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WHERE’S THE CAVALRY?

The predictable announcement that a majority of our Ordinaries consented to the election of a partnered lesbian as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles has been greeted by laments that His Grace of Canterbury has not galloped to the rescue of mere Anglicans in TEC. No amount of explanations about the restricted role of primacy satisfies blame-seekers. Even some who understand the structure of the communion mutter about +Rowan’s reluctance to play the politician and fire off soundbites to encourage the ranks.

The expectations one might have of a politician or perhaps a general are heaped upon the mitred head of +Rowan Williams. Now it may well be that when the Archbishop has finished consulting with the primates and others some form of discipline will be imposed on TEC.  Such “sanctions”, the ecclesiastical version of those imposed on a rogue state. may well in effect place TEC in a special category. Yet nothing which may be done will “rescue” traditionalists in TEC. Unlike the Pope, the Archbishop can’t replace bishops, ban liturgical texts or sack the staff of seminaries.

Unless leaving for another ecclesial entity is viewed as a real option, mere Anglicans in TEC must make shift for themselves. No one is going to rescue us. No one can rescue us.

There are options we can consider to encourage fellowship and growth. The “Communion Partners Bishops” and those who signed the Anaheim Statement are in a position to give clear and courageous leadership. They must be brave enough to offer tangible assistance to those who live in heterodox dioceses. If they can’t cross borders, faithful clergy and laity can and should. The extraordinary resources of the computer age should be harnessed. Diocesan borders are not effective barriers to the internet or texting!

Our agenda should not be to hang on until we die off. If the present trends continue, TEC as an institution will soon be faced with structural collapse, as revenue and membership continues to decline. TEC has staked its future on being the church of and for the “progressive” and financially elite segment of American society. Yet that constituency is becoming more and more secularized and unchurched.

We have to demonstrate that we are as committed to social justice as any “progressive” Episcopalian. Our church has been distracted from is mission to the poor, to minorities and those who have no health care by its single-minded advocacy for one group.

We have to show that we welcome into our churches all who seek to meet Jesus. If contemporary society is fixated on labels, we must show that oneness in Christ afforded by baptism is the common identity of a Christian despite our sins and failings.

We have to summon up the courage to travel out from the safety of our church buildings and engage Americans where they gather. It is high time that we became evangelically driven rather than membership oriented. We can be utterly sure that the Trinity will inspire those of us who seem weak and marginalized in our church. +Rowan may not be able to rescue us, but God will. However we must be prepared to accept God’s gifts as He gives them. They may not be the gifts we expect!

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