The Episcopal Church has always taken great pride in its democratic principles and practices. In fact, the decision to establish a Presiding Bishop and not an Archbishop was one of the clear indications that The Episcopal Church would not import the feudalistic policies of the Mother Church. Having spent a couple of wars trying to establish itself as a republic of The People, it wasn’t going to reverse all that work and re-establish the structures Americans in the Anglican tradition had spent so much effort breaking off.
Ah, but things have changed. Suddenly all those old prelate fears have been tossed to the wayside. TEC is suddenly top-down hierarchy and it’s all about the BISHOPS! Now, that’s quite astonishing on its own, but to see the Diocese of Virginia, the bedrock of low church polity where Anglo Catholics were literally driven across the Potomac to have their stone altars and swinging incense is quite simply astonishing. Next thing we know, we’re going to start bowing to royal supremacy again.
Here’s what Bishop David Anderson writes this week:
Many denominations which have always portrayed themselves as non-hierarchical are suddenly wanting to take rights away from local congregations where property and bank accounts are concerned.
Why the interest?
Because churches join a denominational structure, or create such, to further the ministry of the local church, but once formed, the denominational structure becomes interested in power and position, and they see the local churches as their own property. It is the ecclesial example of Lord Acton’s saying, “…power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely…”
And now we have these other denominational groups joining up with the Episcopalians including – yes, the Seventh Day Adventists and the Methodists and the Presbyterians whom now have decided they are far more like the Roman Catholics after all. Or as Shakespeare once wrote, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Pass the pillows please.
Bishop Anderson continues
If they are joining the litigation on TEC’s side, are they are afraid that their own people might want to leave? They have inadvertently given testimony against themselves, and their own churches should take careful note.
We are quite sure that the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran laity are paying careful close attention indeed.