Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Illuminations and Elucidations on: The Hellins Lecture

III. The Continuing Saga of The Hellins Lecture

This is the third in a series of discussions of the Reverend Gregory Cameron’s The Hellins Lecture. In the first two installments we began a discussion of this lecture in general, with an eye toward the Episcopal Church in America and with a clear focus on the diocese of San Joaquin. We now continue that discussion.

Cameron continues with this paragraph:

“But the real strength of the ties between the Churches of Britain and Ireland and the Episcopal Church and all those churches which derive from them lie in the very real personal and continuing bonds of study, friendship, identity, and mutual discipleship which still sustain the life of the Communion. “

Lest we continue to think that life has been “one big bowl of cherries” until now here in America we turn back to our continuing saga written about by the Reverend Manross in A History of the American Episcopal Church. We weathered the storm of the Oxford Movement and of course we weathered the storm of the Civil War (or The War Between The States). We found the term liberal came into being during the Oxford Movement. Now it comes back to us again, this time with a rush. The liberal movement also is known as the Broad Church Movement (big tent?) Manross states, “Those who were under its influence often differed widely in their positive beliefs but they agreed with one another in their desire to make the Church as comprehensive as possible and their tendency to minimize the importance of definite dogma, though to varying degrees.” (page 307). This brings us to the very first Lambeth Conference and all the “who shot John stuff” that went on there (not unlike now) but I am not prepared to go “there” just yet. I would like to share some personal thoughts about the term liberal. In our diocese, ex-bishop John David Schofield used the term liberal much as Cameron describers the word shibboleth (we will come back to this term later in the series). Mr. Schofield also began using the term orthodox instead of conservative. So, he espoused an orthodox position and the others were liberals. Now, we used to have liberal, evangelical, high churchman, low churchman, and Anglo-Catholic. In spite of all that, here in the diocese of San Joaquin it became us and them, orthodox and liberal. John David divided the diocese into those who are in and those who are out. As Cameron intimates in his work we need to lay these words down, at least for a while. My old management/leadership training says you cannot fix a problem unless you can first name the problem. In this instance it does no one any good except those who wish to divide. When names are given or people are called names it serves to say, you are there and I am here and we need to focus on what you are as opposed to what we are. Peter Senge, in his educational work, The Fifth Discipline talks of solving problems. One way he suggests is that everyone who can bring something to the table to solve the problem gets to come in and help. But before one enters the problem solving space one “checks your title and your pre-dispositions at the door”. I have used this technique before and it works! We, all of us, need to check our titles, our assumptions, our pre-dispositions and our inherent prejudices at the door.

Noel Stookey
©1976 Pepamar Music Corp

If you ask me what I want
I'd say yes I want it too
And if you ask me what I think
I'd say yes I think I dooo
But some will say here
Some will say there
Some will sell you tickets to a show
Some will say now
Some will say then
Some will say stay when you know you have to go
Listen to the Love in your heart
Don't you realize you're a special part
You can sing along from the start
If you listen to the Love in your heart
You can bring your horse to water
But he may not drink
You can give a man a book
But you cannot make him think
Some will say do
Some will say don't
Some will put their name up on a door
Some will say how
Some will say why
Some will never get their feet up off the floor
Listen to the Love in your heart
Don't you realize you're a special part
You can sing along from the start
If you listen to the Love in your heart