Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This is Houston Calling

Hat-tip to Anglican Taonga for a marvellous interview in Christianity Today with Russell Levenson Jr., Vicar of St Martin's, Houston, with a membership of 8,200, the largest parish church in TEC. Here's an excerpt:

"But I do not think leaving is the answer. That is where the Communion Partners rest. Daniel had to stay in Babylon, but did not abandon his faith. Jeremiah was not given another Israel. Ezekiel had to preach to the dry bones. When Jesus and his message were completely rejected, he did not leave. He wept. He stayed. He did not move on to Egypt. He stayed and faithfully preached when they believed and when they did not believe.

There appears, for now, to be tremendous hope in the other forms of Anglicanism that have been springing up around the country. But they are very much in their embryonic stages. In my previous diocese, there were six different expressions of Anglican identity in one small area of the state. None of them were growing significantly. There are already some divisions within these breakaway movements over liturgy, women's ordination, and prayer book language. I wish them well, but I would have rather seen them stay.

I have asked every person I personally know that has [left] or was pondering to leave the Episcopal Church if they were prevented in some way by their parish or bishop from preaching the gospel. Each one has said, "No."

They have been criticized. They have been mocked at clergy conferences, but they have not been prevented from preaching the gospel, and thus I wonder why they leave. But I do honor their decision to do so.

In Jesus' last prayer before his arrest, he prayed that his followers would "be made one" (John 17:11). How can anyone hear that prayer, knowing it was prayed with Christ's blood-stained sweat, and say that division is the way forward? How can we read Paul's plea, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3), and strive for further schism?"

I like this man and his thinking!

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