Monday, December 18, 2006

The Great Anglican Schism

Yesterday marked the beginning of the great Anglican Schism here in America. Several churches, almost within earshot of the National Cathedral, voted to secede from The Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA). I really shouldn’t say this is the beginning. This moment has been years in the making and there was much preparation for this event. But I’m sure historians will mark this date as the beginning of the Great Anglican Schism. And I weep. I really do. I rarely talk about religion. My relationship with God is mine. But I don’t talk about it. That’s something that we Episcopalians just don’t do. We aren’t evangelicals, but don’t question our faith.

So the succession of the churches in Virginia, and there will be more to come, is hurtful. I want to go to Truro and talk to them. To ask them questions. What is it about Bishop Robinson’s sexuality that forces you to leave the greater Episcopal Church in this country? I know my conversation will serve no purpose. There’s no reasoning or logic, this is an emotional argument. But I still have to try. Is there an 11th Commandment that forbids homosexuality or sodomy? No. What did Jesus say about homosexuality? Nothing. Why must you cling to the literal interpretation of scripture that was written over a thousand years ago and translated innumerable times when it comes to homosexuality, but ignore those same interpretations when it comes to eating shell fish, or touching pigs skin, or divorce? There are no logical answers to those questions from those who oppose Bishop Robinson. They are so wrapped up in their own belief system that they refuse to look at, or even consider, anything that undermines their position. So arguing with them on what caused them to take this draconian step is futile.

But I can’t give up. I believe in one holy apostolic church. So I have to ask, why must you do this? New Hampshire is a long way from Virginia. How can Bishop Robinson effect you and your faith and service to God? Bishop Lee, the Bishop of Virginia, even accepted the affront of being asked not to come to your parishes and instead offered to send Bishops who hadn’t been “tainted” by the vote for Robinson as you so implied. But apparently this wasn’t good enough. Again I ask, how can this effect your faith, your calling, your service to God?

I ask in all sincerity, please explain this to me because I really can’t understand it.

The parishes that seceded had recently completed a discernment process, 40 days to think about what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go as a parish. But I suspect that those 40 days were just window dressing on a decision made months, if not years ago. It is interesting to note in the declaration that these parishes made, that they “voted” to keep their property. More interesting is that it was over a year ago that a state representative who attends Truro tried to pass a bill in Virginia that would have intervened in Church law and allowed the parish to do just that. No, the vote yesterday was just a sad formality. So resolute in their beliefs, no compromise, no concessions, would satisfy them.

When these parishes fight for the property, when they hire lawyers to gain control of the physical church property, look at where the money comes from to pay for these lawyers. Will it come from within the parish, or will it come from those who have some sort of agenda to fight? I think there is more to this that meets the eye.

And a final question for my brothers and sisters in Truro, what would Jesus think of the millions of dollars spent to claim the temple, while the poor and hungry and sick of the world continue to suffer?

“Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s church, and the world.”

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At 10:08 PM, Blogger d.K. said...

My very best friend, like me, a lifelong Catholic, made the gigantic decision to convert to the Episcopal Church to rediscover a spiritual guidance that made sense to him. And he did find what he was looking for and was again, happy and full. In light of this morass, I want to write him, to discuss this, but I don't yet have the courage. He's not part of the church that seceded, but it must be a painful reminder of why he did what he did -- and the future is as least as unclear as it was when he made that huge decision a couple of years back. What a shame. I imagine he's asking the same questions of himself that you are. And I have no answers, only sadness and disappointment. I hope by Christmas, I'll have the courage to confront him on where he's at with these latest developments. I ask myself, who wins here? I don't see a winner, only those who have lost, and whose once alleviated pain has been exacerbated.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Eric said...

your reaction was decidely kinder than my own which had an even bigger problem getting past who they are aligning with...

ah the joys of being Episcopalian...


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