(The names have been changed by the writer)
That was followed by a continuous and rapid series of alterations in their parish life. They flipped from one form of liturgy to another to yet another and the teachings they heard from the pulpit were similarly varied. There are also indications that some of St. Charles’ people, including its leadership, recognized and understood the fatal inconsistencies that underlie AMiA, namely being immediately or mediately “in communion with” people whose ordinations one must reject, who worship according to novel rites one must regard as theologically suspect, and so on.
About two years ago most of St. Charles’ members simply picked up and moved out of the “overseas” version of Lambeth Anglicanism, forming their own mission congregation. This then quickly affiliated with one of the traditional, and orthodox, “Continuing Churches” which I will call “the Confederation of Unreconstructed Anglicans” (CUA). While St. Charles’ does not yet have its own building, it meets regularly in suitable rented accommodations and has grown to having its own resident clergy: two priests, one of them raised up from the lay leadership of the original group.
All seemed to be going remarkably well, a true Anglican success story. So imagine my surprise when a day or two ago I happened to visit St. Charles’ website, only to find that, without any fanfare or publicity, it has just transferred its allegiance from the orthodox jurisdiction in which it had found a home to one of the “wannabe Lambeth” jurisdictions that are currently in the process of coming together to form the “Anglican Church in North America” (ACNA). Again, to keep this low-key rant on track, we will refer to this member jurisdiction as “the Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico” (ACNM) because that particular name has thus far escaped actual use by any of the Neo-Anglican bodies.
The only overt indication of this transfer to be found on the parish’s home page is the statement:
“St. Charles the Martyr Church
“A parish church of the Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico
“A member of the Anglican Church in North America”
Only if you happened to know that, up until a few days or weeks ago, this had said “A parish church of the Confederation of Unreconstructed Anglicans” would this home page signal to you any change of affiliation. Then, buried under a link to “News” is:
“St. Charles the Martyr Re-Aligns with New Anglican Province
“St. Charles the Martyr Anglican Church has recently become a parish of the Anglican Concatenation North of Mexico which is a founding jurisdiction of the new North American Anglican Province called the Anglican Church in North America. This realignment puts St. Charles in communion with over 100,000 Anglicans in the U.S. and Canada and millions of traditional Anglicans around the world. It also gives the parish access to extensive resources for growth and development.”
“In communion with over 100,000 Anglicans in the U.S. and Canada…”
Of course, it also puts St. Charles’ back “in communion” with people who use the insidious 1979 ECUSA liturgies or the equivalent overseas “books of alternative services” and who ordain women (sometimes to the diaconate, sometimes to the priesthood, but there is only one Sacrament of Holy Order). So there is a real possibility that St. Charles’ is simply heading for a replay of its unsatisfactory experience with AMiA.
And, of course, all these new partners in communion are the very same people who cannot quite bring themselves to cut the apron strings that tie them to Lambeth Palace. The long and the short of this is that St. Charles’ has now adopted (or perhaps “again adopted”) “Anglicanism Lite”, the religion of ECUSA as it was in 2000, just prior to the advent of “Bishop” Vickie Gene Robinson.
The great, insurmountable problem with this is that where thirty years ago ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, and through them the entire Lambeth Communion, took upon themselves the authority to alter the fundamental state of being that can be ordained (not “may”, “can”) – think Barbara Harris, Jackboot Jane Dixon, and Katherine Jefferts-Schori --, there is no principled basis left for resisting alterations in the much less fundamental standards of behavior expected of ordinands – think Paul Moore, Vickie G. Robinson, Jeffrey Johns.
Also, the new ACNA and the old ECUSA cannot both be members in good standing of the Lambeth Communion. Much as such a compromise might appeal to Rowan Williams and his ilk, ECUSA will never stand for it. ECUSA has the geld, ACNA has only souls, and when Trinity Church, Wall Street can write one check to wipe out the huge deficit left from the last Lambeth Conference, it will be no contest. “He who has the geld makes the rules.”
And Lambeth has already made its choice; just recall how the North American bishops of African and South American Provinces were so conspicuously not invited to the last Lambeth Conference because, although they were legal Anglican bishops of lawful Anglican Provinces, their presence would have offended Katie Jefferts-Schori. And just remember how that Lambeth Conference was carefully choreographed to prevent any meaningful discussion of the real points of division. The Lambeth Archbishop of the Sudan even had to call his own personal press conference to make a statement against sexually perverse behavior.
“It also gives the parish access to extensive resources for growth and development.”
I hope it be not true, but here may lie the real explanation of this otherwise puzzling change. From time to time, messages in the blogosphere have lauded ACNA’s plans and arrangements for evangelism, church planting, and church growth. “Plans and arrangements” presumably include “resources” and, in the context of St. Charles’ featuring this item, “resources” seem to translate into “outside money, money we don’t have to raise for ourselves”.
It would be truly sad if St. Charles’ were to have sold out its authentic Anglican heritage for a mess of accomodationist pottage. In the words of the devastated young Black Sox fan who pled for reassurance from Shoeless Joe Jackson, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”