If you woke up this morning and looked at the NY Times headline news, as I did, you might have been surprised, as I was, to see "Episcopal Split as Conservatives Form New Group" right between the Auto Workers and Mumbai. I was surprised because a) it didn't seem like news, or even a big deal; b) the Episcopalians haven't split; c) this doesn't seem like a new group, just the old group(s) by a new name.
I imagine I'm more blase than I ought to be about this thing, but I'm feeling pretty blase, have to say. (The Lead at the Episcopal Cafe is pretty blase, too. That makes me feel better.) Feeling as I do, I have to laugh (wryly) at the hysteria in the first couple of paragraphs. I'll take a look at it a sentence at a time:
WHEATON, Ill. — Conservatives alienated from the Episcopal Church announced on Wednesday that they were founding their own rival denomination, the biggest challenge yet to the authority of the Episcopal Church since it ordained an openly gay bishop five years ago.
Wheaton is the home of Wheaton College, probably the premier Evangelical college in the country. "Rival denomination" is apt. And as such, it is less of a challenge to the authority of the Episcopal Church than it has been as part of the current denomination.
The move threatens the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body, made up of 38 provinces around the world that trace their roots to the Church of England and its spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Oh, please. As if this were anything new.
The conservatives intend to seek the approval of leaders in the global Anglican Communion for the province they plan to form. If they should receive broad approval, their effort could lead to new defections from the Episcopal Church, the American branch of Anglicanism.
This could be the most interesting part of the whole thing, since leaders of this group have openly made disparaging remarks about the Anglican Consultative Council that makes these decisions, as referenced later in this same NY Times article (an American priest consecrated out of Nigeria was quoted as saying, "why do we still need to be operating under the rules of an English charity, which is what the Anglican Consultative Council does. Why is England still considered the center of the universe?” Perhaps not tactful if you want their approval).
Furthermore, there was an announcement today from Canterbury that any process to recognize a new province will take at minimum a year, and they haven't even started the process yet.
Finally, don't you hate news stories that say "if something happens, then something else could happen"? That's not news! That's barely even speculation! Just as easy to say "If they don't receive approval, then the whole thing could fold up and disappear," isn't it?
At any rate, read the NY Times article with a critical eye. I also recommend the following analyses from Mark Harris at Preludium, both here and here, and Andrew Plus, who has a terrific, very interesting take on the whole thing, imo.
But, really, life continues and God is good, all the time. This is hardly a blip in God's kingdom. Keep watching for God wherever you are. It's Advent. That's the important thing.