Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why TEC Really Lost at the ACC

"I know not what course others may take, but for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry

A lot has already been written about the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Covenant and how Section 4 has either come to pass or not. A lot has been written about the entire thing everyone call a covenant. Not much has been written about the uniqueness of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. We here in "the States" have never had much use for bishops. Oh sure, they have grown into the wonderful and delightful personage such as Bobby Duncan, John David Mercer Schofield, Jack "I ain't listenin' to no wimmin" Iker and the bigger fish across the pond. You all know, Peter Jensen, Peter Akinola, Henry Luke Orambi and yes, even our own beloved Rowan Williams. What do they all have in common? Well, they are all bishops. Now, you are going to say, well Fred, "Duh". But herein is the problem, everyone throughout the world not only likes these guys but listens to them because that is all they know. We know and have lived with a different approach.

For an absolutely fascinating read try A History of the American Episcopal Church by Manross. William White, the father of the present day Episcopal Church belonged to the older school of Low Churchmanship. "The members of . . . were not disposed to rate the authority of the bishops too highly."(pg 188) They were also disposed to tolerate a wide variety of opinions. "The handiwork of the low churchmen can still be seen in such things as inclusion of laymen in ecclesiastical councils, the slight authority given bishops over independent parishes, the curtailment of their authority in other respects by standing committees and diocesan conventions..."

We then find White's ideas for the creation of PECUSA in The Case of the Episcopal Churches In the United States Considered To be fair, William White was always a bit suspect in many circles of the newly minted US. Then came the Pennsylvania Declaration of Principles. "This convention adopted a set of fundamental principles to the effect that the Episcopal Church in the United States should be independent of all foreign authority, that it had full power to regulate its own affairs, that it should maintain the 'Doctrine of Gospels' as proposed by the Church of England and conform to the worship of that church as far as possible, that it should have a threefold ministry, that canons should be made by representatives of the clergy and laity jointly, and that no powers should be delegated to a general ecclesiastical government except such as could not be conveniently exercised by state conventions." In a later meeting, actually the convention of 1789 (our first prayerbook) the archbishops (wouldn't you just know it) put up such a stink that the House of Bishops was created.

So, you say, "Get to the point Fred". My point is that we are living through a time now where no one outside of the United States and apparently several bishops inside the US feel like they just no longer wish to "share" the authority of the Church. Let me be clear, they understand what we are and how we came to pass and how we are governed and THEY REJECT IT FULLY and COMPLETELY. Hooker's three-legged stool is rejected because reason is the product of everyone, laity and clergy, but Scripture, well only the clergy can really understand scripture and so they, the Archbishops in particular, know what is meant by "interpretation of scriptures" and we poor peons must just do as we are told. Chafing yet folks? Collar fitting a little tighter than one likes? Begin to understand why ALL persons having the same rights might impact them a little? Power is the name of the game.

So what do we now get out of this document called the Covenant? We get instruments of communion including the Anglican Consultative Council, we get The Primates Council, we get some silly foreign thingy called the Joint (interesting turn of the word) Standing Committee and all the trappings of a clerical, specifically purple shirted thugs ring of old men who believe that the only way to God is through the scriptures as THEY interpret them. Oh, women, no, no rights for women, they can't think clearly most days anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen, the covenant is a rejection of all that we hold near and dear and have for over 200 years. What the Anglican Consultative Council did was tell the United States "sit down and shut up!" The ACC has rejected everything that the Episcopal Church has been built on and everything we stand for. This is not a subtle turn toward hierarchical governance it is a "spit in your eye, kick dirt on your shoes, put it where the moon don't shine" stand against not TEC but of the laity of TEC and how the laity has for years been a strong and vibrant part of the Episcopal Church.

The plain and simple truth is that TEC cannot accept any part of this stupid idea because we, having grown up in a free and open church where ideas are welcomed and freedoms are sacred, will give up a large part of that. TEC will never be the same if any part of this document called a Covenant is accepted. In addition, if ACNA and its henchmen get to represent the United States at any table all is lost, for the bishops (Iker, Schofield, Duncan, Wantland, etc) do not share our uniquely American ideas, in fact they reject them all. Why, well if they understood and appreciated the marketplace of ideas they would have never left TEC. They chose to leave because their ideas were rejected. What ideas were those, you ask? The idea the LGBT persons can and should fully participate in all things Episcopal. That we welcome everyone from ALL cultures and that their ideas are as valid and worthy as everyone else. That yes, handicapped persons really can do things and that we need to create space for them to access (physically as well as every other way) the church. That women really are persons and should fully participate in all things including bishoprics up to and including the Presiding Bishop's role. ACNA will kill the Episcopal Church if given the chance. They know it and we know it and we need to stop playing with these folks, indeed with all the grater Anglicans that would destroy our church.

Here is what needs to be done (at a minimum). First, tell ++Rowan Williams that he is not welcome at the General Convention of 2009. A Tory is a Tory is a Tory, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Nice man, tell him gently, but he is not welcome at GC 2009. Second, we move forward with the Episcopalian Bill of Rights. This bill of rights simply states what we all know and recognize. God created each and everyone of us in His image and that in that light we are ALL welcome and that we are ALL full participants of the Episcopal Church.

And remember, just because we are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get us. ;=}

Time To Do The Christian Thing

Here is what has been posted at The Lead about the RCDC version of the Covenant:

An attempt led by The Episcopal Church to strip Section 4 from the covenant was defeated by a wide margin after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and numerous others spoke against it.

Why we continue to play is beyond me. It is time to do what is right. What would Christ do? Might scribble something in the sand. Might ask for unconditional love. Might even ask us to "feed his lambs". Would He ask us to one more time and for one more day exclude any of our brothers and sisters? If we are not careful we will be spit out as being "lukewarm". So, lets get on with what we know is right and what we know we must do. It is time to include everyone in everything we do. What do I mean by that? I simply and plainly mean everyone. That means let's get to the floor of convention the Episcopalian Bill of Rights and let's get it passed. We need to get on with God's work in the world. We have spent too much time dallying with who is in and who is out of our Anglican Communion. Does everyone remember that over 24,000 children die each day from starvation? Does everyone remember that California has a 10+% unemployment rate and the US has an 8.9% unemployment rate? Anyone see Slumdog Millionaire? Are we ready to tackle the slums of Mumbai and Rio and Lagos? We cannot free everyone until everyone is free. We must get on with the work of the Lord.

I cannot and do not want to make cogent arguments in favor of the Episcopal Bill of Rights. There are none that can be made. It is plainly and simply a priori the Christian thing to do.

We are the Episcopal Church. We are the most generous, most inclusive most loving and caring group of Christians in the world, ALMOST. Let's make it a reality and let's do it now!