William Blake, Albion Worshiping Christ from Jerusalem
The Bishops' Statement on Marriage in response to the UK government's plans to introduce legislation to grant marriage equality to same sex couples seems to be the last straw for a lot of Anglicans. A lot of people have had enough and are now leaving the Church of England. Right wing factions in the C of E are delighted to see them go, I'm sure. But, with them goes a lot of public opinion. The hierarchy stands at odds more and more with public opinion in what is now a largely secular country with very low rates of church membership and church attendance. As the Church of England becomes smaller and smaller, it seems to become more beholden to its fanatics, further alienating the much larger population that suffers fanatics.
On a personal level for loyal and active Anglicans, this is deeply painful. Erika Baker, a longtime hero of this blog, publicly announced her exit from the Church of England after this bishops' statement. She was one of the Church of England's best and bravest spirits. I suppose we could urge her to stay and fight, but we all come to a point where enough is enough, and the law of diminishing returns becomes too powerful to ignore. I congratulate her on so public and principled an exit. I wish her and her wife Susan all the best for a new religious life.
Our own fighting looney priest in Newcastle, Father Hagger the Mad Priest is also having some serious second thoughts. Father Hagger writes on his blog, and this is worth a lengthy quote:
Up to now I have deliberately and fervently demanded that Christ centred Christians should not leave the Anglican Communion. My main reason for this was that I did not want The Episcopal Church in the USA to go it alone and leave the rest of us stranded. However, I have now changed my mind.
The evangelicals and misogynist, gay Anglo-Catholics have now given the Church of England such a dirty name in English society; have given Christianity a dirty, name, tainted by hatred, throughout most of the developed world and beyond, that for "God is Love" Christians to remain in the Church of England and to continue to say they are part of the same religion as the haters, would be completely unprofitable as far as the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned.
Something new must happen.
And I for one want my cake and to eat it too. I want to be in communion with the Episcopal Church in America and leave the Anglican Communion (at least, the Anglican Communion in its present form). So,in my ideal world, there is only one answer.
I am a nobody. I'm not even allowed to publicly follow my priestly ministry in my own church, in my own country. I am nobody's spokesman. But then most of the homes that Jesus was welcomed into during his ministry on earth were inhabited by nobodies. So, with all the authority invested in me as one of God's noble army of nobodies I hereby call upon The Episcopal Church in the USA to found a new, worldwide church, which will be known as The Episcopal People of Christ. And I ask TEC to send people to my country, England, to provide spiritual and practical support for those of us now outcast from our Church of England home and to help us set up a truly Christ centred, inclusive, loving, gospel spreading community of believers (the word church now belonging only to satan) in our land.
So Yank Episcopalians, what do you think? Is it time to plant churches in England?
I think the rank and file would be behind this, but I could see the hierarchy and church officialdom very reluctant to make some very unChristian payback to the Anglican hierarchs who turned a blind eye to foreign intrusions into our church's territory, and lectured us like irritated headmasters for being ourselves and acting on our consciences.
Perhaps our friends across the pond could take the initiative and form house congregations or informal networks. If requested, we could provide material support, and maybe supply a bishop or two for ordinations either here or there.
So, all you Piskies, especially you ordained ones who read this blog, what do you think?
What do you English readers think?