Tory Baucum: Another Loose Cannon Goes Overboard

It seems that I gravitate towards following the “loose cannons” on the Anglican warship.  In the past those included David Moyer (who ultimately did the right thing,) John Hepworth, Chuck Murphy, and later Tory Baucum, Truro Anglican’s rector until this happened:

The Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican Church since 2007 has resigned, renouncing his orders in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He will be received into the Roman Catholic Church in 2020.

A fact-finding investigation will examine a number of grievances alleged in the treatment of Truro staff and congregants by Baucum.

“In the ‘me-too’ environment we find ourselves in, we want to be clear that none of the grievances alleged are sexual in nature. The grievances presented include numerous and broad complaints from staff about workplace mistreatment, and questionable treatment of congregants,” said a church spokesman.

I think we’ve got another case of “ego inflatable to any size,” but I think I should explain my interest in this subject.  It comes primarily from working at the denominational level.

Like so many Christian “traditions,” people in the church I’m a part of now were taught to reverence their clergy, and in many cases ascribe qualities to them which are the stuff of hagiography but not reality.  Don’t get me wrong, we had and have many fine men and women in ministry who work sacrificially to pastor their flocks or conduct other ministries.  But we also have those who, leaving behind Our Lord’s call to servant leadership, prefer to lord over the Gentiles.  This is flatly contrary to what Jesus came to teach and charge his ministers–and laity–to live.

Unfortunately–and this is especially true in times of ecclesiastical upheaval–it’s easy for those who do lord over the Gentiles to rise to prominence.  That tendency is true across the liberal/conservative divide and in the many “traditions” we have.  It’s at the core of many of the falls we see in ministry these days.  The Anglican/Episcopal world is not immune to this, much of its own past propaganda notwithstanding.

At this point I am not sure whether Baucum will enter the Ordinariate or be laicized like David Moyer.  Either way, that brings up something else: the main attraction of Roman Catholicism these days is that of authority, although the current Occupant of St. Peter’s see is the loosest cannon of all!  It makes sense that one who wants to “lord over the Gentiles” would gravitate towards the RCC, although unless you are much higher up than Baucum will be you’ll learn humility pretty quickly.

The best system is one where the laity, the people of God and the church themselves, are able to counterweight their clergy in a reasonable fashion.  It looks like that’s what happened at Truro and now Baucum will have to find a place–if it’s out there–to exercise his lordship somewhere else.

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