Thursday, June 28, 2007

Diocese of Virginia Standing Committee Rejects Proposed Anglican Covenant

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has released a "response" regarding the proposed Anglican Covenant - and it's a doozy. Indeed, it is illuminating. BabyBlue Commentary is posted.

A Response to the Draft Anglican Covenant
from the Standing Committee of The Diocese of Virginia

We recognize the challenging work undertaken by the Covenant Design Group and acknowledge the draft they have presented. We affirm that the Draft Anglican Covenant is intended for discussion by every Province of the Anglican Communion and is therefore a step in the larger and longer conversation of how we live out our union in Christ.

Let's just pause a moment and consider the "mission statement" of this opening paragraph. The only thing that they can find to affirm is that it is all about conversation. The conversation (not the covenant mind you) is the focus, not actually arriving at any decision (which is such a passive/aggressive way of saying "not in our backyard come hell or high water.").

We affirm and celebrate that we already have a covenant initiated by our gracious God, unmerited, unearned and undeserved, as revealed to us in Holy Scripture. By the love and merit of the Son in his Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, we belong to God for ever.

Now, let's just pause here a moment as well and take in the incredible assumption that we have no choice in the matter - that it's a done deal, no matter what and "we belong to God for ever." It is an incredible statement of assumption - that since "the Son" has done all the stuff, we belong to God, period. No personal responsibility, no choice, no possibility of falling away or any sort of decision on our part - the covenant is spiritual. Now, frankly, I don't disagree with this view - it's quite "evangelical-sounding" on one level (though no sign of the word "Jesus" or "the Father." We're back to belonging to God - which may mean we can believe what ever we want about those words - new interpretations of what are just metaphorical symbols after all) but have absolute assurance that "we belong to God." For the seeker, the arrogance that these well-meaning people have "arrived" is breathtaking and causes us to indeed pause. Is this how we sound to seekers? We are so sure about ourselves, not because we've repented or anything, but it's so obvious that God did the right thing in recognizing our true worth. We can't have anything that might actually cause us to make a decision, now can we? Unless, of course, it's to agree with us. The middle place between your unbelief and our absolute belief is called "conversation." This is evangelical-thinking stuck inside a neo-pagan blender.

By the charism of the Holy Spirit, we are pledged to one another as members of the Body of Christ in bonds of love which no human action can dissolve. The covenant relationship we share with one another as a gift of the Triune God has been long expressed in the Nicene Creed and in the ancient baptismal confession of the Apostles’ Creed.

Following on that theme, here's the actual statement - which makes us drop our jaw in incredulity. "We are pledged to one another as members of the Body of Christ in bonds of love which no human action can dissolve." Again, we have an incredible statement of irresponsibility that it is just staggering. To translate what again looks to be "evangelical-sounding words" stuck inside a neo-pagan blender, the Body of Christ actually becomes the christ - the church takes on divine status, through this "charism" of the spirit so no human action can touch it. Well, that's crazy! It's cult-thinking. Rebellion, sinning against the Holy Spirit, and many other things can certainly dissolve the bonds of love - it's called, ironically enough, freedom of choice. Because we are so loved by God, we have the choice to completely abandon Him, and we can do that at any time - to reject Him and because of His love for us, He will let us go. It is completely heart-breaking, I don't know how He can do it, but He loves us enough to let us go, and at the same time, through the Cross of Christ, is ready to bring us back - He is the pursuer, the wooer, the Father who loves us. But the arrogance of such a statement, that there is nothing we can do to break the bonds of love is, well, insidious. The total rebellion for responsibility for breaking the bonds of affection is shocking. Then to back it up, they drag out the creeds (which again, as an evangelical, I embrace - but the reasoning of how they got there is so alarming).

We question whether a Covenant that arises out of a particular conflict and disagreement can serve to make us one, as Christ desires us to be.

All I can say about this is that Thomas Jefferson must be just spinning in his grave.

We fear that such a Covenant will lead to more conflict and division.

Well, there goes John Adams now spinning away. How can Americans, who have built a giant monumental building to house two kinds of Covenants - the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution write such things? Have they left their heads in their cars? And while we're thinking about it, isn't Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation also stored in the National Archives? Yes, all those documents faced conflict and division. But again, how can Americans - and Virginians at that! - make such outrageous statements. We haven't even gotten to the content of the Anglican Covenant. That these Virginians could belittle covenants, while being in a Commonwealth that produced some of the greatest minds who ever wrote covenants - or reside in the Capital of the Confederacy where Lincoln's covenant broke apart the chains of slavery - well, this sounds too much like the same rationale used to justify maintaining the 19th century Virginia status-quo. Someone in the room must have remembered, please tell us that someone on the Standing Committee knows their Virginia history.

We recognize that the Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion have developed organically over time and that the interrelationships between the Instruments have been fluid and changeable.

What?? We think this may be an attempt to define chaos.

We oppose definitions and descriptions of the Instruments that limit them and prevent the emergence in the future of changes or of additional Instruments that reflect the broad riches of the Anglican Communion.

We think this means that they don't want to actually make any decisions about theology or be held responsible for anything. So while they used evangelical-sounding words earlier, now we see that in fact, there is no center, no common ground to stand on. What the spirit may be doing now might be different in the future. Can we imagine what Thomas Jefferson or John Adams would have said if the subject was liberty? Remember, Patrick Henry was standing in an Anglican (not Episcopal) Church in Richmond when he uttered his unforgettable words. We have no such convictions here. It appears they have no convictions at all - but that is deceptive. You bet they have a world-view, but their world-view isn't found in the Anglican Covenant.

We particularly object to the clauses in the Draft Covenant that limit the authority of the Anglican Consultative Council, the only Instrument of Unity that includes lay people. We affirm that the full inclusion of the laity in decision making and leadership is a hallmark of The Episcopal Church and a particular charism of Anglicanism, and we object to any action that would diminish its vitality.

Now, we still haven't talked about theology, instead we turn to politics. Again, Virginia is well-known for limiting the power of bishops and for its anti-Roman Catholic prejudice. Anglo-Catholics who have historically resided in the Diocese of Virginia can tell you horror-stories of what it's like to be in the tiny minority of Anglo-Catholic clergy. This plead for the laity is so incredibly hypocritical it's beyond the pale. Let 7,000 laity vote to join a different branch of the Anglican Communion and this same body of people slaps the laity with lawsuits. The hypocrisy of this statement coming from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia is simply audacious. "We affirm that the full inclusion of the laity in decision making and leadership is a hallmark of The Episcopal Church a particular charism (there's the word again) of Anglicanism, and we object to any action that would diminish its vitality." Read the Diocese of Virginia Protocol for Departing Churches lately?

We also object to the disproportionate power given in the Draft Anglican Covenant to the Primates’ Meeting and oppose efforts to establish any body akin to the Roman Catholic Curia. The establishment of such a body is profoundly contrary to the historic spirit of Anglicanism.

Here we go - the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia speaks to the deeply embedded anti-Rome bias ("foreign prelates" anyone?). Again, this sounds very '"low churchy" - but the irony is that this same group of people have sold their souls to New York. Virginia has always had a zeal for its independence (one doesn't know if it's because we're Virginians or because we're south of the Potomac, or if frankly because we're Americans). That this same group of Virginians have in fact embraced the Roman Catholic view of an Episcopal hierarchy is simply mind-blowing. They'll take their Catholic hierarchy when it suits them, thank you very much. But in Virginia, until that happy little meeting with David Booth Beers, a foreign prelate would be anyone north of the Potomac. Even Bishop Lee said as much when he justified voting for Gene Robinson. The people of New Hampshire can elect any bishop they wish precisely because we are not a hierarchical church, just as Virginia can elect anyone they wish. The House of Bishops is a fellowship, not a governing body (which we keep hearing them say in their talking points), except that which conflicts with their legal case. Having authority of any kind from the Communion annoys not only their independence but their legal case. This section is pure politics - it's not theological because it's inconsistent.

We are deeply concerned that the Meeting of Primates has already assumed improper and unprecedented authority to adjudicate genuine theological disagreements and to dictate what actions Provinces may or may not take without regard to the synodical structures of the Provinces, as evidenced in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué.

Finally, they are deeply concerned - not over theology, but because they might be held accountable for their actions. They basically call the Anglican archbishops dictators and they plead not on behalf of the Christian faith, but their beloved structures. Isn't that what British loyalists and later Virginia slaveholders pleaded - that it was their way of life, their beloved and profitable structures, that were threatened?

We conclude that the Draft Anglican Covenant is profoundly impaired by its disregard for the deep theological grounds on which we already belong together, the ecclesial history of Anglicanism as a family of interdependent yet autonomous churches that are both episcopally led and synodically governed, and by a rush to end the current disagreements in which we find ourselves.

Not once do they discuss the theological merits of the Anglican Covenant or even mention Jesus by name. Not once do they acknowledge that The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are facing one of the gravest crises we have ever faced since we shipped two Connecticut priests to Scotland. The Prayer Book isn't even mentioned (which is what I personally see as the unifying statement of faith, which is why the rewriting of the Prayer Books is so grievous as the doctrine of the Church is said in the liturgy - by changing the liturgy we change our doctrine and become less and less Anglican). This statement from the Diocese of Virginia Standing Committee to reject the Draft Covenant illustrates why we have such deep division, not only in the Virginia, but in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion.

I am writing this in a Starbucks. It is interdependent with the Starbucks corporation, but this Starbucks is a franchise, it is independently owned. There are certain things that this Starbucks must abide by or it loses its identity as a Starbucks. First and foremost, it sells coffee. If tomorrow it decided to no longer sell coffee, it would still look like a Starbucks, the people inside would still be wearing the same outfits, the sign outside still says Starbucks, and they'd still sell the CDs of Paul McCartney. But it wouldn't be a Starbucks because Starbucks is all about coffee. No coffee, no Starbucks. It's an imitation of the real thing and that is what is sadly happening to The Episcopal Church.
An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry. -Thomas Jefferson

“Never water down the word of God, preach it in its undiluted sternness; there must be unflinching loyalty to the word of God; but when you come to personal dealing with your fellow men, remember who you are --- not a special being made up in heaven, but a sinner saved by grace.” -Oswald Chamber, My Utmost for His Highest for June 28th


Anonymous said...

Well, well, well ...

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has spoken, so let the church catholic tremble.

There is something so very adolescent about not wanting to abide by any boundaries or limitations except those you have chosen for yourself. The problem with playing the "We know best and besides we're autonomous" card too often is that it makes it very hard to understand what it means that we belong to one holy catholic church.

Catholic. The definition comes to us from the 13th century, that to be catholic meant to hold to what has been believed "by all people in all places at all times." Catholic refers to a common core of belief, not a universally large tent where autonomy means everyone can do their own thing. To be part of the catholic church means being willing to give up some autonomy for the sake of belonging to something bigger than your own club/tribe/church ... agendas?

If you'll pardon the outdated mode of discourse once known as quoting the Bible, I recall the book of Judges ends with a rather odd phrase ... "And in those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes ..." [Judges 21:25 NRSV] The author's intent I believe was to say that doing your own thing is not always a good thing. The centuries have come and gone, and it's clear we have not learned the lesson that having everyone go their own way is no way to come together as God's people.

Unknown said...

You have so nailed this. It's very sad to see how the Standing Comm. have replied.

Your description:
"evangelical-sounding words" stuck inside a neo-pagan blender

is so totally on target.

Thanks for exposing this sister!

Anonymous said...

BB, you are on a roll this evening. Excellent commentary.

We continue to have clarity from TEC - thanks be to god.


Anonymous said...

We see the polarization process that will continue and accelerate. As conservatives leave, the TEc will become more radicalized. The diocese of Virginia, which previously had been fairly moderate, now is so far off into left field that I think they are actually at the concession stand getting a brat and a beer.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I question why you are sooooo fixated and obsessed with what the diocese of Virginia is doing? Why not focus on spreading the Gospel (as you read it) to others in your community and area? Why not spend time doing some outreach work to the "least of these"? I don't know you, nor would I want to know you. A quick glance through your posts shows that you are a very, very angry and unhappy individual. I will place you at the front of my prayers! Know that God loves you, and doesn't want you to be obsessed with negativity.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Rob Roy. This statement is one big step along their de-listening process as they prepare to take themselves off the playing field that is Anglican.

Kevin said...


Please understand that that BB has invest herself since the '80s into Episcopal reformed. Until last year, she was probably more invested in the Episcopal Church than you are currently -- I don't write that as an insult, I don't know you, rather as a fact that BB was more invested than 99% of the laity on both sides of the issues. So she does have cares.

Also, she is still currently involved with these folks because she is named a defendant in the law suites. Thus there is an ongoing relationship that will keep her from doing as you say with ease. As in a divorce, you do pay attention to your former love as there still is a relationship, just once where there was affection there is now hostility, but the relationship does continue until there can be a closure point where both are truly free.

Now the local AMiA parish could not careless about these issues. There are once of the early ones (2002) and focus on the Gospel as you suggest. There are several evangelistic events that do something related to faith off-site as to draw unchurched folks into contact with Christians where they might not otherwise attend. When I talk to TFC folks or read CANA releases, they're not there yet, things did not go as they envisioned and a tad bogged down. In time things will equalized and focus will return, but first purification via these troubles seems to be the path.

I don't think BB is angry and unhappy as you say. I probably suffer much more of that than she does. She is naturally a bubbly person. However there is a lot of loss, a sense of failure (the reform didn't happen) and a loss of friendship -- all of that is very, very sad and you are a witness as she is processing.

Thank you for your kind conclusion. The Lord does love both you and her. Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

...she is named a defendant in the law suites [sic].

Yes, Kevin, I have noticed that under the iron hand of 815, law suits quickly become suites of law suits, providing the gold trim and purple velvet to add a touch of opulence to the lawyer's suites.

Katherine said...

I value your comments and read them eagerly when quoted on other sites. But I find your own site extremely difficult to read. Have you considered changing your format to colored or black print on a white or light background? It literally hurts my eyes to read your posts, and I didn't get past the opening paragraphs on this one.

Anonymous said...

For the diocese to handwring about "conflict and division" while they sue leaving orthodox parishes and individual parish members is indeed disgusting, two-faced cow manure.

Unknown said...

Katherine, I do understand that the black background can be a challenge for some readers. The black has sort of given this place a bit of edge - the feeling of "houston, we have a problem," which was very much on my mind when we first started here. I do keep checking to see what blogger adds to the templates, but haven't quite found another one that captures the feeling, not yet anyway! I have discovered, though, if you have a printer, that if you print particular entries they are very easy to read - the print is black on white, if that's helpful, especially for longer posts as this one is.

RSchllnbrg, thanks for your post here. We think you are in the House of Gryffindor.

Kevin, thank you for the kind words. It is true that I was deeply involved in diocesan stuff for quite a while, including being a member of the Executive Committee of Region VII in the Diocese, and later was elected unanimously twice as the Lay President. Those who elected me were both theological liberals and conservatives and I came to love them. As the president I attended joint meetings of the Standing Committee, the Executive Board, and the Deans many times and those meetings included Bishop Lee and the other bishops in the Diocese. I was also a lay delegate at Diocesan Councils representing the region. I met and got to know all sorts of people within the Diocese and I cared about them, including the bishop, the only bishop I ever had and who received me into the Episcopal Church when I was in my twenties. Yes, I do feel very sad and yes, I keep praying that there will be some kind of breakthrough.

I am still an Episcopalian, by the way. I have voted to leave, but as the Diocese and 815 continue to fail to understand (or to ignore) we never transferred our property anywhere, we merely recorded our vote as the commonwealth and the protocol stipulated we do. We were following the Virginia Protocol and negotiations were just beginning when the Diocese broke it all off, deep-sixed their protocol, and sued everyone. I still can't believe it. But now, reading this statement from the Standing Committee, I am beginning to see that what we've seen at General Convention for years has now, indeed, come to Virginia.

Yes, I do have friends who are still in the Diocese of Virginia, friends I love and respect and yes, some of them hold office. Perhaps this post is for them as much as it is for the now progressive-minded leadership (I'm not sure who wrote the statement and if it was voted for unanimously or there were dissenters - I'd sure like to know that). But in order to even begin to find our way to healing and wholeness, we must speak truthfully and this statement does anything but that. Yes, I really can't believe it.

By the way, the hearing that is being held today is to add more people to the lawsuits, in addition to the 200+ that have all ready been sued. The diocese has not bothered to find out who the new vestry members are and are looking for the churches to do that work for them so they can add these new vestry members to their lawsuit. It isn't enough that the Diocese has gone after the laity who were following the protocol, now they want to add those who have just been elected (I have completed my term, so there's not much sense suing former Vestry members so they seem to want to add the new ones as well). Right now it looks like that decision has been postponed until the judge decides the merits of suing volunteer laity at all, but since this is all fluid that could change.

It is difficult to believe that the Standing Committee talks about the wondrous laity while marching that laity into court when they speak, following their own protocol.

Since we're feeling charged up about this today, a round of Butterbeers for all on the house, even our Anons over at their own table. But no cream pies today. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

House of Gryffindor? Hmmmm. Perhpas if I can be on the Quidditch Team. I've long been interested in helping "seekers".

Anonymous said...

BabyBlue, The Virginia Standing Committee clearly wants no legal framework by which they can be held accountable because they KNOW the uses of legal frameworks. They don't want to be done by as they are doing. Rank 1 hypocrites. Of course, one should pay as much attention to the Virginia Standing Committee as they paid to the Virginia Report.

Anonymous said...

BB, you have me confused. (Which isn't too hard to do.) You say you are still an Episcopalian and that you voted to leave. Since Truro is now calling itself Anglican (if I understand correctly) wouldn't you also be Anglican? I can't quite reason it out. Please help.

Anonymous said...


If you think that bb is sad and angry, you do not know her. BB is one of the most jubilant, effervescent people whom I have ever met. So, let's think about context.

If a jubilant, effervescent person were to go to a funeral, it would be unseemly for her to laugh, clap, and otherwise carry-on. Likewise, for bb to effuse joy over this document would be bizarre. As Ecclesiastes says, there is a time for everything. Considering this document from the Standing Committee, I think that now is the time to mourn.

Unknown said...

anam cara,

we were following the Diocese of Virginia protocol. We voted as a parish to leave the Episcopal Church and remain Anglican by joining CANA. Following the protocol we registered our vote at the court house and then followed Bishop Lee's instructions to appoint two members of his property committee which we did when he suddenly cancelled the whole thing and started suing everyone. The clergy were all inhibited and they found shelter in CANA - their holy orders were transfered to CANA. But the laity have not yet transferred - though I think many of us would say we are more Anglican now than Episcopalian. In the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, you can be a member by being a baptized Christian. Virginia has been this way, but the Episcopal Church - facing all ready a loss in confirmed members, began to count baptized members - not Episcopalians - I think in the early 70s (which is one reason why the campaign "The Episcopal Church welcomes you" was started - to illustrate that unlike the Roman Catholic Church, any baptized Christian is welcome at the Lord's Table - in the Catholic Church you must be a confirmed Catholic to receive the Eucharist, not so in the Episcopal Church and never so in the Diocese of Virginia - low church that we've been). At Truro we count all baptized members and it was only for Diocesan Council that we counted confirmed members - you could only send reps to Council by counting Episcopalians (which again would catch the Diocese by surprise because, while we had lots and lots of Episcopalians, we also have lots and lots of other Christians, as was encouraged by the Episcopal Church for so long).

Truro continues to count baptized laity as members - you don't have to be received into CANA to be a member of Truro (which shoots down Bishop Lee's erroneous statements that Episcopalians have lost their worship space - well, this Episcopalian hasn't and we still use the 1979 Book of Common Prayer). Truro is filled with Episcopalians (and many are identifying themselves now more and more Anglican) but Bishop Lee hasn't done anything to excommunicate us from the the Episcopal Church - the most he can do is bar us from receiving Communion, but he hasn't done that.

Bishop Minns has been confirming people and I haven't seen their confirmation certificates to know how they are worded. I could make the case, that I am Anglican since I was reaffirmed a few years ago by the former Archbishop of Canterbury and the word "Episcopal" is not on my certificate. ;-)

But I remain Episcopalian by choice (though it is hard). It is the Episcopal Church that is leaving me and I can imagine that the day may come - perhaps after September 30 - when there will be some place permanent for lay Episcopalians to go. But for right now - for me, and I speak only for myself - that place is not yet here. CANA is a lifeboat for me, it provides a way for me to remain Anglican and in an Anglican community while the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion make their decisions. What the Anglican Archbishops have done is offer pastoral care for Episcopal refugees and I thank God for them.

My brother, The Methodist, was trying to encourage me to return to the Methodists. Seems my letter is still sitting in the file in the church where I converted to Christianity when I was fourteen. He thinks I have dual citizenship! Can you have dual citizenship - or if the Methodists found out I had been received into the Episcopal Church, am I now invalid? Or do they hold my letter waiting for me to come home?

In the Civil War the Episcopal Church split over geographic lines. There was a General Convention held by the North (and what would be considered the real Episcopal Church, though certainly not by the Diocese of Virginia of that period!). Instead of expelling the southern brethren or suing them or shooting them, as the case may be, they just merely marked them absent.

So when the war ended and they held another General Convention, they all came back together and everyone was marked present. And that's how the Episcopal Church handled the American Civil War!

All that to say, I am an Episcopalian in refuge in an Anglican Church with oversight from CANA. I belong to the Anglican District of Virginia and Bishop Lee has not excommunicated me from the Table and that still gives me - what may now be the size of a mustard seed, but it's still there - hope.

September 30th may change everything (or some other event before then), but for now that's where we are. I cannot speak for other members of Truro or my brothers and sisters in other churches or my own father who is also a member of Truro, but this is where I am.

Again, I picture Dunkirk and the evacuation from Europe and the boats to England. I am an Episcopalian who has gotten into a CANA boat, along side me are lots of other boats - some of us have formed flotillas and have banded together, as we have in Virginia with both CANA and Uganda parishes together. We also have friends who are still behind the lines back in "Europe" and I must admit, I keep my Episcopal identity in some ways to show solidarity with them, even though I'm over here in the CANA boat. But the point is, we're all headed in the same direction and by God's grace we'll get there.

Or peace will come at last.


Anonymous said...

Oh. You're still Episcopalians. I had not idea.

The church voted to affiliate with CANA. You were an Episcopalian by way of being a member of an Episcopal Parish. Truro is no longer an Episcopal Parish. Don't confuse membership in the church universal with membership in a corporate body.

Your logic betrays your true intensions. Not content to hijack a bunch of churches, you want to hijack the TEC's place as the province of the Anglican Communion in the United States. And when that doesn't work, you and some of the Global South will run off and try do your own "new thing."

Anonymous said...

Well, I gtuess I can see what you're saying. When my sister and her husband left the Epsicopal church in the 70's to become Baptist, they were told that the only way your name comes OFF an Episcopal roll was death. (They were in VA). So they, in effect, have dual citizenship, although he is now a Baptist minister. And I imagine that my membership in the Episcopal church is floating around there somewhere and someone is paying "dues" for me to the national church although I've been gone for 10 years.
Thanks for the explanation. I'd call you an Anglican, but if you prefer Episcopalian, I can do that.

Unknown said...

No, anon - one is not an Episcopalian by being a member of an Episcopal parish. One is an Episcopalian by being confirmed or received by an Episcopal bishop. It is in the power of the Episcopal bishop to excommunicate a communicant - which means, denying that communicant access to the Eucharist. You are a member of a parish through your baptism, not through your communicant status. So if you are Lutheran, a Methodist, a Roman Catholic - even a Baptist - if you have been baptized you can be a member of an Episcopal parish. Again, by an act of General Convention in the early 1970s, the Episcopal Church officially decided to count baptized members of the parishes - which would include all the children - not communicants. Then they put up all those signs that say "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You," because that's what the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America (which was what it went by in those days) indeed wanted to get out the message that all you needed to do to join an Episcopal parish was to be baptized. For years at Truro, when John Howe was rector, he would emphasize this as we reached out to all kinds of people who were coming into the parish seeking to know more about Jesus and being filled with the Holy Spirit that if they were welcomed at the table in their own church, they were welcome at Truro - that the Holy Table was not the Table of the Episcopal Church but was the Lord's Table. This was a contrasting understanding to the Roman Catholic view (or so we were told!) that one had to be CONFIRMED to be a member of the Church (i.e., be able to participate in the Eucharist). Membership is decided by who can come to the table, anon, and that has been what we've followed. So in the Diocese of Virginia you can be Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Vineyard, Episcopalian, Church of England, Church of Nigeria, Church of Canada, Presbyterian, any denomination with Christian baptism and be a member of the parish. I was a member of Truro as a Methodist for seven years before I decided to be received by Bishop Lee into the Episcopal Church. But being a member of an Episcopal Church does not make one an Episcopalian and being a member of a CANA Church does not mean I am not an Episcopalian. But each day, as it was when I read this statement by the Standing Committee, I see the Episcopal Church walking further and further apart and I cannot go where they are going.

If it wasn't for the sacrificial work of men and women who make up the Anglican Communion Network, I don't know where I'd be. I could have left for AMiA or given up on the Anglican Communion completely years ago, but I tried to work harder to find a way that we could all stay together. The statement from the Diocese of Virginia Standing Committee illustrates how grave this crisis is becoming, that the Episcopal laity who want to remain Anglican are being left behind by a branch of the Anglican Communion bent on abandoning its biblical heritage and the theology of Cranmer's Prayer Book. And this is heart breaking.

The Episcopal Church is leaving me. I trusted Bishop Lee that he would lead to find a way that we could work together and find a peaceful settlement. The test case was All Saints Dale City and it worked. The protocol had been settled on through incredibly hard work and tears. Bishop Lee had done some shouting in the middle of those "conversations" but he had found a way through, a model for the rest of the Episcopal Church that we could separate and not tear each other apart. I trusted the process that brought about the Virginia Protocol and that was lost when Bishop Lee broke it all off. I do still wonder what David Booth Beers said to him that caused him to make such a dramatic turn, you know John Yates, the rector of the Falls Church is his cousin.

How amazing it was that the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the North was publicly so patient and gracious to the Episcopal Church of the South during the Civil War. Like the Prodigal's Father, they gave the southern dioceses their inheritance and when they returned after the War they were welcomed home.

The reasons to remain Episcopalian fade. And it hurts very much.


Anonymous said...


I too am struck by how much BB remains entangled with the Episcopal Church. I thought there was a vote to "sever ties" and that it was a "new day". Looks like many ties are still in place and the New Day has a lot of the same features as the Old Day. The fact that she is a defendant in the biggest lawsuit in the history of the Episcopal Church means she is still in ECUSA's grip whether she wants to be or not.

I hope the day comes when folks like BB, who poured so much of themselves into the ultimately futile attempt to reform the dying Episcopal Church, will instead focus as much mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical energy advancing the Gospel by bringing orthodox Anglican Christianity into North America.

Peter Moore published a paper in 2004 called "Good Grief" in which he suggests there are 4 phases in dealing with the grief associated with the death of the Episcopal Church:

1. Accept the reality of loss.
2. Experience the pain of loss.
3. Adjust to the new environment without the lost object.
4. Reinvest in the new reality.

I submit that BB is still in phase 2 as evidenced by her continued reactions to matters Episcopalian. I suspect that she will eventually leave the dead to bury the dead and will instead pour herself with equivalent fervor into reinvesting herself in the new Anglican reality in North America.

Unknown said...

Guess we'll see what happens on Oct. 1.

By the way, grieving does not remain in "stages" - you cycle through the stages as you grieve different parts of a loss. I was alarmed when some initially departed and were euphoric (and some were later very angry) - but frankly, I think the euphoria was still grieving - it wasn't peace and seekers to churches can feel that loss, even when the leadership cannot.

It's painful to go through a separation and denial is quite sly, isn't it? It's very sneaky - what was it Dylan said about the conscience?

every man's conscience is vile and depraved,
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it's you who must keep it satisfied.

Dylan 1989

We are wounded healers, we Christians. We are called to carry our cross and follow Jesus. I care about Episcopalians - and they are not all dead. It is presumptuous and arrogant that any of us can know the heart of another. Times like this remind us. We can comment on their actions, but we cannot know another's heart.

Obviously, the Lord loves and is seeking out the lost - whether we are down in the gutter on 19th Street or up in a penthouse in Manhattan. If He doesn't give up until Christ's return, why should we?

For many years I watched General Convention do some wacky things, but Virginia always managed to not go completely over the cliff. With this statement from the Standing Committee it appears that they are now on the speeding freight train and heading for the James.

And yeah, that makes me sad.


Kevin said...


Your logic is in error, Anon does have a point. When I was baptizes on Dec. 31, 1978, I was baptized into the Christan Church, but I was baptized inside of an Episcopal church.

There is one Church then by our sin there are many denominations and parishes of this one Church (which is more or less visible throughout history - to give you the author's prospective on that topic).

My uncle will correct your use of terms in a second. While theological distinctive are important, there will only be one Heaven and Baptist and Pentecostals will get along and praise the one God.

That said -- the terms Anglican and Episcopalian are not very descriptive -- The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East is very traditional leaning, Anglican Church of Canada is very liberal leaning, meanwhile it is just the 'Church of England, the 'Church of Ireland,''Church of Nigeria,''Church of the Province of Rwanda,' but not to be confused with 'Scottish Episcopal Church,' the 'Anglican Church of Korea,' or the 'Church of Pakistan.'

In that sense our terms are not real applicable and this thread has gone at silly, at worst absurd.

Kevin said...

at best silly

Unknown said...

Well, I was speaking canonically. Christians are baptized in the one holy catholic and apostolic Church (I'm not sure, though, if the Baptists put it that way). But canonically, you become an Episcopalian when you are confirmed or received.

Some parents allow their children to receive communion as soon as they are old enough to have made their own decision to follow Jesus. Some allow their children to do it when the are old enough to go to Sunday School. And some wait until they are even older. But it's very rare that children wait until their confirmation to receive the Eucharist. This is not the case in the Roman Catholic Church where you must be a confirmed Catholic to receive the Eucharist. I know that there are traditions in The Episcopal Church that followed the Catholic Church, but I don't believe this has been the case in Virginia. Faced with declining membership, the Episcopal Church officially changed it's view to count baptized members, not communicants in its count of the membership. So again, canonically speaking, you only need to be baptized to become a member of the an Episcopal parish (though the local parish may have its own rules - oops, seems we're not a hierarchy after all!).

To hold office (like being elected to the parish vestry) or to be a licenses Lay Eucharistic Minister, or to be elected to Diocesan Council you must be an Episcopalian. And the number of delegates each parish or mission sends is designated by the number of Episcopal communicants in the parish.

But again, we're speaking canonically here in response to an earlier question.


Kevin said...

Canonically then Anam Cara is probably correct, you are still an Episcopalian and member of the DioVA, unless they transferred you to CoN, but that makes no sense since they inhibited the clergy for abandonment. However, I've not received my diocesan propaganda in quite a while (the newsletter).

Technically, yes, you would be fully be entitled to rights and privileges as a member. Now TFC CANA folks could walk across the street and vote the in other TFC vestry elections, because canonically their nothing to stop them, we're outside the scope at this moment.

Anonymous said...

BB, our four children were all baptized in Episcopal setttings by Episcopal priests - one actually by a bishop in Germany. The oldest two were confirmed and did not take communion until they were confirmed.

By the time the younger two were of confirmation age, the Episcopal church had left me, so they were not confirmed. They now attend Bible (read Baptist - all "Bible" churches are Baptist) churches and Truro where my husband is a member - depending on what city they are in at the time.

I have been christmated Orthodox and in doing so renounced all other faiths than Orthodoxy - which is in essence worshipping the undivided Trinity with the Nicene Creed as the primary statement of faith. We seee truth in other Christian churches, but believe that only in the Orthodox faith is found the fullness of that truth. Other churches have partial truth - examples: Episcopalians baptize infants, Baptist baptize by immersion. We believe both of those to be truth. So we baptize infants by immersion. (My husband quips that is why you don't see many Orthodox swimmers in the olympics!) Episcopalians and Baptists each have a part of the truth - each took something they liked from the Orthodox church and practice that part instead of accepting it all. (I say they took it from the Orthodox Church since she existed before the others, including Roman Catholic)

But for the fact that I would disobey my vows by "assembling with schismatics", I guess could go back to my old church and vote. I am still on the roles there. I am still "an Episcopalian" in their eyes. They will never throw me out because they want my "number."

I imagine no one except God REALLY knows how many people are still members of the Episcopal church. If they are still counting me, my sister and her husband, we know from this they are at least off by three. How many others like us have left but are still on the roles?

They will always consider you an Episcopalian. If you want to be anything else, you have to begin to think of yourself as something else. It begins in your mind, because they won't do it for you. You are a number. And they want numbers.

I understand, BB, I truly do. I've been there! I hated to leave all that was familiar and that I loved. It took me 5 years to join another church.

I know that being named in the law suit makes it harder for you to move on. But for your sanity, for your health - both physical and spiritiual - you must do move on!

Give up the name first. All through the 40 Days, the Truro folks were being told that they were remaining in the Anglican Communion to break from TEC - that TEC was no longer true to Anglican doctrine. TEC is the one who left Anglicanism, not the ones who voted to leave TEC.

Do you really think of yourself as Episcopalian first and Anglican second? or do you have a hard time with the idea of being Anglican at all? are you looking for something more?

Unknown said...

Wonderful post, Anam Cara. There may be be an event coming shortly that could be paramount in a decision before Sept. 30.


Anonymous said...

I am keeping you in prayer, sister!!!!!!