In a previous post I stated,
"The temptation is to say that the Three Days in December are of vital importance to the future of the Anglican Communion. The temptation is to say that within six to nine months the remaining power cards are to be played and the Anglican Communion as we know it will be finished, diminished, or triumphant. Anglicans of various stripes are looking at the next nine months as a critical time.
...There are two problems with thinking things in Anglican Land are at a crisis moment:
First most of the fight is irrelevant at best and obscene at worse."
First most of the fight is irrelevant at best and obscene at worse."
Fred Schwartz picked up on this in an essay titled "Abandonment as a Plan of Action."on his excellent blog, "Real Anglicans," where he took me to mean that what was happening to the people of the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Quincy, Pittsburgh and Fort Worth who remained as part of the Episcopal Church was irrelevant. He further saw this as somehow a "plan of action" of the Episcopal Church. That was absolutely not what I meant. On the one hand I did not personally mean that, and on the other hand I cannot and did not speak for Executive Council or The Episcopal Church.
What I mean - and meant then - is that the belief that the Anglican Communion is in a crisis moment is mostly an invention of those who have been talking all along of how bad it all is and how they are going to rescue Anglicans in America from the awful Anglican Church of Canada and even worse Episcopal Church. Their arguments, and their actions are irrelevant if we deny them the power they wish to have in their accusations. They become trouble and noise makers. We have confront them as troublemakers and deny them credence as noise makers.
As I understand it Fred believed that my declaring the shouting action figures of the realignment crowd irrelevant also made the pain and suffering of those who remained irrelevant. From this he concluded that I was advocating the abandonment of support for those who remained as Episcopalians in those jurisdictions.
I hope readers of this blog understand that my major concern for some years now has been to consistently maintain that The Episcopal Church is living out its call as faithful Anglicans, and that all assults to the contrary it is a Christian Church, part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, part of the Anglican Communion and committed to domestic and foreign missionary efforts that are fully in accord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
More, I have maintained that the usurpers, upstarts, malcontents, and devious efforts to undermine the work of this church and to replace it with some new improved Anglican Province are exactly what they are - the work of people who indeed have strayed from Anglican polity, practice and faithfulness.
When I used the term "irrelevant," I meant to suggest that we ought not pay too much attention to such phenomena as the December 3rd proclamations because I believe such things are irrelevant to the work we have to do and a distraction from the many missionary efforts we have, including the reformation and reconstruction of Episcopal Church presence in the dioceses so recently troubled.
Fred may be right to be critical of the response of the rest of The Episcopal Church, or of its leadership, to the plight of peoples in these dioceses. These are hard times for people who have stayed and are carrying on the work of being The Episcopal Church present in place. I believe however that TEC is doing a great deal to help remaining Episcopalians in situations new to all of us. I have hoped this blog lifted up the plight of peoples in these dioceses and helped form some of the growing ability of TEC to respond forcefully and beneficially.
If my use of the term "irrelevant" leads readers to assume that I in any way advocate abandonment of the faithful Episcopalians remaining in these dioceses, then I apologize.
On rereading what I wrote I believe the more important part of the document is my summary of things learned concerning TEC's stance:
- a. Sadness that it has come to this.
- b. Clarity that the processes by which decision are made in The Episcopal Church will remain as they are – namely by actions of the General Convention and the Executive Council guided by common prayer, the baptismal covenant, the table fellowship that derives from the Eucharist, and the missionary vocation derived from our inclusion in the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
- c. Determination that we will continue the witness of The Episcopal Church in all parts of the United States of America and those nations in which we have formed dioceses as a result of our missionary efforts, where none had (in terms of the Anglican Communion) been before, or the oversight of which had been transferred to us.
- d. We will continue to affirm our desire to be part of the fellowship that constitutes the Anglican Communion, and very little desire to belong to a world wide ecclesial structure – a church – that would negate much of what we understand Anglicanism to stand for, and would resemble more and more a patriarchy.
- e. We will consider that individuals who leave The Episcopal Church – be they bishops, clergy or laity – do so without changing our obligation to ecclesial presence and missionary outreach in the areas where they had previously exercised ministry as members of the Episcopal Church.
- f. We will insist that that ecclesial presence and missionary outreach, as well as the canons of this Church gives The Episcopal Church, as represented in that place, primary rights concerning property and assets held in trust by vestries, rectors, or other ecclesial officials.
- g. We will pray that we not be overcome by arrogance nor be guided by hostility to those who have left, but keep the paths cleared for common faith and work.
- With these understandings in mind, the actions to be taken on December 3rd and following are not a deterrent to, or detraction from, the path that The Episcopal Church has chosen. The actions of these days, on this level, are irrelevant.
I have written a short statement on Real Anglicans in response to this article and suggested I would think on the matter. This correction is my response.
On reflection I believe that I misspoke: The irrelevance that I referenced is something known in the long run. In the long run the realignment folk are playing out a well planned scheme which will fail because time has passed them by.
But in the short run what they do has wrecked the faith communities of many good Episcopalians. My sense is that now we turn from their having left to working with those who have remained. In that sense the "learnings" stated above are still, I believe, in order. I am less and less interested in following the doings of the ACNA (although I will continue to be watchful here on this blog.) I believe they are increasingly irrelevant to the whole effort of being Christ's church in the world. I am profoundly committed to supporting Episcopal Church presence in those Dioceses now painfully dealing with the results of the realignment efforts to take with them the property and abandon the faithful.
I hope this puts this matter to rest.