A few days ago, I quoted an article from Fr Robert Hart, and then discovered that it was all on Virtue Online. It was about continuing Anglican bishops getting together and working towards unity. I have now come across Continuing Church IV: A New Hope by Fr J. Gordon Anderson of the Anglican Province of America on his blog.
Most of us can remember some of the bad times over the last twenty to thirty years, things like bishop’s brawls, disputes between cantankerous and parochially-minded men who had at some time been elevated to the Episcopate because they happened to be in the right place at the right time. I had almost the same discussion with my Bishop and with Fr David Chislett serving in the Church of England via Forward in Faith. We have seen it all before, but something brought us back from the brink of cynicism (modern meaning). Now, we can be extremely encouraged about this turn of the tide.
In the past, every time there was a development, there were men trashing continuing Anglicanism saying that we should have stayed with the Establishment or made our choice between the Patriarchate of Antioch or the Roman Catholic Church. This time, the armchair apologists and bellicose clergy seem to be silent. Pope Francis seems to have flattened a good few things out… In his paragraph about a priest trashing everything in sight, I would not like to guess the identity of that person. Frankly, it isn’t my problem. This time, we seem to be left in peace. Perhaps our former adversaries have problems of their own rather than worry about us.
It is good to get on with the things that really matter, just getting on with being ordinary priests doing what ordinary priests do. I find it a great encouragement to see these movements towards peace and unity for the sake of the Church doing its job: bringing people to the light of Christ. The upshot of all that: we can be thankful for the good news. Many of us have lost the “extremist” discourse born of reaction to embrace a more irenic view of things as we continue to worship with classical rites and seek a theological synthesis of everything.
Churches reach their limit of “usefulness” when they are over-institutionalised and “mechanical” in their bureaucracy. We Continuing Anglicans will certainly reach that point one day with sanctimonious cant and empty verbosity. But, that hasn’t happened yet, and I for one will do my best to put off that moment for as long as possible. Far from being a danger to the credibility of Christianity, the vicissitudes of Continuing Anglicanism through splits and learned lessons have helped to bring in something new, fresh and spiritually attractive.
A couple of days with one’s Bishop and fellow clergy do wonders for the morale in these dark melancholic days of January!