Kevin Martin About The Episcopal Church’s Restructuring Efforts

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the primary problem TEC faces today a “structural problem?” While we clearly have structural issues, I do not think we have yet come up with the right diagnosis. I would point to two issues that are symptomatic of our situation.

First, we have been involved in serious conflict for the past decade that has held the attention of our leadership, led to an acceleration of our decline and costs us millions of dollars in litigation. Like it or not, this conflict is related directly to our theological and missional identity, namely who are we and what we are called to do. I would caution that just because one side in the conflict seems to have won, this does not mean that we have determined an identity and way forward, especially a way that is significant to our wider cultural context. If the Episcopal Church is to have a future other than shrinking numbers, budgets, and congregations, we must be able to reach people in our society and draw them into this part of the body of Christ.

Second, there continues to be a major disconnect between our corporate structures and the local congregation. We continue to hear from denominational leaders that recent decisions have made us more viable to new generations and new ethnic groups which is making us a more inclusive and multi-cultural church. However, the numbers of declining congregations and the reality in the field is that local congregations are not, nor are most becoming, the kind of church that General Convention and the Executive Council say we are. Of course, we have some congregations that reflect this, but they are far from the norm of our local congregational life. I have spent much time over the last ten years visiting Episcopal Churches and making presentations on congregational development. I observe that many of our congregations are struggling with basic survival issues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC DataTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

Posted January 2, 2013 at 6:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Marie Blocher wrote:

On Kevin Martin’s last Sunday as Dean of the Cathedral of St Matthew, he was interviewed. One excerpt from that interview
struck a chord with me.
” Things have changed and I think not for the better.  For example, as a seminarian I attended the General Convention held in Houston.  I remember the hearing held on the proposed new Baptismal Rite.  It started with a 20 minute presentation by a leading theologian and seminary professor on the need for changes.  This was followed by a 10 minute “response” by another theologian from a different perspective.  This theologian began by affirming a number of points made in the initial address, and only then did he respectfully present a differing opinion.  This was followed by a panel discussion among a group of outstanding leaders and thinkers.  Only then was the discussion open to deputies in the audience who could ask questions.

Compare all this to a discussion at the General Convention in 2000 over the issue of ordination of gay and lesbian persons in same-sex relationships.  The initial resolution that would be taken to the floor of convention was read by the Chair of the Committee and then members of the audience were invited to give testimony limited to two minutes.  Participants went to a set of microphones labeled either pro or con.  I saw a seminary dean given only two minutes to speak to the Church’s theology of marriage.  This was followed by a two minute personal sharing by a woman who was married to a transvestite on how accepting their local parish had been.  I sat watching as a once thoughtful and intelligent community that valued substantive engagement with issues reduced itself to a community of passionate partisanship who reduced discussion to a superficial series of slogans and clichés.”

January 2, 9:55 am | [comment link]
2. Cennydd13 wrote:

I wonder why they even bother with having a General Convention.

January 2, 4:06 pm | [comment link]
3. Tory+ wrote:

Kevin Martin is one of the few really bright stars in TECs firmament.  I pray he continues from one degree of glory to another.

January 2, 9:31 pm | [comment link]
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