[Episcopal Life Online] 1 June 2007--The decision of a group of historic Virginia parishes to leave the Episcopal Church deserved the national publicity it received. The exodus is the latest evidence of a process of disintegration that threatens the existence of the Episcopal Church as a significant force in American and world Christianity. The irony is that the Episcopal Church is an unlikely candidate for the kind of conflict that is consuming it. The large majority of Episcopalians are religious moderates with little interest in divisive theological polemics.
The leadership of the church is a large part of the problem. The current crisis was not caused by gay activism in the church, or even by the election of a non-celibate gay man as bishop of New Hampshire, but by the assent to that election on the part of the church's supreme governing body, the triennial General Convention. Meeting in 2003, the General Convention had full authority to reject the result of the New Hampshire election but chose not to do so. By the time of the next General Convention, in the summer of 2006, the extent of the damage done to the church and the worldwide Anglican Communion was clear. World Anglican leaders had publicly spelled out the minimum steps required to restore the good standing of the Episcopal Church. Yet the General Convention still refused to moderate its position, sparking the surge in the number of Episcopalians running for the exits late last year.
While I posted this article, I certainly do not endorse this proposal. I personally think that it would create more problems than it would resolve. I am in the midst of doing some extensive reading in the English Reformation, the Elizabethan Settlement, the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration Settlement. The lessons of history from this period convinces me that the proposal is not a good idea.