Comments: before the New York meeting

I posted this question to an earlier thread, and am am trying to ask it also on this one.

So far, the liberals and moderates of the Diocese of Central Florida resolutely refuse to believe that their bishop, John Howe, had anything whatever to do with the document called "An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury." They say he could not possibly have these views. They are insisting that the whole thing must be an Internet hoax.

I believe myself that it is really the text of the appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury made by their bishop, along with five others, but I am unable to convince them of this.

So: what, if anything, might convince others in the Diocese of Central Florida that this is what their bishop has in fact done?

Posted by Charlotte Pressler at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 2:02am BST

"the majority faction" - oh how TLC reveals itself! Wouldn't a rational person call the minority of dioceses seeking ALPO a faction? When is the overwhelming majority of TEC a 'faction?'
Less than a dozen dioceses out of how many? And the many are the faction? Isn't 'majority faction' a logical contradiction?

George Orwell would be proud.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 3:58am BST

Cynthia:

The "equalization" of the two sides in this battle reflects (at least in my opinion) an unstated understanding of the underlying situation vis-a-vis the future of the church. Many of the dioceses of the left are in, or incorporate, large areas of "red" America geographically speaking. The "withering" of the "red" areas in these dioceses (and the dioceses themselves) will accelerate greatly as the denomination continues to morph into a metro-sexual, metro-liberal phenomenon. The vacuum created will be (and is being) filled by more conservative Anglican institutions.

In the past, TEC could claim to be a truly national church in most respects. It may have been more "red" here and more "blue" there, but it retained enough of a "middle-ground" approach at a national level to be viable nation-wide. This situation has changed rapidly over the last generation, and especially over the last few years. If TEC is to halt or even wants to halt its "localization" both geographically and culturally to "blue" America it has to give equal recognition to its "red" membership--both actual and potential.

Some may not see this as a desirable goal. And, while TEC (despite its long-time image) might better be described as the "democratic party at prayer" than as the "republican party at prayer",it is in grave danger of losing much of the former as well as all of the latter as it continues to morph into "moveon.org at prayer", "Howard Dean at prayer", "Integrity at prayer" . . . etc.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 11:41am BST

"So: what, if anything, might convince others in the Diocese of Central Florida that this is what their bishop has in fact done?" Charlotte Pressler

In July I attended the one and only Sunday service/12:15 at St. Luke's Cathedral in downtown Orlando. I walked around the Cathedral and the "Deans Walk" courtyard and into the adjacent building and throughout the interior of the Cathedral...all signs of the the Episcopal Church had been removed and replaced with "A Network Cathedral" signing on everything.

Also here is a letter of "objection" from the retired Bishop of Central Florida:

"I have read the decision made by the bishop, members of the standing committee and executive board of the Diocese of Central Florida to request alternative primatial oversight. In doing this they have joined the five other dioceses that have made this request of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I don't know what procedures the other dioceses followed to reach their decisions. I do know that Central Florida's decision was not reached by any broader constituency than the entities mentioned above.

As this is the diocese I served as bishop for the 20 years from 1970 until my retirement in 1990, I wish to go on record as disapproving of the decision, not only of Central Florida, but any diocese that follows this procedure. I have written to the Bishop of Central Florida to register my disappointment, disapproval, and dissociation from the decision.

I believe these actions are unnecessary, premature and inappropriate. I cannot believe they will do anything to strengthen the mission and ministry of Jesus in our world. I believe we can rely on Jesus to keep his promise to send the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth."

The Rt. Rev. William H. Folwell
Bishop of Central Florida, retired
Hendersonville, NC

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 12:23pm BST

I have been away from work, sick in hospital for the last week, so haven't been tracking events in the US as closely as I should have done, but it strikes me that Ruth is wrong on a couple of counts.
Bishop Wright did not actually attend the recent convention (the Bishop of Rochester was there instead, telling the Americans they weren't really Christians) but Ruth could be forgiven this oversight since she wasn't there either, but commenting on proceedings from her home back in London. Bishop Wright issued his own lofty advice to the convention on the eve of its meeting but otherwise kept a low profile back in his diocese for once.
My understanding is that he and Bishop Scott-Joynt were invited to the Texas meeting and, despite the statement to the contrary, are not attending it with Archbishop Williams's particular blessing: they simply told him they were going and yet again he didn't feel able to tell them not to attend. It was in other words yet another fait-accompli for the Archbishop of Canterbury to face.
I am not quite sure how an English diocesan bishop, however eminent, could exercise primatial authority over a group of American bishops, even if they wanted him to. Isn't it meddling in the affairs of another province and wasn't that something the Windsor Report came out against? No doubt Bishop Wright can say, since after all as he never fails to remind us, he helped to write it.

Posted by Stephen Bates at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 12:32pm BST

Simon, here it is in San Joaquin..."Remain Episcopal in the Diocese of San Jaoquin" complete with "dissent":


http://www.remainepiscopal.org/

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 12:48pm BST

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_76988_ENG_HTM.htm

Via Media USA "dissenting" for all the Dioceses including Springfield, Illinois

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 1:33pm BST

I'm fascinated by the Times article. The article quotes "a source," who seems either remarkably well informed, or else to be engaged in some remarkable wishful thinking. After all, no one has questioned the orders of Episcopal bishops (with a few exceptions); so, what need would there be to "join" into the Utrecht agreement to "keep catholic orders?" As we are already in full communion with the Old Catholic churches, that would be redundant in any case.

The sources involved still don't seem to grasp either the polity of the Episcopal Church, nor the limitations of the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I fear that division of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are inevitable, given the number of folks who don't want reconciliation. I will still give credit to Archbishop Williams, Presiding Bishop Griswold, and Presiding Bishop-elect Jefferts Schori for trying. We are called always to seek reconciliation. However, my expectation of the meetings this month are that they will not change the trajectory we seem to be on. The Episcopal Church will still be the province of the Anglican Communion recognized by Canterbury. The Episcopal Church will still feel that interdependent relations with other provinces of the Communion should not prevent the Episcopal Church from heeding the Gospel call for reconciliation and grace. The Archbishop will still be seen as primus inter pares, a person of moral and consultative authority, but with no jurisdiction outside the Church of England. Those who feel they cannot live with those limitations will seek some other person of authority with whom to associate; and as a result will take themselves out of the Episcopal Church. And those who agree with them will seek to exercise authority that does not exist within the Communion; and so will take themselves out of the Communion.

Now, that won't happen this week, as an immediate result of this meeting, or of the meeting in Texas, or even of the meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, of the Global South primates. However, I fear those who seek their own autonomy (with only selective interdependence) will not be persuaded to change their intent or direction.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 3:21pm BST

Charlotte,

The heading of the document reads as follows:

AN APPEAL TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
By the Bishops of Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin,
South Carolina, and Springfield (20 July, A.D. 2006)

One would think that if this is indeed a "hoax," the Bishop of Central Florida would have issued a disclaimer by now. Since he has not, one must assume it does indeed represents his views on the matter.

Posted by Jake at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 5:37pm BST

Steven in Rochester
Not all of us live in the USA and not all of us keep up at the detail level with American politics. I'm aware of what you mean by "red" or "blue" but I really have no accurate picture of which states of the USA, and still less which ECUSA dioceses, are in "red" or "blue" zones. And anyway, isn't the whole point of elections that some states change colour from time to time? I fear that I - and others - may not appreciate the significance of what you are saying.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 9:27pm BST

Simon:

No problem, and I am happy to provide further explanation.

The red/blue terminology was developed quite recently to track political developments reflecting the cultural and political divide that is sundering the American populace and is reflected in what is going on in TEC. Red states are considered to be predominantly conservative from a political standpoint and blue states predominantly liberal and to vote, respectively, republican and democrat in most elections.

Blue states are typically located along the coastlines and great lakes (except in the South) with the rest tending red. So, the vast majority of the country (in terms of land area), including the heartlands, is red.

In fact, the same is true even in "blue" states of most of the land area and counties. (The addition of the term "state" to the "red/blue" distinction is actually misleading). When voting results are analyzed at the county level the results reflect that the vast majority of counties and geographical area (even in blue states) go red. In fact, as you may have guessed, blue counties are those dominated by city dwellers and blue states are typically those where non-urban voters are out-voted by their more urbanized brethren.

Thus, while all generalizations break down at some point, it is clear that the culture wars in America are associated in some degree with urbanized vs. non-urbanized outlooks.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 10:00pm BST

It is patently absurd to link an individual diocese of TEC with the red/blue definition of its local politics, especially since most of the US is actually some shade of purple.Episcopalians in the reddish South are significantly more "welcoming" of gay people than are our Baptist and Roman Catholic neighbors, but a good many would label themselves
moderate Republicans who may even have voted for Mr.GW Bush. Only the lunatic right fringe fails to make a distinction between partisan political rancor and parish communities of faith. In fact, it could be that the level of nastiness and incivilty championed by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, et. al. has inspired the aggressive, threatening attitude of several prominent "reasserter" leaders. The reactionary wing of American politics scorns conversation with its demonized liberal opposition just as +Iker declines table fellowship with +Robinson.
We find ourselves in a sad place when Christians apply thoughtless political rhetoric to our struggles in the Church.

Posted by John D at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 10:10pm BST

Simon:

I actually should have said that the divide is associated not just with urbanized vs. non-urbanized outlooks, but with urbanized vs. non-urbanized peoples, religious preferences, and geographical areas.

Anyhow, the activities within TEC will quite possibly serve to eliminate (and are currently eliminating) its viability in most of the country--geographically speaking. This affect may be hard to track statistically as the denomination is already in such deep decline.

Whether these actions will actually improve its viability in highly urbanized areas? . . . hmm. I don't know, they might--particularly on what Americans call the "left" coast. However, part of the problem here is that "blues" overall don't tend to be nearly as "religious" by all of the usual measurements as "reds" (and no, JC, I'm not talking about you or anyone else in particular). So, from that standpoint--as well as all of the others--the denomination is probably losing quite a bit in terms of membership, money, influence and geographical area by continually striving to alienate its "red" constituents (and possible constituents).

Of course, those on the other side will argue that these things are unimportant in view of the morality of their cause. If I agreed with the morality of their cause I would also agree with them here, but since I don't . . .

Anyway, I'm sorry to see the "big-tent" Church I grew up in transforming itself into a far left "special interest group" with limited appeal to anyone outside of urban liberals. So it goes . . .

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 10:34pm BST

The "blue" states run up and down the two coasts and, generally, across the north from the eastern seaboard to the great lakes. These are generally the most populous states. The "red" states are largely in the south and west.

Wikipedia shows a traditional red/blue map.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_state_vs._blue_state_divide

This is a shades of purple version
http://www.princeton.edu/~rvdb/JAVA/election2004/

The bulk of Episcopal Church tends to follow the population centers. It has its most populous dioceses on the east and west coasts and in Texas. Of the 10 largest dioceses in the US, 6 are in "blue" states. The Network dioceses are among the smallest dioceses. The largest, Central Florida ranks 16 out of 110.

Louie Crew has some useful maps and statistics.
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/communicants93_03.html

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 10:57pm BST

Simon, good point. "Red State/Blue State" is a specifically US colloquialism; although I would imagine there is a UK equivalent.

Moreover, Steven, I think it's not really accurate. On the one hand, Episcopalians have actually been pretty evenly distributed - about 1.5% of the American population, in a relatively stable ratio. It's interesting that in the last map I saw of American denominations county by county (albeit 20 years ago) there were only four counties where Episcopalians were in the majority or plurality - two in South Dakota and two in Alaska, and all as the result of missions among Native Americans.

On the other, when you look at "alternative-seeking" clergy and congregations in "TEC-committed" dioceses and at "TEC-committed" congregations in "alternative-seeking" dioceses, they seem pretty evenly balanced, and not lined up with the American political "red state/blue state" model.

I do think TEC is certainly no longer "the Republican party at prayer;" but then I also think the Republican party has shifted severely to the conservative end. I was once a Nixon Republican - you know, the last American president to actually expand the social safety net, and to successfully pursue peace? However, over the last generation things have changed, and there is no place for a fiscal moderate and social liberal in the Republican party. I didn't change: the political spectrum did; and the change left a lot of us moderates more comfortable with the social service commitments expressed in the Democratic party - and in the Episcopal Church.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 11:08pm BST

Hi Marshall:

Ditto from the other end of the spectrum. I was a Carter democrat from a union family, and from the South--i.e., a hereditary yellow-dog democrat. As the party shifted left--particularly on moral issues such as abortion--it left me and mine behind.

P.S.-I think if you looked over the dioceses you mention you would probably find plenty of evidence for the metro/urban connection I discussed. As noted, the connection of "state" to the red/blue classification scheme is actually not very helpful.

The great divide in America today is, in my opinion, based on the Sexual Revolution. (And yes, this does relate to the topic under discussion as it underlies the split--even in the current meeting). It's actually a bit ironic. The democrat party could own the American electorate--including a lot of folks like me, a lot of union workers, a lot of RCs, etc.--if it would just back off on certain issues in this area. And, TEC could likewise do a lot to improve its image and appeal (at least in red zones) by taking some simple steps in this area.

John D:

"Only the lunatic right fringe fails to make a distinction between partisan political rancor and parish communities of faith." Hmmmm. Welcome to the funny farm.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 11:42pm BST

It seems we have wandered rather far from the topic, but I cannot let all of the assertions about the impending demise of the Episcopal Church pass without comment.

Statistically, the declines in the Episcopal Church are not necessarily linked with how liberal or conservative a diocese is: there are liberal dioceses that are doing well, and conservative ones that are doing poorly. In addition, there are a lot of "artifacts" in the statistics from 1980-2005, including changes in the definition of membership and so on, that have to be taken into account; as well as population shifts and the general background decline in church activity across the board in the "mainline" churches. I'm not saying that is good news, but it puts the modest losses sustained by the Episcopal Church in perspective when compared with the truly precipitous losses in some of the other mainline religious groups.

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic situation appears to me to be far more perilous, in the US and abroad. In spite of the theological conservatism of the RCC, the losses in some places are dramatic. In my own local neighborhood, just to compare: my parish (Episcopal) has held fairly steady in membership and attendance over the last two decades, with moderate dips and peaks, but no precipitous decline. During the same period, the local Roman Catholic parish went from a membership of 20,000 to 2,000! That is a 90% loss! The Archdiocese is looking at closing dozens of churches (in some places up to 1/3 of all RC parishes may close).

I am only saying this to note that religious conservatism does not always guarantee church growth. And to challenge the perception that the Episcopal Church is on its last legs.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 11:48pm BST

re: "I'm aware of what you mean by "red" or "blue" but I really have no accurate picture of which states of the USA, and still less which ECUSA dioceses, are in "red" or "blue" zones. And anyway, isn't the whole point of elections that some states change colour from time to time?"

It's even more complicated than that, Simon. States are characterized as Red or Blue politically based on majority votes in an election. Thus "Red" states and "Blue" states are more properly understood as "more than half Red" and "more than half Blue" states. Support for the opposite party or candidate, while smaller numerically, may still be significant.

Steven's characterization of Blue Episcopalians amidst 'large areas of "Red" America' seems a bit too, er, black and white to me.

Posted by Matt Humphreys at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 11:55pm BST

"no, JC, I'm not talking about you or anyone else in particular"

Beg pardon? (Don't know what you're getting at)

"Anyway, I'm sorry to see the "big-tent" Church I grew up in transforming itself into a far left "special interest group" with limited appeal to anyone outside of urban liberals. So it goes . . ."

Ah, Steven: solipcism, solipcism, solipcism. Your "'big-tent' Church I grew up in" is *soooo transparently* the "church that agrees w/ Steven"!(I'm not sure it EVER existed, as "The Episcopal Church of the USA"...)

"If I agreed with the morality of their cause I would also agree with them here, but since I don't . . ."

Frankly, Steven, I think it's less a case that you "don't agree with", and more a case that you *don't understand*.

It may sound trite, but TEC, in a nutshell, is prayerfully looking at Scripture, Tradition and Reason, and asking "What Would Jesus Do?"

...whereas *you see* TEC as asking "What makes us feel good?" (and then you disagree w/ *that*)

Lord have mercy!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 12:21am BST

Here's an interesting quote from the Wikipedia article that is generally reflective of the realities on the ground:

"The analysis that suggests political, cultural, and demographic differences between the states is more accurate when applied to smaller geographical areas. Pennsylvania, for example, shows "red" characteristics in the Westsylvania interior, but "blue" characteristics around the urban centers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Democratic political consultant James Carville has described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in between," suggesting that Pennsylvania, like several other blue states, would be solid red without its cities, due to its remainder's rural and religious, and thus socially conservative, nature."

So, ultimately, what is being talked about is not just an ideological divide, it is connected to locale and the types of folks typical to certain types of locales--at least in the U.S.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 12:25am BST

Steven, you write: "In the past, TEC could claim to be a truly national church in most respects. It may have been more "red" here and more "blue" there, but it retained enough of a "middle-ground" approach at a national level to be viable nation-wide. This situation has changed rapidly over the last generation, and especially over the last few years. If TEC is to halt or even wants to halt its "localization" both geographically and culturally to "blue" America it has to give equal recognition to its "red" membership--both actual and potential."

While the inappropriateness of applying the red/blue system to TEC has been well noted by others here, and while the potential inaccuracy of your predictions based on that paradigm have been handled here by still others, let us assume, arguendo, that your paradigm can be applied.

In that case, you really should tighten up the application of this paradigm a bit more. To say that TEC recognizes "blue" America but does not equally recognize "red" America misapplies the analogy.

In fact, TEC has, at the "federal" level, elected a "blue"/"Democratic" government, if you will, in both houses of "Congress" and in the "presidency." Yet the "reds"/"Republicans" got upset when a "blue" state elected a "blue" "governor / US senator" (to translate into U.S. political offices what a bishop's role encompasses in TEC's polity) whom the "reds" perceive to be of a deeper shade of blue than even the "president" and "president-elect," both of whom they dislike intensely anyway.

Now, all the "blues" -- while disagreeing with "red" positions -- have been perfectly happy to continue as a single country together with their "red" compatriots.

Many of the "reds," however, insist that the only way to prevent their secession now is for the "blue" "governor/senator" of New Hampshire either to convincingly re-register as "Republican" and support "red" positions, or else for him to resign his office, AND they wish for Tony Blair to exercise Alternative Head-of-Government Oversight ("AHOGO") over their "red" states for the entire term of the incoming "president's" "presidency," with no authority to be exercised over these "red" states by the current "president-elect" or the "blue"-dominated "Congress."

Applied thus, the red/blue paradigm is more reflective of reality, and shows up exactly how farcical, deluded, unjust, and etc. is the entire AHOGO project and its aim to cause both "civil war" and "world war."

Kyrie eleison...

Posted by Nadine Kwong at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 2:35am BST

Before entering into the fray, ++Rowan Cantuar and his Standing Committee advising him in matters affecting TEC and the 2006 GC would be well advised carefully to listen to both sides of the divide. Mr. Simon Sarmiento was thoughtful in posting references to Via Media websites of the (schismatic) Network dioceses. His Grace would do well to read the correspondence between +Jack Leo Iker and the Fort Worth Via Media. Would His Grace really want to support a person like +Jack Leo Iker, who hates TEC with a passion second to none and openly discriminates against women in Holy Orders?

Posted by John Henry at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 8:35am BST

It serves no good purpose to demonise Jack Iker like this. The Archbishop of Canterbury supports a wide range of Anglicans, including the Church of England, which does not have women bishops, and the majority of Anglican provinces which do not have women priests.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 12:37pm BST

Perhaps Leonardo Ricardo was unable to find what he was seeking at St Luke's Cathedral in Orlando as he was at the wrong church. St Luke's has three Sunday eucharists in the summer, 8:00, 10:15 and in the evening. On the last Sunday of July the two morning services were combined into one at 9:00 to honor the dean who retired that day.

There isn't a 12:15 service at the Cathedral.

Posted by George Conger at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 1:36pm BST

A point of clarity re Marshall's comment that TEC represents about 1.5% of the population. I believe that this percentage has been now revised down to 0.79%. This makes TEC nearly insignificant statistically in terms of the US population.

Posted by Ian Montgomery at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 2:01pm BST

Steven and Nadine -
Another variable in the red/blue analogy that hasn't been taken into account is whether voting is compulsory or not. The fallacy inherent in this is that the political complexion is determined by those who actually turn out to vote, who may in fact be a tiny proportion of the total population of a given area. This means that the actual profile of a state is really more likely to be a distortion. It also means that those who are apathetic to electoral process are able to opt out - and are likely to remain apathetic until actuated by personal disadvantage or social unrest. On this basis, the conservatives in TEC either have a track record for political sluggishness, or are afraid that the other side might just turn out more voters one fine polling day...
This analogy is plainly false, although also telling. Perhaps Steven might consider why it is that we're having the same conversation essaying the same broad issues (but now in colour!) as has already happened on other threads in this site.

Posted by kieran crichton at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 2:25pm BST

Dear Alan,
I'm not sure I'm reading your phrase correctly, but by my count a majority of the Anglican Provinces approve of the ordination of women to the priesthood. I'm not sure that all who approve actually "have" women priests at present; but with 23 provinces approving I think it likely that the majority of Anglican provinces may well be served by women in this order of ministry.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 3:21pm BST

Tobias:

I see you minister in the Bronx--a highly urbanized area. Thus, all of the statistics you cite with regard to your church and the RC church merely go to prove my point. I would also assume there are some other factors involved with regard to the RC in your area. Hasn't the Bronx undergone some pretty heavy gentrification over the last 20 years?

Matt:

Nothing is perfect. My comments may be less accurate than the local weatherman, but I still think they have some predictive and analytical value.

JC:

To respond to your comments in order: Sorry--One should always be carefuly in accusing others of solipsism (people who live in glass houses . . .)--Nope, that one won't work (I do understand)--Chortle (surely you're joking)--Agreed. PS-No offense intended--

Nadine:

Excellent job. All analogies break down at some point, and your comparisons become a bit more strained as you go up the ladder. Still, they make your points very well. I can only assume those acting believe that desperate times call for desperate measures. You may dispute the nature of the times and the nature of the measures. However, of the measures I would note that they can only be judged to be absurd if they ultimately fail in accomplishing purposes beneficial to the causes of those pursuing them. This has not been the case so far.

Kieran:

I'm not sure why so many people here seem to take offense at what I'm saying. I am merely discussing very real divisions in the American populace and how they do (or at least might) be affecting TEC issues now and in the future. I think the premise and the relationships pointed out are valid. It's curious to me that this seems to be such a sore point with some folks. What's gives?

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 5:40pm BST

Steven,
The Bronx is an incredibly diverse part of New York City. It contains some of the poorest neighborhoods in the state, and one of the richest. My part of town is somewhere in the lower middle -- hardly "gentrified" by any recognizable standard. I take no offense at your comments, but I don't see your connection of liberal/conservative politics, urban/rural demographcs, and church growth/decline to be meaningful or accurate.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 6:53pm BST

Tobias:

I think the tie-in between urbanized areas and their propensity to go blue is pretty well established. Here is a map that illustrates the point pretty well:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2004/countymap.htm

The Wikipedia article cited above puts it like this:

"The county-by-county and district-by-district maps reveal that the true nature of the divide is between urban areas/inner suburbs and outer suburbs/rural areas. In "solidly Blue" states like California and New York, most of the counties outside the major urban areas voted for Bush, while in "solidly Red" states, most of the urban areas voted for John Kerry (with a large exception for Phoenix, Arizona, one of the largest low-density urban centers in the U.S. and consistently Republican by a substantial margin.)"

So, I don't think I'm on thin ice there. I will admit to "new" thinking when it comes to how this impacts the current TEC situation. However, as political liberals/conservatives tend to be religious liberals/conservatives I think there are definite tie-ins and issues to explore. I know these ideas are speculative, but I am surprised to find that some seem to find them highly objectionable.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 7:34pm BST

Ian, I have no reason to question your statistics. Indeed, I would question whether even at twice that we were ever statistically significant as a percentage of the general populace.

And I wonder whether that's not a dynamic going on here. The 1978 book, "The Power of Their Glory," was about how members of the Episcopal Church were visible all out of proportion to our demographic size. I recall reading statistics in the '80's that 10% of all state and federal officials in the United States, elected or appointed, were members of the Episcopal Church. In 2003 approximately 10% of members of Congress were Episcopalians. (Even President Bush, himself a Methodist, worships most frequently in an Episcopal Church near the White House; although I think that's determined as much by the Secret Service as it is by the President's immediate choice.)

I wonder how conscious Episcopalians are of that? And if they were, how would they see it? I have heard concern about a progressive church distancing itself not only from Anglicans abroad but also from the American public in general. However, I don't think the positions taken by those bishops and standing committees seeking separation are really that reflective of the American public, either.

We are not a large portion of the American population. However, I look at the sort of political presence of the much larger Roman Catholic Church or the Southern Baptist Convention, and don't know that it actually does them, or the public, any good. On the other hand, if we're motivating people to involve themselves in public service ("to seek and serve Christ in all persons"), then it is our commitment to servanthood that makes us truly significant.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 7:40pm BST

To get back to the "AlPO" topic of the NY meeting, I'm truly puzzled by something. These dissident bishops (mine among them), are requesting oversight from a foreign Primate. This, along with their (at the *very* least) tacit rejection of the authority of the General Convention, quite clearly says that they are leaving TEC. I mean *really* ? how much more blatant could they be ?

It seems quite simple - every one of them should be brought up on presentments for abandoning the communion of the church.

Posted by David Huff at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 7:45pm BST

"I don't see your connection of liberal/conservative politics, urban/rural demographcs, and church growth/decline to be meaningful or accurate..."

Equating red state/blue state generalizations to conservative/liberal dioceses is perilous at best. The state of Virginia tends to vote strongly GOP in the rural and western part of the state, mixed in Tidewater and Richmond, and somewhat more liberal in N. Va.

The state is divided into 3 dioceses [look this up on TEC website for precision]. Diocese of Virginia goes from Richmond north of the James River up through the VA DC suburbs and out to me, in the Shenandoah Valley, 15 miles from the state of W. VA. The Diocese of Southern VA goes from Richmond south of the James into Tidewater and west I'm not so sure how far. The Diocese of Southwestern VA has Lynchburg, Lexington, and goes all the way west - very mountainous, very rural - a lot of coal country.

OK: most liberal is Diocese of SW VA, in most politically conservative corner. Most conservative - in the past at least - S. Va. My own Diocese of VA is middl'in.

BUT, within Diocese of VA, the most conservative churches are in N Va 'burbs, as are some of the most liberal, and the most liberal churches are in Richmond ... and out here in the Valley, where Democratic voters are very very thin on the ground, most of the churches are decidedly on the liberal side.

Go figger.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 9:42pm BST

"Perhaps Leonardo Ricardo was unable to find what he was seeking at St Luke's Cathedral in Orlando as he was at the wrong church. St Luke's has three Sunday eucharists in the summer, 8:00, 10:15 and in the evening. On the last Sunday of July the two morning services were combined into one at 9:00 to honor the dean who retired that day. There isn't a 12:15 service at the Cathedral." George C.

Ah George, ya caught me in mi devilment! I got the time wrong, you're right papi, it be the 10:15 A.M. I attended on the second Sunday after the 4 de Julio! It was the ONLY mass advertised! I did go to St. Lukes Cathedral, "A Network Cathedral" and read the sign (you know George, the one on the corner/kiddycorner from the covered bus stop?) and it said a daily eucharist would be held at 12:05 (did I get it right?) but NOBODY was there when I went back on the 5th of July at the appointed time and the CHURCH was sealed shut...perhaps their was a little "time off" take and the brothers and sisters forgot to change the sign?

So, as I was on business/pleasure, I was only able to attend services once! And what a eyeopener that was at St. Lukes "Network Cathedral" but perhaps I should share the contents of the 'homily' at another time as it was very anti-Episcopal Church! I took notes.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 10:32pm BST

Dear David,
Thanks for getting this back "on topic." In my opinion the issue here is that the dissident bishops haven't abandoned communion _yet._ They have made a request, to which Canterbury has quite rightly responded, in essence, "I can't and won't do that; besides, it's anti-Windsor! You need to work this out through the legitimate structures of your own province, to see if there is a way by which you can in good conscience remain within the structures of the Episcopal Church while receiving pastoral care from an acceptable someone _WITH_ the permission of the Ecclesiastical Authority of your church. I believe you have a rule about bishops not performing episcopal functions in dioceses not their own. Yes, I think that's correct. And while you are at it, you will need to provide for the congregations within your own dioceses that don't feel as you do and are perfectly happy with your new Primate-elect. Can you dears all work this out in a mutually agreeable way? Frankly, I don't quite grasp the intricacies of your American system of church government, which seems more complicated than Ante-Nicene Christology."
That, I think, sums up the situation. We shall probably know for sure later in the week.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 11:40pm BST

"In my opinion the issue here is that the dissident bishops haven't abandoned communion _yet._"

And what exactly would it take? They already eschew the Eucharists at HoB meetings.

Reading their document where they desperately attempt to find some kind of "primatial authority" they can object to, it's pretty clear they they want to retain the constitution and canons of TEC without retaining any means of enforcing them or obligation to conform to them.

The problem is they are negotiating with a PB who dosn't have the authority to do most of the things they are asking -- to be relieved of any obligation to uphold the C&C of TEC.

Posted by ruidh at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 3:43am BST

Sorry to get off topic again but arguably it's largely the Red/Blue divide that's responsible for the decline in TEC and some other mainline churches.

The Episcopal Church has always been small--only 5% of the population in 1960--and demographically specialized. Its constituency has always been disproportionately urban, coastal, highly educated and rich--that is, Blue. Lots of Red Americans have never even heard of the Episcopal Church.

This creates a no-win situation. TEC's traditional urban elite constituency is increasingly secular--remember Peter Berger's mot about the US being a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. So if the church pitches to Blues it loses because most members of this elite are not going to go for religion of any kind, however liberal, however supportive of gay rights, or whatever. If however it pitches to religious, socially conservative Reds it also loses because most Reds have no interest in or connection to the Episcopal Church and will not go for the Episcopal Church or any conservative Anglican spin-off no matter how conservative or unsympathetic to gay rights it is. They'll be Baptists or Catholics, depending on family history, personal preference and what's locally available.

If the church splits both conservative and liberal successor denominations will lose; if it doesn't split it will just continue to decline anyway. Whatever happens the future of the Episcopal Church in the US is as a specialty item--for Anglophiles, snobs, and aesthetes. But would that really be so bad? It isn't the Episcopal Church, or the Anglican Communion, that ought to be a wide tent but the Church, which includes not only Anglicans but Baptists, Catholics, Jehovahs Witnesses, Holy Rollers and IMHO everybody who claims to be Christian. If different denominations specialize to satisfy the needs and interests of people with different tastes, different theologies, different moral views, so what?

Posted by H. E. at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 4:41am BST

Steven:

Relying on Wikipedia for any information (it's about as credible as the National Enquirer) puts you on thin ice.

Posted by marc at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 4:49am BST

Marc
You mean like this page?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglican_Communion_Network
And for some discussion on its earlier versions:
http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2006/09/why-bother-wikipedia-knows-all.html

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 8:55am BST

Indeed Marc, even I have supplied material for that “august” institution – so Steven take note!
It’s good to see Stephen Bates back in harness and dropping a little bombshell on Ruth, as well as telling us some very interesting news

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 9:03am BST

Simon

Yep, like that. And while Wikipedia MAY have some credible info (like that supplied by Martin Reynolds?), it's good that you included Mark Harris' piece, especially noting the comments section: "Again, anybody can post anything they like at Wikipedia, and that includes any one of us here; all you have to do is click the [edit] icon. As you can see, there's now a notice at the top of the main page that says 'Some information in this article or section has not been verified and may not be reliable.'" National Enquirer/Faux Network anyone?

Posted by marc at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 12:37pm BST

Whatever Stephen Bates was in hospital for, it obviously wasn't an irony deficiency.

Posted by ChrisM at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 2:59pm BST

I'll bow to Br. Tobias' greater experience in these matters, but I still remain at least somewhat dubious about whether or not these dissidents have abandoned the communion of TEC in a strict "Constitution & Canons" sense.

But as ruidh reminds us, "They already eschew the Eucharists at HoB meetings." (and at General Convention). Which tells me they've been abandoning communion in an ecclesiastical sense for some time. I just wish they'd drop all the pretense and be honest about it...

Posted by David Huff at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 3:10pm BST

Marshall:

The American version of the Anglican spiritual diaspora has a history that, sans more recent events, I have always been very proud of. And, Anglicanism has probably influenced American life to a degree that is far out of proportion to its numbers due to the fact that in the U.S. the upper echelon of business, politics, etc. have always been disproportionately Anglican.

Tobias:

I think the Red/Blue issue is very much ON topic. Discussion on this point began with a question of why the two sides should receive equivalent treatment when the dissidents represented only a relatively small number of U.S. TEC dioceses. My response was that while this is true, the dissidents are aligned with (in terms of the U.S. cultural divide) a roughly equivalent proportion of the population, which population is the dominant population in the vast majority of the land area of the U.S. Thus, in terms of TEC's future in terms of both people and places, this is obviously something that must be taken into account. Whether this justifies equal or equivalent treatment is certainly open to debate, but it is a point to keep in mind.

Re: Wikipedia:

I don't disagree particularly on Wikipedia. It's had its problems. I merely quoted from the article (which was originally posted by Ruidh, not me) because it was convenient. The phenomenon under discussion is well documented. It is interesting to me that so many people here seem to be in denial on the issue. My assumption is that TEC liberals don't like to feel like they're being type-cast as a primarily urban phenomenon with a primarily urban appeal. However, to me this particular blade "bites" both ways.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 4:08pm BST

The Canons describe the acts that constitute abandonment of communion by a bishop -- and not receiving the eucharist with someone (while I think it inappropriate) is not one of them. One could perhaps say that by asking for alternative primatial oversight, a bishop has "renounced" the "Discipline" of the church, but I think that is pressing matters a bit far. Those who actually have gone and _done_ such things (e.g., Martyn Minns) I would say _have_ abandoned communion with this church. But if there is any truth in the old saying, "There's no harm in asking" then those who have merely asked ought not to be regarded as the same as those who have acted.

Now that the meeting is over and no firm decision reached, it remains to be seen if this "grey" area can be maintained or if we will immediately plunge into black or white.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 4:25pm BST

H.E.:

You've made a lot of good points; however, I disagree with your prediction about the ability of Anglicanism (as long as it is conservative) to succeed among "reds". I grew up in a small mission church out "in the sticks" near Jacksonville, Florida. I haven't been back in many years, but it has moved, grown and (as far as I can tell) thrived over the years. It is also deeply conservative. There are plenty of conservative Anglican church's doing very well in red zones, including some notable examples among the TEC "rebels". And, in my opinion, the potential for growth is tremendous.

The reason for this is that American protestants are not static in terms of denominational membership. For example, many conservative Presbyterian and Anglican churches in the South regularly receive ex-Baptists as new members who are, so to speak, climbing the ecclesiastical ladder. This could be the result of a desire for a higher socio-economic status denomination (if you're cynical), because they are looking for a deeper intellectual experience (if you're an intellectual), and/or because they are seeking a more historic and traditional form of worship and theology. However you want to look at it, it is a definite and continuing phenomenon. And, given the success of conservative Anglican churches in red zones, I think there is no reason to predict or even be concerned about the ability of conservative Anglicanism to survive and thrive in these areas.

Steven

PS-Hmmm. You may cast your net a bit to wide for me when you include Jehovah's Witnesses--i.e., neo-Arians--among those you categorize as "Christians". Perhaps they are by your definition, but . . .

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 4:39pm BST

"The Canons describe the acts that constitute abandonment of communion by a bishop -- and not receiving the eucharist with someone (while I think it inappropriate) is not one of them."

Granted. But I think it does say a lot about where these bishops are and in a very true sense, they have already separated themselves from TEC. If the only thing holding them here is property and pensions, I don't have much optimism for the long term outlook.

Posted by ruidh at Wednesday, 13 September 2006 at 9:17pm BST
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