Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Inclusiveness and Canon Law: Muggle-borns need not apply?

Here's a recent BabyBlue posting at ThinkingAnglicans where there's been a sudden turn against what we might call the "Muggle Borns" in the Northern Virginia parishes. We post in response:

Remember, the Episcopal Church initiated "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" campaign - which emphasized that the Communion Table welcomed all baptized Christians (unlike the Roman Catholics). The emphasis then was on baptism, not confirmation (which has always been the case in Virginia where, for the first two hundred years of the church there was no bishop and so Morning Prayer was observed for Sunday mornings and there were no confirmations). The Church emphasises that to be a member, one needs to be baptized and to take communion at least three times a year - canon law deems this sufficient to be a "communicant."

To hold an office in the church and to designate how many delegates are sent to Annual Council, one must be a confirmed Episcopalian. But membership does not require confirmation - and that is canon law, my friends.

Hmmm ... on the other hand, perhaps "real" church members are not really what is defined in "canon law" and, like the recent election of the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia, "canon law" is, in practice, guidelines - which can be followed or overlooked depending on the circumstances. Or could it be that some canon law is more equal than others? It may be that The Episcopal Church, in practice, follows the same standards regarding canon law as it does biblical theology.

Currently there is a movement now underway in the Episcopal Church to move away from baptism as a requirement for receiving communion (and where we get the word "communicant" or to "be in communion."). If non-baptized people are now welcome at the Communion Table at the Episcopal Church, then the membership is open to any who have "a faith" - what ever that faith may be (see recent news from Seattle, Washington, to see how this was applied there to even the clergy).

But as this practice is contrary to "canon law" - may we now assume that "canon law" is not law after all, but, indeed, guidelines - to be followed or not followed "as may be best for us"?

Why would there be such an outcry here about members of the churches in Northern Virginia who have came into the Anglican Communion through the "inclusive" welcome of The Episcopal Church?

Am I reading this correct that some fear that the churches in Northern Virginia were somehow "less pure" because they had Protestants and Catholics in their memberships? Is that like being "Muggle-born?"

Or can we then, perhaps, infer that some are more "included" then others, and some canon law is more equal than others?

Read what's going on over at Thinking Anglicans.

BB, a Muggle-born


The Spotsyltuckian said...

BB writes about a move away from the requirement of baptism to take communion.

Let me ask this: how do you feel about a priest in one of the break-away congregations that told me the impending baptism of my beloved infant godson didn't count for anything - that it was just mumbo-jumbo magic. He said what really counts, instead, these days, is a public statement, as an adult, that you're born again.

I was appalled. Even St. Augustine, way back when, said, he didn't think it's fair that a non-baptized baby doesn't get to go to heaven if he/she dies, but that's the way it is, it's one of the mysteries of the church, and that's why infants must be baptized.

So, when folks like this priest, call loyal Episcopalians like myself, revisionists, I have to wonder who's doing all the revising.

If Anglican priests have no use for baptism, and discount it, then, why bb, are you so concerned about who takes communion, after that? It'd seem like a moot point.

Anonymous said...

Dear Spots

I apologize for the improper information that a priest has given you. As a priest of over 20 years myself, I am saddened that this has happened. You have a right to be upset. You can not, however, piant all of us with the same brush. I can not be responsible for what every other priest does or says ... especially when they say such stupid things.

I don;t doubt the priest feels that way. And he may have a right to his personal oppinions. But that's not the teaching of the church. And it's precisely for this reason we need a standard for faith and teaching, what until now had been called the catholic faith. It's not the faith that I hear being taught in TEC ... far too exclusive to consider one point of view correct and others incorrect. But as we can all tell, sopme oppinions are just wrong.

It would be good to get back to it, and to welcome people into it ... even infants at baptism.

But as for being open, affirming, and inclusive ... I certainly have not felt welcome lately within my own diocese.

I have a real desire to hand out black permanent magic markers to people and have them walk through church parking lots ... Wouldn't the traditional "TEC Welcomes You" bumper sticker look better with a question mark at the end of it. Just a thought ...

Kevin said...

I do think what this is in response to is on TA an important to understand the TFC Episcopal crowd. Many theologically not that different from across the street but the process created its opposition in my opinion.

I do not believe those who initially raised the issue are using it properly (their just looking anything as an edge for their argument, thus merely a tool for them).

However it does demand an answer by each side at some point. Meaning what makes us who we are? At one point to say a Presbyterian married a Methodist is to say it's really a mix marriage. Catholics know what they believe and so do the Orthodox but modern Evangelicalism is so shy of doctrine that we end up adrift in many ways. Much of how we ended up in this mess in the first place is "all I need is Jesus" mentality has one huge inherent flaw, one can change who Jesus "is" and the 'foundations' go with it.

Another way get at this is say every healthy community is outside it's members. It not the sum of its members but outside it's members. It has it's own story and its story and values is imparted to its members and it will continue when the members have left it.

So even though BB was not blessed enough to be a cradle Episcopalian she entered into the family and the story was given to her. It's history she could not edit to her liking (which she'd done a better job than many cradles) but hers to preserve as long as she's a part.

I entered a very on fire group which I almost was there for the beginning or four years before I joined. Yet, it's story and values were given to me as if I were there nine years ago and grew with it and it's corporate discernments. A leadership change and it dying to be only a Christian social club, although I left six months before, I was a part of a brunch with 'elders' who were upset for they describe it as on life support systems. The group had forgotten its values and story.

I am in another community and not fully a member yet. I have a class to impart their values and story to me. I enjoy communion each week being a Christian for it's the Lord's table, but I did not get the junior wardens letter explaining why were hiring more clergy, I have a step before fully a member (though I have a picture in the photo directory for I predict that day is soon).

Sermon on "Sex and Marriage" was referenced last month in a guys group, so I went on line to find it, so I could be a part of story. I've listen to most of those sermons I was not there to hear. Some are not that eloquent of speakers and I don't know if others here would be as bless as I was to hear them. It my part of belongingness into this community, to have a home.

I think what might ultimately wake the "Institutionalist" up is when they realize they no longer have a story or values. They have nothing which makes them who they are. Then maybe by God's grace they might go back to the crossroads and seek the ancient paths.

I think it's prudent for Common Cause to find a way to blend these different stories to find common values (as the prayer book clause somewhat does) and realize the importance of knowing to hold onto identities for generation after you.

Yes, I'm cradle, but this probably more a "Gen Xer" following another who didn't value it's story and thought it could write its own.

Kevin said...

Spotsyltuckian --

Let me echo my sympathies. Your priest did not know the 39 Articles obviously for Baptism is recognized as a Sacrament. It helps to remember the Catholic view of a Sacrament here, that is completely dependent of God, so even if one in error preforms it it is an action of the Holy Spirit independent of the person - thus RCC will recognize a Mennonite baptism.

I'm so sorry this happen to you. I do believe CANA needs to do a much better job of bringing discipline in its own rakes before they have any right to call for it in TEC.


That said, BB seems to be responding to case specifically i n TFC as given by a commentor:

"At least two-thirds of the worshipers are Methodists, Presbyterians or Baptists, and there is no pressure on them to be confirmed as Episcopalians, said the Rev. Rick Wright, associate rector."

As reported in the Washington Post.

So that's where this whole thing of what makes a member comes from. Her point is actually more like yours than this rude priest. In fact there are many "3 priest 400 people" folks across the street because of what Wright+ referenced (so go back and forth and can be found in both set of services and are trying to get one who not going to worship due to the lack of pastoral care to join).

I think you misread BB's point. In fact I think opposite as hers.

In closing you proved my point, for that priest sounds Baptist, it's not in 39 Articles or Tract 90 or other Anglican documents of understanding. By Grace you have a new rector now.

The Spotsyltuckian said...

Thanks for all the kind words. I appreciate them. I was hurt for the sake of my godson, my wife who loves him deeply, and his family.

I attend a continuing Episcopal Church remnant parish after the majority voted to leave and form an Anglican one. Our priest says before every communion that all baptized Christians are welcome at the table, and we've not heard of any different direction than the one we've followed for all of our church lives.

I'm pretty sure my congregation would likely resist a change in direction as reported by bb -- we're very traditional when it comes to the sacraments.

Kevin said...

RE:"I'm pretty sure my congregation would likely resist a change in direction as reported by bb

I believe BB is promoting a high view of Baptism and low of confirmation (as a membership requirement, using 3 Eucharist and "known to the treasurer" formula)

RE:"we're very traditional when it comes to the sacraments"

I believe much is lost when we lose the joy of the miracles each week.

If you have the time, you might enjoy one of the sermons I went back to hear that I referenced above - "Do you believe in miracles?"

The guys a deacon and this is an earlier sermon so not as 'tight' as more recent ones, but takes on the unbelief often found in American Evangelicalism (while not the first part he's closer to the second than Anglo-Cath).

Unknown said...

I am referring to the Episcopal Church canons - which stipulate that membership is based on baptism, not confirmation. All baptized Christians are welcome at the Lord's Table. All that is required is to take communion three times a year to be a member of an Episcopal Church.

Membership is not the same as holding a leadership position, i.e., the Vestry. There you must be a confirmed (or received) Episcopalian. The Diocese only counts confirmed members for Annual Council (again, an illustration that the number of delegates was smaller than the total membership of the parishes).


Anonymous said...

I guess, BB, that in some ways it is similar to Orthodox - all baptized people (babies are baptized at a date after a service similar to "the churching of women" which takes place 40 days after giving birth) are members and take communion (we commune infants in their mother's arms). But membership counts for things like Parish Council, money sent to Vatra (means "home") (like the diocese). etc. are only of members who are 18 years old and older.
Of adults and older children only Orthodox who have properly prepared themseves for communion by prayer, fasting, and a recent confession are allowed to take communion.

As for the things you mention, it does sound a bit like the Pirate's Code: "ARRGGH, Matey, they're more like guidelines."

Anonymous said...

Rschllnbrg, why don't you post on your blog anymore? I used to read it frequently. Why do you stay in the diocese?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mom ... I'll call home later.

Unknown said...