Earlier this month The Church of England concluded its General Synod. Before, during, and after the Synod commentators used both print and online outlets to voice their opinions. Rather than post all of the back and forth I comment on one in particular.
In an Op-ed piece titled “The state and religion: The church risks looking absurd,” The Guardian online shared a comment made by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Shortly after becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams reportedly said “We have a special relationship with the cultural life of our country and we must not fall out of step with it if we are not to become absurd and incredible.”
I do not fully understand the internal workings of the Church of England and the additional complications of being the “State Church.” I do understand the essay’s exposition of internal debates when viewed in the context of 21st Century law and culture in England. The essay argues that it is too late, that the Church of England is already absurd in the eyes of many.
This opinion caught my attention because like The Church of England the Episcopal Church struggles with being credible and honest in its witness to the Scriptures it uses, the Tradition that makes us who we are and the the messy (i.e., complex and mysterious) process of discerning the movement of the Spirit in our ministry in America in the 21st Century. So many of our neighbors know that Episcopalians are all about sex and gays in leadership. Our neighbors know that The Episcopal Church has become divided over the issue of sexuality and that contentious court battles about buildings and property have ensued. This is the picture painted for many, but it is only a piece of the picture, not the whole thing.
Shortly after reading this essay I read an article posted on the Anglican Communion Official Website. Like the essay in The Guardian this story was dated July 9, 2010. The article, “Churches and schools protecting thousands of youngsters from human trafficking during World Cup” was posted by the Anglican News Service. It detailed how “Thousands of children in South Africa have been protected from human traffickers during the Football World Cup thanks to holiday clubs set up by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.”
What a contrast: the church bickering in an arcane forum about the role of women in leadership and the church hosting “Holiday Clubs” in some of the poorest sections of cities hosing the World Cup in order to keep children safe. What a shame that so many will never know of the local efforts made by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to protect children while a large number will know that those silly Anglicans are arguing again about the fitness of women for ministry. And what about us Episcopalians?
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