Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bishop Barry Beisner: The Episcopal Church’s struggles concern us all

February 13th, 2007 posted by kendall at 11:46 am

Major changes in the Episcopal Church — such as the selection of a woman to be the leader of the church and election of an openly gay man as bishop in New Hampshire — are roiling the Protestant denomination that is as old as our democracy itself. The turmoil has, for some, called into question our commitment to the global Anglican Communion to which the Episcopal Church belongs. Congregations in some of our oldest parishes in Virginia have voted to leave the Episcopal Church.

Here in Northern California, members of the congregation of St. John’s in Petaluma have voted to leave the Episcopal Church while affirming their desire to remain Anglican. Other churches, even in other Christian denominations, are also engaged in much the same struggles, with many of the same dynamics. These sisters and brothers in Christ are likely to have an empathetic interest, and maybe even an enlightened self-interest, in how our drama plays out.

But what about those who are not Christian, or part of any religious tradition? Why should they care? Let me suggest two reasons: First, the Episcopal Church has contributed significantly to the moral formation and spiritual life of many people who have, in turn, helped to shape American society. Many of our presidents have been Episcopalians: George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, to name a few. If our values of tolerance, our concern for commonwealth and willingness to make use of compromise to achieve community seem relevant to American society today, then maybe it would be a good thing if the Episcopal Church were manifesting more, not less, of those values. If you care about the erosion of civility and general polarization going on in America, you might think of the Episcopal Church as a canary in the mine shaft.

Read the whole piece.


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