One of the most critical leadership strategies I have tried to live day in and day out as Rector of a growing vibrant congregation is to make sure our theology drives every single thing we do together. Gospel-Holy Spirit driven theology that is clearly evident in our preaching, teaching and all we do. For instance, the goal of our recent instructed Eucharists was to enrich our worship by realizing the theological ”˜whys’ of why we do what we do in worship.
One of the most profound learnings for me during our day of Clarity and Charity was a simple vacuum of any coherent theology coming from the Presiding Bishop. There was no there-there, no center of theological gravity. The most often repeated word from her was experience. Re-evaluating marriage, Scripture, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ through our own experience. I felt as if the head of the Unitarian church was at the microphone and not the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
This idea of our own experience kept coming up to the point that finally at the end of the question and answer session I went to the microphone and stated to the P.B. that I am a happily married man of twelve years, but that as a priest in a very difficult ecclesiastical marriage with the church, feeling as if the Bride of Christ (the church) has become completely unfaithful with little or no fidelity. Imagine if my wife were to come home and say”¦. “Al, I think we should abandon the marital vows and base our marriage on our experience of what feels right and wrong, in fact out of that experience Al, I think we should have an open marriage. I know it’s out of the box thinking but experientially it just feels like the right thing to do!” If that were agreed to, our marriage would inevitably end in destruction, not to mention the damage done to the countless relationships surrounding the marriage. So it is when we use our experience to trump Scriptural authority. I ended my time at the microphone asking the question of where in the world do we go from here now that we have once again and with clarity been exposed to our massive differences? The question was never answered.
At the end of the day, I would say objectively we indeed fulfilled our mission of clarity and charity. Charity was displayed, and even greater clarity given..clarity that we are not two churches under one roof but two very different religions.
–The Rev. Al Zadig is rector of Saint Michael’s, Charleston, South Carolina