Entering North American Anglicanism in leaving the Episcopal Church (TEC) is like stepping out of a dark cellar into the bright daylight of the European spring in 1945. Ruins everywhere point to past glories. There’s a light giddiness in the silence. The shelling has stopped. The war may not be completely over, but it is over for you.
You’re faced with simple survival and a clarity that comes with survival. It is an heightened world where the old mental question that clergy ask, “Where are you from?” the one before “Who are you?” takes on a fresh urgency. It is because the people who now work alongside you are totally unknown. Do they have a more ambiguous relationship with the old order than you? Do they even quietly affirm that there really were many good things about the old days that they miss? Like some equivalent to, “Well, at least the fascists kept the trains running on time…” And then there are the younger men who have had no relationship with the TEC at all but when you listen to them speak or read what they write you are reminded of what you just left behind. You wonder if they may repeat similar mistakes that will make North American Anglicanism drift into another TEC for our grandchildren.
We cannot and do not want to go back. It is time to rebuild our theological and ecclesiological world, but what kind of world is it going to be? Some ruins can be restored, others are dangerous. They must be torn down to make an area safe. Pastors are called to this task to “rightly handling the word of truth” (2Timothy 2.15), so you have this burden at the immensity of the task itself and that you must avoid the errors and miscalculations that created the world that made the devastation all around you that you see. You do not want the generation that follows to endure what you had to endure. But most of all you want to remain faithful to the Truth of the biblical gospel, what you have always defended and fought for.
North American Anglicanism is like that right now.
I plan to dedicate my next series of posts to what should be the key theological and ecclesiological first steps for Anglicans in North America in rebuilding our world.