Comments: Colorado Springs: the voting results

Well, too bad, if Armstrong+ and Akinola/Minns had really been clever they would have had only Armstrong vote and make it a 100% landslide sweep (kinda reminds me of the last Iraq election under Saddam H.)! Unfortunately for the Nigerian "poachers" the REAL Bishop of The Diocese of Colorado asked loyal Episcopalians NOT TO VOTE at all! They didn't!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 8:13pm BST

This one is easy ;0

The 1500-2000 claim really should have been the 600-800 figure...

which of late has split into more or less equal halves.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 8:56pm BST

Hmmmmm...those numbers just don't make sense. 380 out of 1500-2000 member voted? Don't their bylaws require a larger percentage to vote? I am totally unimpressed, and hope the Diocese and the true congregation continue to press their case. The enormous ego of Armstrong+ and the hubris of the (vestry) need to be brought fully to light.

Posted by Padre Wayne at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 9:27pm BST

When Grace was mentioned in Colorado press reports. It was always mentioned a 2500 membership.

Having visited the place, I questioned it.

Posted by michael Cridland at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 9:44pm BST

Numbers are easily fixed if one makes a decision to only record those who are loyal and theologically correct as members.

Such dynamics remind me of the book "The Revenants" by Sheri S. Tepper http://www.amazon.com/Revenants-Sheri-S-Tepper/dp/0441718213 This novel has great sociological parables e.g. the consequences of purification and separation: how priests can make communities isolated, smaller and distorted. There are also parables about misfits and the fight for diversity.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 10:23pm BST

>>>Can anyone shed more light please?

Perhaps someone is lying.

Posted by JPM at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 10:49pm BST

370 departing members? Is that what all this noise has been about? Wake me when it's over.

Posted by Curtis at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 11:20pm BST

The Red Book (the Episcopal Church Annual) quotes 2000 for Grace and St. Stephen's. I then transformed congregation size to ASA using the figures for my somewhat larger TEC parish, which gave me 875. So before the split, 875 people were worshipping regularly on Sunday. The congregation size figures usually include irregular communicants of all sorts, people who attended the church as children and never transferred to another Episcopal parish, folks in assisted living etc. Now split the church in two and account for the fact that some number are ineligible to vote on account of their age. That's an upper bound of 440 or so. Sounds about right to me.

Posted by Caelius Spinator at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 11:30pm BST

There was much talk here and elsewhere about Fr Armstrong’s remuneration package being excessive.

We were then pointed to a sliding scale of pay packages published on the diocesan website that suggested a Church larger than 400 ASA should have a target wage of $123,000 - but I note that this falls to $99,000 under 400.

I know Fr Armstrong’s published wages were somewhat higher than the first figure – even without the “added extras” – but now he has left TEC it seems churlish to suggest that he might think it time to reassess his payment package.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 11:52pm BST

"370 departing members? Is that what all this noise has been about? Wake me when it's over."

Why I get very very annoyed when the press refers to a 'split' in TEC - as if half were on one side and half on the other.

The people who are leaving are in a distinct minority, which is why they did not prevail in the democratic process that is the polity of the Episcopal church.

I live in a state, and in a part of the state, in which I, as a progressive, am for sure part of a minority. In every election for the state legislature [aka The General Ass] in which I have voted, not only has the other side won in a landslide, but often there was no opposition, leaving me only able to cast a write in vote for Mickey Mouse. Between elections, I support whatver opposition there is.

But gues what? I don't secede from the Commonwealth of Virginia and declare myself a resident of Massachusetts-in-Exile. I work for change and stay registered here in the Commonwealth.

That is how glbt people in the Episcopal Church have worked for the last 30+ years - working patiently for change - NOT going off in a snit and trying to steal the family silver at the same time.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 12:26am BST

The Diocese of Colorado says the pre-split Average Sunday Attendance was about 800 +/-, about the same as their cathedral. The larger number includes all communicants. The number of eligible voters should be larger than the ASA but smaller than the communicant strength.

I find therefore the claim by the breakaway church of 600-800 Sunday attendance to be hard to swallow. They are saying that between the two groups ASA actually went up as a result of the split. This should have resulted in a higher voter turnout, I should think.

Qualifying to vote may have suppressed numbers. There was a three-step process to become eligible. Re-register as members of the new congregation (their Episcopal communicant status would not by itself count). Contribute to the new congregation. (History of giving to the parish pre-split would not necessarily count either). Lastly, be a regular communicant since the split. How many people, even if they continued to attend worship at the same location, would have gone through that process?

There is no indication about how many of the people who actually come to worship in the breakaway church went through that process. Nor is is clear about how many the people who remain on the rolls but who come less often would have gone through that process.

Fr. Armstrong said that the low numbers had to do with age (too young to vote or too elderly to come out)and with people who are out of town. This would be a factor, but I don't think it accounts for all of it.

It seems that the breakaway group want to count the numbers both ways: actual votes tallied and actual eligible voters on the one hand; and the more general attendance/communicant figures which can't be trusted until/unless there is an agreed formula for knowing who's who.

Anyway you cut it, less than one fifth of the communicants of the pre-split parish has voted in favor of this action.

One of the tragedies that all this number-crunching points to is that there are probably many people who feel allegiance to both the loyal Episcopal congregation and the breakaway CANA group, as well as people who may legitimately be claimed as members of both. They are caught in the middle. They did not ask for this and they don't deserve it.

Posted by Andrew Gerns at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 1:25am BST

The massive number of non-voting members should be counted as a "no confidence" vote. With the hard sell that the parish has been giving, a lot of people will just not vote rather than vote no.

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 2:14am BST

Seems this is a church split in two (and thank you, Caelius, for your quick math). Can we just focus on prayer for these 800 or so souls (no matter the 'side') whose sanctuary is broken for now? Personally, I'm rather sympathetic to the group headed to CANA, although I would have voted to walk and leave the property.

For me, as a member of one of the 10 largest ECUSA congregations leaning strongly toward traditional Anglican teaching, this is a common discussion: leave or stay? Fraught with many worldly complications, we simply turn from the fracas and to Jesus. And for now that means to do his bidding, listen to his word and stay open to the spirit. Don't know how long that will mean staying in a church on a path we feel so obviously errant, but for now it seems the most Christian option.

Grace and St Stephens felt it was time to move, given the actions of their bishop. I pray they have done the right thing, but it seems a long and difficult road.

Posted by harvard man at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 3:18am BST

The official ECUSA statistics are below:

http://12.0.101.88/reports/PR_ChartsDemo/exports/ParishRPT_5282007121159AM.pdf

Posted by Margaret at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 5:10am BST

In the Episcopal Church children are counted as members. This accounts for some of the disparity.

It is also true that rectors clean the membership rolls most religiously (shall we say) when they join a parish. Father Armstrong has been at Grace for 20 years.

More speculatively both the occupying congregation and the loyal displaced congregation have an incentive to state their numbers optimistically.

The dissembling factors are exposed by the low numbers.

There is another factor which I do not think speaks well of Armstrong and his vestry. To be eligible to vote one had to register. Shouldn't mere adult membership in the parish at the time of the vestry's announcement that it had voted to go to CANA been the least manipulative?

Posted by John B. Chilton at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 6:12am BST

Episcopal Cafe has some interesting details on the vote:

The rules established for the vote require that members of the Episcopal parish must re-register as members of the CANA congregation, contribute to the new congregation and attend its worship.

http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/episcopal_church/by_andrew_gerns_a_colorado.html#more

In other words, only those who have affiliated with CANA are allowed to vote on whether to affiliate with CANA.

Saddam Hussein's campaign manager couldn't have done better!

Posted by JPM at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 6:44am BST

The same thing happened in Virginia. As folks approached the table to vote, many of the "stay" voters were disqualified for dubious reasons. Some were accused of having poor attendance records (who knew anyone was keeping roll - I guess when people in authority talk about your permanent record, there really is one). As has been reported before, large numbers of congregants in the most populated Virginia congregations aren't even Episcopalians - they left years ago when far-right evangelicals stormed the gates; if they never bothered to become members, they couldn't vote either. Still, the point remains, in Colorado, as it does in Virginia, if there is anyone remaining who voted to stay, the Diocese should and will take action to retain their traditional place of worship, for them, and succeeding generations. I'm a member of a parish where the original vote to leave was 122 to 34. The 34 has now grown to twice that number. We're blessed to temporarily worship in a church that had been abandoned by another congregation, as we await the outcome of the court case. There's no anger, no bitterness in the congregation - we're rebuilding a place where the possibility of reconciliation is open. We're rebuilidng a congregation where the Holy Spirit moves in wonderful ways. It's all good here.

Posted by The Spotsyltuckian at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 12:19pm BST

The Rocky Mountain news is reporting today that Grace had 822 "eligible members" with 344 voting to leave.]

ww.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5558997,00.html

Posted by C.B. at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 1:31pm BST

A suggestion: when you see a news story that refers to the controversy that 'has split' TEC, write a gentle note to the author if you can, pointing out that 'split' implies a 50/50 division, which is far, far from the case.

I did write to a Richmond [Virginia] Times Dispatch writer Sunday, and got a nice note back. He'd meant some had 'split off,' but realized that using the word 'split' alone did imply a greater quantity of dissent than is the case.

I was quite up front about my motives, identifying myself as a progressive concerned about accuracy.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 5:27pm BST

John Chilton, I was going to say what you did: could be the kids. Armstrong's parish seems authoritarian and militaristic. Perhaps they have a strong pronatal streak too, and the members have been fruitfully multiplying. Fruitful - not THAT kind of fruit, though.

Posted by Weiwen Ng at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 9:38pm BST

"The rules established for the vote require that members of the Episcopal parish must re-register as members of the CANA congregation, contribute to the new congregation and attend its worship."

So, if you want to stay in the Episcopal Church, you cannot vote on whether the parish should remain as part of the Episcopal Church.

Right.

Well, let me be the first to say it plain.

This is nothing but theft of property. The Rev'd Mr. Armstrong and his supporters are thieves. And if the Prince Bishop of Abuja accepts this congregation with the disputed property at the end of this facical vote, then the Primate of All Nigeria is an accessory to theft.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 9:43pm BST

harvard man: You wrote: Grace and St Stephens felt it was time to move, given the actions of their bishop." This is incorrect. Grace and St. Stephens is the continuing Episcopal congregation with the support of the Bishop of Colorado. To be accurate, you should have written that dissident members of Grace and St. Stephens felt it was time to move, etc.

Posted by GoSane at Monday, 28 May 2007 at 11:03pm BST

Good for GoSane to correct Harvard man. I'm so sick and tired of the lies and misconceptions spread by the Akinolite schismatics.

Posted by John Henry at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 1:26am BST

GoSane,

Well, I guess that's the rub: who are the congregation? I don't know CO law and the situation on the ground. As I said, I would leave and know Jesus would honor faithful members who serve and love him, no matter the facility. I can't judge those on either side of this split, and don't know who moved on or stayed.

Posted by harvard man at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 2:23am BST

We have seen Bush-allied neoconservatives indulge every kind of immorality and get away with it. The neoconservative fringe of American Anglicanism seems to have the same unscrupulous attitude.

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 5:37am BST

Cynthia - everyone should know that TEC is not seeing a great split as it is liberal dominated.

The split may come between TEC and the AC if TEC fails to repent before Sept 30th and act like a member of the AC if it wants to be such.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 10:39am BST

" ... if TEC fails to repent..."

Why should we repent of following our conscience and our polity and not giving in to bullies?

Should not the repenting come from those who want to steal TEC property and those bishops who ignore Nicea, not to metion that holy of holies, 'Windsor/Dromantine' by blatently violating diocesan boundaries?

Should not the repenting come from places like Colorado and Virginia, where the 'election' processes to go to CANA would shame Boss Tweed in their corruption? Lyndon Johnson would blush!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 11:35am BST

Cynthia - I would encourage the faithful AC people in TEC not to fight for property but to move on with grace.....

No, it is not this new god called "polity" which concerns me but TEC deciding, I hope, to accept the recommedations of Dromantine, TWR and Tanzania and to come back to AC and its biblical views with regard to the standards required of leaders in their lives and teaching.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 11:50am BST

"The split may come between TEC and the AC if TEC fails to repent before Sept 30th and act like a member of the AC if it wants to be such."

They have nothing much to repent of, at least on the fronts on which they have been accused.

Bishop Tutu is right; what Anglican leaders and propagandists should repent of is their "extraordinary obsession" with alleged gay-related transgressions.

In any case, the prospect of excommunication for TEC is rather unlikely, given that the TEC bishops have all been invited to Lambeth (though on of them on rather invidious terms).

I met the Anglican bishop of Tokyo the other day -- a good man. I asked him had he received his invitation to Lambeth. He had! I congratulated him.

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 12:00pm BST

" ... if TEC fails to repent..."

The only difference between these bullying fanatics and the mad mullahs is a shave.

Posted by counterlight at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 1:27pm BST

for counterlight and others who are not clear, the Sept 30 deadline for an umabiguous response from TEC came from ...the liberal ABC and ALL the Primates of the AC, including KJS......not me!

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 3:42pm BST

"for counterlight and others who are not clear, the Sept 30 deadline for an umabiguous response from TEC came from ...the liberal ABC and ALL the Primates of the AC, including KJS......not me!"

...and from some powerful African Archbishops together with some powerful American money (can you say "Ahmanson"?) yanking their choke chains.

Posted by counterlight at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 4:17pm BST

NP - Only 125 days and counting. The excitement of getting to watch TEC finally disciplined must be almost unbearable. How do you sleep? What will you do when TEC isn't trashed as you had hoped? At least, we can be thankful that there will be no more ticking clocks to get all wound up about.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 4:30pm BST

The September 30 deadline came from a body that had no authority either to set such demands nor establish a deadline.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 4:38pm BST

I find it astonishing that there are so many gleefully anticipating the dismemberment/ overthrow of the Episcopal Church, especially when the Church and its leadership still enjoy the support of a substantial majority of its members. I seriously wonder how far this crisis would have gone without outside meddling and outside money. I'm sure it would have ended as all these crises ended in the past; with some walking out and others being accomodated in some fashion. Some kind of modus vivendi might have been worked out without a lot of demagogues promising the schismatic minority the keys to every cathedral in the Church, and that they would see the liberal/ moderate majority out in the street and themselves vindicated, binding their enemies in chains.
As I say, this all reminds me of a Falangist coup against a legitimate government rather than an uprising of the oppressed. This is a smash and grab for power assisted by outside forces.

Posted by counterlight at Tuesday, 29 May 2007 at 10:08pm BST

The end of the world is nigh! The end of the world is nigh! Nope - that was yesterday. October 1st and that will be another yesterday.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 1:25am BST

My goodness. All the brouhaha (past and present) from reasserters like Armstrong+ about their oh-so large congregations, regardless of their, ahem, "questionable" (ac)counting practices.

Well, my bog-standard, loyal, mainstream Episcopal parish in the midst of the "Network" Diocese of Dallas had approx 2,000 members in good standing last I heard. And not one Alpha class, or any, other bits of extremist conservative nonsense to be seen...

Posted by David H. at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 1:32am BST

"for counterlight and others who are not clear, the Sept 30 deadline for an umabiguous response from TEC came from ...the liberal ABC and ALL the Primates of the AC, including KJS......not me!"
-NP

actually, while you are in a sense correct, there were indications that Archbishop Akinola pressured the Primates into making that statement. the ABC's council had given TEC a mostly passing grade on Windsor compliance. Akinola was understandably displeased. as I understand it, he consulted with fellow conservatives and applied pressure to the other Primates.

KJS signed off on it with the understanding that she was bringing it to TEC for our discussion. the Primate of Canada, as I recall, basically said that he wouldn't sign it if she didn't. even if KJS hadn't signed it, Rowan has all the backbone of well-boiled pasta (Spong) and would have caved in to Akinola.

of course, Rowan's recent actions with Lambeth invitations may run counter to the overdone pasta interpretation.

Posted by Weiwen Ng at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 3:00am BST

You never know, CB, TEC may repent in the next 124 days....now that would be a reason to rejoice!

But, yes, if TEC wants to stick to its view that it should both be a full member of the AC and at the same time be able to actively subvert biblical AC teaching, then I would prefer to see the current TEC walk than stay and cause more problems.....we have already lost 4 years because of TEC decisions and actions in 2003 and the AC really cannot afford to have its mission further damaged and distracted - even the ABC seems to understand that the time has come for decisions to prevent the death of the AC, as we see TEC dying slowly, sustained by inherited money as people leave year by year (in a country where 43% go to church!!!)

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 7:21am BST

counterlight - the majority you speak of in TEC is a tiny minority in the AC - you do realise that??

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 7:45am BST

"counterlight - the majority you speak of in TEC is a tiny minority in the AC - you do realise that??"

As a liberal gay man who grew up in an ocean of conservative evangelicalism in Texas, I'm not impressed. I remember whole stadia filled to capacity with people all of like mind answering their pastors in unison on cue. If that didn't persuade/ coerce me into conformity, what makes you think a globe full of Bible thumpers marching in lockstep behind their fearless leaders would make any difference to me?

So I wonder NP, what the hell happens to your "Nothing $ucceeds like $uccess" beliefs if you should ever find yourself in a very tiny, despised, and put upon minority like, oh I don't know, gay Nigerian men or the first generations of Christians?

Posted by counterlight at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 12:49pm BST

"sustained by inherited money" - I wish you would substantiate this. What inherited money?

The budget process of General Convention may be studied in the documents produced there - I expect available online at TEC. The only part of TEC that 'has' money [as opposed to raising and spending an annual budget] is the Church Pension Fund, which indeed has endowed funds to support retired clergy and thier spouses. This is the result of shrewd investment and good management over the years.

Some individual churches have endowed funds [Trinity Wall Street comes to mind], but most parishes are like mine: setting an annual budget to be supported by the pledges of our members. Right now we are in an additional fund drive to pay off the bank loan we took out several years ago to accomadate our facilities to a growing - not fading away! - congregation.

So where is all this imaginary inherited money?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 1:26pm BST

I wonder how it is if liberal=decline and fundamentalism=growth that TEC became this liberal majority. Was there a putsch at some point by which a tiny liberal clique took power and all the evangelicals ran away? I really must go back to the sociology of religion texts and a bit of ecclesiastical history again to see which bit I missed.

NP may convince himself with his repetitions but it does not convince me. In its breadth and variety TEC is not alone; I was only saying last night in the pub about the Welsh Anglican Church gaining some of its liberal character historically set against nonconformity in Wales and its revivals and rivalry. There are strong cultural reasons, place by place, why Churches acquire the characteristics they do. NP writes a kind of divine marketing speak.

And when you look at the figures, all churches are in decline - London churches are not because of the large recent immigration sector and most recently there is the impact of the Poles.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 2:43pm BST

well, counterlight, to answer your question, in a terrible situation, I follow some good, reliable teaching eg prov 3:5-7

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 3:37pm BST

Since I'm here anyway: what sanctimonious bull, NP! Proverbs 3:5 describes you to a T! You lean fully on your own understanding that the traditional approach to Scriptural interpretation is "the traditions of men", you ignore the ways in which the approach you favour is at least as corruptable as tradition, and you actively scorn that tradition, preferring a relatively new model of Scriptural interpretation, the newness of which you vehemently deny! If that's not "leaning on your own understanding", especially the last bit, I don't know what is. Verse 7 also directly applies: you are wise in your own eyes, since you are convinced that you follow the True Faith and that those who disagree have no faith at all, and you certainly don't shun evil, I have seen you actively defend it or at least excuse it on many occasions, and, when called on it, come out with some weak little assertions that you personally don't approve of X or Y. Odd that when +Akinola does something you don't approve of, you don't even mention that disapproval till someone calls you on it, and you never call for him to be removed from the episcopate, yet Gene Robinson is too sinful to remain in a cope and mitre! I'd suggest a lot more self examination, NP, it is an important part of being a Christian. As kids, we'd refer scornfully to the Pentecostals "getting saved" as "getting their wings". The problem is that, for people like you, it seems, once you get your wings, you don't bother to practice flying with them!

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 5:49pm BST

NP.

Since we are lobbing proof-texts at each other:

Luke 6:1-11

Also, a favorite Yiddish proverb:

"Truth rests with God alone, and a little bit with me."

Posted by counterlight at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 3:03am BST

Pluralist - your confusion on how TEC became dominated by liberals is surprising....you should be aware that evangelical people have been leaving TEC for decades.

Ford - If I am leaning on my own understanding, it is based on scripture and what it encourages and prohibits for our good....might not those who are teaching contradiction to scripture actually be the real people leaning on their own understanding and not trusting God'srevealed will?

Posted by NP at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 9:19am BST

I am not confused, NP. I don't agree with you. Your view is that liberal denominations/ churches shrink, and so it puzzles me why evangelicals were incapable of using their growth to take over the denomination and why, instead, they left.

My view is clear - Churches operate in religious cultural landscapes and come to occupy general positions within them. There is variation on the ground, but there is a general position.

The most liberal denomination in the USA, the Unitarian-Universalists, have had a long period of steady growth. It has been helped by a vigorous understanding of its position and its own breadth and parties structure. The Episcopalians occupy a space to the right of these, and have a somewhat different cultural ethos. It is not a position that is going to be a fast attractor, but perhaps it needs to be better defined and will be. It does and is going to occupy a reasonably liberal religious space - partly because of its own democratic nature and checks and balances, its own qualified episcopacy - it inherits, is thoughtful, and reasonable. The UUA is a much more fluid, reinventing, left-religious body.

I think my analysis is fairly well grounded, NP, whereas yours is just an ideological repetition.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 1:29pm BST

NP,
Might those who believe Scripture to be the sole source of authority in the Church be leaning on their own understanding and not trusting to the Faith once and for all delivered to the Saints? I mean, the Apostles didn't go around reading out of a book, or off a scroll, Paul only wrote his letters, for instance, to explain more fully the Tradition he had already transmitted orally to those to whom he wrote. That is not to say that his writings aren't inspired by God, or "God breathed" if that's the trendy phrase. Sorry, NP, but it is your understanding that the Bible is the sole source of "God's revealed will" is the problem here, it wasn't thought of as that till a few centuries ago, which you will not admit, so why am I bothering?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 1:35pm BST

Pluralist - I suspect Alpha in English Anglican churches has added more people than your pluralistic views....and this is part of the reason why you will in the end see the ABC going with the traditional teaching supported by all the evangelicals in the CofE.

Ford - as you know, I have trouble seeing people like VGR as prophets with authoriy to contradict teaching we already have so we will be going round in cirlces if we start on that one

Posted by NP at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 2:47pm BST

"I have trouble seeing people like VGR as prophets with authoriy to contradict teaching we already have so we will be going round in cirlces if we start on that one"

No we won't, since I don't see him as a prophet either. No one individual has the right to decide doctrine, the Church as a body does that, guided by the Spirit. That the Church can, and has been, guided by the Spirit to disagree with Scripture is not a problem for me. I suspect it is a deal breaker for you, since you only see authority as seated in Scripture. For me, this denies the actions of the Spirit. The actions of TEC might be of a prophetic nature, though I can't be sure at present. I feel their disregard for the sensibilities of other Christians casts doubt on their position, but not nearly so much as the actions of the "reasserters" cast doubt on theirs.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 3:31pm BST

"I suspect Alpha in English Anglican churches has added more people than your pluralistic views"

Unquantifiable, at least at one level - Pluralist (so far as I can tell) hasn't produced a set of merchandise!

But I would like some hard figures on Alpha from a disinterested source. We ran it for eight years in Barton, four churches, a huge investment of time and effort. So far as we can tell, two, repeat TWO people 'came to faith' through it.

Even if we imagine that Alpha and Alpha alone took them from atheism/indifference, it's a poor return on all that missionary work. By contrast, we've had several folk join St Mary's since Barton gave up on Alpha, attracted to the faith by good pastoral work, or good worship, or thoughtful discipleship, or a mixture.

I am increasingly coming to agree with a prescient article by Martin Percy about ten years ago which suggested that Alpha, like Billy Graham, served less as a missionary tool and more as a means of deepening and refreshing evangelical commitment. That's good, but it's not what it says it does on the tin.

So stop bashing on about an in-house refresher course, please!

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 5:04pm BST

This is the intriguing (and self-contradictory) thing about the "conservative" position.

According to "conservatives" like NP, doctrinal innovations are bad, since the Bible is the sole and final arbiter of all matters. Thus, he is on "solid ground" to reject any reconsideration of sexuality issues or any ideas that don't suit him.

But if it's a doctrinal innovation he likes - ie, the idea that foreign prelates should have absolute authority - then a little bit of revisionism is in order and the authority of foreign prelates is now a foundational core belief.

So, the Holy Spirit died after the Council of Nicaea set the canon - unless NP and the PBOA decide otherwise.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 5:34pm BST

Ford - what would you have reasserters to in response to TEC's actions from 2003 onwards?

I don't see how we get the Spirit contradicting the scriptures he inspired....this is the problem for me....the flat contradiction.

Posted by NP at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 5:44pm BST

NP,
I linked before to a long list, posted online by someone very anti-Christianity, which outlined numerous Biblical inconsistencies. I also mentioned how the Apostles, in direct contravention of all the Scripture they knew, decided "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...." to take the Gospel to the gentiles. So the Spirit does lead us into all truth, and that might just require contradicting the word written in the interest of serving the Word Incarnate.

As to what the "reasserters" should do, well, they might try calming down a bit. They might try to not be so hypocritical as to condemn TEC for "breaking" Lambeth '98 and TWR when are doing exactly the same thing themselves. They could try allowing the Body of Christ to discuss this instead of taking further divisive action. They might try not scheming and plotting to get their way. When they find themselves under the care of a bishop they disagree with,they might try not setting him some kind of simplistic test of doctrinal purity so they can feel aggrieved when he doesn't toe their line. They might try not slandering the faith of those with whom they disagree. They might try not pulling out of Lambeth '08 because they disagree with some of the bishops who will be there. They might trry not taking money from powerful wealthy conservative Americans who are marching in lockstep with a sinister extreme right wing Amwerican political agenda. In short, they might try actually behaving in a Christian fashion.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 7:43pm BST

Late modern Socio-political translations into "application" contradicting Scripture, NP.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 8:13pm BST

NP (and I say this eirenically) there are Scriptural precedents for that 'contradiction' - a term which I believe is used only by defensive evangelicals.

One is the way in which Jehu's massacre is approved of in II Kings 11 30 ("The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." but denounced in Hosea 1:4. Another is the 'hardness of heart' argument apparently used by Jesus , Mk 10, 4-5 ("They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you.").

In other words, there is ample precedent for movement within Scripture. Assessing when that movement is legitimate is a different matter, but the 'escape route' is impeccable.

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 9:50pm BST

I *bought* merchandise!

It's all numbers and then numbers, like Christianity equals counters in a counting house, as long as they are the right shaped counters.

Again, if this was so, there would be the evidence. Mynsterpreost has already mentioned the circulation aspect. Again there are deep seated cultural reasons why the British like their churches kept at arm's length, and that is when they are positive about them.

There is the Abundant Life Church in Bradford. It is a huge media church, with regular pieces sent off to God TV. Which churches find losses as a result of this? Evangelical ones. There is almost a bussing industry from far and wide for people to gather in their numbers to join in with the rock and pop music that equates to the evangelical approach there. Paul Scanlon isn't particularly fundamentalist in what he preaches, but another Paul, an Anglican Rev., Open Evangelical, wrote a little while back elsewhere how he'd spent four years with a person in his church - and whoops, off he went to ALC.

If an ALC opened in Hull, it would drain the churches because they cannot generate the numbers, Hull being a very resistant sort of place.

What you won't get is people who have read the stuff, who have developed in different ways, going over to that. I went to a New Life church for first hand knowledge and its light and fluffy informality was a kind of entertainment emotionalism, and Anglican evangelical churches (I researched one) were talking forms of logic from another world as far as I could tell.

Interesting how a generation back (as now is) both Methodist and Anglican churches researched relied on families to provide youngsters and then their friends to be worked on, and I know that in the Methodist church all those families now supply no one.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 10:44pm BST

but Ford - do we ever come to the point of saying that we have an agreed view and cannot hold two opposing views in the same organisation and leadership?

Posted by NP at Friday, 1 June 2007 at 10:01am BST

"If an ALC opened in Hull, it would drain the churches because they cannot generate the numbers"

This certainly happened in Bath. It appears to be happening already in West Hull. And it is the evangelical churches which have suffered. Churches which split off on doctrinal grounds (we had one in Grimsby) have a nasty habit of continuing to split. Those which separate off through consumerism ('come here and get a REAL experience of God') are always vulnerable to hostile buy-outs by the next outfit.

I wouldn't like to guess what the future of the Colorado Springs Splitters might be, but optimistic I'm not.

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 1 June 2007 at 10:33am BST

"but Ford - do we ever come to the point of saying that we have an agreed view and cannot hold two opposing views in the same organisation and leadership?"

I'm not sure what you mean in the context of this discussion? You certainly make the claim that we all must be in agreement, and thus agree with the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Christians. "Same organization and leadership" bothers me. The Church is not some corporation, it is the icon on Earth of the Kingdom of God. They way we treat each other, leaving the world out of it for a minute, is supposed to be iconic of the redeemed life of the Kingdom. It is supposed to show to the World what the Kingdom of God is like, in the same way an icon points to the subject it represents. Now, does our current behaviour represent anything like the Kingdom of God? I would say the right is worse, you would say the left, I suppose. But the point is the the Church, the Earthly icon of the Kingdom, is not to be understood in the same way we would understand ordinary worldly institutions and structures. We are called to be better than that.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 1 June 2007 at 12:29pm BST

Ford - I guess I am saying that the AC has to make a decision some time...especially since the 1998 decision has been flouted so fully.

I think this is so for the health of the organisation and it looks like even the liberal ABC agrees these days.....I don't believe we can keep on listening to two opposing views forever without choosing the view we think is right - this is necessary if we seek to hold the AC together with any hope of real unity (let alone growth)

Posted by NP at Friday, 1 June 2007 at 3:41pm BST

NP,
First of all, as I said, the Church is not some "organization". You have a very worldly view of Church, old bean. Second, I agree that 1998 has been flouted, by both sides, though you no doubt have some elaborate justification why it is OK for "your side" to flout Lambeth, so let's not go there. Third, we clearly CAN live with two opposing views for a very long time. We have lived with opposing views of Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, the Mother of God, and on and on for over a hundred years. No-one has burst into flames as a result. Or did you think that a catholic understanding of these things is a quaint if annoying perk in some people and of no real importance? But then you think we don't believe anything anyway, and don't deny it, I could find it in print here if I had time. Why are you so impervious to the fact that there are many who are appalled by your understanding of the faith as you are by theirs, yet do not feel the need to purge the Church of your extreme, and I would argue Apostate, Protestantism?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 1 June 2007 at 5:38pm BST
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