A Plea to the Network Bishops
Earlier this week, All Too Common posted an open letter to the Network bishops. He pleads with the bishops to see that staying in ECUSA is neither viable nor acceptable to the orthodox. I hope this letter gets the bishops’ attention. It surely got mine.
He states, “We are only continually told to wait. I understand the necessity for thorough planning and strategizing, but the time to act is this summer, not next year, and not Lambeth 2008. If we are going to have any semblance of unity and structure, if we are going to have any parishes with us, if we are going to have any dioceses intact, it is this summer.”
He is correct. Probably the most divisive thing the Network bishops could do after GS06 is to decide to stay. That would gain no real Christian unity with liberals, but would tear the orthodox in ECUSA asunder.
And asking the orthodox to stick it out in ECUSA for questionable or non-existent reasons is asking too much: “We have had too many hopes dashed and too many defeats to carry on any longer in any sizeable unity within ECUSA. We are being withered away year by year . . .”
And I know from experience that being stuck in an apostate denomination wears you down. Instead of the nourishment that comes from being a part of the body of Christ, there is the disease and misery that comes from being tied to a rotting corpse. As reflected in his letter, All Too Common in his own words is “disturbed” and “depressed.” And he’s far from alone. Many orthodox just can’t take anymore – nor should they be expected to. Live branches can only survive for so long if attached to a dead vine.
I, for one, fail to see the point in staying in a dead, apostate denomination unless there’s hope to bring the apostates to repentance or at least boot them from leadership. And there is no such hope in ECUSA. The only hope I can see is to pull one’s orthodox diocese out. But Bishops Duncan and Stanton seem to be standing in the way of that.
The Pontificator has commented on this letter. And he is on target in pointing out that staying in ECUSA is incompatible with mission and church planting:
It’s hard, though, to see how Network dioceses can seriously and enthusiastically engage in evangelistic mission and church planting. Bishops and priests can trumpet the imperative of mission and downplay, in un-Anglican-like fashion, the importance of the institutional Church; but the albatross of ECUSA is not easily escaped. Take down the “Episcopal Church Welcomes You” signs, if you wish; but everyone knows that Network parishes still belong to the Episcopal Church and that their property ultimately belongs to the folks in New York. Who wants to invest in new buildings that might one day be controlled by 815? Who in good conscience can summon the unchurched into communion, however impaired, with Frank Griswold and Gene Robinson? Network dioceses may be able to maintain themselves financially for a while, but eventually the old folks are going to die and the young committed folks are going to move on to ECUSA-free pastures.
Even a Network diocese is only one episcopal election away from disaster.
And I fear the Network is headed for disaster even with the current bishops. Some are dubbing it the NOTwork because it will not work for the Network to stay in ECUSA after this summer. I think they are correct. Again, staying after a General Convention that is anywhere near as bad as expected would tear the orthodox apart.
The Network called its big November conference in Pittsburgh “Hope and a Future.” But most orthodox see little hope and no future in the Episcopal Church. And there is none. If the Network bishops are to really lead, they will lead them out.