Monday, July 03, 2006

GC ’06 Fallout: In or Out?

That’s a (the?) big question facing the remaining orthodox in the Episcopal Church after General Convention. The majority, even the six (by last count) dioceses who have asked for Alternative Oversight, have decided to stay in for now. But Christ Church Plano is among those leaving.

Those who have followed my ranting blogging may be surprised to know that I think the strategy of staying in TEC while seeking alternative oversight has merit. It certainly leaves those liberals wishing to punish or even sue the orthodox with little to stand on as Brad Drell pointedly discusses. If a diocese is staying in TEC, where’s the grounds for a lawsuit?

One may say, “Ah, it’s all about property and money.” But orthodox Episcopalians have enough issues to deal with without giving liberal canon thumpers ammunition for legal or canonical action against the orthodox.

And this strategy of most the Network dioceses does address the need to get under orthodox leadership.

But there is the question of parishes and individuals outside those dioceses as discussed here. What do they do?

And there is an important missional problem with being associated with the Episcopal Church in even an arms length manner. Many Christians and those interested in joining a church want nothing to do with the Episcopal Church.

Remember that in an earlier church search, I was so fed up with the mainline Presbyterian Church (my home denomination at the time) that I practically swore I would never join a church in that denomination. If a church was in that denomination, sorry, I wasn’t interested.

Similarly, if a parish remains in the Episcopal Church at all, many will ignore the details of that relationship and how otherwise wonderful that parish may be. They will look elsewhere, especially in light of all the wonderful publicity TEC has brought on itself.

By the way, even the most tenuous “associate” relationship with TEC is all the more problematic for many Global South churches. Any links with “the gay church” become weapons used to discredit and persecute southern Anglicans. This is surely one reason ++Akinola and others are quite hesitant to embrace ++Rowan’s two-tier communion proposal.

One could go into more pluses and minuses of staying in or leaving TEC. I suspect the best approach for Anglicans in America may be for there to be efforts both inside the Episcopal Church and outside . . . which is indeed what is happening.

Among the efforts outside TEC, there is CANA under the Church of Nigeria – which has just elected its first North American bishop, Martyn Minns. And don’t forget continuing Anglicans. I’ve heard the bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church have been a bit busy lately.

Some orthodox have a tendency to look with disapproval on either the strategy to stay in TEC or to work outside it. I would prefer to embrace both strategies, recognizing both approaches have problems and advantages. I seriously doubt one approach alone would best meet the needs of all orthodox Anglicans in America.

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