Northern Michigan

It is a pity that the Northern Michigan election has become loaded with partisan reflection. Rather like lovers in a deep quarrel, every statement becomes loaded with past hurt and recrimination.

Thus one comments where angels fear to tread.

There seem to me to be two important issues here. First of all does the “functional” approach to ministry, which teaches that in baptism we all individually receive the charism of leadership, and that ordination or setting apart or recognition in what ever form by the local church, conform to the doctrine and discipline of our church as expressed in the Ordinal and the Catechism?

It seems to me that some advocates of the Mutual Ministry theory are setting forth a theory of ordination which was once espoused by “Congregational” or “Independent” churches. Such groups claim the authority to raise up from their own membership those recognized as possessing gifts, seminally present in all Christians in baptism, and yet found particularly useful or graceful in a local setting. In that, to an Anglican, this inevitably assumes that one such person is acclaimed as one who may consecrate and bless the Elements at the Eucharist (or in the diocese perform the sacramental authority of a bishop) while others are recognized to preach, or teach, or perform pastoral ministry, far from taking us away from priestcraft, one elevates sacramental authority in a focused and theroughly “priestly” or “episcopal” manner.

Secondly while the church has never defined a specific doctrine of the Atonement, the words of our liturgy, particularly in Holy Week and Easter, would seem to commit us to a belief in the Atonement, that Jesus in his death and passion has atoned for the sins of the world and that the atonement is at the heart of our dying with Christ in Baptism and rising with him in the Resurrection. May a bishop of this church, in the light of the solemn commitment made in the ordination vows, teach a theory of Christian life which discounts the Atoning death of Christ as the means by which our sins, and the sins of the whole word, and their reward, are set aside?

In what manner are we permitted to construct liturgies of our own construction for public and parochial use, given our promise only to use those usual rites and ceremonies set for by the authority of the church?

A bishop promises to be the center of unity, right belief and Christian practice. He represents the whole Church, as well as the Province and the diocese. May the “local” church, TEC for us, recognize and raise up a person to fulfill these roles who cannot in good faith affirm and protect the faith received by the whole Church?

It seems to me that these are the matters to be considered by bishops and standing committees as they consent or withdraw consent in an election.