Written by: Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner
Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Hello, General Convention! Here’s the answer I would give; and it doesn’t appear to be that hard:
- Define the Gospel of Christ in terms of the smallest social unit and interest possible (e.g. homosexuals and their right to sexual affirmation)
- Define the episcopacy according to the smallest unit possible (e.g. New Hampshire and its gay bishop)
- Drive out anybody who has a larger vision – traditional Christians, evangelicals, Bible-readers, people who study Christian lives and thought earlier than 1968 and farther afield than NY and LA.
- Spend as much money as you can doing this instead of anything else and say this is “mission”.
Crudely stereotyped? Well, let’s admit to facts: The Episcopal Church is dying, having lost a third of its members in the last 10 years, and the decline still humming along; it has fewer and fewer young people and children as a proportion of its membership, fewer baptisms, fewer confirmations; and less and less money; it is closing more and more churches, watching dioceses disappear, go bankrupt or face merger; it’s seminaries are shutting their doors; it has produced little theology of note in over 20 years; its church planters and evangelists have mostly left; and its budget is shrinking and in line to be slashed yet further, with national programs and personnel falling by the wayside within a vacuum of missionary planning.
These are facts. But what are the causes? Multiple, no doubt. But there is a thread of correlation worth taking seriously: nixing evangelism programs and the theology behind them in the 1990’s; steady and relentless pursuit of a gay-centered political and theological agenda in the same period and after; imperviousness to larger church and Communion views to the contrary after 2003; vigorous (and expensive) focus on the legal pursuit of departing or objecting bishops and their flocks after 2005; passage of canonical disciplinary amendments that permit intimidation of dissenting clergy in 2009; massive budgetary losses and use of trust funds for the support of these legal costs and the decline of membership giving in the same period; imploding governance structures since 2011.
And let’s not forget the present: General Convention convenes with a slew of more traditional bishops officially under misconduct investigations over arguing on behalf of an alternative interpretation of TEC’s Constitution; a massive exodus of traditional Episcopalians underway; a theological education system in shambles; and a budget and budgetary process marked by the mutual recriminations of the church’s leadership elite.
Hello, General Convention! Anybody ready for an intervention? Anglican 9-1-1? Charges of criminally negligent ecclesiocide? For all of which I am willing offer an amicus brief…
July 02 2012 05:49 pm | Articles