Open Thread: What has changed in the last decade?

Thanks to commenters David Keller and David Handy for suggesting this topic:
David Keller writes:

“I was looking for something in an office cabinet yesterday and found a picture of the Vestry of Christ Church Greenville, SC in 2002. Of the 14 vestry members, 4 are left at CC. Five are at St. Paul’s Anglican, my church, including the Junior Warden in that picture and the next Junior Warden. The Senior Warden is at a PCA Church, but his daughter is on the vestry at St. Paul’s and he visits St Paul’s regularly. Two are at “mega” (very orthodox) independent churches. One is now a Methodist. One is deceased”

What has happened for you and those you know in the last decade or so? What general lessons are there from this time, and how has God used it?


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life

12 comments on “Open Thread: What has changed in the last decade?

  1. Undergroundpewster says:

    In High School I was voted the most likely to be a cynic. The past decade has done nothing to negate the effect of that prophecy as far as church life goes. I worked to try to reverse the slide of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, and failed. I worked to hire a non-revisionist rector in our parish church, and failed. While I still have faith that God’s purpose is being worked out, I have abandoned all hope of ever figuring out what exactly that purpose is as regards to day to day things, politics, and especially church politics, and have tried to listen for His call to me and my family. The answer I usually got over the past decade was, “I gave you these skills so that you might help those who lack them, keep working” or some other “Hang in there” type of response, which I have tried to do. As retirement age will hit in the next decade, I am wondering what call I will hear next.

  2. David Keller says:

    Underground–I feel your pain. In 2004 I pretty much gave up hope after my Rector and (our) Bishop made it very clear what they thought of my efforts to stem the tide. I will say this though; after I dropped out of TEC politics I got more involved in Cursillo and had some wonderful experiences on several staffs from 2004 to 2010. THEN in 2011 a priest and his wife moved up here from Pawleys Island and started what is now St. Paul’s. There were times of extreme despair for my wife and me between 2004 and and 2011 and it is really hard to remember God’s time is not our time. But as the 1st Letter of John says, I can only tell you what I have seen with my own eyes and touched with my own hands, and it is a glorious vision. St.Paul’s is the most amazing church I have ever belonged to! TEC is dead for all intents and purposes, so maybe God is hoping an Anglican vision will arise where you are (Rock Hill, I think?). It might be worth exploring?

  3. Adam 12 says:

    Yes our mission has failed but have we not grown deeper in our spirituality in the process? Would I have been led to study the Bible as I did under ordinary circumstances; to learn about church history and heresies; to learn what I can live with and live without in worship? Although I still have dreams of going to my old church and miss much of the trappings, I would not be the person I am today if it was not for God taking me through this wilderness. I would encourage others to the same reflection.

  4. DRLina says:

    As part of missionary training, I took a course in Church history, at least the Church of the west. As I studied I realized a general cycle. The Church grew, got fat, lost its zeal and waned and was renewed. Now that I am in the Eastern Church, which has not only suffered the same type of internal overgrowth, but has also been battered by waves of Islamic invasion, I have another picture.

    And I remember the phrase, the Church flourishes under persecution. A period we are now entering here. God is always purifying His Church.
    He’s finding out who is for real and who isn’t and it can get very uncomfortable. In spite of the fact that most of us would like a comfortable God, He does’ seem interested in that kind of comfort.
    I am reminded of the beginning of a sermon I once heard. “What do you expect, want, from God? The priest asked us. In the silence that followed I began a mental wish list. Suddenly my musings were interrupted by, “John the Baptist was beheaded!” “Well, God, that was not one of the things I had on my list.”

    Today as in times past, many believers are being beheaded or losing their lives in many other tortuous ways. We whine about buildings, pews etc. our God is not a static God. He has a plan that is moving forward. We can either abandon our concept of the ship or adapt to His.

  5. Luke says:

    Can connect with all the above and, in all likelihood, with those who respond later.

    Without a doubt, my wife and I have found brighter-lit pathways since we and half of our old small parish walked away from S Sauls and ended up starting an ACNA parish, blessed by a wonderful, late-in-life come to active ministry priest and his family who had done the same as we did.
    Relevant bible study;thoughtful bible-based sermons; outreach we’d never dreamt of; learning more about Angicanism than in the previous 75 years.
    How blessed we are!

  6. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    When I was in a dark moment in ministry sometime in the last ten years, a thought similar to #4 came to me: sometimes faithfulness looks like feeding 5000 with meager resources, sometime faithfulness looks like crucifixion. The call for each is the same: faithfulness to the work God gives us to do.

  7. William Witt says:

    Ten years ago I was the Clerk at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bristol, CT, and Bishop Andrew Smith and a crew had just invaded our church building six weeks before, changed the locks, deposed the rector, and appointed a priest-in-charge who sent certified letters to all of us on the vestry, telling us that she had removed us. (I brag that I did not leave the Episcopal Church. I was kicked out.) Among other actions that led nowhere, we were the first group to appeal to the so-called Panel of Reference. They “lost the paperwork.”

    The vestry and a sizable group of Episcopalians in the Diocese issued a Presentment against Smith on the grounds that his actions had violated the canons. Something like two or three years later, Smith was exonerated on the grounds that he had indeed violated the canons, but this was permissible because his intentions were “good.” (The battle between the CT Six and the bishop sort of fizzled out, I think. One of the six original parishes is still in the diocese, and two former students of mine are lay assistants to the rector at St. Paul’s, Darrien.)

    A year so after the CT Six, someone named Kevin Kallsen asked if I would like to become part of a weekly youtube blog called Anglican Report, covering news in the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion. We did that for about a year. He has since replaced me with George Conger, and the whole thing is much more professional.

    Somewhere around this time, I started my own blog — which some people still read, when I find time to write something . . . . which is not very often.

    In 2007, I was hired to teach at Trinity School for Ministry, where I have taught Systematic Theology and Ethics now for eight years. Trinity has gone through the ups and downs of the Anglican wars, but has just admitted its largest class since the early 2000’s. We just began a new online degree program with the Diocese of Jos, Nigeria, and have entered into partnerships with the North American Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

    I am now ACNA in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. I was completely mistaken in what I thought would eventuate from the conflict ten years ago — especially respecting the CT Six. The differences are not as wonderful as I hoped, nor as terrible as I feared.

  8. William Witt says:

    I wish T19 allowed for subsequent editing of comments. The two former students are now lay assistants to the rector at St. Paul’s, Darrien, not clergy.

  9. Jeff Walton says:

    I was at an event this week with a few old friends from the Falls Church young adult group, which I was active in for about seven years. One is married and at Christ the King in Alexandria, another is married with kids and at Christ Church Vienna. I’m at Restoration Anglican Church in Arlington and serving on the diocesan Standing Committee. None of our churches (or our diocese) existed 10 years ago, and the Falls Church of course lost its building, but we never would have guessed at how our church family has changed. Occasionally I miss ushering in the old historic church, but when I see the tidal wave of kids returning to the sanctuary for communion after the sermon, I’m grateful for new life in unexpected places.

  10. MichaelA says:

    That is very encouraging Jeff

  11. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “What has happened for you and those you know in the last decade or so? What general lessons are there from this time, and how has God used it?”

    Great topic here!

    Most of my friends from Christ Church are in other non-Anglican churches [Rome, and the Presbyterians seem to have received the lion’s share here in Greenville], while I’ve remained at CC. I treasure their friendship and enjoy talking with them about many of their church experiences and what they are learning.

    God has blessed me immensely with many new acquaintances and friends over the past decade. I’m shocked at how many more people I know all over the country — that would never ever have happened but for the catastrophe of TEC’s formal, public, national, official acts of heresy at the 2003 General Convention. So God really did give me a swift kick in the nether regions, which gave me many gifts, ultimately.

    My work has changed and is much more rewarding and interesting.

    I’m a K9 SAR team member and love handling dogs on a volunteer basis, searching for the missing out in God’s great wildernesses.

    I love trail running and have become better at it, experiencing many new places.

    And I have grown in the knowledge and love of Jesus, who is my best friend and teacher. My prayer life, especially, has been strengthened.

    In the meantime, the country is far far worse off from the last decade, and we are experiencing the fruit and consequences of the general disinterest in God in our culture. Unless God gives us revival, I see that only worsening.

    It is ironic — but I don’t think I’ve ever been more thankful and filled with energy and excitement than right now, while watching the country that I love decline as it has. The Holy Spirit is mysterious indeed.

  12. Blue Cat Man says:

    I agree with Sarah most wholeheartedly. In 2003, we left Christ Church and Greenville for a position in Florence, SC. While there have been, and still are, clouds over us for which we ask for God’s provenance, the best thing that He did was to put us in a parish within the Diocese of South Carolina. Under Bishop Lawrence’s leadership the Diocese has thrived and grown. My wife became involved with DOK and several women’s Bible studies over the next several years and I became active in two men’s Bible studies.

    We have attended the last four or five Mere Anglicanism conferences and have watched it grow. After my election as a delegate to the diocesan convention and serving on several Diocesan bodies, we have attended every Diocesan convention.

    We have our trust in God and pray that we attempt to follow His will in our lives.

    I could not have said any better than Sarah in her last two paragraphs. A former rector of our parish who guided the parish through both world wars and the Great Depression said of the Holy Spirit when asked, “The Holy Spirit is a peculiar fellow.” Indeed, the Holy Spirit is mysterious and wonderful.