Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Episcopal Church in England?

 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.

(emphasis his)

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?


Leonard said...

Although encouraging (Mad Priest) I think TEC ¨planting¨ in England wouldn´t do very well...afterall, don´t forget the British may call us ¨cousins¨ but they do believe us to be ¨roll-of-eyes¨ distant cousins...not exactly top shelf. (anyone that has ever worked in the U.K. probably knows, second tier feeling, very well)

Leonard said...

TEC Planting in Uganda might, just might, be a greatly appreciated religious center for the persecuted, the demonized, the threatened, the terrorized heterosexual women and LGBT Anglicans to seek much needed WHOLESOME spiritual help/direction (Bishop Christopher is already there)...we best build the Cathedral like the American Embassy (a bunker).

Erika Baker said...

Oh, Counterlight, I am so touched and humbled by your words!
I don't deserve such an accolade, all I ever did was talk!

I admire all those who gave and still give so much more for what is true and grace and from God.

And I particularly give thanks to all my Internet friends all over the world who have sustained me during the last 7 years and who have all become very dear to me.

God bless you!

June Butler said...

Well, I'm not ordained, but I'll plunge in anyway. I doubt that the powers in TEC would ever support such a venture. Although the US is not the least bit timid about throwing its weight around in the world of politics, TEC is quite the opposite in the world of religion.

Erika, I agree with Counterlight. The Church of England suffers a great loss with the departure of you and your spouse. I don't know if I could stay. I'm reminded of what a friend from England said as she was exploring churches. She came to the conclusion that too much of Anglicanism is "repellant" (her word) to make the church a part of her life. And this was a couple of years ago, before the present ugliness.

Small Farmer in The City said...

A thought...what if the folks who are tired of C of E gameplaying signed on with the Scottish Episcopal Church? It worked out well enough for us in the TEC on the

Gerrit Tijink said...

I read this 5 times:

'The evangelicals and misogynist, gay Anglo-Catholics have now given the Church of England such a dirty name in English society;' Shouldn't that be 'ANTI-gay' ? Or am I missing something here?

Paul said...

Gerrit, Jonathan definitely was referring to closeted (or not so closeted) high church queens, and meant "gay Anglo-Catholics." All that man-lace and ceremony tends to appeal to many of us hetero-challenged blokes, though the appeal has waned for me. There is no oppressor so virulent as a closet case.

JCF said...

@ Gerrit:

Those misogynist Anglo-Catholics are publicly anti-gay, but often closeted-gay themselves. A viper's nest of HYPOCRISY.

JCF said...

Whoops, Paul, you beat me by a minute! ;-X

Counterlight said...

I must admit that I don't think "payback" is particularly Christian, and I think the English would be right to suspect the USA of charging in and establishing a beach head. No, I don't think out hierarchy would go for it, though unofficial ties might be worth pursuing through the laity on both sides.

I like Small Farmer's suggestion about the Scottish Episcopal Church playing a role, but that might be just as much an unwanted intrusion as the Yanks.

Erika, you DO deserve the accolades. It's the C of E's loss and our gain.

MarkBrunson said...

I'm with Mimi in believing our "leadership" would never agree to it - they are far too timid and self-interested - but it must happen. We have a duty - a real duty - to provide a place for those who can no longer feel safe in the CofE. It is a Christian duty, it is a humanitarian duty. Refusing to do so is not in any way gracious, but like the US's refusal to "involve ourselves" in the foreign problems of Europe at the outset of WWII. We may not have the money, but not having the money didn't stop the Church from beginning, it shouldn't stop us from carrying on as the Church.

Paul (A.) said...

Such a missionary venture would require first amending TEC Canon I.15.1, which currently provides:

"It shall be lawful, under the conditions hereinafter stated, to organize a Congregation in any foreign land and not within the jurisdiction of any Missionary Bishop of this Church nor within any Diocese, Province, or Regional Church of the Anglican Communion."

This would rule out Uganda also, provided they manage to stay in the Communion.

I'm not quite sure what would happen if a C of E congregation in Britain sought to be admitted into The Episcopal Church, though. It could start a movement.

Unknown said...

Small Farmer in the City has a thought, a good one. Not TEC, but something MUCH closer - Scotland!