Leaving the Episcopal Church: Doing What Has to be Done

The in-process exodus from the Episcopal church by various parishes in Northern Virginia has been greeted with glee by many in the Anglican community.

The reality is, however, that what they are doing is more of a necessity than a joy.  When a denomination or other church organisation decides to abandon the basics of Christianity, it is incumbent upon those who stick with the essentials of the faith to make some kind of departure, either individual or corporate.  This process will have happy consequences in the long run but is difficult in the near future.

The thing that never ceases to amaze me is how long this took.  The course of the Episcopal Church has been set for a long time, and the real break should have taken place in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the downward slide got going in earnest.  At that time the only option was for individuals to leave, which, as we saw, was something many did.  The fragmentation that resulted is one reason why the liberals have had the upper hand for the last forty years.

And that brings us to the greatest danger of the whole process.  Leaving out the "continuing" churches that are not in formal communion with Canterbury, we see that several provinces have established a presence in the U.S.  The largest of these is of course the Anglican Mission in America, but the northern Virginia parishes are headed to Nigeria for oversight.  If we throw in those who affiliate themselves with Uganda or the Southern Cone, we see a situation which will undermine any attempt to establish an alternate Anglican province in North America.  (The Episcopal Church is already the "alternative" province from a GLBT perspective.)

And this, of course, gets us to the same problem that bedevils the careerist Middle East:

They came to Capernaum. When Jesus had gone into the house, he asked them: “What were you discussing on the way?” But they were silent; for on the way they had been arguing with one another which was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said: “If any one wishes to be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:32-34)

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