Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Time to Tear ... Radner and Kew write TEC's decision to Go Their Own Way ...

A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak ...
-Ecclesiastes 3:6-7

Ephraim Radner has been a voice crying in the wilderness, one of the remnant who continued to call orthodox Episcopalians to work within the system. I was one of those who dedicated a long time working within the system and was devastated when colleagues and friends - close friends - took off for AMiA after General Convention Denver 2000. There comes a point for those of us who work with the system, within the institution when we have that epiphany and friends, it is not a happy moment. It's difficult to know when that moment will come (and I do believe that there will be those God calls to stay in TEC and we should not point our fingers at them but pray and stand alongside as best as we can - if there is any hope of reconciliation it will be through the roots of their ministries). Ephraim Radner appears to have had his moment and his piece, published here at TitusOneNine is both insightful, full of stuff to discuss and mull over, and finally sad. Here is an excerpt:

As for reality: There is clearly no real place left for conservative Christians within TEC’s official structures. It is obvious to me that, not only are the vast majority of the denominations leaders personally hostile to conservative commitments, but they have reached a point where they are quite open and brazen in their exclusion of conservative presence and influence within the councils of TEC. It is increasingly less likely that appointments of conservatives are made to diocesan, provincial, and national committees (the only way, for a long time now, that such a presence has even been possible); and it is certainly no longer likely that conservatives will be voted, by diocesan or national conventions, onto decision-making councils. Most of our seminaries apply, openly or surreptitiously, the gay-test (and probably do so in both directions, depending on the school). God forbid one should actually have a paper trail that marks one's views. When conservatives are appointed to Communion committees and councils, they are subjected from within TEC to howls of protest and to negative campaigns, engaged in not simply by concerned individuals, but by bishops and diocesan representatives.

This is true - has been true for a long time. But to witness his clarity of understanding of the truth - the honest truth - is still devastating. This meeting of the House of Bishops was that watershed moment and it's clear that Fr. Radner gets it. It doesn't make me celebrate to read his piece, it makes me quite sad.

Richard Kew, another long time worker in the structural vineyard (and the brainstorm behind the 20/20 campaign that TEC took hold of while dropping him off at the nearest bus stop) has also written a heartbreaking piece which we hope to post here later on. This is not a happy moment but it is a necessary moment.

In fact, we have a long-distance dedication to the TEC House of Bishops. This seems to be it.

That's it.

LATER: Here's Richard Kew's letter:

Dear Friends,

I have been ordained more than thirty-eight years, and have served as a faithful priest of the Episcopal Church for nearly thirty-one of them. During that time I have had wonderful opportunities to be a servant of Jesus Christ, but I have also received all the usual insults that get thrown at folks who share my theological, biblical, and ethical presuppositions, despite the fact that these are rooted and grounded in the rich soil of historic Anglicanism.

Given what I have known about the individuals who have made many of these accusations, I have always had a shrewd suspicion on these occasions that there is a strong degree of projection in play here.

I am in New Orleans at the moment with members of my congregation doing something that is inspiring, uplifting, and intensely satisfying at a time when much of church life leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Yet even we cannot ignore the offering coming from the House of Bishops, this latest bounty which, if I understand it correctly from my limited perusal is the majority of that little club saying, despite syrupy words, that they really don't care one whit if they remain part of the Anglican Communion or not.

There is a dog-in-the-managerness about this because it is their mindset that they want to prevent me from being part of the Anglican Communion too. So we have now have hanging on the tree the full fruit of what we saw developing in the Eighties and Nineties. This says "We want our conscience to be respected despite the fact that it is not part of the continuity of what the Church has always believed, while at the same time over our dead body will we allow you the expression of your conscience because we don't like what your conscience is about."

In the late Nineties I was at a gathering about reconciliation where a lesbian priest from the Diocese of Newark made it very clear that once they got their way there would be "no Port St. Lucie." This is a reference to the deal that was struck by the House of Bishops in 1977 to enable those of their number who had problems with the ordination of women to be able to respect their consciences.

And so it is that there is no place for tolerance for folks who share biblical convictions. Indeed, such people and their archaic beliefs are considered expendable. In the American church the left has its own way and is acting much like their kin around the world is asserting that they are right and woe betide those who out of conscience get in their way -- look at the way the British government has behaved regarding the Catholic church and adoption agencies.

What is fascinating is that those functioning in this way have let go of the philosophical and worldview apparatus that allows right and wrong and are chasing radical relativism. In other words, we are relativists when it suits us, and absolutists when it suits us. There can only be tears for everyone as a result of this depressing episcopal edict.

I suspect charges brought against faithful priests will multiply on trumped up charges, and there will be lawsuits galore which will very rapidly strip the Episcopal Church of its assets, both real and monetary. What a wonderful Christian face to show a watching world that, whether it realizes it or not, craves the message of salvation that is focused on the Cross.

For my part I am deeply grieved that my ministry is drawing to a close with the church I have sought to serve faithfully spitting in hundreds of thousands of faces, which all the time committing suicide.

I personally cannot accept the House of Bishops' determination to be Anglican only on their own terms. I remain an Anglican in the fullest and historic sense of the word, and if those who are trampling on the conscience of the likes of me want to come after me for affirming my conscience then let them do so.

In Christ,
Richard Kew

From the 20/15 list.


Anonymous said...

Oh, dear... what is really needed is a chance for the good archbishop to slip into a comfy cassock and hop a plan to the USA for a bit of chat.

Help make it happen.

Unknown said...

Ebay - that is just way too funny.


Anonymous said...

Not knowing if the e-mail address for you works, I will say here some things I might have rather said privately.

Bb says:
This is true - has been true for a long time. But to witness his clarity of understanding of the truth - the honest truth - is still devastating. This meeting of the House of Bishops was that watershed moment and it's clear that Fr. Radner gets it. It doesn't make me celebrate to read his piece, it makes me quite sad.

I am aching for you, BabyBlue. I know this is so hard. For so long, despite everything, you’ve nurtured in your heart hope.

I know because in my life I’ve done this three times. As a pre-teen I watched our conservative Lutheran home become liberal – leaving us - and forcing us to join a more conservative branch of Lutheranism. In college I became an Episcopalian. 10 years later I watched the ruckus over women’s ordination. I felt uncomfortable with that, but could understand how those who supported that came to their conclusions. Since I’m not the highest heel in the closet I figured perhaps my interpretations of Scripture were wrong. But when the Righter charges were dismissed and I knew I wasn’t wrong on sodomy, the Episcopal church left me. Then, as a grown woman attending a “Non-demoninational Protestant” church, we suddenly had a Christian Scientist as the pastor. No one else seemed to mind.

It’s not just that you have to stand up for what you believe is truth. And it isn’t so much that the others don’t see truth the same way you do (although we should be VERY concerned about that for those we love). It is the realization that they don’t love us! They don’t mind “loosing us”. It is so painful to think that they care more about the property – stuff that will pass away – than they do about people.

In the mid 80’s the Bishop for the Armed Forces was Bishop Burgreen (may his memory be eternal). He was a delight and I looked forward every year to an Episcopal Family conference in Germany. The thing I learned from him, which I thought so strange at the time, was that the most important hymn you will ever learn is a simple child's song - perhaps the first you ever learned - “Jesus Loves Me.” That along with “Amazing Grace” were his two favorites as I recall and we sang them every night at Compline! Remember that no matter what others think, “Jesus loves [you].”

Might I humbly suggest you look East. The Antiochian Orthodox church has received entire Episcopal congregations in recent years. No, it’s not quite Anglican. But it does preach the same doctrines as it did 2000 years ago. In Orthodoxy I found a home that will not change, will not leave me, will not expect me to leave unless I reject the teachings she has always held fast to.

I weep for you, BabyBlue. I know the hurt. I pray that you will find comfort in knowing that you already have the love of the only one who really matters.

Unknown said...

Thank you. Those are kind and heartfelt words. God bless you.