Monday, May 17, 2010

Faith Matters: Rebooting The Episcopal Church?

Walter Mead
May 16th, 2010

It was the beginning of the end of the Episcopal Church as we have known it. At a Saturday ceremony in Long Beach, California, Mary Glasspool was consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, California. Bishop Glasspool has lived for 22 years in a committed relationship with another woman. She is the second openly gay bishop to be consecrated in the Episcopal Church; the consecration comes after warnings from the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican leaders around the world that this decision means that the Episcopal church will soon lose its status as a full member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

For non-Anglicans and non-Episcopalians, the issues here may be fuzzy. The Anglican Communion is a group of churches who acknowledge a common descent from the Church of England and maintain a relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Communion is not an organization like the Roman Catholic Church. The Anglican Communion is the ecclesiastical counterpart, more or less, of the British Commonwealth, and the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury in it is very much like the Queen of England’s role in the Commonwealth. The wheels of ecclesiastical procedure grind very slowly, but in due course of time the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States are on track to lose their status as full members of the Communion.

It’s hard to tell what the consequences will be here in the United States. The Episcopal Church will keep its property and continue to manage its affairs as it now does. It will probably continue to drift toward the PC left in various ways, and it will probably also continue to shrink. If the Anglican Communion decides to recognize a new local ‘affiliate’ as the American branch of the Anglican family tree, it seems likely that conservative and moderate Episcopalians may drift in that direction. the rest


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