An Immodest (and Impossible) Proposal for Fixing the Episcopal Church

Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Elizabethan Churchman, Dec 28, 2013.

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Would you participate in the proposed effort?

  1. Yes

    4 vote(s)
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  2. No

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  3. You're Insane

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. Elizabethan Churchman

    Elizabethan Churchman Active Member

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    I know I am a recent member on these forums and a recent Anglican, but the trouble within the Anglican Communion is of concern to all Christians and even many others throughout the World. It is very sad to see the Churches that were the bulwark of the Christian Faith in the former British Colonies gradually succumbing to error and losing their witness to the Gospel and the Apostolic Christian Faith. Being out of regular work and having an excess of time on my hands has enabled me to look at these troubles and investigate possible solutions. The solution I would like to propound here would take a monumental effort and has virtually no chance at succeeding. But, who isn’t a fan of lost causes (Go Cubs!)? Furthermore, God has certainly done more unlikely things (like raise someone from the dead).

    From what I can see there have been two basic viewpoints as to how to address the issues in The Episcopal Church (and the Mainline Protestants in general):
    1. Leave. The Episcopal Church has essentially abandoned the Apostolic Faith and Practice, so we should abandon her.
    2. Weather the storm. It is still possible in many dioceses to uphold the Apostolic Faith and Practice. Therefore, we should attempt to uphold the Apostolic Faith within the The Episcopal Church. Liberalism will die off eventually anyway.

    Both views are adhered to by Christians of upstanding character. I personally have effectively taken the first view as the more practical alternative, at least in the interim. This is partially because I’m not sure I would have the guts to standup for the Historic Christian Faith in the midst of such an environment, especially with some of my more conservative views. However, I think both are less than ideal.

    The main problem with both of these views is I believe both are too inward looking for the answer, when we should be outward looking. We should look to get believers from other churches, orphan believers (believers without church homes), and new believers to enter the Anglican Communion. Attempting to revive the already present membership has not been very successful, and I find breaking away distasteful at best even if it is absolutely necessary (though it can be). Furthermore, by the time liberalism has run its course, there might not be much left to salvage and something entirely new might be necessary. All these things might be necessary in time, but that doesn’t mean it’s what we should work towards.

    In light of this, I would like to propose a third alternative, combining the best of both views, but with its own unique practical problems:

    3. An organized influx of orthodox clergy and laity back into The Episcopal Church.

    What you would have in this case are groups of believers who would agree to enter The Episcopal Church and then using the existing rules to reestablish the Apostolic Faith and Witness. So far I think that the attempts to preserve the orthodox faith in the Anglican Communion have been too inwardly focused, when what is needed is new blood. Think of it as a blood transfusion for a patient on life support.

    It would work by agreeing to enter The Episcopal Church once there are enough people to ensure a significant influence at whatever level is agreed upon: Diocesan, Provincial, or National. This would reduce risk on the part of the ordinary person. The main benefit of leaving or not entering The Episcopal Church is knowing that you can find a Church home with likeminded individuals, assuming you live in an area with a strong ACNA presence. Many laymen and even potential clergy who might otherwise be drawn to Anglicanism would be too afraid to join The Episcopal Church, and so stay in other churches or even just sleep in on Sunday morning.

    This would also have the potential of making it something bigger than just you and your Bible going into no man’s land to do the Lord’s work. Especially with the advent of social media, all one would have to do is click like on the Facebook page, follow the group on twitter, and put their name and email address into a database pledging to enter The Episcopal Church upon trigger of the agreement.

    The main problems I see with this are getting it up off the ground and also countermeasures from the present hierarchy. Getting it up off of the ground is one problem, but it can be theoretically overcome. However, I could imagine there would be a lot of rules that would delay a conservative Anglican revival in The Episcopal Church from doing its work. Furthermore, the way the The Episcopal Church has treated the Diocese of South Carolina is not promising for conservatives. They might just refuse orthodox Christians entry, for instance, in which case the whole effort would be pointless.

    I would be interested to hear what other people think of the possibility of at least attempting something like this.
     
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  2. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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  3. Richter Belmont

    Richter Belmont New Member

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    Just out of curiosity: what is the motivation? If someone is in ACNA or one of the Continuing churches, wouldn't he or she rather see them grow?

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Confirmed member of TEC. And I'm not asking this as a trap. No sarcasm or negativity intended. I'm genuinely curious as to why someone would want to leave a satisfactory church to rescue one that is considered less so.
     
  4. Elizabethan Churchman

    Elizabethan Churchman Active Member

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    That's a good question. Personally, there are no acceptable TEC options where I am, so I have no "dog" in the fight for The Episcopal Church, except for the fact that it was, until relatively recently, a cultural institution. In some ways, it still is. Furthermore, it is in communion with Canterbury, and with the direction of the Church of England, I doubt that the ACNA will receive recognition anytime soon. By reclaiming The Episcopal Church, it will delegitimize the liberalism of that church. It would show that it was nothing more than an aberration in Church History.

    The approach is not aimed, primarily, at present Anglicans, but at those who could find a home there under the proper circumstances. There simply aren't enough practicing conservatives Anglicans to make that big of a "splash" in TEC anyway. Also, the point is that you join The Episcopal Church on the condition that there are enough people committed to changing it ready to join as well. So, you can have your cake (staying in your orthodox congregation) and eat it too (reclaiming The Episcopal Church at the right time).
     
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  5. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Im TEC too and Id live to see a great return of conservatives. it gets awfully cold and lonely.
     
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  6. Elizabethan Churchman

    Elizabethan Churchman Active Member

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    I could imagine, and I real feel for believer fighting for orthodoxy in such situations. I also of course, feel for believers who feel like they can't in good conscience go to one of those churches.

    One of my concerns with being in either the ACNA or the Continuing movement is that orthodox believers are separating themselves from civil society. That's what happened with the Fundamentalists in the first half of the twentieth century, and they only halfway reentered it with Roe v. Wade. That might be necessary at times, but I fear that we have done so before giving it the fullest possible effort to revitalize it.

    From a Biblical and Ecclesiastical point-of-view, you don't see St. John in the Apocalypse imploring believers to leave Churches that were in many ways just as bad The Episcopal Church is now. By totally giving up hope of a revitalization and reunion, I feel like we would essentially be conceding defeat and retreating to our own fortresses in hopes we might be able to get the scraps as they fall off the table. Looking to Athanasius, we can see that he managed to fight for the Catholic Church from the fringes of that Church. So, we can have the orthodox Bishops of the ACNA and other jurisdictions calling the national church to repentance from the fringe, and at the same time attempting to revitalize and reunite the national Church.
     
  7. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    I'm PECUSA and I think this is a great idea.
     
  8. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    What do you mean by separating "from civil society?"
     
  9. Elizabethan Churchman

    Elizabethan Churchman Active Member

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    Civil society does have a rather amorphous definition. What I mean by saying that is I think conservatives in general are leaving national social life, and that is exemplified in the fact orthodox Episcopalians are leaving the Church. By leaving the national church, orthodox Episcopalians are becoming fringe forces at the edges of what is deemed socially acceptable. I don't think it's an accident that national social life has left the orthodox Christian behind just as they have broken with the Mainline Churches, particularly The Episcopal Church.

    I must not let myself take all the credit. I was actually inspired to look into this a couple of weeks ago when my mother suggested I try to become a clergyman at The National Cathedral as we drove by to save it from liberalism. We had just been talking about them starting to charge admission next year, which I compared to the moneychangers at the Temple. I was surprised she suggested it, considering her theology and general pragmatism (what can be less pragmatic than trying to save The Episcopal Church, especially if you're a charismatic Baptist?).
     
  10. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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  11. Richter Belmont

    Richter Belmont New Member

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    Great links from a great blog!
     
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  12. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    The way I see it the issue requires a lot of organizing and manpower. Liberals are deeply entrenched in positions of power, and they do not want to leave.
     
  13. Elizabethan Churchman

    Elizabethan Churchman Active Member

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    That's why I said the effort would would be "Immodest (and Impossible)." However, constitutionally it is much more doable than it seems on the surface. No matter the size of the diocese, they send 8 delegates (4 clergy, 4 laity) to the General Convention. It's taking control of the dioceses that will take some doing, but it can be done through numbers and skillful use of parliamentary procedure. Many dioceses have relatively small numbers, which would work in our favor. For instance, West Virginia has 8,467 members in 66 parishes (according to Wikipedia, I know, but it's the easiest compiler for this sort of practical data). Considering a good chunk of those members probably only go to church a few times a year (if at all), it would be easy to takeover the ecclesiastical structures of many of these dioceses with relatively small numbers.

    I'm also drawing inspiration from my days as a political volunteer. A group I volunteered for (I would no longer wish to be associated with this group) managed to takeover a major political party in a county of over 400,000 people with relatively few dedicated activists. We focused on taking over precinct officer positions, and then we managed to gather together a large enough organization of those to takeover the party. If we could get numbers of people to takeover vestries, then we could send lay and clergy to diocesan councils to elect delegates to the GC, and simply wait out the heterodox bishop and elect an orthodox one. Electing orthodox bishops is where I'd imagine things might get ugly at a national level, considering what has happened to some orthodox bishops over the past few years.

    Edit: Attached is a document that got sent to me. It's an outline of some reasons for fighting in TEC and strategies for doing so. All of the strategies seem viable. Personally, I'm going to talk with some people on the ground that might be interested and see if there's any interest in doing this.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    If the whole of ACNA came back today, PECUSA would have a sizable conservative party. It's important to remember that a majority of churchgoers (and even liberal priests) are not overly concerned with the "agenda" (even if they agree with it) -- most are concerned with either maintaining their parish or trying to live Christian community (however they understand that).

    There are two types of liberals: 'establishment liberals' and 'progressives'. Most PECUSA bishops now actually fall into the first category.
     
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  15. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    I like a lot of what you have to say, and it does not seem so impossible when you say it. However let us remember that both good orthodox bishops were excommunicated by the wicked leadership. How do we re-add these people back into the fold, and how do we stop the Progressives from doing what they did to others?
     
  16. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    They were deposed because they chose to leave. I'd prefer that they would have stayed but at the end of the day, it was their choice to leave, and that's fine, but they have to accept the consequences of that.
     
  17. Elizabethan Churchman

    Elizabethan Churchman Active Member

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    That's the problem, isn't it? From what I understand, most of the Dioceses that are now part of the ACNA were attempting to leave, so that's not as much of a problem (the vindictiveness of the leadership is another matter). The Bishop and Diocese of South Carolina is a special case, and that's why I pointed it out in the OP. They didn't really want to leave, but were forced to by the unjustifiable actions of TEC leadership. However, there are other (relatively) orthodox bishops and dioceses that have remained in TEC. Many have managed to make arrangements with episcopal authorities in their dioceses to preserve traditional practices in their parishes. Furthermore, with independent clerical and religious societies, there can be ministry outside of the local parish for orthodox lay-people.

    The way to prevent further retribution in the future is to regain some numbers. As long as the orthodox are in sporadic dioceses and parishes, they are vulnerable. If they constitute an integral portion of the church, then it will be harder to displace them. At the same time, I recognize that the established leadership will take action from time to time, and the ACNA or similar bodies might be temporarily required as a home for people who have been unjustly cast out of TEC. The main point here is that it is a halfway house, not a permanent destination.
     
  18. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    It has to be a lay-led movement, considering laypersons do not have to worry about Title IV disciplinary charges. Really, a layperson can set up an independent chapel without the need of a clergyman. For this, he can remain a member of his local parish church and receive the sacraments there.
     
  19. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Almost like the early methodist movement.
     
  20. Elizabethan Churchman

    Elizabethan Churchman Active Member

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    I agree that the move needs to be lay-led, at least in the political and advocacy education portions. However, there will need to be clergy (or at least potential clergy) involved at some level, but not officially or openly.