Move on from TEC: An Exhortation for Those in the Anglican Church in North America
Preface: This is an in-house post among Anglican brethren.
Last month Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina offered a timely and sage observation. He declared,
Rarely have the spiritually hungry, the seeker, the unconverted, or the unchurched been won for Jesus Christ through church conflicts, denominational discord, or ecclesiastical excesses. If we are to have the aroma of Christ, we must live in his grace with faith, hope, and charity. The apostle has described it well the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness (long-suffering) and self control.
Amen and amen! Such ecclesiastical drama does little but distract us from our true purpose and place a stumbling block before the Gospel to a lost and dying world. This is why I’m truly disturbed by websites like Virtue Online and Stand Firm as well as Facebook groups like the “Anglican Church in North” where folks continually obsess on The Episcopal Church and the latest evidence of its progressive drift. It’s time to move on.
Look, I’m typically a pretty compassionate guy. But there comes a point in which they’re obviously choosing to wallow in the pain rather than choosing to heal. Not all but the vast majority of those in the Anglican Church who’ve come out of an Episcopalian background have now had more than enough time to go through the emotional healing progress of re-experiencing the pain (emotional), re-interpreting the events (cognitive), and choosing to forgive (volitional). Again, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and move on.
In much the same way that it has been healthy for me not to dwell on–or even talk and write about–the Anglican Mission, it seems clear it’d be psychologically and spiritually healthy for those in the Anglican Church to do the same with The Episcopal Church. Not only those websites but the larger backward-looking, contentious spirit bogs us down in the mire and prevents us from moving on. Christ has called us to forgive and pray for our persecutors, has he not?
It’s like the remarried husband who keeps talking about his former wife who cheated on him. Not only doesn’t that doesn’t promote restoration and renewal, but keep it up and it’s bound to destroy his new marriage, too. From my heart I’m pleading with you. Please don’t make the Anglican Church like the Exodus from Egypt. I really don’t want to have to wait for an entire generation to die off before we can collectively move forward.
To be clear, I’m not saying to forgive and forget. Forgive? Yes. Forget? No. For many people individually, and for the Anglican Church corporately, this is part of our history. We shouldn’t pretend it didn’t happen. That’s no good, either. What I’m saying is that in much the same way that I was molested as a child but refuse to let that tragedy define me, so Anglicans shouldn’t continue to let The Episcopal Church define its existence. Re-experience, re-interpret, forgive. Heal.
Lastly, I want to offer a tangentially related suggestion. I’m begging you. Please stop referring to the Anglican Church as the A-C-N-A or ACNA. That’s precisely the sort of Episcopalian cultural baggage we need to shed. Archbishop Duncan’s wisdom on this point is profound. No one is drawn to an acronym. In fact, it actively repels people. It sounds like bureaucratic hell. Please seriously consider calling it the Anglican Church in North America or just plain Anglican Church.