lundi, décembre 04, 2006

Beyond diversity: the insignificance of the Episcopal Church

Over the weekend, at a diocesan convention, the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to pull out of the Episcopal Church-if they again affirm the decision at next year's Convention, it will be final. I can almost hear the rationales flying. They are so conservative, opposed to everything for which we stand as a church-the ordination of women, equality for gays, worship free from gender stereotypes. The diocesan Bishop, John David Schofield, has been a real pain, a stick-in-the-mud provocateur, some will probably argue. Beyond these opinions, admittedly a stereotype of liberal activism, is a more legitimate argument- that San Joaqin's decision to split from its parent body was one move in a chess game that the conservatives are playing in their bid to gain power in the Anglican Communion. All of that being said, what occured on Saturday is still tragic. Conservatives and liberals (I am neither, or perhaps both) have been remarkably cavalier in their concern for the souls of the men and women who make up the majority in the Episcopal Church. Or did, until it started to become an inhospitable place for those who vow fealty to neither side in this struggle for property and pensions. The Episcopal Church was once filled with clergy who were truly dedicated to having an impact-on conversations about public faith, on social justice issues, on how to pastor multi-cultural, mult-ethnic congregations, how to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Now, in its twilight it will become one of a geriatric group of mainline congregations-a voice in the crowd competing for a hearing. Maybe this is not such a bad thing-after all, the Episcopal Church was, historically, a little too cosy with the political establishment. It is sadly paradoxical, though, that, in crying out for more tolerance for themselves, liberals and conservatives in the church were willing to sacrifice it in their own denomination. When will the lefties notice that many of us have quietly voted with our feet and found another pew...or perhaps decided to give up on seeking one at all?

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