Faster than speeding neutrinos, news flashes out from the USA at a rate which is hard to keep up with. In the last day or so has come the announcement of Rob "Love Wins" Bell leaving his pastoral position at Mars Hill church, Michigan in order to circulate the world as a speaker and writer sharing God's love everywhere. But this is an Anglican blog so we pass reasonably quickly over a story involving a church of 7000 people and pause not to wonder if any Western Anglican church is or could be that large and what it would take for Anglicans to be so popular in the Western world. We do not, however, need to pass out of the USA to remain in Anglicanland.
This blog has kept an eye on the Diocese of South Carolina and its journey as a conservative-but-we-are-not-leaving-TEC diocese. For some time the official, canonical forces of TEC have been marshalling for a pre-emptive strike on the diocese and the progress of that opposition can be caught up with here.
The Diocese of South Carolina, should things get worse for it, should be prepared for anything to happen to it, including the bizarre and the unpredictable. Careful readers here will have noticed that I have often been taken to task for my support for Anglican churches in North America which have dared to leave TEC or ACCan, it being argued that these churches have been stealing the family silver as they have sought to retain the properties in which they are used to worship. Aside from the ugliness of the phrase, 'stealing the family silver', there is the modest question of how much those churches may have contributed to the purchase of the silver and its cleaning and polishing. But, be such arguments as they may, some churches have left TEC without any fuss, leaving their properties and taking nothing with them, not even the paper clips in the office.
On the 'stealing the family silver' argumentation you might think that such churches, that is, such congregations of people leaving their buildings and their association with TEC, have moved themselves freely and decisively beyond the grasp of TEC. But you would be WRONG.
Read here about the extraordinary attempt of one diocese to request departing Anglican people, having left all property and claims to the property behind them, to nevertheless pay up their former obligations to the diocese. Nuts!
Anyway, I am looking forward to TEC-supporting commenters here explaining the logic behind this diocese's letter to departing Anglicans.
Finally today, and still in the world of Anglicans who are not Episcopalians, my former colleague in the Diocese of Nelson, Julian Dobbs, has been consecrated a bishop to serve in North America. He has moved a long way in ministry experience since starting as a lay youth worker in Westport having graduated from our St John's College too young to be ordained! Now I wonder what will happen if he returns to minister in NZ and seeks a licence?