Many (including one of Titusonenine’s elves) who visit this blog assume that, because I spend so much time commenting about the Anglican/Episcopal world, that I must be a part of it. The story about how I ended up doing this is has many twists and turns.
I was raised in the Episcopal Church, baptised and confirmed at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach. (George Conger, the well known Anglican journalist, is also an alumnus of Bethesda.) In logical progression, I went to the Diocese of South Florida’s (now Southeast Florida) Episcopal prep school, St. Andrew’s. That experience made such an impact that I swam the Tiber as a Sixth Former, irritating the school’s liberal chaplain.
That decision in turn led me into the Charismatic Renewal, which in turn led to a long period of fluidity in my church commitment. That fluidity ended when I married my wife, who introduced me to the Church of God, a Pentecostal church. I joined that church and have been a member ever since.
In 1996, our family having divested itself of the business we were in, I was offered the position of Coordinator of Field Services for the Church of God Department of Lay Ministries, which I accepted. The Department, which is a denominational ministry, primarily oversees two ministries: men’s ministry and personal evangelism. A little over nine years later I was promoted to Ministries Coordinator, which is the #2 position in the Department. Four years after that the Department was abolished and I took my leave from employment with the Church of God.
The Church of God has more in common with its Anglican/Episcopal counterparts than one might think. To start with, COG has a centralised, episcopal form of government, more centralised in many ways than TEC. A corollary of that is that the local church property is held in trust for the general church, much as it is under the Dennis Canon in the TEC. The main difference between the two is that, while COG’s practice is more or less consistent from the the start of the denomination, TEC’s history is more complex and the practice of property holding amongst the parishes has more variations, which the Dennis Canon attempted to solve ex post facto. Finally, the Pentecostal view of Christianity, with its Wesleyan-Holiness antecedents, is directly descended from the Anglican one via its rejection of rigid Calvinistic perseverance by Article XVI.
But that certainly didn’t end my interest in the Anglican world. In 2003, I began to write/rewrite my fictional series The Island Chronicles. Much of the background research for that drew me into Anglican/Episcopal worship and polity, which in turn made me take a look at what was currenly going on there. At that time this meant the ordination of Vickie Gene Robinson, and websites such as Virtue Online (and later Titusonenine and Stand Firm in Faith) showed me that there were orthodox Anglicans who were prepared to fight for what they believed in. I was impressed by this. I knew I wanted to do something to help. But what?
The first “what” was the publication of the online versions of the 1662 and 1928 Books of Common Prayer. When this was first linked to in the spring of 2004, the site traffic suddenly jumped. I knew I had something of interest, so I started Anglican Corner and continued to keep up with events and add pieces on the subject. When I launched a blog in 2005, I was able to continue writing and commenting on the subject.
It’s easy for Evangelicals to be critical of those who chose to stay in TEC, although I made my choice a long time ago. But the longer I follow this ecclesiastical drama the more sympathetic I am with those who did, although I think their position is presently untenable. And following Anglican blogs and news services has been an education in other ways:
- Anglicans tend to deal with the more serious issues facing the church, not only concerning human sexuality but many others, and frequently with more depth than other non-Catholic sources do. Too many Evangelicals are focused on the immediate needs of their flock or are trying to reactivate revival as the primary method of growing the Gospel in society (it’s working in the Global South but not in North America) to step back and look at some of the long-term issues they’re facing.
- All of the new Anglican entities in North America (and soon coming to the UK?) need to be more entrepreneurial than they have been accustomed to be in the past. In this respect they have a lot to learn from their Evangelical (and particularly their Pentecostal) counterparts. This is because parishes joining these entities generally lose the property and certainly lose the “brand name” that still carries a lot of weight in the US in spite of the best efforts of reappraisers to screw it up.
- The invasion of the Global South provinces into the US is of great comfort to reasserting Anglicans, but it is of historical import to the rest of us. The centre of gravity of Christianity is shifting to the Third World, and the whole idea of third-world people overseeing upscale Anglicans in the US is definitely “ahead of the curve” for many people on both sides of the divide.
In 1968, the demonstrators in the streets of Chicago shouted, “The whole world’s watching!” That’s true of the Anglican/Episcopal world today. On the front lines of both a struggle for the soul of Christianity and the shifting realities of the religion’s demographic and ethnic make-up, Anglicans are in an exciting place. Maybe too exciting, but know and be sure that you are not alone.