolicity”, her apostolic mission. When the latter is subverted, unity disintegrates, and this is what we have seen happen in TEC. The result is not a “good” ”“ I continue to believe that the disassociation of dioceses like Quincy, Fort Worth, South Carolina, and San Joaquin constitutes a failure of the Christian life. But the reversion to diocesan “independence” represents the almost natural reassertion of the will to apostolicity that one would expect in a situation of profound ecclesial dysfunction. And that reversion has something to teach us.
The polity question has to do with General Convention in this case. Dioceses, at least in theory, joined the Convention because such joining represented the furtherance of the apostolic ministry of the Church. They have disassociated themselves when that ministry was being impeded by General Convention. Part of the demanded reconsideration of our common life has to do with figuring out why this has been the case, and on what basis.