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Presiding Bishop Admits Episcopal Church Has No Answers Amidst Covid Crisis

Presiding Bishop Admits Episcopal Church Has No Answers Amidst Covid Crisis

By David W. Virtue, DD
September 27, 2021

In a message to the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry admitted that the Church was in a state of crisis. He called it a "Narthex" moment, with vague talk of "reformation", admitting, "I don't have any answers yet."

In yet another blow to episcopal pride and hegemony this week, the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth lost another legal appeal to keep the contents of a church it lost to Bishop Ryan and his merry gang of orthodox believers. It was an overall $100 million blow to TEC. The Texas Supreme Court ordered the TEC diocese to return all the contents of the church -- All Saints Episcopal Church -- which they gutted statues of crosses from frames along with bank balances and return them to Bishop Ryan.

All Curry's love talk is just that...talk. When it comes right down to it, TEC bishops are as unchristian as any secularists because money and properties matter more than the gospel. A small case in point. After Bishop Ryan won the lawsuit, Ryan offered to work with the TEC diocese to keep a food pantry/kitchen open to feed the poor. They rejected it. TEC has spent some $52+ million on property lawsuits, which, if spent on the poor and needy, which TEC bleeds almost daily about, would feed tens of thousands of needy kids, provide low-cost housing and job training across the country.

The truth is Curry doesn't know what to do. Nearly all the dioceses are drowning in bad numbers, especially average Sunday attendance (ASA). Episcopal bishops don't know what the Church will look like post Covid...if there is a post Covid sans variant Church.

There is little doubt that the hangers on, those barely hanging on by their fingertips, the aged and infirm, and those in columbariums will have, during their life, left money in their wills to keep the doors open. But with fewer people passing through the red doors, it will all be meaningless.

Curry's plea for a church reformation 'in the way of Jesus' lacked content. He said that thinking about what church planning in the coming years looked like was difficult because of the pandemic, "we can barely think a month ahead of time."

Curry wondered if diocesan conventions would be held in person this fall, and whether the delta variant could force further changes next year to the church's General Convention and the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference.

Curry spent much of his 25-minute sermon invoking the term "narthex," the area of a church that people pass through to enter and exit. He used the term as a metaphor for this period of uncertainty and transition. "We are living in a narthex moment, between the world we knew and whatever is being born," he said.

The truth is that what is on the other side of the Narthex is a gaping black hole with continued losses of people and properties. Should the Diocese of South Carolina win against TEC, it will be the biggest property loss in the history of the Church. It will be an estimated $500 million in property losses, including 29 churches and related buildings, as well as the 314-acre St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center.

During his sermon to the bishops, Curry described watching the 1953 movie "The Robe," set in biblical times, and hearing echoes of today's call for the church to reject the trappings of empire. He presented a vision of reformation in the church, away from the establishment and closer to Christianity's origins in small gatherings.

This, he said, is a "church before collusion with the empire, the church that looks something like Jesus, the church that lived into 'narthex,' to let go of the ways things were, to behold the way things could be."

Does this mean that bishops will give up their robes and miters, their salaries and pensions for the "way of Jesus?" -- a Franciscan moment of self-revelation - one doubts it.

"A community of small gatherings and congregations of all stripes and types, a human tapestry, God's wondrous variety, the Kingdom, the reign of God, the beloved community, no longer centered on empire or establishment, no longer fixated on the preservation of institution, no longer propping up white supremacy or in collusion with anything that hurts or harms any child of God or God's creation -- by God's grace, a church that looks and acts and lives like Jesus."

Is the talk of "small gatherings and congregations" an admission that the day of big or even midsize churches is gone, as the majority of TEC parishes are shrinking, and that 'small is beautiful'? If so, will TEC need bishops, deans, even clergy as they gather NT like in 'Benedict Option' style churches.

All talk of social justice will just be that. As one columnist of church statistics starkly reported; "If you have tons of folks coming to your free laundry, that's great. ... But if you're still losing 25% of your congregation, well, then in a few years, you're just going to be a laundromat."

The real issue is that TEC doesn't have a gospel to proclaim, consumed as it is with woke issues, so they might just as well ask the last one to leave, to turn out the lights.


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