My brothers in Christ:
I am sure you get all kinds of advice non-stop. Let me nevertheless impose on you to consider my opinion. Many of you know me. I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church 40 years ago, I was ordained a priest 35 years ago, and I have worked for many years to renew the Church from within. For the past seven years, I have been looking in with the eyes of the church in Africa. Therefore let me make several brief points.
The time has come for full and final separation between those in The Episcopal Church (TEC) who hold a false gospel and those who hold fast the truth revealed in Holy Scripture and the evangelical and catholic faith of the Church. I find it hard not to conclude that any bishop who still hopes for reform and revival from within the current structure is in a state of denial.
There is no hope and a future for any diocese or parish that remains connected to TEC. The Mark Lawrence case and various abuses of the canons should make this clear. This is a spiritual fact: TEC is terminally ill and the cancer will eventually spread to every part of the body.
Network bishops must prepare for separation as best they can and stay united in fellowship with each other and their Common Cause partners. Don’t wait for the “Windsor bishops.” Once there were 60 Irenaeus bishops, then 40 AAC bishops, now there are 20 “Windsor Bishops” and a dozen (and counting down?) Network bishops. Unless you are prepared to act and act in concert, you and your clergy and dioceses will be picked off one by one.
Network bishops and dioceses must be prepared to lose their rank and property. Many faithful priests have already paid this price as a matter of conscience and been summarily deposed. Congregations have walked away from their sanctuaries and now worship in schools. It is now time for the Network bishops and dioceses to take this risk by breaking communion with false and lukewarm colleagues in TEC. Remember the fires of Oxford!
Network bishops must unite behind Robert Duncan, and Common Cause partners must uphold him in his role as a “focus of unity” within the faithful remnant in North America. Let it be clear as day that our movement is directed toward true unity in the Body of Christ and not a fragmentation by personality and preference. Let our movement be truly catholic and ecumenical.
Finally, a word from the Global South. Bishops of the Global South have stood firm against the heresy of TEC for a decade now. Lambeth 1.10 would not have happened but for their insistence, nor the recent Primates’ Communiqué. They have harbored many refugees from our shores and refused money dangled before them by 815 & Co. They expect and deserve your strong and united response.
I took the photos below last year at Martyrs’ Day in Uganda, a national holiday which draws thousands of pilgrims from East Africa to honor the 42 courtiers of King Mwanga who refused his advances and were mutilated and burned to death rather than renounce King Jesus. At the prayers of the people, there was a petition for “Ortho believers in Episcopal Church in America.” Over 5,000 Ugandans, poor and rich, young and old, prayed that prayer. It is my hope that their prayer will be answered.
My brothers, please take heart, take united action, or we shall lose our precious Anglican heritage (Revelation 2:5).
StephenThe Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll