IRD—Clock Running Out on Episcopal Church: One Month to Go

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[TEC's] goal, according to Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, ‘is part of [the denomination’s] mission.’ The House of Bishops also defined it last March as part of the ‘gospel’ that the Episcopal Church is called to preach. Yet that goal and many other examples of jettisoning biblical, traditional Anglican faith have led thousands of orthodox Anglicans to leave the Episcopal Church.

And it is precisely those deviations from orthodox faith and practice that put the Episcopal Church outside of the mainstream of not just the Anglican Communion, but the larger body of Christ. Make no mistake: the Episcopal Church’s actions dangerously compromise the holiness of the church and its members. The Anglican Communion primates clearly recognize that fact. Will the Episcopal Church put the good of the worldwide church ahead of its own desires? Or will it remain insistent, as its Executive Council said in June, that it can only be what it is? The clock is running out.

Read it all.

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Posted August 31, 2007 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Bob from Boone wrote:

As the time for the September meeting of the HOB approaches the anti-TEC ancronyms are cranking out more and more press releases in which the rhetorical decibel level gets turned higher and higher. The IRD has been at this even before 2003. Nothing new in their attack; the same distortions of the actual situation. But I would not expect anything different.

August 31, 11:41 am | [comment link]
2. Summersnow wrote:

  “It should not be overlooked in all the discussion of Rev. Lind that all five candidates for bishop support the Episcopal Church’s movement toward what progressives commonly call the ’full inclusion’ of gays and lesbians.”

—Ralph Webb, IRD Director of Anglican Action

This, in my opinion, is the real heart of the matter.  Such has been the groundwork laid for the past 20+ years—from Montgomery++, to Griswold++, to Persell++.  I am in Chicago, and really the orthodox here have no options (that I am aware of) to stay within TEC.  I truly wish that it were different.

August 31, 11:49 am | [comment link]
3. Brian of Maryland wrote:


What distortions?  In response to TEC’s bishops clearly stating they will not allow alternate oversight (one of the three requests to TEC), we have seen an acceleration of African incursion into the US as the response.  TEC continues their aggressive legal action against orthodox Anglican congregations and ... now there’s just the third rejection awaiting the end of September.

What you see as spin and such I interpret as organizations willingly invested in holding up TEC’s actions to the light of day.  Looking on from the outside, it really does appear the GS Bishops will not allow this deadline to go unnoticed either.  Hence, no distortion.

Md Brian

August 31, 12:30 pm | [comment link]
4. drjoan wrote:

This is the part I don’t understand:
The article says “full inclusion’ of gays and lesbian” is “part of [the denomination’s] mission’ and “part of the ‘gospel’ that the Episcopal Church is called to preach. ”  The sad fact is, it does not appear that the Episcopal Church KNOWS what its mission or gospel is!  Certainly, “go and make disciples of all men” and “go and sin no more” are not part of the mission or the gospel!

August 31, 12:44 pm | [comment link]
5. Makersmarc wrote:

Would you settle for Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself?  And in so doing, feed the poor, clothe the naked, free the imprisoned, and proclaim good news (the incarnate, crucified, and risen Lord) to the oppressed (kind of what the MDGs do) because what we do for the least of these we do for Jesus (as opposed to what the IRD is trying to do…)

August 31, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
6. Sherri wrote:

It takes both, Makersmarc - what you said and what Dr. Joan says. To do without either one or the other is to have a church that is lacking and diminished.

August 31, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
7. Brian of Maryland wrote:


And it is the very poor and oppressed who have requested TEC stop it’s current direction.  And given the pitiful amount TEC actually gives toward the ministries you’ve mentioned, it is hubris to claim the leadership is focused on that either.  Given the biblical injunction against suing fellow believers, I can’t help but wonder how many lives might have been saved instead of investing in TEC lawyers?

The IRD’s rhetoric can’t hold a candle to the double speak floating about TEC.

Md Brian

August 31, 1:47 pm | [comment link]
8. Brad Page wrote:

Bob from Boone (#1):  “Attack?”  “Distortions of the actual situation?”  I appreciate that you may take issue with the IRD approach, but this doesn’t seem like an “attack”.  Perhaps you could clarify where the distortions lie?

August 31, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
9. HowieG wrote:

#5 What you say is most incomplete.  The MDG’s are a UN secular program.  There is NO need of any Religion to do them.  In fact, if you look at who is actually doing most of the “feed the poor, clothe the naked, ...” you would see Church organizations leading them.  I don’t suppose you have ever been on a Mission trip?  I have many times of the years.  For TEc(Cult) to push MDG’s as if it’s a “new and wonderful thing” is a slap in the face of all the Missionaries who have been in the field for decades, although, I’m quite sure, any help, regardless the source and reason, will be accepted with few exceptions.  Doing God’s work is more important than playing petty politics.

I refer you to #4.  Add what drjoan said, then we are almost on the same page.


August 31, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
10. Makersmarc wrote:

Geez, Howie (#9), it’s a blog comment, of course it’s incomplete!  And just because the MDGs were initiated through the UN doesn’t mean that those of us called by the Gospel to support them do any disservice.  If anything, we are making sacred that which is otherwise, as you say, purely secular (Christianity has a history of doing that, you know.)  Matter of fact I have been on a couple of mission trips, but even if I hadn’t been, it wouldn’t change anything.  To say that the MDGs are the only thing the EC is pushing is a slap in the face of all those who gave blood, sweat, and tears to the formation of our wonderful church, disingenuous at best and a blatent and willful mischaracterization (in a word, a lie) at worst.  Do try to get this:  The EC isn’t pushing the MDGs as a “new gospel,” but only supporting them because of our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

August 31, 3:02 pm | [comment link]
11. Fred wrote:

The biggest distortion Webb spews out is that “thousands” have left TEC. Hardly. Only 45 out of 7500 parishes have actually left. Miniscule!!!

August 31, 3:07 pm | [comment link]
12. In Texas wrote:

Fred, lets not try and spin “thousands of orthodox Anglicans”, which means people, into parishes.  It is a fact that “thousands” of people have left.  One orthodox parish leaving with an ASA of 3,000, is not the same as one liberal parish staying with an ASA of 75.  I know that 7,500 parish number sounds big, but look at the average ASA.

August 31, 3:28 pm | [comment link]
13. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “The biggest distortion Webb spews out is that “thousands” have left TEC. Hardly.”

You know, there’s a bigger issue beyond the fact that Fred knows he’s not telling the truth—as witness the well-documented ASA decline over the past three years, as well as the testimony of the Episcopal church’s own Director of Research Kirk Hadaway:

“In fact we were actually doing better than most other mainline denominations in the 1990s through 2002, with a few years of growth,” Hadaway told the CENTURY. “So it is a precipitous drop in losing 36,000 in both 2003 and 2004, and now 42,000 in 2005.”

Half of the losses stemmed from parish conflicts over the 2003 Episcopal General Convention’s approval of the election of an openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, according to Hadaway.

That Fred saying something so blatantly and knowingly false is not a real surprise.

The more interesting maneuver is the classic rhetorical “bait and switch” that Fred slips in—something that we should all take note of because it’s common to another raging progressive, Jefferts-Schori—when he denies that thousands have left, and then as evidence points to an irrelevant measurement in parishes.

Then what often happens is that folks step in and take the bait that Fred offers by debating the actual number of parishes which have left—which neatly gets us off the subject of the THOUSANDS of individuals which have indeed departed ECUSA.  ; > )

A parallel example is if the parent says to the child “Johnny, did you eat the two dozen cookies that were lying on this counter here this afternoon, and now are no longer there?” 

And Johnny says “Hardly . . . I haven’t been able to find or eat any of the candy that I know that Dad has somewhere around here.”

Mother says “what candy—I don’t think he has any candy here?”—and they’re off and running!  ; > )

It’s just a sweet maneuver, when it can be hidden by a few more flourishes and furbelows, rather than in the clumsy way that Fred presents it.

August 31, 3:28 pm | [comment link]
14. Ralph Webb wrote:


Normally I let criticisms of the IRD go, but your insinuation that the IRD (and perhpaps theological, social, and/or political conservatives in general) doesn’t care for the poor and the oppressed is (to put it charitably) misinformed. We IRD staffers discuss the question among ourselves of how best to help the poor, and it factors into our thinking and concern on a variety of issues.

And concerning the oppressed, long before I ever joined the IRD, it was holding rallies for the Sudan and persecuted church outside of General Convention halls; I was there for two of them (in 1997 and 2000) even though I was not there with the IRD. The IRD still speaks strongly on behalf of religious liberty; just go to our website and find out. Personally, I can tell you that it was the IRD’s religious liberty work that initially impressed me about the organization.

As I’ve said before on my blog, the MDGs are largely commendable, even though they’re not the only way to approach the topics they address. Still, they cannot be equated with the mission of the church, as other commenters have already said. We cannot set concern for “the least of these” against being faithful to God regarding His call to holiness for His people in marriage. Both are commanded by God. We also cannot set aid to the poor against biblical faithfulness in our social witness, the disregard for which will harm the worldwide Church.

Ralph Webb

August 31, 3:29 pm | [comment link]
15. Rolling Eyes wrote:

Fred: “Only 45 out of 7500 parishes have actually left.”

So far…When TEC chooses to leave the Anglican Communion on Oct. 1, then there will be MANY, MANY more.

#10: “The EC isn’t pushing the MDGs as a “new gospel,” but only supporting them because of our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

No, they aren’t.  The whole homosexualist agenda is their “new gospel”. 
The problem many have with the MDG’s is that they too often stress political and social activism apart from the spirituality of the Gospel, or at least without enough emphasis.  That makes the MDG look like pure activism, regardless of your intentions.  Or, at least, that’s certainly how it comes across.

August 31, 3:34 pm | [comment link]
16. CanaAnglican wrote:

#16.  Stan, you may be right.  But, if 72,000 people left in the 3 years 2003-2005, I’ll bet 100,000 will be counted as “gone in 2006-2007.  The exodus is on.  I cannot imagine where the 45 parishes number comes from.  Out of Fred’s hat?  There are many more orthodox parishes out there that are thriving without the help of TEC.  Thank you very much.  Of course the 172,000 gone over a five-year period did not all start parishes of the typical TEC size.  If they had, that would be about 1,720 new parishes.  —Stan

August 31, 5:02 pm | [comment link]
17. Rolling Eyes wrote:

#16: “Just as they’ve rationalized staying to this point they will rationalize staying past 9/30 - “oh well, we’ll stay and pray that the communion will include us again” or something along those lines.”

I’m not sure I understand…What I meant was the mass “defections” out of TEC would be in order to remain in the Communion.  I’m not sure who you were referring to that would wait and ask to be let back into the Communion.

August 31, 5:24 pm | [comment link]
18. Ross wrote:

What will happen to TEC numbers over the next few years remains to be seen, of course.  But I think we can divide “people who were members of TEC as of 2003” into three groups for this purpose:

1) People who are opposed to the direction of TEC and feel strongly enough about it to have left.  This group would constitute the “precipitous drop” referred to by Kirk Hadaway (as quoted by #13 Sarah.)

2) People who are opposed to the direction of TEC and feel strongly enough about it to leave, but have not yet done so.  This group represents future losses.

3) People who are opposed to the direction of TEC but not strongly enough to leave, people who don’t know or don’t care about these events, or people who support the direction of TEC.  This group will be what remains after group (2) leaves.

So really the question is: how big is group (2)?  One theory (held by many reasserters) is that it’s very large, indeed the bulk of those remaining in TEC; and as whatever happens over the next year or so happens these people will all walk out of TEC, leaving only a small remnant behind.  Another theory is that the great majority of those who feel strongly enough about this to leave their church have already done so, and most everyone still in TEC at this point is going to stay there.

Which theory is right?  I have no idea.  Time will tell.

August 31, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
19. Makersmarc wrote:

Ralph Webb (#14)  In the years that I’ve known about, watched, and listened to the IRD, yours is, by far, the most temptered response I’ve ever seen.  I’m glad the IRD is working as you say, but you may want to know that the general public perception of the IRD is as one of the most radically rightwing *political* (not theological) entities out there.  Yes, I know I’m speaking broadly, but I am speaking from both my own experience as well as those I know who are only peripherally associated with the church and from some who have no stake in a faith life at all (including some who live and work in D.C.)  If this is an inaccurate perception of the IRD, you might want to go launch a detailed PR campaign (including changing your website) because, aside from the handful of folks who will defend you from places like this site, you guys have an awful reputation.  Thanks for your tempered response, though.  God bless any good work you are doing.

August 31, 6:05 pm | [comment link]
20. Sarah1 wrote:

Ralph Webb, I hope you won’t waste money on any sort of PR campaign to make progressives in mainline denominations or radical leftists appreciate the IRD.

Waste of time really.  The IRD has “an awful reputation” precisely in the audiences where it *should* have “an awful reputation” . . . the progressive mainliners who don’t like the goals of the IRD, as well as radical leftist politicos.

Please don’t waste time or money attempting to correct the “general [sic] public perception” of the IRD.

And keep up the good work!  ; > )

August 31, 7:05 pm | [comment link]
21. JamesNoble wrote:

First, this comment - from an “evangelical” IRD - is very significant
the Episcopal Church’s actions dangerously compromise the holiness of the church and its members

it illustrates a much more communal (rather than invidiualistic) or Catholic rather than Protestant ecclesiology that has been evident before from the IRD. Translated from episcobabble, it means: it doesn’t matter if you think you’re “orthodox” or “saved” - if you remain in ECUSA you simply are not a Christian!  Or as Akinola put it: “Choose ECUSA or Choose Christ!”.

Second - according to the ACN website, the ASA of the Network and Common Cause is now more that half of that of ECUSA. The tithing income is probably equal. All that ECUSA has is its endowments and the property - but the facts on the ground of attentance and giving are changing so fast that few people - especially those in ECUSA - are aware how fragile ECUSA is, and how little the communion will lose when it is thrown into the fire!

August 31, 7:12 pm | [comment link]
22. Ralph Webb wrote:


No, I’m not—and the IRD is not—making a judgment on anyone’s Christian faith. As I’ve said repeatedly and in a myriad of ways, we’re here to serve orthodox Anglicans whether they stay in or leave the Episcopal Church. Or to use the latest terminology, we’re here for both “Communion conservatives” and “federal conservatives.” And, as such, we’re here for both evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, and all other orthodox Anglicans of any stripe.

Ralph Webb

August 31, 7:38 pm | [comment link]
23. Makersmarc wrote:

The only point, Sarah (if folks like you and JamesNoble can get past very attitudes that give the IRD such a bad reputation), is that, if the IRD is such the savior organization that you imply, how much more of the work that Ralph describes could the IRD do if it paid closer attention to how it “comes across”?

And what Akinola said, JamesNoble, is “Choose whether you are in the Episcopal Church or in the Network.”  To misquote Akinola in the manner you did says an awful lot about the kind of attitude we’re talking about here.  Choose between the EC and Christ?; heaven’s man, get some perspective.

August 31, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
24. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “. . . if the IRD is such the savior organization that you imply. . . “

Not certain where on earth I have implied that anywhere.  It’s simply an organization that supports traditional Christians in mainline denominations, along with other goals of theirs.  And traditional Christians in mainlines need all the help they can get.

And the only “bad reputation” that the IRD has is with the people with whom the organization *should* have a bad reputation—you know, folks like you!

That’s sort of like my chastising Integrity for having a “bad reputation” with traditional Anglicans!  I mean, duh!  Of course, they have a “bad reputation” with traditional Anglicans—we don’t share the same theology, gospel, goals, foundational worldview, etc, etc.  My exhorting them to “launch a detailed PR campaign” in order to garner a better reputation with traditional Anglicans would be laughable.

I agree wth you, though, about James Noble—completely over the top, something that sounds eerily familiar, frankly.

August 31, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
25. Larry Morse wrote:

I hate to interrupt the joust, but isn’t there some way we can move the hands forward on the clock?

September 1, 7:01 pm | [comment link]
26. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Larry, the clock is just dropping below the 28 day mark. Too late for TEC to sign itself up for a 28-day crash recovery treatment center.

September 1, 10:45 pm | [comment link]
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