ECUSA - the Light that Failed
The media appears to be taking note of the Episcopal Church (USA), but in a uniformly negative way. ECUSA’s new budget just cut 18 positions from the staff at 815, so those left had better get on the ball—there’s work to do, and propaganda to write!
The Light That Failed
New numbers reveal that the collapse of the Episcopal Church dramatically accelerated in the last ten years. The denomination is literally falling apart, with attendance down 25% between 2000 and 2010.
The numerical decline, bad as it is, matters less than the collapse in the moral authority of the church. The Episcopal Church has made many controversial pronouncements on social issues; at the latest General Convention the church declared that transgendered persons cannot automatically be barred from the priesthood. One can agree or disagree with some of these individual decisions, but what is striking over time is the decline in the moral weight of the church.
It used to matter what the Episcopal Church thought of this or that social issue. Other mainline Protestant churches and many social and political leaders followed its theological and political debates. Now, basically, no one outside the dwindling flock in the pews really cares what The Episcopal Church says about anything at all. General Convention can pass a million resolutions, and nothing anywhere will change. No one is even really angry anymore at anything the Episcopal hierarchy does; at most, there is a sigh and a quiet rolling of the eyes. Soon, there will not even be that.
It’s an extraordinary decline in an institution that a generation ago was still one of the pillars of American life. At this point the disaster appears irretrievable; those running the church are determined to run it into the ground and it is hard to see how that can change.
For Anglicans, the theological and demographic collapse of their church is a bitter blow. The traditions of this church exert a powerful hold on those who were raised in it; those declining attendance figures bespeak a lot of sadness and despair. But The Episcopal Church has moved on, headed down what looks increasingly like the theological path of least resistance as it makes the transition from a church that once spoke to a nation to a sect in communion only with itself.
Let us wish The Episcopal Church well on its journey towards whatever hope its bureaucrats and functionaries see glimmering ahead of them in the deepening twilight. God moves in mysterious ways, and the failure of a church is not the failure of a faith. Christianity is all about hope in the face of death; America’s Anglicans are learning a lot about what that means. For this, perhaps, we need to learn to be thankful.
To which Glenn Reynolds adds: “It’s just another example of Conquest’s Law in action.” (Robert Conquest articulated three laws of politics; I think Prof. Reynolds is referring to Law No.2.)
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