Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No Safe Place: Smokey Matt’s Leaving TEC, Diocese of Dallas

This may be common knowledge, but I wanted to be sure. And I have indeed confirmed that my beloved St. Matthias Dallas, aka Smokey Matt’s, is indeed in the process of leaving the Episcopal Church. This is consistent with the intentions they posted on their website a couple months ago. (The link to the .pdf is at the bottom of their home page.)

Therefore, they did not send a delegation to the diocean convention this past weekend. That, plus Christ Church Plano already gone, makes me suspect that the leaders of those two parishes knew that Bishop Stanton would call on the diocese to stay in TEC for now.

I know people who are leaving and people who are staying in the Diocese of Dallas. Both decisions are honorable – and costly.

Decisions to either stay or leave will likely become more costly as time goes on. Staying later risks being trapped in an apostate church. Leaving later risks the tangible and the emotional and spiritual costs of leaving increasing. Christ Church and, likely, St. Matthias can work out reasonable settlements with Bishop Stanton. But he won’t be bishop forever and there is far from any guarantee of such reasonable leadership in the future. In fact, I can come close to guaranteeing that at some point in the future, such an amicable departure won’t be possible.

I think the costs of staying in or of delaying departure from the Episcopal Church will become too great within ten years, even in Network dioceses. Staying for now might be the best course, especially since we will likely know more about the game plan of the Network and the Primates by Spring. A concern expressed to me from Dallas is that the leaving parishes are “unintentionally undermining the case for a coherent and integrated orthodox Anglicanism in North America by bringing about a diffuse and disintegrated Anglican Order here. The orthodox . . . have GOT to be united if the Anglican experiment is going to succeed.” And I’m inclined to agree.

But I think the main purpose of staying in TEC should be to urgently seek the best timing and mode of leaving for reasons laid out and to be laid out in this “No Safe Place” series.

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