Friday, May 30, 2008

Why I left ECUSA, Part 2: A crack appears

The second in a series outlining why my family and I believe it is time for us to leave the Episcopal Church (read Why I left ECUSA, Part 1: A brief history here)

Part 2: A crack appears

I had been to Bible studies at church, usually moms’ groups where we would go through a booklet on “Women in the Bible” or something that related the Bible to our everyday lives. These are great studies to get to know other women and become more familiar with God’s Word, but at some point, I realized that I wasn’t really doing Bible study - I was doing Bible dabbling.

Often, we would deviate from the Bible to talk about our current situations with children, husbands, work, etc. I knew I needed something more rigorous and structured, since I am not one to be disciplined enough to do that on my own. My husband had been going to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), a non-denominational Bible study that combines lectures with small groups, for several years. I had seen his commitment and relationship with God grow and I wanted something similar. A friend introduced me to Community Bible Study (CBS), which is very like BSF. To keep up with the CBS study, you really do need to do some Bible study every day. The small groups allow more in-depth discussion of the study, and the lectures and notes give context and help relate that particular study to the Bible overall.

Usually, we would do an Old Testament book one year and then the next a New Testament book. I had never done something as in-depth and as broad. For the first time I was able to understand the true connection between the Old and New Testaments. The continuity of God’s work in the world and the steadfastness of His character and His love for us became real to me through studying His inspired Word.

CBS and BSF both stress taking what you’ve learned through your study and applying it to your life and the world around you through whichever church you attend. Because of this connection, I became more interested in what my church was doing, not only locally but nationally. Part of the attraction of the Episcopal Church for me was its tradition and its global Communion. While I had never considered it much, the fact that I was part of a tradition that stretched back hundreds of years was important (remember that pride thing!). It meant, I thought, that the church was not as susceptible to a particular personality or specific cultural shift – any changes would have to stand the test of time.

Then 2003 happened. It was not the consecration of +Gene Robinson per se that distressed me. One particular act, however ill conceived or even wrong, does not a church make.

No, it was Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold agreeing with the other Primates at the emergency meeting called by the Archbishop of Canterbury in October of 2003 that +Robinson’s consecration would “tear the fabric of the Communion” and then two weeks later, presiding at the consecration.

The unanimous consensus of the emergency meeting communiqué was that ECUSA should not proceed with the consecration and +Frank Griswold was one of the ones covered under “unanimous.” Was he lying to the other Primates when he agreed? I don’t know, and frankly, don’t care. All I know was that when I heard that had happened, I was shocked, absolutely floored. If he had told the Primates he couldn’t agree with them or that he supported +Robinson’s consecration, I would have thought he was nuts but would have figured it’s just another day in the Episcopal Church and it will blow over.

But he lied. And he was the presiding bishop of my church.

Then, the next big thing happened. I went online to see if I could find any info on why this had happened, and somehow, I don’t remember exactly how, I discovered Christopher Johnson and the Midwest Conservative Journal. I prefer to think of it as a “God thing,” but others may disagree. All of a sudden, I wasn’t alone (and I wasn't crazy to be so upset). There were others out there trying to make sense of what was going on, too.

All the while, I was still involved at my own church. People were talking about what had happened but not much that I heard. Most seemed to think it would all pass over, or that it was happening far away, or that the local parish was the most important thing so it wasn’t worth worrying about.

But I could not get out of my mind that the presiding bishop of my church, a man who had sworn to uphold God’s Word and the faith received, a man in apostolic succession to Peter and James and John, had blatantly, publicly, openly lied on a matter of grave importance and trust.

Coming: Part 3: The deluge


Hening said...

Isn't it interesting that the more we grow in our relationship with Christ, the more we need to separate from the things we thought were true.

Judith L said...

You are so right, Hening. And, furthermore, we gain courage to acknowledge truth that is uncomfortable or unfashionable.

Anonymous said...

looking forward to part 3...

I wasn't aware in detail of much of the recent history (2003-2006) until I discovered Kendall Harmons blog around late 2005. Of course we all knew about Gene Robinson's consecration, but given the toleration of John Spong this didn't seem any worse, and it wasn't my diocese, so wouldn't affect us, so I thought (I realize now how in error I was)

The blogs helped bring things really into focus, and I learned to what extent information was being distorted or suppressed locally.

For me, there was no deluge, but rather like water dripping on a rock over a long period of time. The final straw was the TEC response to Dar-Es-Salaam, and Canterbury's refusal to allow the TEC be held accountable. It was pretty evident to me that the tree was producing bad fruit on several levels.

- Steve