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There is little hope that the hemorrhaging will stop and the slide reversed whoever is elected


By David W. Virtue, DD
May 23, 2023

In the profile for the next Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church, the lead issue is, (hold your breath), evangelism, along with catechesis, or teaching and nurturing the faith.

If Jack Spong or Frank Griswold were alive, they would roll over in their graves. This is like going backwards in a time machine, even though the standard woke issues quickly follow in succession, including the standard phobias that must be denounced at every opportunity.

But it reveals the deep desperation to have evangelism as your first call, especially as it is doubtful that TEC has an evangelical bishop ready to leap into the line-up of hopeful wannabees, or, if nominated would have a prayer of winning. It also reveals a denomination in free fall that evangelism, not anti-racism training, climate change or whole range of woke issues as its top priority.

An axiom of TEC cant is; "You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been."

Following the tenure of the late Bishop John Maury Allin, TEC has been in the secular wilderness trying desperately to keep up with the world, the flesh and the devil, especially on matters of human sexuality, with the result that the Church has suffered horrific losses, at the same time filling up columbaria at a rapid pace.

The slippery slope started with Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning, descended further under Frank (of the flexible wrist) Griswold, descending to untold theological, adversarial and financial depths under Katharine Jefferts Schori, only to emerge briefly out of the secular caldron in the person of Michael Curry whose "revivals" have sadly failed to fill churches with hoped-for new converts.

As Anglican Watch observed; Curry holds his "Way of Love" revival meetings nationwide, but nothing is revived. Indeed, these meetings, attended largely by active church members, are nothing but feel-good events that give members the warm fuzzies.

TEC has watched the church split and lose over 100,000 members, fully embrace multiple sexualities, spent millions suing for church properties, merging dioceses, begun closing churches, all the while hoping that this will jump-start the church in the 21st Century.

It has not happened and it won't happen whoever is elected, because TEC is on a downward trajectory where a younger generation could care a less about what it means to be an Episcopalian even though there seems to be some interest in liturgy that upstages Alice Cooper and Heavy Metal.

If you don't have any solid Christian foundation about what the Christian faith REALLY is and can articulate it in such a way as to draw people in, then the New York Times and a Starbucks coffee looks more attractive on a Sunday morning. Why was Tim Keller so successful and Michael Curry such a failure? Why were the revivals breaking out across America so powerful that even the secular media took notice, while the media seemed so uninterested in Michael Curry's "revivals." You don't need to be an evangelical -- or any sort of religious believer -- to recognize revival as a social phenomenon.

Anglican Watch blog asked the question; "What has Curry done well?" "What has he done poorly?" Well, he is a beloved figure who gave the sermon at Prince Harry's wedding, which garnered him international recognition, but whether or not he's beloved, we see little substance from his eight years in office.

"Yes, he talks about racial reconciliation and justice. Yet most of that is in the form of nebulous statements about race, Building Beloved Community efforts, and other transactional solutions with nothing to show for them."

"Curry's an entertaining preacher, and his Loving, Liberating, and Life-Giving slogan sounds good. But that's about all we have to show for things."

These are hardly ringing endorsements from the church's left flank. But true they are. Curry brokered in same sex marriage with the passage of B012 and cast an orthodox bishop into outer darkness for daring to say the church has no theological marriage clothing.

In that regard, Curry has been an abject failure. He allowed the debacle with Whayne Hougland over his sexual misconduct. He currently ignores numerous disciplinary issues with bishops. And he's sandbagged legitimate complaints about bishops who flagrantly ignore church canons. "I don't want to get involved in diocesan matters," is the excuse that makes all but the most egregious diocesan issues safe from accountability to the larger church, reports Anglican Watch.

"These failures have undercut Curry's entire tenure."

Church headquarters is still at 815 Second Street in Manhattan, a costly and irrelevant Madmen-era heap built in 1962 and far too large for what's left of the denomination. Title IV for bishops remains broken. Ethically bankrupt Todd Ousley, who wouldn't know a pastoral response if it jumped into bed with him, is still there. Racism is alive and well in the church, says Anglican Watch.

"Even worse, Curry has learned nothing. Ousley is still around, ignoring Title IV requirements and turning a blind eye to problematic bishops. The mess with Ousley and Clay Matthews, his predecessor, has been around for years, fermenting like a blob of putrid goo and contaminating everything in sight. This should have addressed long ago."

"And most importantly, the church still has no strategic or spiritual direction. It just keeps lumbering along, rearranging the deck chairs, and waving goodbye to another 60,000+ members yearly."

"There are numerous problems here, but the most significant is the church's muddled theology of forgiveness. In this arena, the Episcopal church runs on cheap grace, in which people do whatever they want. In the unlikely event they called on their behavior, these folks say, 'I'm sorry," and suddenly, everyone is supposed to forgive and forget. That doesn't work in practice and is inconsistent with authentic Christian theology.'

The Episcopal Church bloviates a lot about its fabled "doctrine" of inclusion, when in truth it excludes the very people who could make the church grow. Even liberals have complained about the shunning in the church. The wife of a former Episcopal rector who died unexpectedly wrote me to say that she is now a shunned widow at the church he once led.

If the past is a prologue to the future, a turnaround is not only unlikely it is impossible, as the church has managed to rid itself of those troublesome evangelicals and evangelical catholics who gave hope for the Episcopal Church's future. The slide will continue.


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