Monday, October 12, 2009

The Uniqueness of The Episcopal Church

The definition (at least one) of unique is: Being the only one of its kind:
Without an equal or equivalent; unparalleled.

The Episcopal Church in the United States of America "without an equal", it is unparalleled. Why can we say this? Well, if you look at our church, as opposed to any other of the "biggies" we are all hierarchical, much to the chagrin of the ACNA crowd. So it is not that. We are apostolic, I am still not sure what the heck that means in this day and age but we are Apostolic. If there is some question just ask good Ole Uncle Bobby over in Quitsburgh. But what really drives the rest of the world crazy is our bicameral legislature -- and not just that but the fact that laity have a large say in what goes on. William White, when formulating the organization and structure of our great church had much to ponder with regard to bishops and were it not for Connecticut we may have had none (fat chance) but from the start William White included the laity. Why do you suppose that is? Well, I think it is because ministry, holiness, closeness to God all come in flavors that do not necessarily look like turned around collars. That White trusted in the laity so much that he made us a part, a significant part of what happens each and every day in missions, parishes, diocese, and the National Church throughout America.

It seems in recent years we have lost ourselves. That no one in the ranks of the laity wants to really stand up and say wait just a minute! We all want to follow those with purple shirts and funny hats. And, much to the purple shirted crowd's delight, they have gratefully accepted the nod.

In the last few years we have seen a huge shift to the House of Bishops. Everything and everyone seems to focus on what the next bishop is going to say or do. Does it matter what the statement or action is, we are, for the most part, held in awe and amazement with each succeeding proclamation. Bishops want us to approve or disapprove the covenant. Bishops want us to be a part of TEC or not be a part of TEC. Some want us to be a part of the good part of TEC and not the bad part of TEC. Others want us to have nothing to do with TEC because it is or is not a part of the Anglican Communion. Bishops want us to approve or disapprove the Prayerbook or the inclusivity or exclusivity or the real or the fake bible. Hey, William White trusted the laity so much he made the House of Deputies first and then, after much prodding, did the House of Bishops came to pass.

How about this. The uniqueness of TEC rests with the laity and the trust put in the laity to discern and follow God's will. I trust William White. I hope you trust William White and I would like to see the Bishops of TEC trust the laity! How about it Bishops, can you share a little of that power? Can you trust the laity?