Comments: ECUSA departures

Hi Simon, here are some more figures:

The ACN, which was formed just two years ago to stand for orthodox Anglicanism within ECUSA and maintain connections to Anglicans around the world, continues to grow. Presently, affiliates include over 1000 parishes and 2500 clergy, 10 dioceses and 6 convocations, and an estimated 250,000 communicants.

and Anglican Mission in America now has about 90 churches:
http://www.anglicanmissioninamerica.org/ProfileSearchResults.cfm

and Traditional Anglican Communion has about 80: http://www.acahome.org/

Posted by Dave at Monday, 13 February 2006 at 11:44pm GMT

Ummmm, parishes don't leave ECUSA, individuals do. Parishes have no standing outside of their diocese and thus ECUSA. I hope GC 2006 will tighten up whatever canons are needed to make this ironclad. Time to put an end to this Rebellion once and for all..starting with presentments against Network and AAC bishops after GC 2006.

Posted by peteford at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 12:03am GMT

"I have no idea who is responsible for this blog"

Well, the format of '50 state listing' with 34 empty states catagories waiting for an entry, suggests that it's an optimistic 'reasserter', at least.

Can someone advise this Brit whether there are people actually going church to church encouraging this sort of thing and offering help and advice on how to do it?

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 3:03am GMT

Surely this just highlights what we all suspected - disagreement is possible but only a minority will feel absolutely moved to leave. The question I'd be interested to know more about is whether these were groups of people who were likely to want to leave anyway. We all know those rigid types who refuse to do anything on less than their own narrow terms.

Posted by k1eranc at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 3:33am GMT

Peteford: Eppur si muove!

Posted by Peter Bergman at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 9:51am GMT

I think this list is rather incomplete. I understand,for example, that at least on parish in the Diocese of Olympia is trying to get out. And I know that Olde St. Paul's in Portland, Maine is now a member of the ACA. Their departure dates from over 20 years ago but was only made official since Bishop Knudson became the Bishop of Maine

Posted by Joseph P Frar at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 10:43am GMT

Mariner's Church in Detroit left long ago - I think over the 'new' BCP [would you call a 1979 car a 'new' car?]. The two 'churches' that left Diocese of Va were church plants that had not even achieved mission status. South Riding had 3 priests in 5 years; the other's vote for departure was 88 to nothing. The first was a diocesan plant, and will be 'replanted.' The second was a plant from Truro, home of Martyn Minns, and will likely not be 'replanted.' Both were meeting in rented facilities, so there is no dispute over real estate. Some of us suspect that these departures are being orchestrated and timed to give the illusion of a great exodus.
Cynthia

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 1:48pm GMT

I think Dave's post up top hopelessly flawed. He suggests some numbers of diocese, as if every parish in those places and every communicant soul, is happy and eager to be counted amongst the network.

They are certainly not. Quite the contrary.

We can certainly say that those are the figures of people within the dioceses, and that these are the numbers the bishops and sometimes angry publicists of the acn use to suggest their numbers.

But the reality is that within those dicoeses there is quite a bit of opposition to what those bishops have been up to. Many within their own "network" do not count themselves as a part and do not agree with their goals, positions, behaviors, and attempts to belittle other bishops, clergy and communicants.

Posted by RMF at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 1:49pm GMT

The list seems overly optimistic.

I worshipped at Redeemer, Rochester NH once about 6 or 7 years ago, and I could tell then it was a dying church. There were about 20 people at the service, in a building seating 250 or more, and the liturgy was one of the most dismal I have attended, entirely lacking any enthusiasm or spirit.

Officially, the diocese closed Redeemer when the few remaining members left after the consecration of Gene Robinson..

Also, St. Paul's Brockton is still part of the Diocese of Massachusetts. There is a "St. Paul's-in-exile", but their priest was deposed not for his political views but because of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, and any of the continuing jurisdictions are wise not to have picked him up.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 3:47pm GMT

RMF wrote: "I think Dave's post up top hopelessly flawed. He suggests some numbers of diocese, as if every parish in those places and every communicant soul, is happy and eager to be counted amongst the network. They are certainly not. Quite the contrary."

Dear RMF, The same could be said for even larger numbers of people who are in revisionist diocese and parishes!

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 6:28pm GMT

Peteford wrote: "... parishes don't leave ECUSA, individuals do. Parishes have no standing outside of their diocese and thus ECUSA. I hope GC 2006 will tighten up whatever canons are needed to make this ironclad. Time to put an end to this Rebellion once and for all..starting with presentments against Network and AAC bishops after GC 2006."

Dear Peteford, maybe you should start with presentments against the all the Bishops and Primates of the Anglican Communion, the ABofC and the Anglican Consultative Council ! Everyone is telling you that you were wrong and you just seem to get more and more hardened. :-(

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 6:31pm GMT

The latest news from the Los Angeles Diocese:

"La Crescenta, Calif. – Feb. 14, 2006 – St. Luke’s of the Mountains, a biblically orthodox church for over 60 years, affirms its membership in the Anglican Communion and will no longer be affiliated with the Episcopal Church USA or the Diocese of Los Angeles.

St. Luke’s is now under the jurisdictional oversight of the Anglican Province of Uganda in the Diocese of Luweero, which is a member of the mainstream of the worldwide Anglican Communion."

++Rowan Cantuar is losing more and more credibility every day as long as the African/Bolivian EPISCOPI VAGANTES claim to have jurisdiction in the United States. Why doesn't he have the backbone to say, as did a fellow Welsh bishop a few weeks ago: +Luweero hath no jurisdiction in Los Angeles, CA?

The Windsor Report specifically identifies episcopal border crossings as 'breaches in mutual affection' within the Anglican Communion. At least one might be able to expect the 104th Cantuar to stand by the Windsor Report which he commissioned.

Posted by John Henry at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 10:21pm GMT

Dave,

Come on. You are playing silly word games.

Posted by RMF at Tuesday, 14 February 2006 at 11:51pm GMT

re:
Some of us suspect that these departures are being orchestrated and timed to give the illusion of a great exodus.

Yeah. It reminds me of something I heard on the radio. A few months ago, NPR (of all news organizations!) aired a report on "departing" Episcopal parishes, based mostly on their interviews with "departing" individuals, and of course they made it sound as though there was a mass exodus. Of course the report got some facts clearly wrong (it stated that Gene Robinson had been elected Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, for example).

According to this website on ECUSA departures, the number of "departing" parishes nationwide is the equivalent of one third of my own diocese.

Posted by Pen Brynisa at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 2:18am GMT

Another note about to put into perspective the two small church plants that left our diocese for Uganda: Those were both from my own Diocese of Virginia, where last month at our Annual Council [convention in some dioceses] we welcomed to full church status two church plants that have flourished and become self-sustaining. Our diocese is one of three in the state of Virginia, and consists of nearly 200 parishes. It is the most populous diocese in ECUSA. This year is the first in many when we have not started a new church plant in the diocese, but have instead dedicated that money to the many plants now growing into parishes. It is sadly true that we have several very conservative wealthy parishes who have not contributed to the diocesan budget for several years - this started before the last general convention. Still, the great majority of Episcopalians in this diocese support our bishop and the diocese itself.

Cynthia

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 1:41pm GMT

Simon -
As noted by another, St. Paul's Brockton, Mass., has not left the Episcopal Church. Individuals from that parish did indeed leave with their priest, who was defrocked for sexual misconduct, but the building and parish are still part of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

Posted by Chad Wohlers at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 2:29pm GMT

It is, of course, impossible to issue presentments against primates outside the canonical structure. The Anglican Communion is a fellowship of (mostly, but not quite) national churches which are the highest canoncal entities. It may (or may not) be a goal of the Windsor Report to change this, but it is the current reality.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 2:40pm GMT

Sigh...you literalists.

When I said make presentments against Network and AAC bishops following GC 2006, I meant against ECUSA bishops who make any effort to realign a diocese with a foreign province. They should be disciplined...severely.

Regarding foreign bishops who are committing theft by coming in and claiming authority over ECUSA parishes, ECUSA needs to respond as a body to this. I think it starts with things like cutting funding to ACC.

Of course, Rebellion parishes seeking cover from foreign bishops is going to blow up in their face eventually. We'll see how long this "marriage of convenience" lasts.

Posted by peteford at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 3:14pm GMT

Dear Peteford

Episcopal authority is based on Christ's souvereignty. Obedience to Christ, the Apostles and Church teachings is a primary issue; Bishops who reject it have no authority, only temporal functional power.

Posted by Dave at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 5:41pm GMT

Dave:

There is a canonical structure in Anglicanism. Individuals like yourself do not make the determination single-handedly whether a bishop has rejected Christ and/or the Apostles' teaching or not.

Many reasserters (and certain evangelicals) hold a 'theology of contamination'. All a godly bishop has to do is breathe the same air in the same room with, say, Frank T Griswold or Gene Robinson and, in their judgment, s/he is 'contaminated'. The 'theology of contamination' makes a mockery of the gospels and places those who subscribe to it among the ranks of the 'scribes and the Pharisees'.

By the way, there is an excellent commentary by Joel Marcus, Mark 1-8, published as an Anchor Bible Commentary (2000). It offers valuable insights into the positions taken by the scribes and Pharisees during our Lord's ministry.

Posted by John Henry at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 7:24pm GMT

"Bishops who reject it" . . . *in Dave's opinion*.

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 8:45pm GMT

I just love all of the charity and inclusivity expressed on this site! Why not deal honestly with the fact that ECUSA numbers are dropping? Fewer people are on the rolls of Episcopal parishes, fewer people are attending services. I believe that the size of the average congregation is well below 100. Many dioceses are saddled with redundant congregations. Where is the growth? The number of formal parish realignments may be small but it is obvious that many are leaving the pews silently. They are not buying the message. They aren't making a huff, they are just walking out. Would someone here care to comment on this downward trend?

Posted by Tom at Wednesday, 15 February 2006 at 9:56pm GMT

Tom --
The official site of The Episcopal Church has a site where you can download the numbers on baptized, attendance & donations for every diocese (& apparently every parish) in TEC. I have checked numerous dioceses, especially those supposedly at the extremes -- every diocese tracks the same -- with slight fluctuations, the numbers of baptized & regular attendants (ca. slightly under 50%) is slightly decreasing & donations are up -- I can discern no difference whatsoever in "liberal" or "conservative" dioceses (which I confess was rather surprizing). The changes seem to be demographic & universal in white middle class America -- all the mainline Protestant churches show exactly the same trends. We are a shrinking percentage of the whole. I suspect that the Roman Catholic Church would track exactly the same way if there were not significant immigration from Latin America. As to growth, if the Gospel of Jesus Christ was truly preached, the churches would be deserted! Who has the courage to try to live the Sermon on the Mount!?

Posted by Prior Aelred at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 2:29am GMT

Why sure, Tom.

First I suppose we should note that the Episcopal Church has never been a very large denomination within American society. Its national influence in the past has much to do with the fact that it was, for the better part of its history, largely composed of members of upper class WASP society.

In the last generation or so, it has broadened into a much more broadly based church, both in terms of ethnicity and social class. At the same time, the WASP aristocracy which supported it has waned in both numbers and influence.

So an honest appraisal of numbers has to take into account huge sociological changes which have transformed American culture. The Episcopal Church is an institution in the process of reinventing itself, something that happens in the life cycle of all movements and large groups.

The parish structure we have inherited also plays a part. Based on strong settled communities, parishes now have to contend with the increasingly transient nature of American life. Whereas people used to grow up and attend the churches of their parents, they now find themselves isolated in vast exurbs where local ties are largely nonexistent. One of the tasks the Episcopal Church needs to address is reinventing the parish structure so that it is better at engaging this tide of transient people.

We also have inherited a complex and decentralized democratic structure in which parishes operate as largely private associations; the bishops and dioceses have very little power to shift resources or make rational deployment decisions. The pay structure for clergy is wildly inequitable, which means struggling parishes don't often have full-tme or properly paid priests, making the task of renewing declining churches all the more difficult.

Our liturgical forms of worship are also a hard sell in a comsumer society, where people expect to walk in and know exactly what's going on from the get-go. Being handed a leaflet with complex instructions to follow the service doesn't help, and, as I've witnessed many times, the average person in a pew does a fair-to-poor job of welcoming and helping out the newcomer.

You might want to read the book "Bowling Alone" which addresses the decline of many small organizations in our national life. The Episcopal Church is no exception to this general decline.

By contrast, the mega-churches which are growing in this country are built along the model of the shopping mall (Sometimes quite literally, as at Willow Creek outside Chicago).

And the Episcopal Church is working through this period of readjustment and--dare I say?--renewal, as it copes with a vociferous, organized minority within its ranks who are actively working for its demise and replacement by an alternative Anglican body.

So I would say the relatively low membership in the Episcopal Church has deep sociological and systemic roots. I suspect these outweigh the effect any people who have left because of issues of conscience.

In any case, if people have left the church because it no longer meshes with their own deeply held beliefs, then I applaud their integrity. Those who remain should operate out of their own integrity as well. And if, some day, like the Shakers, the Episcopal Church dwindles and faces its own disappearance, then the last remaining members should have no fear--they will have run a good race and Anglican Christianity will have made a good and lasting impact on the life of this country. (I don't think a two-million member denomination should call it a day quite so soon, however)

At the end of the day, numbers are an important concern for those who run institutions. But they are not, by any Christian measure, the final word in success. Better to worship God with the greatest integrity than to insure the largest membership.

Pat Robertson, after all, is, by all accounts, wildly popular. His TV program is watched by millions and the checks flow in from all corners of the country. But he uses his pulpit to advocate assassinating foreign leaders, to suggest that God struck down Ariel Sharon for ceding land to the Palestinians, and to warn the people of Dover, Pennsylvania, that they'd 'voted God out of [their] town', and are henceforth not under divine protection.

If we're judging by the number of his followers, Pat Robertson is on the right track. I'm afraid, however, I find him hate-filled, delusional and dangerous. I'll stick with two-or-three gathered over a Christianist mob any day.

Posted by Christopher Calderhead at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 4:32am GMT

Because the picture is more *mixed* than that, Tom.

Yes, some Episcopalians are leaving ECUSA.

. . . but other people are *joining* ECUSA.

Some will hurriedly ask, "But what's the net change?" (as if overall "Numbers Up!" or "Numbers Down!" were determinative of faithfulness to the Gospel).

I believe that whether the overall numbers are up or down, just isn't the point.

Like Apollos, it's our job just to "water" this tender reed (w/ the strength of The Cross!) called "The Church". Now, as 2000 years ago, "God gives the growth" . . . in *God's Good Time*.

Thanks be to God! :-D

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 5:06am GMT

Thanks to Simon for excellent job of organizing reports of Synod. This report from 2004 is very instructive, and should clarify the claim made variously here and elswhere as the need and hope arises, that a lone parish or group of parishes outside of a Church, can be Anglican. Such does not exist.

Anglicanism is by its nature relational. (Hence the calls to express regret for stressing the bonds of affection.) The spoke of the relations is ABC.

From 2004 Synod:

Question 70
Dr Philip Jeffrey (Chichester) to ask the Secretary General [Mr William Fittall]:

Q. In view of the fact that a number of Provinces of the Anglican Communion have declared themselves to be out of communion with, or in a state of impaired communion with, those bishops of ECUSA who took part in the consecration of Gene Robinson, what is the competent authority in the Church of England to decide whether or not the Church of England is in full or impaired communion with those bishops?

A. The Church of England is in communion with Churches, and not separately with individual dioceses - still less with individual bishops - within those churches. For the purposes of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure and the Church Representation Rules, a decision by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York is conclusive in determining whether a Church - as a whole - is in communion with the Church of England.

It is quite clear from both these answers that the Church of England considers itself in full communion with all provinces of the Anglican Communion, including ECUSA and the Diocese of New Hampshire.

More precisely, in terms of the separate questions, it also appears that the House of Bishops…
50. … does not instruct members of the Church of England where or where not to worship.
50 and 51. … does not plan to break communion with ECUSA or anyone else.
51, 52 and 53. … plans no action in respect of bishops who participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson.
54. … did not think this question merited a specific answer.

And similarly, it appears that the Secretary General of the General Synod...
70. …knows that the CofE, or any other Church of the Anglican Communion, cannot (as some provinces or dioceses have claimed) be in communion with only certain members of another Church but not others, depending on their personal theological opinions.

NB: "ECUSA" includes parishes and dioceses outside the USA, so a better term may be Episcopal Church or TEC.

Posted by RMF at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 12:43pm GMT

Well put Cheryl and J.C. [Hello J.C., I seem to see your name everywhere. :) ]

I would add, that if you look at the membership of the Episcopal Church over its history, as a percentage of the population, its membership has remained fairly consistent over a small range.

And let us recognize also, that TEC annually purges its rolls, almost obsessively so, unlike other denominations, who have much softer criteria for counting membership and who count as members people TEC would not.

Posted by RMF at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 12:52pm GMT

Interesting perspective y'all have here...sad, but interesting. Does anyone here think it possible that ECUSA is shrinking because of the direction in which we are heading? That the general church-going population does not find our approach to be truly Christian? RMF, we have dropped from 3.2 mil out of about 180 mil to 2.3 mil out of 260 mil in the last 30-40 years, that may be a small range but it is statistically huge. If we were holding our own we should be around 5 million, we're less than half that. JC, numbers are indeed part of the point. You are just trying to gloss over the real problem. God has given us 10 talents and we are returning 5 to Him. In light of the current direction of ECUSA it then seems rather obvious the God is withholding the growth realizing that the soil of ECUSA has become contaminated. And Christopher, you made some good demographic points but, really, the reference to the "vociferous, organized minority" working for the "demise" of the Church and also to Pat Robertson just make me shake my head. This name calling is tiresome. Read what Holy Scripture has to say about fruits of the Spirit and false prophets then come back to the table for an honest debate.

Posted by Tom at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 3:00pm GMT

Good work, Tom. It's always good to ask for charity and then say, "Quiet, you are contaminated, come back when you aren't contaminated anymore."

Why not put that in a welcome packet and circulate?

Posted by RMF at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 4:21pm GMT

Tom,

I'll stand by what I said about the vociferous, organized minority working for the demise of the Episcopal Church. My language was blunt, but I don't think it's unfair--

vociferous: you know the websites. Virtue Online, TitusOneNine, AAC... plus there have been plenty of actions on the ground (The demonstration in front of the CT state capitol, just to mention one)

organized: Plano Conference, AAC, AMIA.

minority: If they were the majority, their points of view would have prevailed at the last General Convention.

working for the demise: This last point is reasonably arguable either way; the Network and its allies have constructed their talking points very carefully (They are also not a monolithic group, so they reflect a variety of points of view). So I'll just say, this is how I see it, given declarations of 'crisis' in the EC, interventions invited from overseas, and setting up alternative structures lobbying for (and getting) recognition from Global South leaders.

So I think my words are borne out by facts. A church containing a large proportion of dissidents (I hope that's a neutral enough word) will have a hard time addressing the other issues I outlined.

I chose to mention Pat Robertson to illustrate that having large numbers of followers is no guarantee of being faithful. He is, I think, a dangerous man, and he is very popular. I could have chosen other examples of vastly popular, wrong-headed movements, but he seemed the least inflammatory of the examples that came to mind. I may have been mistaken; perhaps there are Anglicans who think his ideas and statements are congruent with the Gospel.

And thank you for sending me to Galatians 5. I often struggle with the question of how to live into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc., while engaging in the rough and tumble of debate. In chapter 2 of the same letter, Paul tells us how he opposed Peter to his face-- so perhaps blunt words are not inconsistent with the fruits of the spirit.

Finally, I *am* at the table, so if you disagree with me you are free to lay out your counter-arguments.

Posted by Christopher Calderhead at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 5:04pm GMT

On Feb. 14th Augustus Merriweather asked if there were people encouraging others to leave the church.

Yesterday I received the regular mailing from the AAC. The only matter it communicated concerned their adoption of 'The Episcopal Witness Program'. Great, thought this Brit - they've developed a new programme for witnessing to the love of God in Jesus Christ in order that the church can grow.

"The American Anglican Council (AAC) announced today adoption of the lay outreach program Episcopal Witness, developed last year by the AAC chapter in Washington, D.C., and currently used in various parts of the mid-Atlantic region. This program responds to the essential need for both greater lay involvement and more effective lay action in the struggle to restore and preserve a biblically faithful expression of Anglicanism in the United States."

So far, so good. But then I read on ...

"It is designed to address the gap in communication with congregations where relevant information and resources are being institutionally restricted or stifled. The primary goal of this action-oriented program is to arm congregations and vestries with balanced information and resources to inform their dialogue in order to make decisions regarding the serious and divisive issues facing the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.

“As we approach General Convention 2006, we believe it is incumbent upon each man and woman, priest and bishop, congregation and diocese to choose this day whom they shall serve,” said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, AAC President and CEO. “We need to get the word out first-hand, lay person to lay person – where the message of biblical Anglicanism is being actively suppressed by revisionist ‘gatekeepers’ who rely on congregational and diocesan bully pulpits to keep parishes in the dark about the crisis.”

“In our work in the mid-Atlantic area, we have found that despite the wealth of information available through websites, media and other resources, individuals and entire congregations have been kept in the dark about the crisis facing ECUSA,” said Bill Boniface, who developed Episcopal Witness. “Episcopal Witness’ proactive personal contact model addresses the limitations of traditional and electronic mailings as well as phone campaigns in reaching a vast population of undecided laity where institutionally biased information or simple denial of the true nature of the controversy has been the norm in their parishes and dioceses.”

Good to know the AAC is really involved with promoting the Reign of God.

John-F

Posted by John-Francis at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 5:59pm GMT

Go to any of these so-called AAC parish websites and you will find there that the message is "Come grow in the love and joy of Our Lord Jesus Christ!"

They really need to change it and to be vocal about their selectivity.

They need to make it:
"Come grow in the love and joy of Our Lord Jesus Christ!"*

*Now accepting applications, lbgt need not apply. We reserve the right to refuse the Lord to whomever we may decide.


Posted by RMF at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 7:10pm GMT

This is an odd and not very useful list. One would think that it was a list of parishes that have left due to the "current unpleasantness". But at least a few are parishes that left long ago, while many parishes that left in the past are not included. St Mark's Denver, for example, became Western-rite Orthodox over 15 years ago; but Holy Cross, Concord CA, which became Western-rite Orthodox at about the same time, is not listed.

If they are going to list parishes that have left ECUSA at any time, over any issue, why do they not list the (relatively) large number of Anglo-Catholic parishes that left and formed the "Continuum" in the late 1970s?

The list as it is doesn't provide consistent and useful information.

Posted by Chris Jones at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 7:37pm GMT

Let's take a reality break.

What's the Rebellion (AAC/Network) game plan? What are they really up to? Well, we know it's going to be something covert, something sneaky, and something underhanded.

We know they are getting dioceses like Texas and Dallas to change Article I of their Constitutions to make it easier to try to take a diocese out of ECUSA and into either the Network or some other Province. We know they are trying to give the appearance of a great number of parishes "leaving" ECUSA leading up too GC 2006. We know they've denounced all the candidates for PB as being "unorthodox" because they don't pass their litmus test of purity.

Here's what might happen: After GC 2006, when ECUSA hasn't properly "repented," the Rebellion will claim that ECUSA, as governed by General Convention, has committed schism by failing to adhere entirely to the Windsor Report and the demands of the majority of the Anglican Communion. Therefore, ECUSA as constituted by GC is no longer the legitimate or real ECUSA. The Rebellion will claim they are now the legitimate ECUSA. They'll also claim that the new PB is "unorthodox" and therefore not the real PB; therefore, there is a leadership void in ECUSA and guess who is gonna be there to fill it? That's right, the Little Napoleon himself, Rockin' Bob Duncan.

Will it work? Well, it sure will muddy the waters future. Now what if the ABC says, "Well, no, I'm in communion with the ECUSA that I was always in communion with." The Rebellion will then turn to their new "Archbishop/Pope," Peter "throw the gays in jail" Akinola.

Far fetched? Maybe. But then again, remember that the Rebellion's agenda from Day One has been to accomplish that which they cannot legimately accomplish at General Convention. So, if it means imploding ECUSA, so be it. Of course, if these people had an ounce of integrity they would simply leave and go off and form their purified cult. But no, they want to ransack the store on the way out and try to steal as much property as they can.

Now is the time for mainstream Anglicans to dig in and tell these people, "no more." You've done enough damage already. Leave...now.

Posted by peteford at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 10:43pm GMT

JCF wrote: "Bishops who reject it" . . . *in Dave's opinion*.

Dear JCF, I claim support for *my* view by non other than the collective Bishops of the Anglican Communion (Lambeth 98), and the Primates (2005) and the Anglican Consultative Council (2005).

Is that any more persuasive to you ?

Posted by Dave at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 11:07pm GMT

Chris Jones and others: thank you for your comments about the accuracy or not of the original list. I will draw these comments to the attention of the original list creator. But it sounds as if the only way to have an accurate list of precisely those ECUSA parishes who claim to have corporately left ECUSA since GC 2003, and entered into another "Anglican" jurisdiction, would be to create one here. Sigh.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 11:51pm GMT

As to the number of communicants in ECUSA, and contrary to RMF's comments on 12/16, the church's rolls are FULL of people who never show up, probably haven't for years, and have no further intention of doing so ... The national aggregate ASA is only about 750,000..... and declining steadily... Heck, my family left in October 2003 and we still get solicitations and mailings and info just as if everything was peachy keen.... We're not members any longer and have been evaluating the Tiber crossing, but I bet we are DEFINITELY on the ECUSA rolls .... Helping the revisionist Diocese of Maryland to mask the unmentionable - that many of its communicants believe the US Episcopal Church is apostate and has completely lost its way....

See "Ghosts in the Church" by Matt Kennedy at Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, NY if you want the real story and the hard-boiled facts on how badly ECUSA is hemorrhaging members. URL:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/ghosts_in_the_church/

Posted by FreeStater at Thursday, 16 February 2006 at 11:58pm GMT

No, Dave, it's not.

This is still only *your characterization* of what those "instruments of unity" meant to say---I'd say it's far from clear whether they know what they meant (much less whether their discernment, for good OR ill, should be binding on ECUSA: "IofU" is still *advisory only* on the national churches).

Dave, I believe that our exchange of comments on TA are just wasting both of our time. I find that nothing I say is getting through to you---I don't think you're disposed to hear me beyond your prejudices. Go in peace: may the grace of Christ be made more *manifest* in your life (and in mine, too).

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Friday, 17 February 2006 at 12:58am GMT

FWIW (not much, alas) my recollection is that the percentage of the population of the USA who have been Episcopalians has generally been about 1% -- sometimes close to 1.5%, sometimes more like .5%, but always the tiniest of fractions of the population since its organization -- it's influence in relation to its size has always been rather remarkable.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Friday, 17 February 2006 at 1:10am GMT

peteford said,

"Here's what might happen: After GC 2006, when ECUSA hasn't properly "repented," the Rebellion will claim that ECUSA, as governed by General Convention, has committed schism by failing to adhere entirely to the Windsor Report and the demands of the majority of the Anglican Communion."

Well, in that case, the Rebellion will also be reminded that they have not complied, because they are encouraging and abetting boundary crossings, forbidden by Windsor.

So I suppose they will be out of Communion as well. Oh dear!

But really, it is a pipe dream, because Communion is a question of entire Churches, it is not a question of just a few parishes or dioceses.

And then there are recent developments in the CoE, which put it in important ways, ahead of the Episcopal Church in openness of gay clergy.

Posted by RMF at Friday, 17 February 2006 at 4:07am GMT

Let's hope it leads to a split sooner than later - although the terror of boldness is something endemic to the CofE and its cowardly leadership.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 17 February 2006 at 10:33am GMT

"Freestater" points out a failing in church record keeping which is the bain of us ECUSA clergy - or at least of this clergywoman.

First, I am not supposed to remove from the church record book any who are no longer attending but have not requested a letter of transfer to another parish or denomination. (In the same way, I am not supposed to add anyone who is regularly attending and contributing who has not formally transferred in or been received through the parish I serve. Although on the annual parochial report, there is now a line for me to list the number of active persons not currently officially "members").

Second, each place I have served I have tried to clean up the record keeping by reporting on the annual parochial report, which contributes to the National Church's statistics, the true numbers of active persons, even though it shows a great drop from the previous year because well meaning lay persons, interims, and supply clergy in charge,have just continued the old figures by using those figures as the base from which they calculate this year's numbers.

All this is confusing enough, especially if one is not in ECUSA and does not know how these figures are reported or recorded in the first place. But the third leads directly to "Freestater"'s plight of receiving mailings he does not want. Even if he and his family have indeed requested their membership be transferred from the last parish in which it was recorded, their former fellow parishioners may very well have prevailed upon the priest, even angrily, to keep names on the mailing list even though the subject persons will never attend, contribute to, or have anything more to do with the parish. Thus, one of the parishioners where I currently serve, when told we had, at the time, 30 parishioners, boldly proclaimed in a public meeting that we have 200.

Dear "Freestater", I am gamely trying to remove people's names from our mailing list so they won't receive any more unwanted mailings. But it is an uphill effort.

This parish I currently serve was once a thriving congregation. For various reasons having to do more with losing a beloved former priest it has declined steadily in the twenty years since his illness and finally death. The people have never recovered. Most left. The remaining few soldier on faithfully but they are tired. They have not had full time or even barely part time clergy since that death and they can barely afford to remain open even now. But they are holding on for dear life to the church that once nourished them. If they die as a presence for the Gospel, it will neither be because of women clergy or bishops, or because of sexuality issues. It will simply be a natural death caused by exhaustion. Please keep them and me, their first priest in 17 years, in your prayers.

Faithfully,
Lois Keen, Priest in Charge
St. Martin's Church (ECUSA)

Posted by Rev. Lois Keen at Friday, 17 February 2006 at 3:23pm GMT

Mother Lois,

My wife and I will certainly add you and your faithful congregation to our prayers.

My point about rolls is not that there are not erorrs, which is probably indisputable since we are all just fallible humans, but that there is good faith efforts to purge them and update them every year.

Posted by RMF at Friday, 17 February 2006 at 5:51pm GMT

Prayers for you and St. Martin's, Mother Lois, comin' atcha! (Well, comin' *for* ya, anyway :-D)

I was praying the Daily Office, and yesterday the NT readings really leapt out at me, regarding this thread ("ECUSA departures"):

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us . . . If you know that [Christ] is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right is born of him." (I John 2:19, 29)

*Do right*. *Do be like Christ (the Righteous One)*.

That's all.

I mean, yeah, it's impossible---without Christ strengthening us, by "abiding in him", for sure.

But that's still *all* it is.

Be. Like. Christ.

No "my orthodoxy's better than your orthodoxy is"!

No worrying about whether your faith is "biblical" enough!

Just. Be. Like. Christ.

Lord, strengthen your servants! :-D

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Saturday, 18 February 2006 at 6:23am GMT

JCF wrote: "Bishops who reject it" . . . *in Dave's opinion*.

Dave wrote: "Dear JCF, I claim support for *my* view by none other than the collective Bishops of the Anglican Communion (Lambeth 98) etc Is that any more persuasive to you ?"

JCF wrote: "No, Dave, it's not."

Dear JCF, Somehow I didn't think it would be. I suppose I should have added support from Holy Scripture (both NT and OT), church tradition for the last 2000 years, and the united voice of all the apostolic catholic churches. But I don't think that would make any difference to you either...

If you wish to use the current perceptions of liberals (ie *your opinion*) as the ultimate authority for faith and life then at least do me the favour of acknowledging it honestly! Rather than trying to pretend that I, and everyone else who disagrees with you (on the apparently trivial bases such as Scripture and traditional church teaching etc) are only basing their faith and morals on their opinions!

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 18 February 2006 at 9:21pm GMT

This thread is about "ECUSA departures". Further comments should be clearly on topic, please.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 18 February 2006 at 10:10pm GMT

Regarding the discussion about how many are actually in the Episcopal Church: for good or ill (for good and ill?), for a generation we have emphasized the ancient standard that baptism admits a person to full membership in Christ, and therefore to full participation in the Church. One result was to see a woman as appropriate matter for the sacrament of ordination. Another was to force a rethinking on the sacrament of confirmation.

A third was to empasize baptized membership in reports where once we emphasized baptized and confirmed membership. A corollary to that was to welcome all those baptized in any church in Trinitarian formula, without emphasizing ever institutionally joining an Episcopal Church. Our membership numbers over the last couple of decades have been affected. There was a study a decade or so ago (I'd have to do some digging to find the source) in which researchers looked at Episcopal parishes in counties used by other researchers as particularly reflective of the United States in general. While the official numbers for these congregations were down, researchers found that attendance at worship was significantly up. People were attending and active who were not formally members.

Relate this to numbers over the last few years showing stability in the official numbers of the Episcopal Church, and perhaps things don't look so bleak.

Posted by Marshall at Monday, 20 February 2006 at 4:13am GMT

Rev Lois Keen,

After reading 'FreeStater's' comment of the 16th, I was wondering if you ever went by the nickname of 'Peachy-Keen'.

I do hope you have, that would be like a sign or something...

Oh, Ecusa departures: numbers numbers numbers

Is this like when conservatives say the abysmal NIV translation is clearly blessed and approved by God because it's popular? So, if numbers go down God is angry? 'Grrrr - shoo Christians, shoo!'

It's like the telethon thermometer guage of theological correctness.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Tuesday, 21 February 2006 at 5:00pm GMT

The decline in baptised membership figure (rather than communicant or sunday worship figures) over the past 30 years has little to nothing to do with theology. It has to do with birthrate.

See: http://www.baptiststandard.com/postnuke/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=4064

The Communicant/Avg Sunday figures have gone through a 2 yr drop but having lived in the Diocese of Dallas, I can safely say that most progressives and conservatives who stopped attending did so because they were tired of the bickering, not because there is a Bishop in a faraway diocese who in the privacy of his own bedroom probably has sex with someone whose plumbing matches his own.

Posted by toujoursdan at Tuesday, 21 February 2006 at 10:57pm GMT
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