Brief Commentary on the Archbishop’s Address and Parochial Report Stats
Three brief notes:
1. Thanks be to God that the Murphyite group of bishops has not been and seemingly will not be given legitimacy by the ACNA. Kudos to the House of Bishops and to Archbishop Duncan for not winking at schism and for maintaining ecclesial discipline. The Episcopal Church and the Communion as a whole suffers for the lack of it.
2. I’m also thankful for the effort to be transparent with regard to numbers. The Archbishop could have waited until more numbers were available before publishing or publicizing this information in his speech, but he didn’t. It’s quite encouraging to see the Archbishop’s refusal to spin. The numbers themselves are not much to look since it appears a vast collection of parishes did not turn in their stats. We (my own parish) turned ours in rather late as well. I can certainly understand how difficult and frustrating it must have been on the provincial level to try to summarize this data in the absence of full reporting from so many congregations.
3. The actual ratio of bishops per parish seems to be far too great. I do not understand why we need so many men running around with miters. I agree with those who say the optics are not helpful but it’s not just the optics. I’m truly baffled and a little disturbed at the strategy. I understand that in the global south bishops are sometimes consecrated and sent out as missionary bishops to plant churches and create dioceses but is the North American context conducive to this sort of missionary action? Do we need actual bishops to do this?
I also understand that the Constitutional requirement for the creation of a diocese is quite low - 12 parishes boasting an ASA of over 50 - which means we have many more dioceses than you might expect given the number of actual ACNA congregations. But I wonder it it isn’t time to revisit this policy?
I was on the governance committee when the rule was established. It was meant to be a minimum standard designed to prevent one man from being made bishop over one or two small parishes as is sometimes the case in the Continuum. But present practice seems to have taken the minimum standard and made it the norm. New dioceses are formed as soon as the minimum standard is met and a new bishop is elected
What happens if, in fact, we do plant 1000 churches over the next two years? If we were to consecrate a bishop for every 12 parishes, we’ll have made 83 new bishops at the end of the day.
This habit of making bishops will not only seem ridiculous to those looking in from the outside, but might it not also easily become a means to reward and elevate friends?
This is not a commentary on the men who have recently been elected and affirmed (all good men no doubt worthy of episcopal office) but rather on the strategy/politics of making a vast number of bishops for such a small church.
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