The last few days have seen several developments related to matters Anglican and Episcopal. On this side of the pond, the Diocese of South Carolina has acted to remain in the Episcopal Church, but not of it (or vice versa, precisely what they are trying to do remains unclear). On the other side of the pond, the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, Kenneth Kearon, has disinvited representatives from the Southern Cone from attending certain meetings because of that church’s boundary-crossing and intervention in North America (no word on Rwanda or Nigeria). And an Anglo-Catholic Bishop has announced his intent to join the Ordinariate being set up by the Roman Catholic Church for disaffected clergy in the Church of England (in other words, he’s swimming the Tiber). In addition, the Diocese of Sidney is going ahead with its long-announced plans to introduce Eucharistic celebration by deacons.
There is plenty of comment on all of these developments and usual, you can follow the hullabaloo at Episcopal Cafe and Thinking Anglicans. For the latter’s coverage of the Ordinariate, click here. For its article on the letter from Kearon, go here.
With the regard to the actions of the Diocese of South Carolina, Bishop Mark Lawrence’s vitriolic letter against the Presiding Bishop is available on-line. So too is a response from Bishop James Mathes of the Diocese of San Diego. A number of commentators, including Bishop Mathes, draw a parallel between this development and the events leading up to the Civil War. I have no idea what precisely is taking place. I know little about that diocese except through encounters with students I had while teaching at Furman. I know they were warned by their clergy about those liberal Episcopalians in the upstate–a warning that amused me to no end.
It is clear to me that realignment of some sort, or perhaps several sorts is underway in the US church, but across the world as well. One thing that has struck me while reading those who fulminate against the Diocese of South Carolina’s actions, is their commitment to the diocese as the basic unit of the church. Granted it has been that for over a thousand years, but it is not necessarily a biblical notion, nor one practiced in the earliest church. In fact, the diocese as such is borrowed from the imperial restructuring that the Emperor Diocletian undertook in the late third and early fourth centuries.
Readers of this blog know I am interested in how Christianity is being affected by contemporary cultural changes, and how those changes will lead to restructuring. It seems to me that all of these developments are contributing to that restructuring in the Anglican world, and that what will emerge down the line is something very different than the Anglican Communion we have had for the last few decades