[Episwcopal Life Online] 18 Feb 2009--As I watch the sad saga of our bishops’ legalistic and punitive response to “traditionalist” bishops, dioceses, and parishes who are attempting to leave the Episcopal Church in order to form a new North American Anglican province, I am reminded of the defensive and dismissive response of the Church of England bishops to the Methodist Movement in the eighteenth century. The result of course was the founding and development of a separate Methodist Church, which is now much larger than the “Anglican” Church (at least as we are now constituted) on this continent. Imagine the strength and witness of Anglicanism today if the Methodists were welcomed as a preaching order within the Church of England. Surely, they would be more “orthodox” and we would be more “vibrant,” and together we would be much larger and much more effective for the Gospel in the world than we are divided. This, by the way, is exactly what Innocent III achieved when he embraced St. Francis and welcomed his friars into the ministry of the Catholic Church at the beginning of the thirteenth century, despite the fact that they were preaching such a dangerous “new” doctrine.
Now what I wonder is this: what would happen if the Presiding Bishop with the support of the House of Bishops were to welcome the formation of a new province for “traditionalists” within the Episcopal Church, allowing every diocese, parish, and church institution to join this province with a two-thirds vote by the appropriate parish meeting, convention, or governing body? She could even stipulate an acceptable window of a year during which this vote would be required to happen.