Encouraging Continuing Anglican News

I have just found Not so breakway after all on Fr Jonathan Munn’s blog.

From the Provincial Website

The College of Bishops of the Original Province met October 16th and 17th in Shelton, Connecticut, where they took important steps toward the reunification of Continuing Anglican jurisdictions. In addition to voting to receive former ACC Bishop Thomas Kleppinger back into the Church, a report on Validation of Orders was approved, paving the way towards closer relations with the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and Anglican Province in America (APA). Reception of a new diocese in the Republic of South Africa was conditionally approved and representatives were appointed to respond to a request for dialog from a large group of Anglicans in Burundi. For more information on this and related matters, see the upcoming issue of The Trinitarian.

You should go to Fr Jonathan’s blog (link above) to read his own reflections. Here are a few of mine.

I am far away from it all, but I have the Internet which is a valuable source of information and a way to keep in contact. I believe that we can make progress as we have been doing for several years. We are getting together, even if there are some differences that we just have to tolerate, namely a view of Anglicanism emphasising the Reformation and another that seeks a more Conciliar Catholic basis (the Church defined by the college of bishops rather than communion with the Pope). There are also points of convergence and understanding.

Indeed, the “establishment” folk would like to dismiss us as all the names they call us. We have developed a thick skin. I for one couldn’t care less what they say. I have had a lot of experience with smug clergy. One example is when I took down an organ to transport it to Triors Abbey in France. I had a friend to help me, and we needed to do an efficient job. We camped in the vestry, and even in May 1997, it was cold. I was concerned to limit costs and waste of time. We ate simply, basically Chinese and Indian take-aways. Then the vicar wanted to hold council meetings in the church and require silence. Finally, he reproached us for our “unspeakable behaviour” and “You even had a meal“. I merely responded that it didn’t bother me in the slightest if I left the organ in pieces strewn all over the church, forgot to pay the agreed price and looked for another organ somewhere else. His face went ashen. I explained that I was also a Christian and an ordained deacon and serving the interests of a Benedictine monastery by providing them with a pipe organ – and that we had a job to do. Meetings could be held in the vicarage or some other place. This is the kind of thing we find with Anglican clergy who fail to understand reality or even their own best interests. This is the kind of smug hypocrite who judges and condemns everything outside his small and self-contained world.

No, we are not an “angry” Church. At least I’m not angry. I am deeply alienated from most institutional Christianity and find it very hard to relate. My wounds are deep, but I pray for the grace to forgive and re-find my innocence. In the end, the important thing is not institutional horse trading and “unity” schemes, but whether we are trying despite our sinfulness to be disciples of Christ.

As I packed the last pipes and bits of organ mechanism into the Pickfords lorry bound for France and did a final clean-up, I left the vicar on good terms. I think there was something of a conversion in him and I had to understand where he was coming from. They respect someone who shows a bit more character than what they are generally used to.

Indeed, this and other blogs are avenues through which people can get to know us and overcome prejudice. We have had to break away to be free from the bullies, so that we could be free in our consciences – perhaps a little like those who fled inquisitions in the past for the freedom of the New World. The same thing happened with the Methodists and Non-Jurors in the past. A little tolerance goes a long way, and it can avoid any kind of schism or break-up. Louis Veuillot, the hyper-ultramontanist French journalist in the nineteenth century, once said: “Il n’y a pas plus sectaire qu’un libéral” –  There is nothing more sectarian than a liberal. Liberalism and tolerance are often very thin veneers that hide intolerance, bigotry, hatred and anger.

We have an inestimable gift to share, but we don’t force those who don’t want it. We do well to cultivate tolerance and love, and maybe people will see some tiny pieces of Christianity as a gift and not as a load of nonsense or a sickness to be cured by rationalism. We need to stand up to wrong and injustice, having character and courage to confront, but we need also to have kindness and empathy.

We’re getting there…

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