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Welcome to Stand Firm!

Dr. Kendall Harmon—CLCC Keynote Speech, Part 2: Self-Criticism & a Crisis of Leadership

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 • 8:02 am

On November 3, 2007, the Reverend Dr. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina, was the keynoter for the Communion Clergy and Laity Fall conference in the Diocese of Colorado. Stand Firm is posting all three audio files of Kendall Harmon’s talks, along with transcripts of those talks. We believe that these talks will be deeply important over the coming year for reasserting laypeople and clergy to digest and discuss and we hope that you will print these out and distribute them to other laypeople and clergy who do not have access to the Internet.

Stand Firm gratefully acknowledges Christ Episcopal Church’s recordings of these talks. We also are deeply grateful to the dozen volunteers who are readers of Stand Firm who stepped forward and volunteered to transcribe and proof Kendall’s talks. We would never have been able to do this work as bloggers and are overwhelmed with the help and eager assistance that was given to us. We thank these volunteers with all of our hearts.


In this talk, Kendall works on “self-criticism” of Anglican reasserters.  He bases this self-criticism on two principles—that reasserting Anglicans are in a time of judgement as well and that whatever future God is leading us to, we will have to be different people when we get there.

He speaks further about big themes encountered in the book of Jeremiah, including that 1) when one when is confronted with a big loss, the temptation is to create a “big solution,” 2) that faithfulness in little things is not a little thing, and 3) that radical trust involves radical dying.

He describes how careerism, poor leadership, poor moral choices, and more have affected reasserters in Anglicanism.

Kendall also proceeds to “offend everybody”—he critiques the Windsor bishops, the Network bishops, Common Cause, the ACI, revisionist bishops, and pretty much everyone in between.  His specific analyses of the two main movements—Common Cause and the ACI—are particularly helpful.

Along the way he describes the two things that reasserting Anglicans must have in order to survive: differentiation and structural relief.

Link to MP3 file.

Alright, if you’re ready this should be actually very interesting. I admit that I haven’t looked at this in a long time and it’s actually quite fruitful and fascinating to me that in your own description of your own history you have this in the second sentence in the third full paragraph: “The stiff-necked pride of our American Church, including the manipulation of its canons and traditions” [here comes the key phrase to me] “has pitted the virtues of catholic order and evangelical zeal against each other.” The second sentence in the third full paragraph talks about the virtues of catholic order and evangelical zeal being pitted against each other. That’s actually one of the themes that I’m going to hit rather hard this afternoon.

Now before I pray, I’ll tell you now what I’m hoping to do in this section and then I’m going to try to do it, and we’ll just sort of see. Part of Christian leadership is, in spite of the fact that we’ve spoken about misuse of the Holy Spirit is being open to the Spirit who can blow where He wills, and I’m trying very hard to do that. So I’m going to do this section and then head to question and answer but it may be during question and answer time that we head off into various interesting directions not yet foreseen by any of us, so we’ll just have to see that. But what I want to do is - I want to go back to Jeremiah and just flesh out a little, teeny bit more about that as I had a chance to pray over it during lunch. And then I want to do the afternoon talk which as it says on your sheet is about “Being a People of Hope,” and as I promised you this morning I’m going to challenge you very specifically with the weird and unlikely passage of Scripture which most people have never heard a sermon on in their lives. And then I’m going to challenge you to be very contextual, and then I’m going to talk very personally about South Carolina because that is the situation in which I work. And part of the reason I want to do that is because what we need more than anything else right now is “outside-the-box” thinking. So I’m going to throw some things out there and you’re going to be like, “wow, I never thought of that before!” And that’s the whole point. But as I said, what will transfer over to Colorado are the principles, not the context.

Now, one more other cautionary note and then I’m going to pray and start. This is real important: that point I made this morning about “tentativeness,” I need to go back and revisit. One of the things about that that you have to understand is, as someone in leadership who’s called to speak, I have to make judgments—so do you. I didn’t say we can’t judge. We have to judge. What I said is we have to judge tentatively. But I have to lay myself out there this afternoon and particularly I need to do a lot of judgment of Anglican orthodox. That is to say, this is going to be self-critical of the movement of Anglican orthodoxy. Therefore it’s going to hit some very tender, difficult areas and I’m going to have to give some judgments and some evaluations. But what I need you to do with me on the front end is to share my presupposition which are those are my judgments, they’re tentative, they may not be yours. Some of you may get very mad about what I have to say. But what I will say about it is that we must become, in addition to all the other things we’re called to become, more self-critical ourselves. As Anglican orthodox we need to understand the point that I desperately tried to make in Plano which I feel was mostly unheard, which is that in a time of judgment all Israel is under judgment and that means the orthodox too. That’s what I said in Plano. We are under judgment too, and part of what has to happen in the midst of this is (whatever new future God is leading us to) that we have to be different people when we get there, which means we need to be purged, and there are hard questions about ourselves that are going to have to be asked. So, this is a trickier, much more personal area this afternoon and I need you to know that on the front end so that we can go into it together and if I get you mad and your feelings hurt or whatever, that’s okay as long as we own that together and try to process it together. I’m not expecting you to agree with everything I’m saying. But what I’m absolutely saying is these issues need to be engaged, openly and honestly among ourselves, and wrestled through. We can’t hide. Okay, that’s enough. The Lord be with you . . . [prayer]

Alright, let me go back to Jeremiah and just flesh out a couple more points because it’s just such a loaded book and a profound book in its importance to us.

I want to elucidate one other theme, then I want to offer one specific “fleshing out” of a self-criticism over the movement, and then I want to ask some application questions just to finish up this section of Jeremiah.

The one theme I didn’t get to, which is so terribly important that I get to, is the other big idea from Jeremiah that I think comes over. The first big idea, which I went past quickly and I just want to go back to, is, “when you have a big loss the temptation is to come up with a big solution.” And Jeremiah’s exhortation in Jeremiah 29 which I absolutely commend to you for not simply your reading but your prayerful meditation; one of the great passages in the whole Old Testament, Jeremiah 29:11, which some Christians have up on their wall: “I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” What a glorious verse! But so many of my friends who have it memorized have no idea of the context in which it comes. It’s a horrible context in which the temptation to gloom and doom and loss of hope is tremendous. And the temptation for a spectacular solution is so great. And Jeremiah basically says you’ve got to be counter-intuitive. You want a big solution, what you have to realize is, and this is so important that you hear this: in a time of exile and judgment, faithfulness in little things is not a little thing. You’ve got to understand that. Faithfulness in little things is not a little thing. Now what that means, and what we have to understand as we look at it in an historical retrospect is this: there was no way for Jeremiah and the exilic community to know the full nature of the future into which they were going. But the reality of that future was this: when Israel was reconstituted and brought back into Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple some seventy years later in about 535 BC, when the Persians let them come back, the only reason they were able to do that was because the faith with which they were able to do it was the faith passed on from the exilic community to the exilic community in the faithful, little acts. In other words, even though it didn’t look like it was much; it was actually nothing less than the very foundation of the future of Israel without which they would not have existed. So the thing about it is it may look small but it isn’t small. Getting up and saying your prayers is never easy. Getting up and saying your prayers in a church which has turned its back on God is actually a radical act. Don’t underestimate it! I was so blessed to hear a reference to the lectionary today - to Nehemiah. That was great. Obviously somebody got up and said their prayers. You know that? Thank God! I love the daily lectionary and isn’t it interesting - that Nehemiah and the whole issue of rebuilding Jerusalem was painted there.

Okay, but there’s another piece of this that I didn’t get a chance to talk about that I want to talk about because this also is related to the fact that the Babylonians have come through the gate. And it’s this: when I say we too are under judgment and we’ve got to be purged for the future that God has for us, there is an element in Jeremiah of radical trust that involves radical dying to the nature of what God is going to do with Israel in the future that is very important for us to come to grips with. The heart of Jeremiah, in terms of Jeremiah’s own pilgrimage is, and it’s so interesting if you remember his call, do you remember his call? “I call you to build up and to tear down.” Right? And part of the profundity is Jeremiah himself is built up and cut down. And one of the most profound things that happen in Jeremiah’s own life is that Israel is very tied to the reality of what God is doing in history. Most of us forget how tempting it was, as an Israelite, to believe that you were God’s special people and therefore you got off, because God was going to work with you no matter what. The temple sermon that Jeremiah preaches in Jeremiah, chapter seven, is terrifying because he says “everybody in Israel is saying, ‘the temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord!” As if, “we’re a liturgical people. God works through liturgy. There’s always been Anglicans, there always will be Anglicans!” As if we somehow get this automatic pass. And Jeremiah says in this really magisterial temple sermon you can’t just use a liturgical cadence and a liturgical chorus and assume, based on your own history, that that gives you a prerogative to declare how God’s going to work with you in the future. And part of what has to happen, and this even touches down in interesting places like Ezekiel 37 and the valley of the dry bones, is you have to detach yourself from your sense of assurance that just because God’s working in history God’s work in history is irrevocably and every way tied to Israel the way that you want it to be tied to Israel. In other words you have to let go of, not your faith that God is working in history, but the way that you’ve somehow too much (in God’s view as Jeremiah has to die to this) tied your faith in what God is doing to the reality of Israel and the way that God is working with Israel. And the reason I’m bringing this up is because this ties into us so much. Because when you are an Episcopalian and you’ve been a cradle Episcopalian and you’ve got the Book of Common Prayer, and we’ve got Thomas Cranmer, and as we worship so we believe, and we do everything decently and in order, world without end, Amen, is that somehow just because there has been an Episcopal Church, there will be an Episcopal Church, and that God will somehow not be able to work in history if there isn’t one. You see this all the time. I’m serious. I hear all the time in the Episcopal Church, “Jesus said ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it,’” (Matthew 16) which, of course, is in there, and I note with interest that every time that’s quoted to me there’s an automatic assumption that THE Church about which Jesus is speaking is apparently the Episcopal church—which is quite amazing. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that Jesus’ Church will triumph until Jesus comes back in history and brings history to the completion that he wants for it. What I do have questions about is whether any particular “enfleshment” of the church in history can say about its church at its particular point in time “therefore that involves us from now and heretofore.” It doesn’t and it can’t. But be careful of any sense of elitism and prerogative-assuming. We have to die. If God wants . . . here’s the way this works out very practically, and this is what . . . I will speak very personally. What I had to realize was this, I still have no idea what God is doing with the Episcopal Church, but this is a point I had to reach: God can do with the Episcopal Church what He wants. And what I want for the Episcopal Church must die to the extent that I give it over fully to Him. Now let me say more about that just for a second.

One of the interesting things about the Episcopal Church, and it prides itself far too much in my view in this, is, you know, we’re the leader, we’re in the vanguard. Well, it’s an interesting matter of debate as to just how much we are the leader. There are only two churches in all of North American in mainline Christianity that have gone over the edge and decided to ordain non-celibate people in same sex unions. One is the United Church of Canada; the other is the United Church of Christ. The United Church of Christ did it first; the United Church of Canada which since it’s in Canada almost no Americans know it even exists, was the second, and the Episcopal Church in 2003 is the third. It’s a wide open question as to what will happen from here forward. You may know that the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Lutherans, among others, are all in hugely significant discussion about this issue. But one of the things that might happen is that the Episcopal Church might go down the same road as the United Church of Christ and the United Church of Canada. And guess what that road is? Cataclysmic, systemic, institutional decline. If you think things in the Episcopal Church are bad take a moment and look at the United Church of Canada. I lived in Canada for two years. It is one of the saddest stories I know in North American Christendom. And the reality is if you go based on the facts on the ground so far, the two churches that have gone this route have lost an even greater sense of their Christian identity, lost an even greater amount of their membership, and gone even farther into maintenance and survival mode than they were before. Now that may be the route that we go. On the other hand it may be the case that us being the third, we may be the tipping point and after us may come the Lutherans and the Presbyterians, in which case, in my view, we’d be leading them over the cliff.

It was of great interest to me, parenthetically, that in the Lutheran discussion multiple times on the floor of the Lutheran national gathering the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church’s decision were referenced. It was scary; it sounded so much to me like 1st Samuel, chapter 8. “All those other guys have an L.L. Bean backpack by their school locker. Therefore (I’ve heard this in my family somewhere) therefore, Dad, I must have an L.L. Bean backpack!” You know, I sit there and I listen to my children and I say, “Hang on a second, why?” If you look at 1st Samuel, 8 essentially what the Israelites are saying is: “Hey, all these other nations have a king. You know, they get a king and it looks like it works. They seem to like it. How come we don’t get a king?” Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. It may be the case that they follow us over the edge. And we’ll have to see. But one of the things that might happen is they might not. And if you follow particularly the Presbyterian and the Methodist discussion, particularly the Methodists (and some of the Presbyterians too) see us as a terrible counter-example; as the epitome of how not to do this discussion. In fact in the Methodist debate one of the things that are regularly said is, “I don’t want to end up like those Episcopalians. That was terrible the way that they went about it.” We’re such a great negative example that we’re actually slowing the chances of some of the other denominations, particularly the Methodists.

So what if, for example, God simply takes the Episcopal Church and we slowly go the route of the two denominations that have gone this route, and people look at us and say this is what happens to a church that capitulates to culture. Do you know great Dean W. R. Inge, St. Paul’s, London, beginning of the 20th century, do you know his great statement: “He who becomes married to the spirit of this age becomes its widower in the next?” This was a profound (in my view), prophetic statement at the time, and one of the indictments of Anglicanism, historically. Maybe one of the things that’s happening is the Episcopal Church may have to die like the United Church of Christ is dying and the United Church of Canada is dying in order for some of the other people to look at it and say, “This is what a church fully under judgment that God will not bless looks like.” Now look, I don’t want that for the Episcopal Church but part of what I had to realize is if that’s what God wants to do in history because He’s God and I’m not, it’s His prerogative and its okay because He’s working out His purpose in history. I must nevertheless still live faithfully in the midst of God working that out in history. But I don’t get what I want, and I want you to appreciate the degree to which Jeremiah has to die to his particular wants and needs and desires for Israel. When he says “to build up and to cut down” what’s scary about it is Jeremiah himself has to be cut down and built up a lot inside himself before Israel can get to the place where God wants it to get to. You all follow me? So there’s a radical death that has to be part of this.

Now the other thing I want to say, which I did say and I want to really flesh out and then I’m going to finish with Jeremiah in this section of the afternoon is, I have said this before in Plano and I just said it and I’m going to say it again. It is so important that how we live out this time is understood to be crucial. The Gospel is not simply about what to do but how we do it. The Gospel involves a truth that we proclaim and a truth that we ENFLESH. This is one of my own bishop’s great legacies; one of Ed Salmon’s great messages to the church is how we conduct ourselves WITH one another is our true message to the world. And one of the things that we’ve got to hear as the Anglican orthodox is this sub-question of ourselves: what part of us needs to die? You see it’s all well and good to talk about Jeremiah because he’s distant from us. He had to go through these things that he had to die to, but now, you see, you go from preaching to meddling when you go from him to us.

You see we are going to be lead through a process of judgment where stuff in us has to die. If all of Israel is under judgment for the same things, and the Episcopal Church is under judgment, then, guess what? The Anglican orthodox has stuff it has to die to before God can get us to where He wants to get us to.

Now let me raise just a few low key questions: I TOLD you this was going to be more threatening, personal talk, but here we go.

Careerism: I mentioned this in Plano, in passing. Oh, gosh, how much time do you have? I mean the way I watched my friends out of seminary - all climbing the same ladder - who could get the biggest parish, who could get the best rectorship, who could get the best compensation package? We live in a church where purple fever almost knows no bounds. Do you honestly believe that that purple fever and that careerist, get to the best place, and track, haven’t infected the orthodox movement? If you do, I have a bridge to Haiti to sell you after I’m done.

What an amazingly scary thing happened right before the first Common Cause meeting in Pittsburgh. Now we really go to stepping on toes. I’m sitting there, I’m reading, and out of nowhere, all of a sudden ALL of these new bishops are being announced in the Common Cause partnership. All my friends are bishops all of a sudden! The Common Cause partnership has more bishops per communicants than the Episcopal Church, and I’ve been complaining for years that the Episcopal Church has too many bishops and overtuffs too many bishops at Lambeth, compared to the rest of the Communion. And the Anglican orthodox movement has re-duplicated this same purple fever among us! HELLO?! We’ve got to look in the mirror folks. This is scary stuff. Something about that isn’t right. There are too many people who have been consecrated, in too many places, too quickly. And that’s a symptom of something worse under the surface.

We live in a church, the Episcopal Church, where LEADERSHIP is appallingly absent. It’s amazing to me - we were talking about this last night at dinner. I mean, the level of leadership of the average diocese is just amazing. I read more diocesan newspapers than most people do in a year in a week, because I’m editor of the “Anglican Digest”. The main phrase I would use to describe the ministry of the Episcopal Church in terms of its bishops is this: VAPIDITY. Business as usual, maintenance, bureaucracy. If you read what people write, it’s about “us’ and “ourselves” and the “next program” and the “next choir” and the “next thing we are doing at the church camp”. There is no deep theological reflection, there is no engagement in mission, and there is absolutely NO call to evangelize people who don’t know Jesus and need to come to know Jesus! So we have a vacuum of genuine leadership. Now, that’s not to say we don’t have a number of good people involved, “Kendall said all the bishops were bad people.” I didn’t, be careful. I said we have a vacuum of leadership in the Episcopal Church. One of the things that a number of people have asked me repeatedly is “How in the world did Katherine Jefforts Schori get elected Presiding Bishop? I’ll tell you the answer, and the answer is, “Because the field against which she competed was so miserably bad”. That is the real answer. The real scary thing is that none of the others could get enough votes to even compete with her. It’s actually not so much a statement of her as about the leadership system as a whole. It’s sad, really sad.

And so you look at the American conservative movement and what do you get? Where are the leaders? I mean have you actually sat down and thought about what our bishops have been able to do? It is amazing to me. They are so inadequate, so incapable of doing what needs to be done. Bob Duncan’s life is miserable, mainly because he has to deal with other Episcopal bishops.

The first significant meeting of this whole movement, which happened at Truro Church, in the underground, in the Underloft, at the end of July 2003, so this was BEFORE General Convention. There are three groups of people gathered in that room; one was a group of Anglican primates from around the Global Communion, especially the Global South. No surprise. Among others, the Archbishop of Sydney was there, the Archbishop of Nigeria etc. People like that. Another group were faithful clergy and lay people, but especially clergy, from the Episcopal Church. Many of the names would be names you would recognize, somebody like John Yates, for example was there. And then the third group of people were bishops from the Episcopal Church - Bob Duncan, John Howe, Ed Salmon, etc, etc, etc. So we start this day and we have all this crucial stuff to do. And what happened? The Anglican primates were outstanding. They were by far the best. They’re leadership was inspiring, they were terrific, they were eager, they were able, they were clearly able to get the most done the fastest, and set the tone for the whole meeting. They were the best. Second best were the clergy and the lay people. A lot of good discussions. Someone like Ron McCrary, who works with D.O. Smart was there, and was very articulate and effective. Martyn Minns was effective. John Guernsey, who was there, was effective. There was great energy in the room, we were all doing this stuff, and the agenda has, you know, - we get these questions, and the primates deal with it, the clergy have to deal with it, the lay leaders have to deal with it, the bishops have to deal with it . . We’re sitting there, and the bishops go into another room, and you hear YELLING, you hear silence . . . It took them. . . They could not get anything done. The rest of us were done not only with what we were assigned, but we were dealing with other things, because we ran out of time, and they were still stuck. It was so bad that the whole meeting nearly ground to a halt, because the bishops got in such a donnybrook with one another that they couldn’t function! And that’s merely one illustration of the struggle of leadership among the Anglican orthodox bishops. Is there a message here? We live in a church with a leadership vacuum and we have a movement with a leadership vacuum. The whole way we go about raising leadership needs to be called into question. The whole way we TRAIN leaders needs to be called into question. Hello? Is anybody listening?

How about this: We're in a church which is under indictment because we have immorality practiced by our leadership; in fact we sanctioned it at an official level in 2003. Well, that's great. I'm not going to comment about the case in CO, because I'm going to be much disciplined in my comments, but I will comment about the situation with two friends of mine, just as illustrations of the fact that, guess what? The Anglican orthodox movement is in a mess over the practice of immorality at a public level. My friend Sam Pasco, who's involved in the AMiA, and a great missionary, gospel guy in northern Florida, who was part of Grace Church, and then went over to the AMiA, it's announced, that he's having an affair, and all of a sudden he's got to be disciplined, bang, bang, bang. And then there is my friend Purveen Bunyon. I'm sitting there one day, and I'm reading, you know, the standard, non-stop streaming internet stuff, and there it comes. Purveen's been involved in an inappropriate relationship, and this and that, and I'm sitting there, thinking; "Now this is just in the last year and a half!" I'm not making this up. You can look it up. Now don't get mad at me, it's out there! Those are two leaders. So we're in a church where we're mad about the practice of public immorality by leaders, and look, you talk about the need for self criticism, and the need to face some tough questions? And how about this last one? Nothing bothers me more about the establishment leadership of the Episcopal Church than its own lack of self criticism. It's amazing. They're dying, they're ineffective. They're in an organization that has all kinds of questions that need to be raised about them. And what are they doing? They're doing the whole Rob O'Neill thing - everything is fine. That's obviously, self-evidently not true, I mean by any reasonable criteria. But the other thing they are doing is spending all their time criticizing the orthodox. I mean if you read some of the liberal blogs, for example, one in particular I'm thinking of, almost every single day, he's got something else he wants to say about the conservatives. Now, look, we need criticism, and we've got to become more self critical, but it is amazing to me that in a church, which is under this much judgment, and clearly needs so much self assessment, it's not being self-critical. I mean where are the bishops who are asking hard questions in these blogs? It bothers me. Then we come over to the Anglican orthodox movement, and we're doing the same thing. We're not asking hard questions about ourselves. We're not asking presuppositional questions. Have you got my theme? Do you see what I'm doing? Careerism, leadership vacuum, the practice of public immorality, the lack of self-criticism, all of which is true of the Episcopal Church, is also true of us. So when I say, "We have to die, and be purged", I am dead serious.

One of the things that was GOOD about Plano was that there was a feeling of repentance that was there. I was blessed by D.O.'s story about Ridgecrest, I was not there. I am glad some of the bishops got down and repented. I will tell you this, very forcefully, that is the beginning of the kind of thing we need to be doing much more often going forward, or we're not going to get to where God wants us to go. There is a lot of public repentance and re-doing things that we ourselves have to be involved in before we are going to get to the future. So let me ask you just three very personal questions, and then I'm going to get to this passage.

Can you trust yourself no matter what that God knows what He's doing in history, and give up your desire to control the future the way that you want? That's a really hard question that all of us have got to face. There are parts of every one of us that have got a grip on some way that God has got to work His will on. Remember the story of Abraham and God, and Abraham kept getting into these interesting situations, and people would say things about his wife, and Abraham kept trying to do God's will for Him. Remember that part of the story; Abraham would kind of help God. He would say, "Well, she's not really my wife, she's my sister. I mean, you know I just kind of help God out." That's the temptation. And that's got to be given up.

Some of us need to die to a sense of careerism. Some of us need to die to a sense of an institution that nurtured us, and therefore has some special place. If God wants to take it and do with it what He wills, well, we've got to give it up.

All right, now, this is the fun part. I hope SOME of you brought your bibles, because I really love Scripture. My favorite thing is to teach from Scripture. I want you to turn, and it's in the Old Testament, are you surprised? I want you to turn to a really, really strange story in the Old Testament, which I think is THE story for our time. And boy is it strange.

We are in 2 Kings, and we are in this period in which Elisha is ministering, and now I'm in the second part of my talk, which is the issue about becoming a people of hope. And we are going to get very specific about CO and SC in a second, but I want to take you through this story.

Elisha is ministering and Samaria is being besieged, and I mean besieged. So besieged is Samaria that the situation is described in these desperate terms, and I begin reading in the sixth chapter, verse 24. "After this, Ben-Hadad took his entire army and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria after they besieged, so that an ass's head sold for 80 shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of a dove's dung for 5 shekels of silver. Now as the King of Israel was passing upon the wall . . ." You know you get this kind of sense of that the king is walking back and forth on the wall. It's like the rector pacing back and forth, praying for the congregation. And he is really trying to get a sense of what God is doing and what he is responsible for, and he's going back and forth. "And a woman comes up and says 'Help, my lord, oh King!' And he said, ' If the Lord will not help you, whence shall I help you? From the threshing floor? From the wine press? And the King asked her, 'What is your trouble?' and she said, 'This woman said to be, give me your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' And so we boiled my son" - I'm reading from the bible, don't get mad at me please- "and ate him, and on the next day I said, give me your son that we may eat him, but she's hidden her son."

Now, I just want you think about what's being described. You talk about desperate circumstances. To say that this is NOT FUN is an understatement. I mean it's horrific, and the thing about the Bible is that it's SO honest. I mean, can you imagine what was going through the king's mind? These are his own subjects, for whom he's responsible. And his city has been reduced to women functioning in this way. YUCK!!!

"When the King heard the words of the woman, he rent his clothes. Now he was passing upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sack cloth beneath his body. And he said, 'May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha, the son of Shafad, remains upon his shoulders this day." I won't take you through that whole part of the story, which I would love to. But did you notice where he focuses his energy? It's all the prophet's fault. Amazing. Elisha predicted this, and since it happened, we'll kill Elisha and that will fix it. Yeah, there's really good leadership. Wonderful.

"Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him, and the king dispatched a man from his presence. But before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders, ' Do you see how this murderer has been sent to take off my head?" This is life with Elisha, you know, he's got an inside track and he is telling these people what the king is thinking. "Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door; hold the door fast against him. Is this not the sound of my master's feet behind him? And while he was still speaking, the king came down to him and said, 'This trouble is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?' But Elisha said, 'Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord, tomorrow about this time, a measure of fine meal shall be sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria. And then the captain on whom the king leans said to the man of God, 'If the Lord Himself made windows, how could this thing be?' And Elisha said" - Great stuff this - "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it." Now again, I told you this morning, I'm going to say it one more time; the Babylonians are through the gate. You can't function in difficult times without having your nose rubbed in the full extent of how desperate things are. Now here's the wonderful thing about the Bible. I mean, if you were writing a play about this story, where would you focus the next scene? I just gave you a bunch of scenes, now entering from stage left would be - who? The school of the prophets? You could have a scene inside Ben-Hadad's army, and what does the Bible do? It takes us to - are you ready for this? - FOUR LEPERS. What? Can I remind you, since we just had this recently in the Gospel in Luke, chapter 17, that to be a leper, was to be socially ostracized in a way that you and I can scarcely begin to understand. You were deliberately excluded from the community at a public level. You only got to spend time with other lepers, and it was your corporate responsibility to the Israelites, to stand apart from the rest of the Israelite community, and to shout when anybody came close to you. "Unclean! Unclean!" That was your responsibility. You had to WARN people not to get too close to you. And the Bible focuses on four desperate people, who happen to be lepers. Talk about a mistake in terms of staging, boy! Or is it? God knows what He's doing. He writes a great story. So these four lepers are sitting there, Ben-Hadad is wiping out Samaria, there's a MASSIVE famine, to the extent that women are actually taking their own children and sacrificing them to be eaten, because, without that, they are not going to survive, Now in a situation that desperate, we get focused on four desperate lepers. And here comes the story, and how it applies to you and me. This is great stuff.

"And they said to one another, 'Why do we sit here until we die?" Now, see, this is the thing about being in a time of judgment. Not to decide is to decide, and you've got to decide. And they are sitting there thinking about their options; which are, you won't be surprised to hear, very limited. And what is so great about these guys is the ruthless realism they unmistakably display amongst themselves about what their real situation is. "If we say, 'Let us enter the city, " right, because they get stuck outside, saying "Unclean, unclean", "the famine is in the city, and we'll die there." So, there is a famine in the city, if we go in, everybody there is starving, women are sacrificing their own kids, it's so bad. That's death, for sure! OK, well that's one option. That's door A, that doesn't sound too good. Let's think about other options. Other option is - sit here, not go into the city, in which case, we're on the outskirts of the city, we don't have any food - that's not good either. "If we sit here, we die also." Now this is great stuff. They honestly assess the situation, they honestly look at their own resources, and what do they do? THIS is the principle, above all principles for living in a time of exile. They work with one another. They seek to be faithful. And, here comes the key point. They go in the only direction of possible hope they can see. Let me say that again. They rely on one another. Don't miss the fact that there are four of them all working together. Thank God! You have no idea how glad they were that they were not starving alone, but starving together. I cannot emphasize enough to you the need to work together. Daniel was in bad shape, but he had Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. You think Jeremiah had it rough? He did, but don't miss the significance of somebody like Baruch, who gets short shrift, his amanuensis, who's writing it all down, and who is there scene after scene after scene, without whom Jeremiah's nose would have gone under the waves a long time before. And so they say, "Now, come. Let us go over to the camp of the Syrians." WHAT!? They're out of the city, and they don't want to go into the city, and they don't want to stay where they are, they'll starve either way, so they're going to go to Ben-Hadad's army. Oh, my gosh! Why? "If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us, we shall but die." There's NO hope in the city, AT ALL. All options are foreclosed. There's absolutely no hope where they now sit - and not to decide is to decide - if they decide nothing, they will starve outside the city - Full Stop. So they say, 'Well, you know, we haven't spent a lot of time with the Syrians, they don't look real friendly, but - we don't know a lot. If we get death behind Door A and Door B, that's bad. Maybe Door C has something else, and the thing is, if they kill us, we'll probably die faster! And we're going to get the same thing between Door A and Door B. You see, this is the thing. Ruthless realism that has to be used in a time of judgment and exile and that is very hard to do. And what is so glorious about this story is - you cannot box God in.

So they say, “Now come. Let us go over to the camp of the Syrians.” What? What in the world? They're in the city and they want to go into the city and not stay with the ark because they're going to starve either way so their going to go to Ben Hadid's army. Oh my gosh! Why? “So now come, let us come and go over the camp of the Assyrians and if they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us, we shall but die.” There's no hope in the city at all, all options are foreclosed, there's absolutely no hope where they now sit and not to decide is to decide. If they decide nothing they will starve outside the city full stop. So they say, “Well, we haven't really spent a lot of time with the Assyrians. They don't really look friendly but we don't know a lot.” If we get deaf behind door A or door B, that's bad. Maybe door C has something else. The thing is, if they kill us, we're probably going to die faster. And we're going to get the same thing we got between door A and door B. See, this is the ruthless realism that has to be used in a time of judgment and exile that is very hard to do. And what is so glorious about this story is that you can't box God in. “So they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Assyrians. And when they came to the edge of the camp, behold, no one was there.” This is a great scene to block out with the youth group. “For the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.” Some one once said that the said a man finds most frightening is the sound of a guilty conscience at night. They got scared. They imagined a threat that was not there. And so they ran. And these guys come and find that the Syrian army has fled so fast that they're all gone but their resources are there. And this is the great part about this story, that, “When these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they entered one tent and ate and drank, and carried from there silver and gold and clothes, and went and hid them; and they returned and entered another tent and carried from there also, and went and hid them. Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent; if we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let us go and tell the king's household." So they go and say "We came to the camp of the Arameans, and behold, there was no one there, nor the voice of man, only the horses tied and the donkeys tied, and the tents just as they were.” So you know the story - nobody believes them! Their story seems absolutely absurd! Now, I'm not saying our situation is that desperate, but what I am saying is that in that story are all the key principles of the beginning of how to live this out. Listen, in spite of the desperation. In spite of the seemingly lacking of resources, in spite of apparently overwhelming odds, in spite of all of things, one has to go in the direction of hope, however slim, that exists that one can see. That is the future towards which we're called. Now I'm really going to go to preaching and meddling and then we can process this.

The two key themes in the Old testament in Jeremiah and Daniel that need to be put on the table as to how to do this, and I've been singing this song and nobody's listening. The other day I was thinking what would be on my grave stone. You know, you have these bad moments, and I thought, “Kendall Harmon. No one listened to him.” I've been saying this for four years - differentiation and structural relief. Those are the two themes and those are the only way you can survive in a time of judgment and exile. What does Daniel do? He's in Babylon in exile, Jerusalem is gone, and it's over. So, is it business as usual? We'll, the Babylonians want to make it that way. They say we're giving you a new language, a new name, and new diet, new spiritual practices, and what does Daniel do? He says ok, I'll take the new language, the new name, no way on the diet, no way on the spiritual practices or theology. What is he doing? He's saying: Some things I can do some things I can't do - I'm a Jew in Babylon. I must differeiate myself. People thought he diet was a little weird. You may remember some people started saying they looked awfully healthy on this cool vegetarian stuff - we're not eating at Mc Donald's; it's working for us. People noticed! Eventually his refusal to compromise on the spiritual practiced ends with him and Shadrich, Meshack and Abendengo in the fiery furnace. There are three of them in there and this fourth like the son of man. But before they go in they say, maybe we'll die, but if we dies, God's still going to work out his purposes. That's exactly the same kind of self death Jeremiah went through. But if not, if we survive, that'll be great too. It doesn't matter; God can do what he wants. They trusted God, Radically, completely rather He brings them out of the fiery furnace or not. They put it all on the line, but you see differentiation. Some things can be adopted. Language can be adopted, names can be adopted, but some thing can't: diet and spiritual practices. Now, for Pete's sake, business as usual won't cut it. And what do you see in the Anglican orthodox movement? Business as usual. What did the bishops just do in New Orleans? All the bishops in the so called Windsor bishop's movement go to New Orleans, and function in New Orleans in the same way the previously functioned at all the previous House of Bishops meetings. It's ridiculous! It will not work! This is not how you do things. John Howe goes back to his diocese and nine parish rectors come in and say John, this isn't working for us. Why did they say that? Is it because they are mad because John doesn't preach the gospel? No. John is a gospel preaching bishop and he's orthodox. What are they upset about? There's no differentiation! There's parish priests in the ground with people who know that they got to bring their kids to worship and they want to go to a place that's not this but that. Did you hear the language I just used? Not this but that. They have to be confident that in the parish where they're loyal is not that other stuff, otherwise, they won't go. Parishes that came to John are going to John because although he may not differentiate, if they don't differentiate they're not going to survive. This is the problem with a time of judgment. If you decide to not to differentiate, then the ball keeps moving because the train is not stopping at the station, If you don't differentiate, then God will do the differentiation out form underneath you and you'll be forced with a more difficult situation. That is what I am talking about. Structural relief means that... I have no idea how it functions in our context, but you can see it in the way Daniel, Jeremiah, and the Zionillic community functions. It's always with other people in a different structure. What I though about this week was how the early church conducted itself in the Roman Empire. The symbol of the fish meant that over here is a Christian house and when you go in there to worship there's Christians. The reason that they had it was because they could not put ‘we're Christians' because they'd get blown to bits by the Romans and loose their very lives. They had to live a secret way in which they differentiated themselves and had to outsmart their enemies, or they'd get destroyed. So they created a differentiated subculture Christianity which survived in a very hostile roman empire. In some case people ended up in the Lions den and the coliseum. But they did it together in house churches with other people.

Now, here's where I really go from preaching to meddling, and then I'm done. And this is why I singled out this phrase in your document: Evangelical zeal and catholic order. I was glad Thereon made his comments about the Plano address. One of the things I did was in preparation for this time was to go back and read the Plano address. It was striking, that was something God gave to me. It's amazing how relevant it is to this moment. Its worth praying over and re-reading. It's that important. I want to recall for you some of the themes that are in there. Two of them are evangelical truth and canonical scripture, and another one is catholic order. They work together and not separately. Other one was charismatic openness, which we'll get to in a moment. I want you to know that and honest self assessment of the Anglican orthodox movement at this time now that everything has happened, has to be understood this way: within our movement we have a deep and growing bifurcation between our evangelical and our catholic side. This simply has to be named, and it has to be controlled. On the right we have Common Cause. Common Cause rightly sees that the gospel cause is at stake and that the gospel cannot be compromised. That's truth. They understand that radical action needs to be taken. That's true also. They know that there must be differentiation. You must understand this. The thing about our two sides is that they are both right in so many ways. What Common Cause and Bob Duncan and that side have absolutely right is that the gospels at stake, truth cannot be compromised, and there must be differentiation. Say what you want about Bob Duncan, but what is he trying to do? We're not this, we're that. You're danggum right, thank God somebody in our movement is trying to do that. On the other side, we have the Anglican Communion Institute. And now I'm really in trouble in Colorado. Ephraim is a dear friend and somebody I admire greatly. And what is the catholic side saying? Order matters. The Communion is crucial. We have instruments of communion; we have a need for discipline. We must plead for discipline, we must wait for discipline, we must ask for discipline. Discipline will come. What is the catholic side saying? We must have structural relief. They're absolutely right. The current structure is absolutely unsustainable. This is one of the things the national church is most in denial about. The parochial system isn't working, the diocesan system isn't working, the national system absolutely isn't working - it's completely inverted. I was once in a car with an ecclesiastical bureaucrat who was serving in a diocesan office (there were four of us in the car including a bishop) and we got into one of these very animated conversation, and this person who was a member of diocesan staff said what that parish needs to realize is that they exist to support us. I almost launched through the back of the car and into his lap. What was so scary about that moment was that he had it exactly backwards, and he absolutely believed it. I thought this is incredible. He's serving in a diocesan office and he believes that the primary point of a parish is to serve this diocesan superstructure. My gosh! That's all over the Episcopal Church. And you do one better when you get to the national church; the point of the diocese is to support the national church. So we go the Providence IV senate and do this budget presentation. And this budget is not doing well - people are not supporting the national church. And the treasure says you guys need to ante up. We need 20 to 23%. Somebody needs to sit there and ask the questions. If parishioners tithe, why do dioceses have to give 20-23%? Anyway, the treasurer did this song and dance, and my bishop gets up and shares how the Diocese of South Carolina is living out its response to the gospel in the 10/10/10 solution. Our parishioners tithe to the parish, the parish tithes to the diocese, and the diocese tithes to the national church. When everyone heard this, they thought that Bishop Salmon had lost his mind and that he should be shot. Then everybody said he's really serious. And the diocesan budget has grown astronomically. Guess why? The diocese pours all the money it gets back into the parishes which are the real front line of the ministry. So, we now have 10% of a whole lot more than we had before. We have the fastest diocesan budget growth in the country, and we're doing it that way. So he stood up and said that and it was like a wake - no one said anything for like two minutes. They had no idea what to do. And then Kurt Barnes the treasure says ok, well I think we need to move on now. And I thought it was like the Uncle Ned moment - where did this guy blow in from? Let's pretend he's not here. And you think to yourself, this is all inverted - this isn't going to work. The structure isn't working. The idea that our province will provide the structure for us in laughable. It didn't happen.

DEPO, my gosh. You actually devise a strategy to help people without talking to them. It's amazing to me. My analogy for this is GM comes out with a new health plan and pension system, with great fanfare, and at the press conference someone asks what do the workers think of it? And GM says we have no idea. We didn't even talk to them. Do you actually think that would work? They devised a system to help people without even talking to them. This is the nature of the structure.

So, what is the problem on the catholic side? They're right to want order. What is the problem on the protestant side? They're right to want differentiation. Here is the issue: each of them has a desperate weakness that has to be fixed. On the right the problem with Common Cause, among many problems is - they are in essence duplicating the fundamental error of the 2003 General Convention in my view. Remember I said I'm going to have to make judgments and I may make some of you mad, but this has to be fixed. The problem with Common Cause is that they have given up on the Province and they've given up on the Communion and they're going to grab their own future, and create it based on their own resources and their own power because no one else is going to do it for them. I have tremendous emotional sympathy on why they want to do this. But what I have to tell you is that something about that isn't right. Because if you devise a church which at its core that is really based on your initiative and your resources, and your American individualistic approach, you get protestant individualism. Is it an accident that all of those bishops got consecrated? Underneath Common Cause are all sorts of problems. But at its core, it's too much based on seizing your own future on your own terms and your own way. In my mind, it won't work. I can't go there. I can't do it and I won't do it because I think it's wrong. I may be wrong -- I keep telling you this. I don't want anybody telling me "Kendall said that Common Cause is horrible." I just think strategically its not the right approach.

On the otherside, what is the Aci doing? What did Ephraim do? They are so good on theology and especially ecclesiology, but they're so desperately weak on strategy. For the last 4 years they have created an environment where people hope for the imposition of discipline from an Anglican Communion -- listen to this now -- which has no agreed upon mechanism of discipline and no common will to exercise it. Every single meeting that has happened, if you go back and read the literature (and it's a matter of public record), what the ACI said was going to happen, and what actually happened, differed by 95% or more in every single instance. No exceptions. Look at what they said would happen at the 2003 primates meeting: discipline, differentiation, the Communion is going to come through, Rowan is going to do the right thing. Rowan still hasn't done the right thing and Rowan's strategy is to decide by not deciding. What Rowan wants to do is stand above it all and keep it connected and keep the conversation going. He doesn't like conflict. Most academics who are introverts don't - and he's one of them. And what he wants to do is keep the communion going so he can do what he likes to do is write papers about Richard Dawkins atheism, etc., which he's actually quite good at. I want him to do it, but I want him to have a Communion to do it in. The problem is that the more Rowan decides not to decides, the less space he has to decide, and the greater the decision is needed, to implement the discipline that is needed to solve the problem.

Another problem with the ACI is that every time they said something was going to happen and it didn't happen, the need next time was greater and greater. Dar es Salaam was supposed to be fantastic. Then the December 30 deadline that seemed like a deadline to a number of us wasn't a deadline to the archbishop of Canterbury - which he had set at the press conference. The ACI told us that Rowan would definitely not invite people to Lambeth, but Rowan came out before everybody thought he would and invited everybody except for a few people.

Now look, what does AA say about the definition of insanity? The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What I'm saying to you is that to want structural relief is great, and to know that the province won't provide it is also correct. What is unfortunately also the case is that in the short term, the communion wont provide it either. They don't want to. Rowan doesn't want to. So on both sides there's death that needs to happen, and there's problems that have to be honestly faced.

Here is my last exhortation, and then we can bat this around the rest of the day: therefore, the answer is on neither side, but in the middle. Meaning that we need to do what the four leapers did. And this is where Jeremiah is so crucial. The big fault of our movement is that people are thinking too big and they're not facing into the small contextual things they have to deal with. The reality is that we have to rebuild our whole movement from the bottom up. And it will come to have a regional and a national structure later. We don't have a national structure anymore. I hope you all see that. The AAC is essentially gone. They‘ve decided to back those that are leaving. I say God bless them. I wish Common Cause great success. My judgments are tentative. Maybe they're right and maybe I'm wrong. But there is no longer any national organization that is providing cohesion for conservatives. None, anymore. Therefore, now what? You must contextually live it out and do the hard work of asking the two fundamental questions - after you say where is the direction of hope? And you may barely see any. What I'm telling you is like the story of the four lepers, they only say one little sliver of hope over there, and that's where they went. And I have no real idea of where hope lies in Colorado, but I can tell you this, there's some sliver of hope somewhere and you all collectively need to find it and start moving there. The other thing is that you need to think radically and creatively about the two themes of differentiation and structure.

Now, this is my last subsection, and then I'm done. I've got to say something to you about what this looks like because I don't want to create a problem for you and then feel like I don't want you to solve it. I do want you to solve it; I just can't solve it for you in Colorado because I don't know the Colorado context. I want to talk about South Carolina because it will get your mind thinking the way I want you to think. And then it's up to us, especially you, to wrestle with it.

This is a hard question in South Carolina. I come from two of the healthiest dioceses in the Episcopal Church in despite all of our hopeless inadequacies, which are too many to number. Most of the diocese is orthodox. We have 76 parishes and missions and 73 of those 76 are very supportive of the broad direction of the diocese. In the other 3 parishes, there are numerous people which support the diocese. That's a shocking degree of consensus. Its not unanimity, we're not uniform, no diocese is, but we have a hugely orthodox diocese which is planting churches, doing good ministry, which is involved in mission and growing, which by the way, may be the best model of how to do a diocese.

So here's the question. We elected our bishop, and for the first time in seventy plus years, the standing committees and the bishops voted, and the bishops said yes and the standing committees said no. So we sat there and thought what does differentiation and structural relief and faithful witness look like? And it was annoying... the most annoying part was.. And this is what living in a time of judgment and exile looks so difficult. So many of the criticisms of our Bishop elect Mark Lawrence were for things he didn't believe. It made me so mad. They rejected Mark because of X. I'm thinking you didn't talk to Mark. Mark doesn't believe X. And that the problem of these competing narratives and broken relationships. People project things as saying other people believe then when they don't. We sat there and we considered redoing the whole search process form the beginning to the end. Our search process was desperately inadequate; we had lots of struggles with it. And the last thing any number of us wanted if we could avoid it was another search process. As we were wrestling with this decision, I sat there and realized the first search process where Mark was elected; I put three people in for Bishop: David Roseberry, John Guernsey and Martin Minns. Two of them turned me down and Rosebury was in the process but had to get out for very specific reasons. And I sat there as we got to the second time around and realized that if we did the process the second time around, all three of the people I put in the first time could not be put in the second time because they were all out of the Episcopal church. That was not fun. In a time of judgment, the ground keeps moving. Not to decide is to decide. You say I'm in the river, I'm going to stay in the river, and I'm not going to move. Sorry, that's not an option. The river keeps moving.

But we elected him again, and the rest of the church sort of looked at us funny. They held their nose and looked at us and said, my gosh, they seem to really want this guy? And I wanted to write them all a nasty email and say no, we elected him on the first time on the first ballot because we didn't want him. So, there was no sense of enthusiasm. They held their noses, and we got a bunch of no votes, especially from the standing committees. Way too many no votes for someone who is as well qualified. But they held their nose and said, they're pretty persevering and they seem determined to do this. And we hold our nose and pretend they're not there, but we've got to let them do it. And so we have a bishop who's going to be consecrated in January.

Now in that process, there were many sacrifices that we attempted to make. Mark had to do ludicrous things. And you all need to know some of these specifics. Mark had to do conference calls with standing committees as a whole. You talk about stuff that's never happened before... one standing committee wrote Mark a new pledge (in addition to the one you have to sign at your ordination) and said we will only approve you if you sign this other pledge. What a remarkable statement abut the way canonical fundamentalism and institutional idolatry is taking over the Episcopal Church. Mark wrote back and refused to sign it; no one else was being asked to sign it. Were we tempted to compromise? Probably too much. Did we compromise too much? We'll have to see. But now we have this question facing us: what does a diocese that tries to act as a whole diocese in a church that's lost its mind look like? Now that's a really hard question. So let me give you some examples of things that are being tossed around in back rooms. And this is the point where I need the tape to be turned off. It won't be super great if it gets out there right now.
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WOW! This series should be must reading for all of us.

He gets it.

[1] Posted by Janis on 12-19-2007 at 12:24 PM • top

I should have added “and listening, too”.

After reading the first speech I decided to listen. The urgency in his voice is compelling…

[2] Posted by Janis on 12-19-2007 at 12:32 PM • top

I just finished listening to all three afternoon parts (there’s a “Questions” and a “Conclusion”, too)—the entire presentation is a tour de force; Kendall+ is even more magnificent than usual.  Listening is better than reading, but the transcripts are handy (many thanks, SF).

Thanks also to Robroy, who posted the link to Christ Church where all of the presentations were originally posted—

[3] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 12-19-2007 at 12:41 PM • top

I love Kendall Harmon. I’ve met him a few times—though he probably doesn’t remember me very well. And I always come away from him with my faith deepened and renewed. Plus, he ALWAYS seems to cite MY OWN FAVORITE PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE! smile

I wish that I lived in SC sometimes. I am now in NC, which is a VERY DIFFERENT sort of place—talk about the beed to differentiate! Here, there was NO OPTION for my family, except the AMiA

Kendall’s critique of the CCP is fairly incisive, I think. I wish he had offered some solid and practical suggestions regarding ways that the deficiencies that he has identified at work in the CCP might be addressed. Maybe he did so after the tape was shut off…

There are a couple of key players out there who have been laying fairly low, up to now. Bishop Jim Adams of Western Kansas, comes to mind immediately. Father Doug McGlynn is another. Both of these men have done an extraordinary job of bridging the evangelical/catholic divide. Both men are more than adequately qualified to address the problems in each faction and to point the way towards an effective synthesis of these postures. I am a bit baffled that they have not stepped into more prominent roles, though I know both of them have a lot of immediate and personal pressures that probably keep them busy.

I used to think Paul Zahl was another such person; somebody who might dynamically ease some of the internal tensions besetting the orthodox these days. I recognize that he has always been strongly identified with the evangelical/Reformed wing of the orthodox side. But I know for a fact that he is also possessed of some strikingly catholic insights and instincts, admixed with his wonderful Protestant sensibilities. I do not know what really motivated him to leave Trinity, and I have not had the stomach to try to learn the detailed story. But, I suspect that his desire to go back into parish work means, if nothing else, that he just does not feel up to the task of marshalling orthodox troops on a grand scale.

[4] Posted by bluenarrative on 12-19-2007 at 12:51 PM • top

Any chance of posting a link to the mp3 file?
Thank you.

[5] Posted by joe_in_newark on 12-19-2007 at 01:17 PM • top

Another generally strong piece.  I do have a quibble with this characterization:

“...they’ve given up on the Communion and they’re going to grab their own future, and create it based on their own resources and their own power because no one else is going to do it for them.”

As one who hails from a CCP member, I would not phrase it in such lofty, high expectation terms.  Instead, I would refer to it more in terms of tying the life rafts together.  The hope remains for communion discipline and reform.  As he mentions in several spots - not to decide is to decide - failure to tie the rafts together would IMHO be even less catholic and more reliant on one’s own strengths. 

Perhaps he believes that nobody should have left for alternative oversight, regardless of the circumstances.  However, I have not heard him say that.

[6] Posted by tired on 12-19-2007 at 01:24 PM • top

Thank you all for the kind words—we are so thrilled to be able to re-offer this, thanks to Kendall’s talent and Christ Church’s foresight.

Joe in Newark—head over to Christ Church’s page and you can pick up the MP3s . . .

Christ Church graciously allowed us the files so that traffic from our site would not end up over-running their own server capabilities, plus we wanted to archive the audio at SF, and couple the talk with the transcript, depending on people’s needs.

Even though this is posted under my name, and I headed up the project from an organizational/logistics and summary-writing perspective, Greg often does not get enough credit for all of the work that he does behind the scenes.  It was he who downloaded the audio files, converted everything, uploaded everything, etc, etc, etc.—it’s all a ton of work, and he does it even though his name is not on this post.

[7] Posted by Sarah on 12-19-2007 at 01:34 PM • top

Thank you, Sarah and Greg.

[8] Posted by joe_in_newark on 12-19-2007 at 02:02 PM • top

Both these posts of Kendall+‘s talks have been such a blessing!!!!

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN to this one.

[9] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 12-19-2007 at 02:24 PM • top

Can you trust yourself no matter what that God knows what He’s doing in history, and give up your desire to control the future the way that you want?

Definitely my biggest spiritual challenge in “the current unpleasantness.”  And Kendall’s caution against trying to come up with the big (or quick, or dramatic) solution really cuts against my grain - but he’s probably right.
I come back to something I posted about Ruth Gledhill - she noted on her blog that being in a relatively large, healthy parish made her less likely to be enthralled with calls for realignment.  Likewise, Kendall notes the health, vitality and support of the diocese in which he is resident.
I’m in a good parish in a hostile diocese.  Our insights into growth are not heard, even though we are just about the only substantially growing congregation in the diocese.  I am a pariah here.  Our parish was vilified, specifically, in the Bishop’s Convention address - because some of our folks are part of an active AAC chapter.
Can you see why a big step like realignment is so attractive in my case?  What am I to do about confirmations for my people?  To whom do I turn for spiritual oversight? 
Kendall rightly posits the danger of protestant individualism - but I sit under that danger either way.  To stay put in my parish is to be a “lone ranger”, since I can’t get supportive oversight via the diocese or via DEPO (as Kendall notes, DEPO is a sham).  But to realign, if I follow Kendall, is to give in to the same individualism by following personal taste into factionalism.
This is not to nit pick at Kendall’s intelligent, theologically sound, Biblical and pastoral insights.  If anything, I agree that the Babylonians are in and all of us suffer.  I look forward to pts. 3 and 4 to see what he posits next.  And I won’t do anything rash ‘til I’ve read them smile

[10] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-19-2007 at 02:44 PM • top

Timothy Fountain,  I think you are right in saying that Kendall Harmon’s perspective is, perhaps, somewhat skewed from his residency in a healthy orthodox diocese. For fairly obvious reasons, most of the people who have assumed leadership in the various orthodox camps have come out of orthodox enclaves, of one sort or another. And they have been spared first-hand knowledge of how brutal the tactics of the revisionists can be at times.

The parishes of northern Virginia were configured into a loose confederation of orthodoxy long before they melded into their present CANA formation. Likewise, Pittsburgh has been a stronghold of vibrant orthodoxy for decades prior to VGR’s elevation as poster-boy for pansexual gnosticism. A lot of these people seem to have a fairly hard time comprehending what went on in OTHER revisionist dioceses and parishes—how the revisionists struck pre-emptively at the orthodox.

In Philadelphia, the carnage, so to speak, was appalling. The fact of the matter is, when Father Moyer at Good Shepherd was inhibited, VERY LITTLE was said or done by orthodox bishops to vigorously or to publicly defend his position. At that time (pre-VGR), I think a lot of the orthodox were in denial. It can’t happen here, and all of that.

It is not insignificant that all sorts of very capable and articulate people who were on the front lines in places like Philadelphia—people like Father Phil Lyman—have not assumed leadership positions in the emerging networks of orthodoxy. I assume that they are simply too battle-weary after years of going it alone; slogging it out in the trenches on the front lines without any substantial support from places like South Carolina and/or Pittsburgh. These dioceses COULD HAVE provided the beleagured orthodox in hostile dioceses with a LOT of support, both practical support and moral support. But, for a variety of reasons, they DID NOT.

In Milwaukee, the Bishop of Milwaukee, within a few days of assuming his office, inhibited EVERY orthodox priest in the diocese. He seized every orthodox parish in the diocese, declaring them suddenly a “missionary parish”; he dismissed all orthodox vestries; he seized all parish endowments and trust funds and transferred them into his personal discretionary funds; he apppointed “vicars” (in all cases either homosexuals or priestesses), answerable only to him, to these newly created “missionary parishes”; and—not satisfied with this—he then instructed his chancellor to initiate legal maneuvers designed to keep any lay person even remotely suspected of being orthodox from ever setting foot on any Episcopal Church property in his diocese.

At that time, the “Network” was just getting started. But it took us WEEKS and WEEKS to convince the folks in Pittsburgh that this stuff was really happening. At first, they seemed to dismiss our reports as being almost delusional. I spent a LONG TIME on the phone with Network people while all of this was going on, and over and over and over again I heard several of them them say to me, “that can’t really be happening.”

By the time that they finally accepted that it really WAS happening, it was too late.

Kendall made some very, very, very good points. And I think he is somebody who is going to prove himself to be a wise and resourceful leader in the days ahead. But I also think that he needs to spend some time trying to fathom what it was like for those of us who are trying to get by on the ground, on a day-to-day basis; those of us who were on the front lines when the revisionists first struck. Kendall and the orthodox leadership in general are going to have to come to terms with what it is STILL like in revisionist dioceses for the orthodox remnant, on a day-to-day basis.

We are not really struggling with grand theological constructs. Those of us on the orthodox side already have a pretty good grasp of basic theology, I think. And while good theology, such as Kendall articulates, has its uses and its place in this battle, most of us are dealing with much more mundane issues—such as being legally barred from visiting the graves of our ancestors; being legally barred from attending a funeral of a family member in an Episcopal church; being legally barred from attending a family member’s wedding in an Episcopal church; or watching a trust fund that we set up to further the work of spreading the Gospel disappear into the coffers of a gnostic bishop.

We are struggling with forces that are genuinely evil; with forces that are determined to intimidate us into silence and acquiescence.
I do not have all of the answers—or even some of the answers. But I know that this fight is over much more than the institutional trappings of a church.

[11] Posted by bluenarrative on 12-19-2007 at 04:18 PM • top

I never knew…in upper sc I feel constrained..I heard stories from conn or DC while at Alpha functions but I never, even this late in the “debate” have heard or believed that one could be barred from a grave site…this speaks volumes…I will pray more diligently for your support.

[12] Posted by ewart-touzot on 12-19-2007 at 04:47 PM • top


Fr. Fountain and I are your next door neighbors, and we KNOW, we’ve been there, and are still there…and I am even now on the outside looking in at what was my family Church for over 400 years (mostly England and Canada, but here for three generations on all sides, all four of my grandparents emmigrated), and I was the last Episcopalian, since my brother had left about ten years ago.

[13] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 12-19-2007 at 04:58 PM • top


I updated the post and added a link to the file. I’ll try to remember this for the next 2 sections.

[14] Posted by Greg Griffith on 12-19-2007 at 05:20 PM • top

The reality is that we have to rebuild our whole movement from the bottom up. And it will come to have a regional and a national structure later. We don’t have a national structure anymore. I hope you all see that. The AAC is essentially gone. They‘ve decided to back those that are leaving. I say God bless them. I wish Common Cause great success.

I suspect that ACN will dissolve next year when CCP officially becomes that “separate ecclesiastical structure”.  The number of orthodox Episcopalians will have shrunk a great deal.  Worse, most of the leaders willing to stand up in any meaningful way will be gone.  The future looks bleak for those who will remain, and I suspect after GenCon ‘09, intolerable…

[15] Posted by Nevin on 12-19-2007 at 07:01 PM • top

I would appreciate a glossary of the abbreviations and what each of these groups stand for.  I didn’t leave the Church, it left me!  But now I hear people are fighting back, and if true, I’ll be back.  Hooray!  I don’t believe in women priests (women bishops—you must be kidding!) or same sex “marriage” (you can establish a business partnership which would accomplish the same thing, but it’s not Christian marriage), etc, etc, etc!  But I still need to know what the various alphabetical abbreviations are for—this is getting to be like the federal government.

[16] Posted by Phyllida on 12-19-2007 at 11:32 PM • top


You should come back without conditions… don’t make it contingent on whether you think people are fighting. Come and fight, even if it feels like you’re doing it alone. If you wait until someone else does it, you may wait forever.

As to the acronyms, wherever you see something with a dotted underline, it means it’s in our glossary; roll over it and a little explanation will pop up.

For anything else, just ask - somebody will volunteer the explanation.

[17] Posted by Greg Griffith on 12-19-2007 at 11:42 PM • top

re: wherever you see something with a dotted underline, it means it’s in our glossary; roll over it and a little explanation will pop up.

Maybe it’s time to add CCP (which, for the benefit of Phyllida, stands for Common Cause Partnership) to the glossary.

[18] Posted by kyounge1956 on 12-20-2007 at 12:13 AM • top

Nevin #15—Remember that we’re dealing with three groups here:<ul>
<li> TEC/815 loyalists (none of whom are, by this point, orthodox);
<li> CCP, who have for the moment taken matters into their own hands; and
<li> Windsor/Communion Conservatives, who are waiting (due either to ecclesiology or 815’s terrorism, or both, but certainly not out of any institutional loyalty to TEC) for the Communion, through the Primates or Lambeth or something, to devise and implement a solution which will get them out from under the legal/canonical thumb of 815.  None of these people believe that there is any possibility at all for TEC to turn back (nor for that matter does
anyone else).
This last group is by far the largest, and will explode when TEC is finally ejected from the Communion.  This must happen, as you imply, before GC09. 

This ejection will be important for former TEC dioceses and parishes in CCP as well, since it will greatly weaken 815’s case in the flurry of lawsuits that will follow the actual secessions.

Pray for Lambeth and the Global South.

[19] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 12-20-2007 at 12:21 AM • top

I have read Kendall’s talks cursorily but with great interest. As one who taught Jeremiah when he was at Trinity, I agree that the Prophets of Exile have much to say to the Church today. Picking up on the obscure story from the days of Elisha is also a very nice touch.

As a ringside commentator who has tried to imagine scenarios, I shall be interested to read the next two parts of his address. It sounds like Kendall is heading toward “Third Way” proposal which at the moment escapes my imagination.

At this point, I want simply to say that his comments on the leadership of CCP seem premature. He rightly criticizes the conservative episcopal leadership of the past decade in its failure to mount an effective defence within ECUSA after the Righter Trial failed, in its missing the chance to take the offensive after Lambeth 1998, in its lack of cohesiveness in the crisis since 2003. This vacuum led to the formation of AMiA and then the Common Cause Partnership. Leaders of this movement (Kendall mentions Martyn Minns, John Guernsey, and David Roseberry and I would add Chuck Murphy) were all successful parish rectors who had been excluded from episcopal leadership because of their theological stance. Many of them had been strategists both for their parishes and for extra-parochial bodies. Now in the emerging CCP, they have stepped forward to lead. The steps they have taken so far, bringing together an exiled but evangelical body, have been careful and hopeful. There will be personal failures (Kendall mentions a couple), and there will be tactical errors of judgement. But I think God has raised up a tested cadre of leaders for a new work. I think they have soberly counted the cost of their moves, and I do not sense any triumphalism except the sense that the work of the Gospel must go forward unimpeded. Is it not possible that they are the Joshuas and Zerubbabels, the Ezras and Nehemiahs, who, honed in exile, will emerge to restore captive Israel?

As to the multiplication of bishops, I withhold judgement. It was certainly true of the “continuing churches” that purple passion seemed to trump gospel passion. I doubt that this is intended among the new bishops in CCP. As I understand it, the Church of Nigeria has followed a strategy of missionary expansion through episcopi vagantes, mobile bishops who oversee church-building in territory which nominally belonged to a sitting bishop but which needs focussed attention. They can speak for themselves, but I think CCP leaders intend to grow and not simply protect their perks (perks for CCP bishops seem precious few) or some nostalgic past. I don’t see most of these leaders sitting in an office but rather out planting and strengthening new growth. Time will tell, but I have a lot of confidence in the new leadership.

As I said at the start, I’ll wait to hear what else Kendall is proposing. But whatever it is, I don’t see how there can be an effective response to the crisis of Anglicanism that excludes the leaders of CCP and the Global South Primates. Perhaps the “Camp Allen” bishops can come up with a viable alternative, but as Kendall points out, so far they have failed to deliver the needed separation for a viable Anglican instrument of Gospel truth and power.

[20] Posted by Stephen Noll on 12-20-2007 at 12:41 AM • top

We also are deeply grateful to the dozen volunteers who are readers of Stand Firm who stepped forward and volunteered to transcribe and proof Kendall’s talks. We would never have been able to do this work as bloggers and are overwhelmed with the help and eager assistance that was given to us. We thank these volunteers with all of our hearts.

For my small part, you’re welcome!  I probably speak for the other volunteers when I say it was a privilege to be of assistance with this project.  Canon Harmon’s speech (as far as speed and inflection) wasn’t all that easy to track.  One would think that some of that slow, laid back South Carolina drawl would’ve rubbed off on him by now!  wink

[21] Posted by Jill C. on 12-20-2007 at 12:44 AM • top

Craig Goodrich wrote:

This last group [those waiting for a Communion solution] is by far the largest, and will explode when TEC is finally ejected from the Communion.  This must happen, as you imply, before GC09.

When you say “must” do you mean “TEC will certainly be ejected before GC ‘09” or only “if TEC isn’t ejected by next GC, our orthodox goose is cooked”? If the former, can you encourage the rest of us “Third Way” types by saying why you are so sure?

[22] Posted by kyounge1956 on 12-20-2007 at 01:52 AM • top

I guess my point was that I have a difficult time seeing any effective orthodox movement in TEC after the departure of those in the Common Cause Partnership (CCP).  They were the ones who were most vocal and willing to speak out and lead.  While there will be plenty of “Windsor” and “Camp Allen” bishops remaining they have been remarkable for their silence (as in NO) and inability to provide any sort of opposition to the HOB majority- to the point that Iker, Duncan et al were criticized for leaving NO early and crippling the orthodox side.  I cringe when I think of GenCon ‘09- Kendall can’t do it himself…

[23] Posted by Nevin on 12-20-2007 at 08:02 AM • top


“The problem with Common Cause is that they have given up on the Province and they’ve given up on the Communion and they’re going to grab their own future, and create it based on their own resources and their own power because no one else is going to do it for them. I have tremendous emotional sympathy on why they want to do this. But what I have to tell you is that something about that isn’t right. Because if you devise a church which at its core that is really based on your initiative and your resources, and your American individualistic approach, you get protestant individualism.”

If you are reading these comments, I have a question. The leaders of CCP do not see themselves as creating something “on their own initiative”. Rather, they believe themselves to be establishing a structure that they believe will be consistent with the sort of structure that orthodox primates have said they will embrace and recognize. They make no demands. Their most recent communique carefully avoids suggesting that they have “arrived”. Nor does it make provincial claims about the CCP itself. Rather it simply reports on the work done at the conference. I think the leaders of CCP are at the point of submitting to the discernment of orthodox primates as to their viability as a church which seems a far cry from the sort of individualism you describe.

Do you see any difference in the recent actions of the CCP and your description here?

[24] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 12-20-2007 at 08:20 AM • top

Sarah, et al—Any chance these talks will be packaged as a CD set and sold—maybe whatever profit involved could go to SF? I would love to have these as CDs for a group to listen to, to pass around etc. I would agree with some of the other posters that the intensity and pitch of Kendall’s voice gives a whole ‘nother dimension to it all! I was nearly moved to tears listening to the first one, and had to shut it off for awhile.

[25] Posted by DavidSh on 12-21-2007 at 09:31 AM • top

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