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Let's Heed the Call to the Promised Land - by Claudia C. Kalis

Let’s Heed the Call to the Promised Land

By Claudia C. Kalis

When my daughter was 3 years old she loved popsicles. Not infrequently, the popsicle would break in half and she would burst into tears begging me, “Mom. Fix it. Mom, please fix it.” I knew, or quickly learned, that broken popsicles cannot be fixed, no matter the ingenuity of ones efforts. If my daughter was to have a whole, unbroken popsicle there was only one solution, one answer. Give her a new one.

The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes has made magnanimous and ingenious efforts to try to respond to the tear streaked faces of the orthodox who stand pleading, … “Fix it. Please fix it.” At some point, and I hope it is soon, the Network will need learn, as did I, that some things that are broken simply cannot be fixed. There are times when what is broken must be set aside and replaced with something new.

I applaud the Network’s strenuous efforts to champion the voice of orthodox Christianity and Anglicanism within the United States. I am grateful to the leadership of the Network and the American Anglican Council for providing me and the people of God whom I serve a place to stand amidst the turmoil. At the same time, we are all getting tired of standing “amidst the turmoil” waiting for the Network to fix what cannot be fixed. We feel like the tear streaked child whose mother keeps running back and forth between the running faucet and the freezer desperately trying to find a way to attach two pieces of a broken popsicle instead of simply reaching into the freezer and handing the child a new one.

As the Network champions orthodox faith and morals, the Network also needs to acknowledge that there is an orthodoxy of association. So Isaiah warns: “Leave Babylon, flee from the Babylonians! Announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it.” St. Paul warns in Ephesians: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.” Even Jesus advises of the sinful brother that if he refuses to listen (as has ECUSA), you are to “treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector.”

I believe it is past time for the Network to “leave ECUSA, flee from the pagans! [and] announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it.” Until this is done, we will only continue to watch the slow demise and death of the Anglican voice and witness in the United States and weary our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe who are prepared to stand with us if we’ll just act.

The Network is well postured to rescue the orthodox in hostile dioceses and solve the problem of Adequate Episcopal Oversight almost immediately. Orthodox clergy become employees of the Network, resign from their diocesan positions, placed under the ecclesiastical authority of an orthodox bishop and commissioned by the Network to plant a new church in location. All monies from these churches that would heretofore have gone to their respective dioceses would now go directly to the Network. Conceivably there could be a continuation of benefits for clergy (i.e., Pension, insurance, etc.) as well as continuation of stipend. Most of our churches are paying these fees anyway. It would not become an undue burden upon the Network. Further, with all monies heretofore now being directed to the Network, the Network would have the financial resources for the administrative infrastructure as well as the resources to escrow for the building of new churches.

With the support of our sympathetic brothers and sisters in Christ, it is inconceivable to me that orthodox Anglican churches could not very quickly find spaces in which to continue their worship and ministry. Convocational Deans could work with Roman Catholic Bishops to negotiate for temporary shared space. In our location, the Seventh Day Adventists have been extremely sympathetic and supportive of our stand for orthodoxy and I am quite sure would open their facilities immediately for use. There are all kinds of possibilities and the Network should be working closely with other denominations who I believe would be more than willing to lend aid and assistance vis-à-vis property.

To quibble over property when the very witness to our Lord Jesus Christ is at stake seems to me to defy what we proclaim to be of utmost importance. At some point we are going to have to decide whether keeping our buildings is more important than maintaining our orthodox witness. The ECUSA will continue to have influence on the orthodox voice as long as the orthodox voice is unwilling to set forth her witness above and beyond her property.

Let the ECUSA have all the property. Send Frank Griswold and the revisionist bishops the keys along with the insurance premiums, the mortgages, the utility and maintenance bills and oversight of the properties. What will a Bishop Lee do when he has 50 empty churches that he has to maintain, heat, cool, mow the grass, shovel the snow and keep pipes from bursting?

Orthodox churches with endowments could review the restrictions upon these endowment funds. If the restrictions are minimal and/or reserved for missionary outreach, the endowments conceivably could be “gifted” to the Network.

The call for Adequate Episcopal Oversight needs to change its entire direction and focus. Right now it is the orthodox who are futilely attempting to secure adequate Episcopal oversight. It is time for the tide to turn. What is going on is absurd and unnecessary. What would happen, for example, if a Bishop Duncan or a Bishop Stanton, suddenly informed their “revisionist” parishes and missions and they needed to find “adequate Episcopal oversight.” How would the House of Bishops then deal with issues of geographical boundaries and the autonomy of dioceses. I’ll bet their song would change overnight.

The Network has the power to turn the whole tide of what is going on in the United States, IF and WHEN it will take up the cross and completely surrender to the call of Jesus, embrace the “cost of discipleship” and disengage from the political and institutional lariats that keep God’s people bound to the powers and principalities of the evil one.

I fear that if the Network does not take such radical actions and soon, the Network will find itself with few orthodox left to support its efforts. An increasing number of Episcopal Churches will bail for AMiA, EMS, etc., Orthodox Christians affiliated with orthodox churches will leave because they are weary of the turmoil and the ONLY Anglican voice left in the United States will be that of the ECUSA.

I commend the Network for its arduous efforts to work within existing structures. However, when those structures are as corrupt as they have become, it is time to own the need for new structures that lead to abundant life and sever all ties with those structures that promise only to lead to eternal damnation for God’s people.

Orthodox Anglicans in the United States are tired and weary. We do not want to play corrupt games with corrupt people or institutions any more. We long to get on with carrying the Good News of Jesus Christ into the world and we do not want that Good News entangled with the nuances of sin, evil and death.

I applaud the work of the Network. It is also time for the Network to step out in faith, kick the dust of its feet and take up the cross wherever it may lead and irrespective of the cost. Until and unless it does so, the Network will facilitate its own collapse. The Network has the support. Now it needs to take the radical steps that MUST be taken if our commitment to orthodoxy is to retain its credibility.

The Rev. Claudia C. Kalis is Vicar of St. Bartholomew's Anglican (Episcopal) Church High Springs, Florida In the Diocese of Florida. She is a graduate of Yale Divinity School.

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