Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Eve of a New Anglican Province

"The reality, as much as I or anyone else may not like it, is that geographical boundaries are no longer functionally definitive of Episcopalian identity."

-- So writes the Rev. George Clifford of North Carolina.

In a surprisingly refreshing article from a usually hostile blog-site, Fr. Clifford offers very important points of view that need to be heard throughout the American Episcopal Church (TEC). I've made these points known many times in the past two years and it is very encouraging to hear others are beginning to see the wisdom behind them.

Here are some very thought provoking points Fr. Collins makes:

1. Geographic boundaries, I realized, are not as sacrosanct as we who value tradition might wish they were... Yet nowhere in Scripture can one find a God-given plan for the organization of parishes, dioceses, and provinces... The geographic model for parishes and dioceses emerged naturally because of physical proximity, administrative practicality, and political identity.

2. ... geographical boundaries are no longer functionally definitive of Episcopalian identity. Four dioceses have already voted to disassociate themselves from the Episcopal Church and to associate with another Province... In other words, the geographic model is irretrievably broken in the United States. Those who have left believe the divisions that were the catalyst for their move are too deep, too significant to permit dissidents to continue their Christian journeys within the Episcopal Church. One can no more coerce ecclesial unity than marital unity. Even as the Episcopal Church rightly recognizes its understanding of the Bible, theology, and ethics must change with the continuing unfolding of knowledge and moving of the Spirit, so should the Church be open to revising its thinking about ecclesial structures and polity.

3. Acknowledging the reality of multiple Anglican bodies within the geographic boundaries of the Episcopal Church would introduce refreshing notes of honesty and grace into the present turbulent controversy. This step might preserve Anglican unity by abandoning the dishonest hubris of insisting that the Episcopal Church is the only Anglican presence in the United States. Recognition of another Anglican province could provide an option for individuals, parishes, and dioceses to transfer, even as clergy now transfer from one province to another. A minority who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church but are part of a parish that wishes to transfer could establish a new parish or affiliate with an existing parish. Similarly, those in a diocese who wish who remain in the Episcopal Church after the diocese voted to realign could affiliate with an adjoining diocese that extends its borders or reconstitute the disassociated diocese.

-- Thank you for these thoughts Fr. Clifford!

On the eve of the creation of a new North American Anglican Province (by whatever name it comes to be called) the basic reality is this: the borders are broken. The time is come to lay aside the arguments and fighting and move on -- move on by focusing on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I highly commend this article and its comments to you. The full article may be found here: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/episcopal_church/an_alterntive_province_why_not.php

Peace to All.

1 comment:

LEM said...

God is making a new thing!