The Rev. Patrick Gahan, rector of St. Stephen’s Church, Wimberley, Texas, alludes to these new elements in Church life in a recent column for The Living Church. He writes:
The Christian life cannot be abstracted. Never has that fact been more important. Suddenly, a new Gnostic strain has emerged among some Christians leading them to imagine being “wired” is the same as being connected to the body of Christ. No Christians must exercise the faith shoulder to shoulder alongside other Christians. Our commitment to Christ and not perfect consensus leads us to act on the injunctions delivered by Jesus to tend to the young, old, marginalized and bereaved.
After General Convention, St. Stephen’s had one very conservative family and one very liberal one leave the parish. The families’ main experience of the church, however, proceeded from reports and blogs on the internet, and not with the people in the congregation. Following our Lord, we must focus our energies outside of ourselves in order to save us from the ugliest Episcopal sin of all — narcissism!
Rev. Gahan's piece is called "Daring to be a Different Church." It outlines five practical tasks for Episcopal revival at the parish level, that at his own parish, has resulted in great things:
In just 18 months, our attendance is up some 100 worshipers per Sunday, our monetary giving has increased by some 45 percent, and participation in our adult formation classes has increased by more than 100 percent. More importantly, St. Stephen’s has become a much more vibrant faith community because we have taken these five very practical roads to revival.
Padre Mickey has been doing excellent blogging since Padre Mickey's Dance Party came online from Panama a few months ago. If you have never heard of The Lovely Mona or Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank, you are missing something. Padre Mickey recently reported about his friend, the Rev. Cônego Francisco de Assis da Silva, Secretary General of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. For those who may not know, the sovereign Province of Brazil has a diocese called Recife. In 2005, the Primate of Brazil deposed the bishop of Recife and about 40 of the clergy there. Another primate, Venables of the Southern Cone (includes Argentina & Chile), then "annexed" the diocese of Recife to the Southern Cone province. Venables is fond of issuing press statements and other notices attacking The Episcopal Church.
Needless to say, this "annexation," which contravenes episcopal practice going back about 1500 years, has been on the Anglican Communion back-burner ever since, along with other backburner issues like corrupt bishops in Africa defending murderers and going to bat for hate laws, and Church of England bishops cutting their church budgets so they can pour more money into their own palatial homes.
The day after the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church issued their resolutions, the Rev. da Silva congratulated The Episcopal Church for its stand. In a comment called "Communion, not power," he wrote in part:
Some arguments that the whole Communion is in agreement with the ultimatum stated by the Primates' Communique are not true.
The Baptismal commitment is not optional. Orthodoxy needs to be congruent with the way we live. When anybody defends orthodoxy and does not respect another person's fundamental human rights they takes on the onus of pharisaism. In the light of the crisis that we are experiencing, I reaffirm my conviction that what divides the Anglican Communion today is not the view people have of sexuality or of rights of the homosexual. What divides the Communion is the dispute for power and control.
I looked again at Stephen Bates' blog at the Guardian. This statement about the primates' meeting left me slack-jawed:
They [TEC] were to stop consecrating gay bishops (though ironically, two of the 35 archbishops attending the meeting are known themselves to be gay).
I know people have said -- and have said so often that it's now almost a truism -- that Bishop Gene Robinson is not the only gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. But nobody seems willing to come out (aside from retired bishop Otis Charles) and show a bit of the courage and integrity that Bishop Robinson has shown. And, frankly, as a person who has been "out" for a couple of decades, it really ticks me off that there could be others in the House of Bishops who are content to let Bishop Robinson take all the flak.
But there are gay archbishops, too? Who knew?? And, again, why the secrecy?
Mind you, I'm not on a campaign to "out" any bishops who need to stay in the closet. But it's beginning to sound to me like the Anglican Communion has a problem with truth-telling.
Yes, Lisa, you read correctly. At the meeting where under the careful watch of the Archbishop of Canterbury the primates wrote a lengthy and angry document demanding that The Episcopal Church never again consecrate an openly gay partnered bishop, that we discipline every priest who performs a same sex blessing and the bishop who does not intervene to prevent it, and that we relinquish our autonomy to them, there were in attendance two primates "known to be gay." Yet somehow, this did not appear anywhere in the document, is not generally known, and did not at all prevent the communique from being issued with straight faces (no pun intended) all around .
If this fact does not underscore the distinction between communion and power nothing does.