"Send out Your light and Your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling." Psalm 43:3

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Priorities for the Next Presiding Bishop?

I just finished filling out the survey recently issued by the Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop.  A link to the survey can be found on the Episcopal Church website here.

The survey ends with two questions for respondents to answer by typing in a text box.  Those questions, and my responses, are below.

What are the three most important issues for the next Presiding Bishop during the term of office?

1. Providing leadership that is authentically Christian, that affirms and guards the Christian faith as a precious gift, and that is unashamed to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as the hope and salvation of the world.  I believe this is needed at this time in the history of TEC, when there are increasing numbers who wonder (not without justification) whether we will continue to view ourselves as members of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, or whether we will move into a vague, unrooted spiritualism, devoid of recognizably Christian doctrine.  Our identity is in Christ, or it is in nothing.

2. Vision for the future of the church, as regards its institutional shape.  This work (such as that being studied by the Task Force for Church Structural Reform) must be a priority.  In light of the massive cultural shift of the last several decades (post-Christendom, here we are!), we must seek to reshape our common life in ways that are pragmatic and viable, wisely discerning the difference between those things which can and should be changed, and those things which are essential to the health and integrity of our faith.

3. Serving as an example to help begin a healing time.  The bitterness attending the recent divisions in our church (and with much of the Anglican Communion) is a tragedy and a scandal.  This does not mean we need to go back and rescind decisions we have made, or to abruptly "change course".  It does mean that we should be moving always with humility and grace, not self-congratulatory triumphalism.  It means sincerely acknowledging the pain that has been caused to so many faithful Christians of goodwill, and seeking their forgiveness, while nevertheless continuing to walk the path to which we feel called.  It means NO MORE LITIGATION, but rather a radical, boundless charity, such as we are called to in our Lord Jesus.  It may take a while, but we should be laying this groundwork now.  Reconciliation (sooner or later, to a fuller or lesser extent) must occur.

What are three ways the Episcopal Church could improve?

1. Be honest and unashamed of our identity in Christ.  We are Christian people, who should affirm and be able to articulate what we believe about God, as well as about ourselves and the world.  I do not think our church is helped by a constant, public questioning of those beliefs which constitute the core of our faith (e.g. the articles of the Creed).  

2. Cut the 'relevant' crap.  Yes, the Church should be culturally conscious, and use that consciousness to bring the love of Christ to people.  But the Church should not seek to pander to the prevailing culture (that is a hopeless task anyway; before we've even got it figured out, it's on to the next thing); the Church is called to transform the prevailing culture by offering to it a way of life that is radically different: the way of Christ.  I think we Episcopalians have a way of being the Church that is distinctively beautiful, generous, and faithful, if we will but have the wisdom to know and live into our Anglican tradition.  (Btw, I'm 28 years old).

3. Provide more focused direction to Episcopal Church resources that exist for individual and family spiritual development.  In my home, we often turn to the educational and spiritual resources of other traditions (e.g. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox), simply because TEC seems to lack the depth and coherence of message that can be found there.


Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church.  Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.  Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it.  Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior.  Amen.
~ A Prayer for the Church, BCP pg. 816


  1. I filled out the survey as well. My biggest concern, like yours, was that the new Presiding Bishop would be a person who could /say the Creed without crossing her fingers.

    As far as your last point goes- while Anglicanism doesn't have the rich tradition of lay spirituality and devotions found in the Roman Catholic Church, it is far easier for Anglicans to join in "clerical" devotions such as the Daily Office in our tradition. The Book of Common Prayer is simpler than the Breviary, even after Vatican II, and it has only two main offices, rather than seven. And we don't have a midnight office.

    The St. Augustine's Prayer Book is an Anglo-Catholic manual of lay devotions, but much of it is taken from Roman sources.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Whit. I agree that the Book of Common Prayer is a treasure. I've been forming my devotional life around the Daily Office for a couple of years now, and we use Compline (simplified for young ones) for our family devotions in the evening. I have heard of the St. Augustine's Prayer Book, but have not looked into yet.