ECUSA’s Future: A Glimpse Afforded by the Present

Two telling glimpses of what the Episcopal Church (USA) is becoming, in front of our very eyes, appeared in General Convention commentaries today.

They form part of the unfolding disaster:

The first came up in the context of a proposal to authorize the use in church readings of the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible. The ESV is essentially a revision of the already-authorized Revised Standard Version of 1971, and has received scholarly approval, on the whole. (Your Curmudgeon has the Study Version on his desk, and consults it regularly to compare with other versions. Its complete text, like that of the New English Translation, is available free online.)

Let on-the-scene reporter Lauren Anderson tell the tale:

The House of Deputies is considering the authorization of new translations of the Bible, including the English Standard Version with the Apocrypha, for use in lectionary readings.

While discussing a proposed resolution to add the Contemporary English Version (1995) and The Contemporary English Version Global (2005) to the list of authorized translations, the English Standard Version was proposed as an additional translation option.

Proponents said the ESV is widely used and growing in popularity, and has the additional benefit of being available free on the web, making it an efficient option for preparing handouts and PowerPoint media.

“The English Standard Version is a wonderfully popular version. We’re trying to be relevant. We’re trying to be current. We’re trying to become more and more in touch with the world around us. This version is,” said the Ven. David Collum of the Diocese of Albany.

Others opposed the amendment, saying it is not within the purview of the House of Deputies to make a decision about authorizing Bible translations.

“I think for us as a body to micromanage the work of the theologians of the Episcopal Church is not our job,” said Denise Crenshaw of the Diocese of Michigan.

This is the Episcopal Church (USA) as it used to be—expressing viewpoints of wide diversity, from all over the map. But watch what happened next (pay close attention, now—I have added the bold to assist you):

Deputies voted in favor of the amendment to add the ESV translation to the resolution, but later reopened the discussion when the validity of the translation was called into question by a deputy who found a verse from the ESV that used the word homosexuality. The house ultimately decided to reconsider the amendment as its first order of business July 8.

Oh, my goodness—do you realize what happened here? According to the standard LGBTQI mantra, “homosexuality” is a term that cannot be used to translate any word or words in the Bible, because the Bible was written two thousand years ago, when no one could even conceive of, let alone depict or describe, what the term “homosexuality” covers. (See, for instance, the explanations of Resolutions D002 and D019 which passed the House of Bishops earlier today.)

So because of that one word appearing at one place in the ESV, that translation must be BANNED from ALL Episcopal lecterns and pulpits. All thanks to the diligent and quick work of one deputy, whose terrifying announcement was enough to cow the entire House of Deputies into reconsidering the matter.

Anyone care to guess how these paragons of political correctness will vote today, July 8?

Now let us turn to the second glimpse of ECUSA’s future. Cherie Wetzel of Anglicans United should need no introduction to SF readers, but she and her husband have been attending and covering General Conventions for nearly twenty years, and perhaps longer. She is a member of a “Prayer Warriors” team at this GC, and takes her duties very seriously, as a loyal, upstanding and orthodox Christian should at these affairs. But look what happened when she accidentally and innocently wandered into this (my bold emphasis):

To my surprise this  morning I walked into the bathroom designated for transgendered people.   The door was not labeled ( it is now) and I was clearly not welcome.    Yes, transgendered people are making their presence known at this Convention and making the push for their place at the table.

Welcome to your future, O Episcopal Church!

Further comment, at this point, would be superfluous.



Anglican Clergy Banned from Racist Parties

Christian Today:

The Church of England has given its final approval to draft legislation banning clergy and church staff from membership in racist organisations.

The legislation states that it is “unbecoming or inappropriate conduct” to belong to or solicit support for “a political party or other organisation whose constitution, policies, objectives, activities or public statements [are] incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to race equality”.

The legislation received the overwhelming support of all three Houses in the General Synod in York today.

The policy was drawn up in response to a motion put forward at the February 2009 General Synod by Vasantha Gnanadoss asking that clergy be disciplined if they supported racist parties.

Mrs Gnanadoss had argued at the time that introducing disciplinary action “would make it much more difficult for the British National Party and other organisations to exploit the claim that there are Anglican clergy or Church representatives that support them”.

The debate came not long after a list of 12,000 BNP members – among them a retired Anglican priest – was leaked on the internet.

The legislation approved in Synod today included a special amendment removing the requirement of a two-thirds majority in the House of Bishops in order to revoke prohibition on joining a party that had changed its stance on race.

Explaining the amendment, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Christopher Hill said: “Though the Measure as amended will rightly curtail some political opinions by reason of fundamental Christian teaching on racial equality, and concern for the common good, it is also right surely to have a lower episcopal threshold to restore legitimate political options if an organisation has itself genuinely changed its position.”

The Measure is a largely symbolic gesture as the Church of England said it was not aware of any of its current clergy supporting racist parties.

The General Synod is meeting at York University until Tuesday.  A key debate is set to take place on women bishops on Monday.



Episcopalian Attendance in US Drops 23%

This while they find themselves nattering about ‘inclusiveness’ which, in reality, means never mind the sin, comes as you are, without the need of repentance.

Wherever Catholics go when they leave, all the evidence is that they aren’t heading to the Episcopal Church in significant numbers.  And it doesn’t look like that many evangelicals are on “the Canterbury Trail” as we used to say back when becoming Episcopalian still looked wildly cosmopolitan and cutting edge.  As a young evangelical Quaker (there are maybe 300,000 Quakers in the whole world), Anglicanism looked immense and globe-spanning and in the hiearchy of non-fundamentalism, Episcopalians were (in our eyes) at the far end of the other side of the spectrum, right next to Catholicism.  Large, historic, liturgical, established, exotic.

Now the apt word seems “life support”.

The average Episcopal Church attendance dropped a staggering 23% in the ten year period between 2000 and 2010 (via Whispers) In 2010, just under 700,000 attended TEC Churches in the whole world.

In the Seattle area, (Diocese of Olympia) where St. Mark’s Cathedral still looms and KING FM has broadcast their lovely Sunday evening Compline for many years, average attendance in the whole diocese was 9,500.  9,500?  I’ve worked in Catholic parishes with larger weekly attendance than that.

The Episcopalian Diocese of Quincy, IL attendance has dropped 71% and averages 363 people in attendance at 9 parishes.  I’ve taught Called & Gifted workshops that were larger.  No wonder they are openly talking about reuniting with the Diocese of Chicago (attendance: 12,925).

To compare, CARA estimates that on a given Sunday, there are about 22 million Catholics in the pews in the US vs. approximately 657,000 Episcopalians.  In other words, there are roughly 33 times as many practicing Catholics as practicing Episcopalians.

This is not a time to gloat but to thoughtfully ponder.   A group I spoke to recently about evangelization wanted to look to the experience of mainline Protestants to see what they were doing.  Seriously?

If we are serious about evangelization, we would far, far better look to the experience of our evangelical brothers and sisters. 49% of American evangelicals weren’t raised as evangelicals while Catholics have the second lowest number of converts of any American religious faith.