Friday, May 20, 2005

Departures should give pause.

The departures from the Episcopal Church -- or from Anglicanism altogether – of such good people as Al Kimel should give both the orthodox and the revisionists in that denomination pause.

It should give the revisionists pause. They should consider that something just might be wrong with the direction they are leading ECUSA when Fr. Kimel and a flood of the faithful are leaving or being driven out.

Of course, some have the attitude of the woman who told a conservative at the last General Convention, “Why don’t you just leave, so we can be more inclusive?” Hopefully, most revisionists have more sense than that. But I see more concern about keeping the property of orthodox parishes than about keeping the orthodox.

It should give the orthodox pause. Some are urging that the orthodox stay in ECUSA and fight for its transformation. But so many orthodox have already left that the question has to be honestly asked if such a fight is a waste of time. The way ECUSA is structured, the revisionists are firmly in control.

I remember in my old denomination, the mainline Presbyterian Church, conservatives urging people to stay in and strive to reform that denomination. That was about 20 years ago, and things have not gotten any better.

Is fighting a lost battle for one, two, or more generations when your army is suffering a flood of desertions what God is calling the orthodox to?

Perhaps. Isaiah and Jeremiah were called to prophesy even though God told them people wouldn’t respond. But I think the Lord usually would have us pick more hopeful battles to fight.

I’m not saying right now is the time for orthodox Episcopalians to leave. But I do think the orthodox should think long and hard about fighting a war they have already lost. There is a time to acknowledge defeat, accept exile, and seek a better country.

There is one battle that may be looming that is winnable. There may soon come a time when dioceses will have to choose between ECUSA and the Anglican Communion. And in orthodox dioceses, it is definitely worth staying around to push the diocese to make the right choice.

But in other dioceses, I think the orthodox should look around at the good faithful people who are leaving and honestly ask themselves, “Why am I staying?”

There may be good reasons to stay. But there are certainly good reasons why many are not. And that should give all in the Episcopal Church pause.

(Housekeeping: Early next week, I’ll be preoccupied with moving issues of my own. So I might skip a few days of blogging.)

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