Whether you look at the issues of the Anglican crisis that began with pecusa's intemperate actions in 2003 through the lens of Christian theology, tradition or reason, we can see that what was promised has not come to pass. The inclusive church is becoming more and more the empty church. If this is the Gamaliel principle (see the Book of Acts) in action by any honest account pecusa has failed. ed.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
When it comes to religion, the USA is now a land of freelancers.
The percentage of people who call themselves some type of Christian has dropped more than eleven percent in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic.
And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers - or falling off the faith map completely. These dramatic shifts in only 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS).
It finds that, despite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990.
No denomination has been more affected by the winds of change than The Episcopal Church (TEC). Despite calls for greater inclusivity and diversity and the abandonment of traditional morality, TEC continues to hemorrhage and shrink. The numbers speak for themselves. A survey in mid 2008, before the economy tanked, revealed that the proportion of parishes in some or serious financial difficulty almost doubled from 2000 to 2005, increasing from 13% to 25% and then remained unchanged for 2008. 26.4% of congregations have average Sunday attendance of less than 35. A majority (62%) of Episcopal parishes and missions report that more than half of their members are age 50 and above. 90% of Episcopal congregations reported having conflicts or disagreements in the last five years.
Now here's the kicker. Nearly 50% (actual 47%) of all Episcopal congregations report serious conflict over the ordination of homosexual priests/bishops. If that is not a wake-up call to the state of the church, nothing is.
Where is the peace this issue was supposed to bring? Where is the church growth? Where are the young people this was supposed to draw in with all the gracious talk of inclusivity (read sexual compromise)? 11% of Episcopal congregations report that they have no youth in the church and 58% have 10 or fewer youth among their active members or regular participants. Only 20% of Episcopal congregations have 20 or more youth actively involved.
This is like a bank discovering its subprime loans have put it on the fast track to bankruptcy. It is the spiritual veneer of an ecclesiastical Lehman Brothers that no one is going to bail out. And all the time, TEC's deep thinkers are willing to shell out millions of dollars in legal fees fighting for properties that will close their doors forever.
It is the height of hubris, for example, that the Diocese of Pennsylvania, already deep in debt over a camp debacle that has cost it millions of dollars (it is now up for sale), turns its guns on a single Anglo-Catholic parish that it claims is theirs and will now spend millions of dollars from Trust Funds to try and get it back. For what? Even if they win after years of litigation, they will get an empty building with which they can do nothing for their troubles. This is a victory for the diocese and The Episcopal Church? What brain dead idiots believe that? It's like buying stock in a defunct company in the hope that it will one day rise from the dead.
It's like a war in which both sides shoot at each other for days. At the end of ten days, there is an awesome silence and one man emerges from a dugout and stands up with a flag to proclaim victory. He is the only one left standing.
While litigation costs rise, so do the absences in parish leadership. Less than two-thirds of all Episcopal parishes (63%) can afford one full-time paid clergy. What does that tell you? Another 25% are served by part-time clergy, priests, or by seminary students. The remainder report having no clergy at all or that they are served by supply or interim priests.
All the time this has been going on, the new North American Anglican Province, better known as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) reports a meteoric rise in numbers because they have a very clear fix on what the gospel is, they are prepared to adapt to the situation they find themselves in, remain historical, and seem to have little or no financial problems.? Every parish has a priest or priest in training.
In the meantime, The Episcopal Church has stirred up a hornet's nest by proclaiming that the bishop-elect of NORTHERN MICHIGAN, one Kevin Thew Forrester is a practicing Buddhist, "ordained" as it were, into their "lay order." This has so riled up one rector that he has taken it upon himself to write a letter to every standing committee in The Episcopal Church calling on them to withhold consent for Forrester's consecration. The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor of Pine Bluff's Episcopal Trinity Church in Arkansas wrote, "It is my request that you relay to the membership of that body that they consider, seriously, withholding consent to the consecration of the Rev. Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan. While eccentricity of this sort is to be expected amongst some of our clergy, a bishop is the defender of the Faith, and in the line of the Apostles. I believe the Rev. Forrester to have abandoned the Communion of this Church, and therefore unfit to be considered for the office of bishop." You can read the full story in today's digest.
Even as the Episcopal Church continues on its lunatic path of self-destruction, quite another move of an entirely different order is taking place in Florida.
A new orthodox Anglican diocese has been birthed out of the ashes of the failed ecclesiology and theology of Bishop John Howard. It is led by the indefatigable Rev. Neil Lebhar who, with a group of 73 Anglican clergy and wardens in the Jacksonville area, formed a new Anglican diocese. This is not a breakaway from the 100 Episcopal dioceses that make up TEC, but an entirely new entity that will connect with ACNA, somewhere down the road. This Anglican Alliance has also drawn a number of representatives of non-Alliance congregations. With Vicar General Lebhar at the helm, they are ready to make waves. You can read the full story in today's digest.
A new day is dawning for Anglicanism in North America that will not be stopped regardless of whether that Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes this group or not. He is fast becoming irrelevant in the scheme of things. The truth is that ACNA and GAFCON are simply going around him and doing their own thing anyway, leaving the liberals to squawk away at cross border "violations" while they preach a gospel that saves no one and nothing.