May 1, 2006

Finally, admist the increasing divisions, bitter lawsuits, and talking past each other going on in the Episcopal Church, here’s a proposal that warrants serious consideration for an alternative way forward.

The benefits I see emerging from this are four-fold:

1) “Progressives” and “orthodox” (as the author describes them, which is close enough, I think) both get something out of it that is needed – which is, the opportunity to continue their ministry and ecclesiastical identity under the “Episcopal Church” banner.

2) Clergy also get to remain clergy under the same banner, with no loss of benefits for years of service or access to the existing clergy pension fund.

3) Bishops and parishes have the ability to retain their existing structures and relationships, if they so choose. I would think this would be the case in the majority of situations, but more importantly, dioceses, bishops, and parishes would finally have a means of affiliating themselves with (and, as time goes on, crafting for themselves in canonical ways) the kind of church they want to be: something critical for any organization – religious or otherwise – that hopes to grow.

4) It would show the worldwide Anglican Communion (and perhaps other denominations going through the same thing) a seriousness of purpose where Christians attempt to logistically, methodically, prayerfully, and (are you listening, Islam?) peacefully seek out a middle ground in the midst of serious theological and philosophical divisions.

Of course, the big losers in this scenario are the bishops, who potentially face the loss of an uncertain number of parishes (along with, of course, their assessments) presently under their jurisdictions. (Of couse, its not inconceivable that a given diocese could actually pick up parishes and make up for any losses were that to occur.) However, I would think that most bishops would welcome such a solution, if for no other reason than its avoids the only other alternative that seems to exist, which is schism – something that is definitely in the cards if things were to continue as they are.

I welcome Rev. Estes’ proposal and pray that Episcopalians at this year’s General Convention take up his proposal for serious consideration. Considering the rising chaos and contentiousness we have now – a situation that is working to no one’s advantage – especially the Holy Spirit’s – his proposal shows the way to a carefully-crafted middle ground that anyone who loves and cherishes the Episcopal Church and its ministries, traditions, and future well-being should be open to consider.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 18:14 | Comments (0)
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