"Take the Washington Cathedral.Maybe this is the desert time. For TEC. Certainly this assessment makes sense when in recent days both pro and anti TEC sites have published comment on declining statistics (e.g., from the pro side, at The Lead).
It’s the icon of a certain self-assurance in an earlier time, when many people in government were Episcopalians, and Episcopalians were at the top of the main banks, and J.P. Morgan was building the St. Paul’s School chapel. Here’s this great monument to Episcopal ego, you might say, though it is a church for all, and now here it is suffering $25 million worth of damage in an earthquake.
What might be the symbolic significance of this in terms of mainline ego being shattered and dislodged by events? I’m not happy that the Washington Cathedral is damaged, but is it a bad thing to be in some way forced into exile and becoming a remnant?
To use an image from the Old Testament, maybe this is the desert time.
The desert was a period of purification and self-knowledge in order that they were prepared to enter the promised land. All the things that happened in the wilderness, the struggle and the suffering, were part of being shaped and formed and being made ready to enter the promised land, especially where they could receive it as gift rather than acquisition."
++Frank's assessment is quite telling in several ways. Let me count them.
First, the opening up of TEC's theological agenda to broaden the understanding of the gospel in respect of inclusiveness has shown no signs yet of actually including more people as regular attenders at church.
Secondly, for church's such as my own, which has its own problems with decline (though harder to quantify as we do not keep statistics about our overall worship attendances), the way forward is challenging. In broad terms our leadership is sympathetic to the direction TEC is evolving in, that is, to co-operation with changes in Western society rather than to resistance, but dare we follow more fully where TEC is going. Into the desert?
Thirdly, while the desert may be a warm place, it is a chilling thought to think that the evolution of Communion life could mean that ACANZP's closest global fellowship companion will be TEC. Some commenters here joyfully espouse that prospect. I do not.
If ACANZP is heading towards the desert I would like to keep in touch with those for whom the grass is green, the garden is flourishing, the fruit is growing on the vine. Our Communion needs those places. ACANZP needs to be in vital links with growing Anglican churches even as it should not jettison those going through hard times.
That means, uncomfortable though the journey may be at times, that relationships with Australia (definitely including Sydney), with Uganda, with Nigeria, with Singapore, and the like need to be nurtured and not neutered.
We do not all need to be in the desert. There are benefits to be gained from living in fertile land.