Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mary Garrigan writes on the Episcopal Church, and (what a shock) I choose to comment

Mary Garrigan wrote another good article in the Journal about some local Rapid City take on the ultimatum from the Anglican Primates to the Episcopal Church.

Much of the article centers around a long-loved Episcopal priest in these parts, Fr Ron Hennies, who is a wonderful man and servant of people who has retired many times and continues to be called back. His newest call is really new; he has left the Episcopal Church and has converted to the Eastern Orthodox faith. I know he will serve faithfully there too.

I've known Fr Ron for years and am saddened that he has not been able to accept the ordination of women as something that was so far overdue that years more of "process" would have been wrong. In my view, the empowerment of women has changed things so much that it is not surprising that people of Fr Hennies' generation find the change especially difficult. We all do. And I have no problem with conservatives of good and faithful heart like Father Hennies that are honestly concerned with the direction things are going.

However, I do have a problem with loud, externally funded forces of the IRD-funded AAC, and their international political machinations is that as far as I can tell from their actions it's not about the gay issue or even women, it's about power in the church and who has it. These people have done a lot of damage: as in American politics, a loud, well-funded minority is getting more attention than it deserves, and is using wedge issues to distract the Church from its faithful calling. And this hurts those of us that really do care about these issues, on both sides.

There is one item so factually so wrong that I wanted to put it right out there: Fr Hennies told Mary:
"Change," he said, has not benefited the Episcopal Church. “Its numbers have declined dramatically,”
This is false propaganda spread from the American Anglican Council and others, and I'm dismayed to hear Fr Hennies has accepted it without checking the facts for himself.

The number of self-identified Episcopalians in the USA has in truth held steady or grown. You can look it up.
(search for "Exhibit 1")
(Look for the graph)

I have a theory on how you can determine the "good guys." Faithful Christians like Fr Hennies do not use language carelessly; especially in the Anglican tradition, they know that words matter.

Case in point, in this article there is a fellow named Chip Johnson who abuses the word "Anglican":
Johnson was nearly ordained as an Episcopal priest through its Mutual Ministry program a few years ago. Instead, he plans to be ordained after Easter as an Anglican priest in a small diocese of seven congregations of mostly former Baptists, Methodists and Nazarenes who are “interested in an Anglican walk.” His church is associated with -- but not part of -- the Anglican Mission in the Americas.
The irony of this is almost shocking. Anglicanism was born in Elizabethan times after years of strife and division as a peace-making agreement to share a core common belief and manner of worship in the Creed and Book of Common Prayer, and let Scripture, Tradition and Reason, through the Holy Spirit, lead our lives, without coercion or judgment from each other. By that definition, Chip Johnson and his new flock of Anglican-wanna-bees, are in truth more than little un-Anglican.

What the heck does Mr Johnson himself mean by Anglicanism anyway? My experience and reading leads me to believe that for people like Chip Johnson, "Anglican" and "Orthodox" are code-words for: "against those gay-luvvin lib'rals, and women, leading my church out of my comfort zone."

What I believe is that the Gospel has a habit of leading us to "the no-comfort-zone."

Deal with it.

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