A.S. Haley—What if the TEC Foundations Were not Designed for the Current Structure?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ECUSA's General Convention in those days had as its primary function the hearing of reports on the status of the Church in each Diocese. Occasionally it was called on to admit another new diocese into union with the Church, or appoint a bishop to supervise a missionary diocese, and now and then it adopted amendments to the Canons. But its role on the national scene was largely ephemeral, and entirely forgettable.

What changed ECUSA structurally from its original model was the slow but steady growth in the size of its House of Bishops, as more and more territory came under ECUSA's jurisdiction, and also the advent of powerful new social forces. The first factor forced a change in the office and functions of the Presiding Bishop; following that change, the second factor transformed the character of the Church itself, under the active leadership of the new breed of Presiding Bishops.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History

9 Comments
Posted October 3, 2011 at 8:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Marvelously lucid and incisive analysis.  Just brilliant.  Exactly the sort of perceptive and devastating critique that we’ve come to expect from Counselor Haley.  Thank you, brother.

I agree 100%.  And just to be explicit, I mean I agree with him both about the follies of TEC’s current administration and all the expansionist/“statist” PB’s since Henry Knox Sherrill, and I also agree about the “statist” follies of the Obama administration.  Spot on.

David Handy+

October 3, 10:09 am | [comment link]
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

P.S.  This astute analysis provides a great illustration of why I chose the self-designation NRA.  FWIW, I’m not a gun-toting member of the National Rifle Association, but I am indeed convinced that what is needed in ANglicanism today, not least in TEC, is nothing less than a full-fledged New Reformation.  IOW, what is needed is not some tweaking or fine-tuning of a basically sound system, but a complete overhaul of the whole structure and culture of TEC from top to bottom, and a drastic reversal of many of the dominant trends in TEC over the last 50 years or so. 

Now lest I be misunderstood, I’m a strong supporter of WO and of the 1979 BCP (at least in general), so I’m not a “traditionalist.”  But the changes needed in Anglicanism (worldwide, but especially in the Global North) are not gradual, incremental, evolutionary changes, but rapid, drastic, revolutionary changes.  IOW, not merely the renewal of the Church, but its reformation, in a sense comparable only to the 16th century Protestant Reformation.  Changes in theology and practice that make the Evangelical Revivals of the 18th cnetury and the Catholic Revival of the 19th look rather tame and mild by comparison.

Where I suppose I might possibly disagree with A. S. Haley, is that I’m not opposed to Anglicanism moving in the direction of greater levels of centralized authority, as long as that authority rests securely in orthodox hands and is democratically elected and representative of the membership of the Anglican Communion as a whole (i.e., representation based on actual numbers of practicing members, not by inactive membership or by provinces or the number of clergy).  As I’ve long contended here at T19, I believe the days when we could afford the lack of a judiciary branch in Anglicanism are over, and probably gone forever.  We desperately need the equivalent of a worldwide Anglican Supreme Court that could render authoritative judgments on the “constitutionality” of the legislative actions of national/regional synods and declare those that are plainly unbiblical to be null and void, and whose decisions would stick because they would literally overturn the acts of TEC’s General Convention, or the CoE’s General Synod, etc.

I don’t consider that “statist.”  Rather, I contend it would help move Anglicanism further in the direction of true conciliarism.  Real church councils don’t just meet for consultation, or improving coordination among autonomous provinces; they issue creeds and canons that are binding throughout the church.  And that is what is needed in Anglicanism today.  Nothing less.

David Handy+

October 3, 10:33 am | [comment link]
3. David Keller wrote:

NRA—While what you say is inciteful, I cannot conceive of a new reformation in TEC.  The New Reformation is from the Global South to include ACNA &  AMiA. TEC is already in a death spiral.

October 3, 12:12 pm | [comment link]
4. SC blu cat lady wrote:

NRA and David,
Yep, the Curmudgeon hits a home run again. In many ways I agree with you both. David, I do hope you would agree that there are a few of us left in TEC that are worth including in the new reformation of Anglicanism.

October 3, 3:34 pm | [comment link]
5. David Keller wrote:

cat lady—There are a few faithful people left, especially in DSC, but the institution of TEC is on death’s door.  My suspicion is the dragon lady at 815 is setting the stage to boot DSC very soon, so you will no longer be a part of TEC anyway.

October 3, 5:12 pm | [comment link]
6. SC blu cat lady wrote:

David,
Yes but will the diocese leave willingly?? From what I see in the Bishop’s letter it is going to take more than empty threats against the diocese.

October 4, 9:56 am | [comment link]
7. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

David Keller,

Of course, I agree that TEC is sadly beyond saving, at least humanly speaking.  As for how much time DSC has left, who knows??  I suspect that the time when it all comes to a head may not be as imminent as you think, but I could be wrong.  As I just said over at SF, to use a Wizard of Oz analogy, “These things have to be handled delicately.”  But there seems little room for doubt that the despicable ++KJS will go after +Lawrence and the Standing Committee of DSC before she goes after +Love and my former diocese of Albany or +Dan Martins and Springfield, or whoever is elected the new bishop of Central Florida etc. 

So I’m afraid that I agree with you, David, that eventually there will be no safe havens left in TEC or in the ACoC.  So yes, the New Reformation will be driven by groups like the ACNA and AMiA, along with the Lutheran equivalent, etc., relying on the crucial support of the orthodox majority in the Global South.

BTW, I got a laugh out of your kind compliment about my “inciteful” post.  I trust you meant it was insightful.  However, it almost certainly was provocative and incited some readers too.  Thanks.

David Handy+

October 4, 10:31 am | [comment link]
8. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

SC blu cat lady,

Of course, I happily recognize that there is a strong faithful remnant in DSC.  And even when we’re tempted, like Elijah, to suppose that we’re the only faithful ones left, we may well hear the Lord tell us that there are yet “7,000” in Israel who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal (a very apt analogy, BTW, since Baal was a fertility god associated with obscene practices like temple prostitution).

I can identify with your feelings of apprehension, sister.  I spent my entire ordained ministry (over 20 years) as a priest canonically resident in the Diocese of Albany (although seldom geographically resident there).  But I eventually grew tired of waiting for +Love to lead the diocese out of TEC, and I decided that I had to follow my conscience and leave TEC as soon as the ACNA was officially formed two years ago.  Now I’m not saying you need to do the same, of course; I’m only empathizing.

To use a Tolkien analogy, Sauron’s forces will concentrate the brunt of their overwhelming attack on Minas Tirith, for his fury and spite is ultimately directed mostly at Gondor, not Rohan.  But Rohan is still worth defending.  And if Sarah Hey is right that even a little stone bridge can sometimes be our personal call to defend in a great war, how much more so a major fortress like Helm’s Deep?

Lest I be misunderstood, let me clarify what I mean.  I’m actually not suggesting that DSC is Helm’s Deep, or that TEC is Rohan.  Personally, I’d say that Anglicanism worldwide is Rohan, and that Roman Catholicism is Gondor.  And Sauron is not ++KJS, but Satan himself.  I don’t think +Lawrence, marvelous as he is, is Aragorn.  But he might be a noble captain of Rohan, rather like Eomer.

David Handy+

October 4, 10:47 am | [comment link]
9. flaanglican wrote:

This plays just like what happened to my church and Rector a little more than 6 years ago.  Then, it was the diocese making charges (untrue) against the Rector and leadership of my church.  Not long after that, he, the other clergy, staff, and 700 congregants left to form a new thriving Anglican parish.

Now substitute “TEC” for diocese and “Bishop” for “Rector” and you have the same thing happening all over again.  The national Episcopal Church is levelling charges against the Godly Bishop of South Carolina. Reminds me of the Chinese proverb, “Beware of what you wish for, you just might get it.”

October 10, 5:25 pm | [comment link]
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