I quote Wordsworth as he saluted the French Revolution, that is until La Veuve began to drench the streets of Paris in blood! The sentiment can perfectly apply to the news coming from the combined Synod in America.
The much anticipated moment of the week arrived just after 9:00 a.m. on Friday. The heads of the Diocese of the Holy Cross (Hewett), Anglican Church in America (March), Anglican Catholic Church (Haverland) and Anglican Province of America (Grundorf)(aka the “G-4”) ascended the platform before hundreds of rapt onlookers. There was silence in the hall as each bishop read a portion of the Declaration of Communio In Sacris amongst the bodies. The crowd of young seminarians, lay people of all ages, assorted clergy and many veterans of the long years of the continuing Anglican movement in the United States looked on as each prelate signed the documents.
At once the crowd was to its feet in prolonged applause with shouts of “Amen” and “Alleluia”. There was hugging and no small amount of tears as the emotional dam of 40 years let go. Then, all of the people burst into the Doxology which reverberated off the walls of the hall. One bishop allowed that he made it through the first words, “Praise God….”, before the lump in his throat prevented anything further. In the aftermath, people rushed to have their pictures taken with the bishops and to ask autographs.
The Pontifical Mass that followed, was no less joyful and emotional.. Each of the four bishops took a role in the liturgy, with ++Hewett celebrating and ++Grundorf as the homilist. The lines of all of the years faded in the face of the Holy Eucharist, and many long-savored enmities seemed to disappear at the Real Presence. This author was graced to receive the Host from Bp. Paul Hewett, who so many years ago chanted the Litany at my ordination, and the chalice at the hands of Abp. Mark Haverland who has been my Metropolitan for many years. I could not help but add my own tears to those of many in the crowd as I returned to my place.
Are there more bumps in the road ahead? Of course. The Church is filled with human beings. Indeed, there was great disappointment at the absence of the Anglican Province of Christ the King, which had declined to participate. We can only pray that a body such as the APCK, which professes the same faith as the “G-4”, will move past its present reticence. As well, there are a number of technical, ecclesial and canonical issues remaining. However, this moment proves that, through prayer and perseverance, these obstacles will be overcome, for with God all things are possible.
As the crowd began to dissipate, there was a reluctance to leave such a graced occasion, but folks gradually bade their farewells with a renewed sense of purpose and a new sense of unity.
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Indeed, Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive…