September 9, 2007

Here it is, September 9. There are 21 days left in the month, and for the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A (otherwise known as “The Episcopal Church”, or “TEC”), the countdown is on. Back in February of ths year, at a convocation of Anglican Communion bishops held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, a communique was issued calling on TEC to state both formally and unequivocally that it would bar the blessing of same-sex unions and cease ordaining non-celibate gay bishops – two actions by TEC in recent years that have brought the Anglican Church worldwide to the brink of schism. The Anglican leaders who met at Dar Es Salaam gave TEC until the end of September to respond yes or no to these demands or risk punitive action by the worldwide Anglican Communion; with only a few weeks left in the month, anticipation is building as to what the American church’s response will be, and what will happen as a result.

At the core of this controversy is, of course, the issue of homosexuality and competing views on the biblical interpretation of same: simply, is homsexuality a sin and behavior to be condemned as such (the view of the Anglican Communion’s rapidly-growing African and Asian churches), or is it something to be accepted, even celebrated, in the American church’s ordained leadership, as the overwhelming majority of TEC bishops and the gay/lesbian/transgender activists who now control the mindset of TEC’s leaders, including its Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, believe.

It is certain that in the coming days and weeks the tension and drama is certain to increase and reveal itself to Anglicans and Episcopalians worldwide. If TEC decides to tell the Anglican bishops to go shove it, what will happen? Could the bishops decide to toss TEC out of the Anglican Communion altogether, or simply reduce its status in the worldwide body? If so, what happens then? What would the average Episcopalian do if they were to wake up some day in October or November and find out that their Church is no longer an active part of the Anglican Communion? Would they even care? Would the various organizations seeking to establish an ‘orthodoxl’ Anglican presence in America founded on the more traditional teachings of Christianity be acknowledged by Canterbury as the ‘true’ Anglican church in the U.S.? And if so, would TEC then use the occasion to, as has been rumored, start its own alternative and progressive, ‘gay friendly’ worldwide church?

Alternatively, if TEC were to agree to a moratorium on same-sex unions and consecrating non-celibate bishops (something, BTW, I doubt you would ever see happen), what would the response be from its gay, lesbian, and transgender activists? Oh boy, you’d see some weeping and gnashing of teeth there, I guarantee you that!

Of couse, almost everyone is walking on eggshells right now and playing their cards pretty close to the vest. Outside of wacko revisionist apostates like retired bishop John Spong, who, in a letter to the leader of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, called him “inept” and weak”, everyone is looking for some wiggle-room and a way back from the brink.

But it won’t be easy. Simply put, TEC finds itself in quite the difficult position – one that is truly lose/lose. The fact is, TEC still thinks of itself as one of the primary churches in the Anglican Communion. Most certainly, it still has the ability to use its not-insignificant financial reserves to elbow its way around the AC room and try and curry favor (i.e., bribe) the less-wealthy African and Asian churches with its mantra of “diversity”, “acceptance”, and “tolerance”. But the sad fact is that, along with the Anglican Church of Canada and the AC’s mother church, the Church of England, TEC has lost much of its power and ability to influence the theological direction of the AC. While the ACC, C of E, and TEC have been hemorrhaging membership for years, their third-world counterparts have been growing in numbers exponentially, and with it, achieving unprecedented power and influence in the AC. Meanwhile, regardless of what TEC’s hacks and flacks would have you believe, parishioners are leaving TEC in droves and the departure of parishes from TEC dioceses to align themselves with African and South American churches – something once virtually inconceivable – has become commonplace.

In short, under Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s pathetically inept and clueless leadership, TEC has become an ecclesiatical Titanic, taking on water at an increasing rate while she and her House of Bishop leaders see the iceberg it has hit as a welcome opportunity to save wear and tear on the ice-making machines. And all the while, the clock ticks and everyone wonders what the state of the Anglican Communion and TEC’s status in it will be once September 30 has come and gone.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:44 | Comments Off on Countdown to Schism
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