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March 30, 2012


“Old church takes bold new step”  Where?  Off a ledge?

“Old church takes bold new step” is the headline of an Albany, NY timesunion.com article  about (stay with me, now) a “liberal” Episcopal Church getting pastoral oversight from a “liberal” bishop rather than the “conservative” bishop of the “conservative” diocese in which said “liberal” parish is stuck.  (Liberal and conservative are the terms used in the article.  They are more the language of our polarized national politics but hey, the article turns out to be more about a particular political cause than about the church anyway.)

This is an arrangement called DEPO, for “Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.”  It was a method tried out at first to help traditional Episcopal congregations guided by the Bible, church tradition and reasoned reflection who were under pressure from bishops and dioceses run by single issue (OK, LGBTQ) activists, bishops opposed to the Bible as the authority for Christian belief and practice, and bishops denying Christ as the unique Savior of the world and other foundations of faith in Christ.  A congregation could appeal to have pastoral visits, Confirmations and other ministries from a Bishop supportive of the congregation’s theology and spirituality.

It is only fair that the same arrangement should be used for LGBTQ, anti-Biblical or Christophobic congregations suffering under traditionally Christian bishops.  And so it is that the Episcopalians of St. George’s Church, Schenectady applied for and received visitation from a neighboring bishop named Gladstone “Skip” Adams, best known for closing an evangelical parish and it’s ministry to the local poor, then selling the facility at well below market to an Islamic center.  St. George’s remains part of the Albany diocese led by traditional bishop William Love, but will receive direct care from Adams.

But this step, which the article lauds as “bold, cutting edge, creative” and filled with all of the usual buzz words that I won’t bother to retype for you here, is simply another revelation that we have two mutually exclusive belief systems trying to pass as one church.  What seems tolerant and gentle at first glance is just evidence that people don’t share core convictions, priorities or even affection strong enough to keep them together in any meaningful way.

So the “bold step” is the one offered by Satan to Jesus in the wilderness, the offer to jump off of a tower in the expectation that God’s job is to catch us and kiss our boo-boo away.  The “cutting edge” is just more mutilation of the body of Christ, working against Jesus’ own prayer and incurring God’s judgment.

It bears saying that some of the few traditional bishops left in The Episcopal Church see DEPO as an important safeguard.  As the article points out, DEPO was instituted as a response to the concerns of traditional Christians in the denomination.

But their more humble tone (compared to the smug stuff in the timesunion.com piece) does not make “conservative” DEPO any better than “liberal” DEPO when it comes to the state of the denomination.  It isn’t just St. George’s, Schenectady that is an “old church.”  The Episcopal Church has some of the worst statistics and trends in the nation when it comes to attendance decline, age of members, financially distressed congregations and excluded groups (men, blue collar people and young people in particular).  It continues to look for a magic pill that will reverse these trends, having attempted decades of changes that were supposed to open the church door to all kinds of people, and have by almost every measure resulted in people exiting without being replaced.

But there’s DEPO, which can at least sustain the lofty version of Christian charity, unity and mission held out by the leaders of St. George’s, Schenectady:

Senior Warden David Kennison said the congregation voted overwhelmingly at its annual meeting in January to link with Adams under DEPO. “We are not trying to hurt the diocese,” he said. “It’s just that we don’t agree on everything.”

 


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Senior Warden David Kennison said the congregation voted overwhelmingly at its annual meeting in January to link with Adams under DEPO. “We are not trying to hurt the diocese,” he said. “It’s just that we don’t agree on everything.”

He has no idea just how correct that last statement is.

[1] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 3-31-2012 at 08:11 AM · [top]

It really is amazing.  Every week I wonder when TEc will hire carnival barkers to stand in front of the buildings and shout - STEP RIGHT UP, the greeeeaaaaatest show on earth is about to commence.  Come see the men in collars pretend to believe.  Come see the laughing stock of America in ACCCCCtioon.  See the clowns, see the smudging, see them rejoice as they kill their young.

[2] Posted by Jackie on 3-31-2012 at 09:25 AM · [top]

As a member of the Albany Diocese who follows the siutation in Albany closely and who has represented my parish at a number of diocesan conventions, I can offer a few comments here. First of all, the Albany Times-Union is a liberal rag, and naturally thinks this is great - all warm and fuzzy. Secondly, Bishop Love is a good man and a hard-working, faithful orthodox bishop; but I think he’s either a bit naive or so devoted to the great god Unity that he can’t think straight. He actually said “the goal through DEPO is reconciliation”??? How does he expect reconciliation with people who think gay marriage is heartwarming?
“During a question-and-answer session, Adams said he has recorded 14 same-sex marriages in his diocese since New York law began allowing them last year. One of my favorite ones were two women together 29 years Both women went to the altar with walkers, and it warmed my heart, these wonderful children of God,” said Bishop Adams, who has already recorded 14 same-sex marriages in his own diocese. He claims not to intend to do anything against Bishop Love’s wishes. Then why is he giving “pastoral guidance” to this church? There are indeed several churches in the diocese who don’t agree with the diocesan stand on a number of issues. But the diocesan convention several years ago overwhelmingly passed resolutions against gay ordinations and gay marriages. I predict that there will be gay marriages taking place in St. George’s. I don’t think this “pastoral oversight” thing is some kind of symbolic thing. I think the people in that church fully intend to do what they want, not what Bishop Love wants. I think that both political and religious conservative lose battles because they tend to be conciliatory and reasonable, whereas liberals take no prisoners.

[3] Posted by Nellie on 3-31-2012 at 09:35 AM · [top]

This goes under: “Becareful what you ask for.”

[4] Posted by Nikolaus on 3-31-2012 at 09:51 AM · [top]

Meh.  Its just liberals aping the orthodox because they can see it worked for us. 

But it will take more than alternative oversight to turn them into the equivalent of the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth, or San Joaquin.

[5] Posted by MichaelA on 4-10-2012 at 07:37 AM · [top]

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