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Welcome to Stand Firm!

Dr. Kendall Harmon—CLCC Keynote Speech, Part 3: Questions & Answers and the Nature of Hope

Thursday, December 20, 2007 • 6:26 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.  StandFirm 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.

StandFirm gratefully acknowledges Christ Episcopal Church’s recordings of these talks.  We also are deeply grateful to the dozen volunteers who are readers of StandFirm 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.

[Note: I have updated this post to include the fact that Kendall’s conclusion is on this audio file and in the transcription.]

Kendall speaks a bit more about life in exile and differentiation, then takes questions from the audience.

Q & A topics include:

- The Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter to Bishop Howe of Central Florida
- How Rowan Williams could get the majority of people to Lambeth
- What is the worst form of leadership
- What Wesley and Whitefield have to do with “differentiation” and “structural relief”
- Myths about the Episcopal church

In his conclusion, Kendall speaks of the nature of hope and the character of God.  He also describes one of his favorite heroes, a priest in the Church of England in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  Before you listen, guess why Charles Simeon became a Christian and why his funeral was one of the greatest funerals ever experienced in Cambridge.

Link to MP3 file.

D.L. Moody, as you know a great 19th Century Evangelist, after one of his crusades this guy came up to heckle him about evangelism and just ripped him up one side and down the other, just 15 minutes of on and on, and Moody’s starting to get tired of this guy, ‘cause of the criticism and he can’t get a word in edgewise, and finally, Moody puts up his hands and says, “Hang on a second, what are you doing about evangelism?” And the guy is kind of like, stunned, and he says, “Well, I’m not doing anything about evangelism”. And Moody looks at him and says, “Well, I like my method better than your method”.

The whole point is, I’m not saying, I’m not saying that my ideas about differentiation are right, I’m saying we’ve got to try. Life in exile is a whole new language, and a whole new way of operating that we’ve not learned to do before. But we must do it, and the thing is, it isn’t an option not to do it. If you’re not going Common Cause, and you’re not going to wait for discipline, that I don’t think is ever going to come from the Communion, then you’ve got people on the ground who have families, and they don’t want to raise their kids in a Church that doesn’t know what the Christian life looks like. One of my friends, I won’t tell you which parish, is in the Midwest, where it is mostly Roman Catholics - and he’s getting decimated! He describes people coming to him, and they’d say to him, “Father So-and-so, we can’t do this because we look at the Episcopal Church and they’re endorsing a way of life that we understand not to be Christian. You seem confused about what the Christian life looks like. I can’t raise my kids in an environment like that”. And he says, “Kendall, she’s right”, and my response to him is “Yeah, exactly, you need to differentiate.” Paul Zahl put up a black flag at the cathedral church of the Advent before he went to TESM. One of my friends in my town where I work, they were St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for their entire 230 plus year history - last year he took Episcopal off the sign - it says St. Paul’s Church. Everybody is feeling their way and fumbling their way, it’s not easy, I’m not saying those are the right ways, what I’m saying is that the Global South is pointing the way, the Bible points the way, we’ve got to do this. OK that’s it - now I’ve really made a hornet’s nest now it’s over to you.

Let me first ask, ‘because I told you I love questions - let me first ask for factual questions about some of the stuff I’ve said - in terms of whether anything is unclear, or whether you want more information - so we have some commonality. Is there anything that anyone wants to ask about in terms of “I didn’t understand this reference or that meeting or what happened at DES”, does anyone want to ask a sort of question like this or do you want to go straight to the contextual stuff.?

Yes sir, Mr. Henderson, is it?

Dave Henderson is asking for comment about a letter that the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the Bishop of Central Florida. The Bishop of Central Florida is having trouble in his diocese because a number of the parishes in his diocese are not feeling like there is enough differentiation in the diocese to survive and John wrote to the Archbishop and said I’m struggling with this can you offer anything to help? And the Archbishop wrote a letter back, and said there are only certain things I can say, there’s other things I can’t say right now and then he says feel free to share this if you want. So John wrote a letter - a public letter to the diocese and quoted part of the e-mail which caused a sensation all over everywhere because a bunch of us got it and put it out on the blogosphere, and I actually called John to make sure the quote was legitimate, before, and we had a conversation, and he read me the letter over the phone, and I thought it was a very significant letter, and he said “I’m planning on making it public”, and I said well I hope you will do that very soon. And he did. It was just a couple of days later - mainly because of pressure from inside the diocese. It’s sort of like one paragraph from the declaration of independence - everybody thought, hey, hang on a second, I want to see the whole thing.

In this letter, what Rowan essentially says is that we’ve got to be catholic in our ecclesiology this is on the ACI side of the spectrum, and this is classic Rowan Williams - Rowan is a catholic, a very strong catholic, by the way. Can I note for you in passing what, when he became Archbishop of Canterbury, he said about the same sex decision is that it is a decision for the whole church - Hello!!! Remember? Not one part of the church unilaterally going off.

What Rowan’s extreme frustration with the American Church is that they’ve set any chance of this new theology backwards 20 years, because the way we’ve done it has been so counterproductive that we can’t even have a constructive theological debate, and Rowan thinks the debate needs to happen. Now he wrote one essay where he gave a different answer than I would give, but he was just wrestling with the possibility of it. But Rowan is really frustrated because now the possibility of engaging this the right way, he feels like the Episcopal Church has taken that away from him and the rest of the Communion.

But in this letter, Rowan says, basically, that the heart of catholic ecclesiology is that the Bishop and the diocese are the main unit of the church, and what he says is the main source of identity for the church. And see, this is important because he is trying to address the issue of differentiation. And what he’s basically saying is, “You are clearly an orthodox bishop, you need to say to your people, their main identification in the Church is in and through you and the diocese, therefore they need to feel comforted.” And what he goes on to say, and this is where it got endless speculation in the blogosphere and elsewhere, he went on to say, I really feel like the diocese is much more significant than the national church which has a way of being a sort of artificial construct that he is not sure is super helpful in terms of a primary source of identity. And that also is classic Rowan Williams I could just hear him - you know I studied with him at Oxford in graduate seminars I mean, that’s classic - he’s sort of thinking out loud. I think that’s a very vital question to ask. You need to know enough about the history of the Episcopal Church to know that it’s only in the 1920s that the Presiding Bishop becomes a differentiated office from diocesan leadership. Before 1920 the presiding bishop was a serving diocesan bishop who happened to be elected to be a serving diocesan bishop and also the presiding Bishop. It wasn’t a separate ecclesiastical office. So the modern national church idea in the Episcopal Church is actually relatively recent, even in our own history. And there is a lot of artificiality about it right? Think about it - in a diocese, in South Carolina, if you make a major capital improvement program, you need to petition the Standing Committee for ecclesiastical permission to undergo your capital improvement process because you are a parish that exists as a member of the diocesan family. There is no equivalent whereby a diocese decides to build a conference center, build whatever, that the diocese then has to ask the permission of the National Church - that doesn’t exist, because the whole way our history has evolved is very based on the diocese. The national church is the one who has been saying in the last 15 years “the diocese is the main unit of the church”. Now they’re in trouble because they want that to be true except when there are dioceses that don’t work the way they want them to work. [laughter]

I think it reflects a correct catholic ecclesiology and I think it reflects the possibility of one way that Rowan might be thinking to head forward, which is maybe he’s going to differentiate different dioceses and different bishops in terms of his finalization of the Lambeth invitations. That’s certainly the way the ACI wants to take it. My problem with that is Rowan’s modus operandi is not to rescind things that he’s already offered, and those invitations already stand. The other thing which I haven’t said, that you all need to know if you don’t know it and that is the whole structure of the Communion is massively centered on American money. I wish that this were otherwise, but this simply has to be faced. The Anglican Communion Office is the key interconnecting mechanism of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion office is funded mainly by the Episcopal Church. We could debate the specifics, but roughly 30-40% of their annual budget, we fund. If you don’t think that the people in that office know that afterwards I’ll sell you a bridge to Haiti. They are hugely beholden to the American church, and the problem is that the way the communion operates it infects Lambeth and therefore it infects Rowan. They are determined, at the ACO to have the Lambeth Conference, because it is one of the main reasons they exist - to put on the Lambeth conference. So they are determined to put on the Lambeth conference. If they lose American money, it is going to be very hard in the future to put on the Lambeth conference and therefore to justify their own existence. So they’re hugely motivated to be sympathetic to the Americans and Rowan is also aware of the money issue, and the ACO is pressing him farther than he would like to be pressed, and he’s been deciding by not deciding, and what that means is the ACO gets more power acceded to them by default than they should have - and Rowan keeps not deciding.

The ACI position on the invitations is, “well Rowan gave the invitations but they’re preliminary.” Well, we don’t have a lot of time, and what’s interesting now of course is the Lambeth Conference is ending up looking worse and worse, because now you have the Bishop of Utah, on the sort of liberal side right near the Presiding Bishop and saying, “Well, I don’t really think we should go to Lambeth either.” Now you’ve got Nigeria and Uganda making clear that they’re not going to Lambeth, and you have Utah making clear that she doesn’t think that she should go to Lambeth, and it’s this early. So Rowan - this is the interesting part about not deciding, having to face the fact that you get the decision made for you. Right now what Rowan is heading into is a Lambeth which will not be a Lambeth for the whole communion. Which is not what he wants.

My heartbreak - I’ll just say this personally about Rowan; I thought about writing a letter - my heartbreak is that I actually think that Rowan can get the majority of the communion to Lambeth if he simply does this: if he says, “I rescind the invitations of those bishops who as a matter of diocesan policy allow for public same-sex blessings.” I think there are 20 to 21 of them by my measurement. It isn’t all that I would want, if I were setting it up. It isn’t all that I think it should be, but if he did that I’d back him 100%. And furthermore, if he did that he’d get the majority of the communion to Lambeth - including the majority of Americans I think, because they’d be in a real pickle, cause a lot of them like having tea with the Queen. [Laughter] They do! They really do.

Other questions? Yes sir.

—One thing I didn’t say about Rob O’Neil is that Rob has worked really, really hard to never take a stand and maybe David’s a better person to speak to that…

—Is this the Rt. Rev Rob?

—The Rt. Rev SIR.

—I’m sorry - the Rt. Rev. Sir. Forgive me - no, I think that one of the things that many of us have attempted to elicit from Rob is “if THIS were to happen, what would your response be”, or “if THAT were to happen, what would your response be”, and he refuses to ever respond to hypotheticals. What it does, it postures him, it puts him in a position, he thinks, of security, regarding - that he’ll be on the right side whatever happens.

K: Right, and as I pointed out at dinner last night, all he’s doing is modeling the heart of the model of diocesan leadership in the current House of Bishops, I mean I could give you oodles of other examples of diocesan bishops functioning exactly that way. I mean, that is what people think a diocesan bishop should be doing, deciding by not deciding, and being everybody’s friend, and “can’t we all get along”, and being an effective ecclesial bureaucrat, and keeping the conversations going, and keeping the trains running on time - as if that’s what the church exists to do! Leadership from either side has been whittled away, and you get these mediocre ecclesiastical bureaucratic managerial pastoral types, and when they have to lead they lead by not leading because they’re afraid that they’ll alienate somebody, and you all need to know, if you don’t know, that’s the WORST form of leadership actually. It honestly is. This is part of what happened with the previous bishop - if you don’t say where you stand; actually you end up getting everybody mad at you. Its not as though - see this is not deciding is a decision. Then you get everybody mad. Because at some point, as a matter of principle - all I can say to you is that - first of all Rob is not going to have that luxury, I don’t think, after 2009 - that’s point one. See this is the thing - “I’ll just wait, and ..”. Well, sorry, time’s up I mean - the thing about the power structure is that the train is not stopping at this station. See, everybody’s missed this, especially among my friends who are kind of the modern institutionalists is, “Ok, now we can all breathe, yeah, we’ve been through 2003, OK, so we’ll all just sit here, we’ll just kind of consolidate.” Consolidate my foot! It’s LGBT - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender - do not kid yourself there are bisexual liturgies out there. I had a whole discussion with a bisexual at the 2003 General Convention about this very issue, I said to her, (she knew who I was, she knew I was somebody that she could talk to), I said to her, “what would a church that blesses the possibility that bisexuality is a created order look like?” She was a lesbian, she had a relationship with a woman that lasted about 8 years, now she’s married to a guy - and that was her story. What she said to me was, “what it means was if I told you I was a lesbian you’d bless my union, but if I later told you that I shifted you’d allow me to end that and then later get married.” And then I started to try to wrap my mind around what a church would look like where you tried to embrace that officially, and I got very sad very quickly. I mean, that’s just nuts! What in the world does that mean? I mean, you need some kind of divorce ceremony - that’s meaningful for the first, except it isn’t marriage, so you’ve got to have a dissolution ceremony or something - I mean, the point is - ah, and there’s a new prayerbook - so Rob is trying to stand in place and say, “well we can consolidate”, and the ground is moving underneath his feet and it isn’t going to work. But the other thing which I will say, and this is part of the tragedy of the conservatives’ failure - failure to differentiate has failed to bring the system the cost(?) that it needs in order to ask questions - there is a conservative reason why the national leadership isn’t more self-critical, it’s because we failed to properly bring the pressure that needs to be brought by differentiating. And you all have to find a way, I mean Rob O’Neil has to be - there must be hard questions asked. And one of the things you could think about saying is, from now on, at every public meeting, one of our membership is going to publicly ask you to publicly declare yourself on this question. You could tell him that up front. Now, he may choose every single time not to, but you’ve set him on notice and that is a way of differentiating. You’re saying, the status quo is unacceptable to us, we want to know where you really stand, and we’re going to put you on notice publicly, every time we get the opportunity. If I’m right, and you live this out faithfully, Rob O’Neil should get madder at you in a year than he is now. It’s not because I want him to be mad, it’s because that’s what differentiation does. The reason Nebuchadnezzar put those guys in the fiery furnace is because he was so firing mad he was furious, he wanted to kill them - because they wouldn’t capitulate. And that’s what differentiation does, and it’s actually important. So, I have no idea how you go about doing that, but I do think that’s Rob’s strategy, but he doesn’t have that luxury, time is not on his side. [Unintelligible comment] Right.

—I think he is hoping, I think to end it up in a position, that after 2009, where he can wash his hands of any personal conviction regarding these issues, and then fall back on the institution, on his institutional commitment as a bishop….[unintelligible] and discipline of the church at general convention has pronounced on him

K: Can I also mention in passing for those of you who want to study this, because another part of the challenge of this is that this isn’t the first time in church history that this problem has arisen. Think about this - think about the way that Luther had to conduct himself early on. Many people forget about this - Luther didn’t stand up one day and say, “Oh, I’m leaving the Roman Catholic church - bye”. He didn’t do that. He had to engage the current structures, and find a way to differentiate himself. And it was a slog, and he had to do all sorts of weird things, like hiding out in a castle with a very unlikely person for a very long period of time - which got a whole lot of people even madder at him. But the point is that - and the other one I would mention is the Methodists. I live in a diocese where George Whitfield was sent out from St. Phillips Charleston because he was publicly indicted for three offences - two of which were “praying in public” and “enthusiasm”. I sometimes say to people, “The Episcopal church indirectly caused the Great Awakening” - because the diocese of South Carolina helped send out Wesley and Whitfield because we were so unwilling in the current structures…but the point is that, the reason that happened is because those guys tried to come into the existing structure, showed up at St. Phillips, and then didn’t do what anybody else did from the pulpit. Which is why St. Phillips got so mad, and said, “You’re never preaching here any more”. In which case they said, “Fine, we’ll go out in the fields”, and they went out in the fields! And you can just hear the people in the back saying, “penalty flag” - we don’t have any canons - you can’t preach in the field - it doesn’t say you can do that! They’re trying to differentiate - I think there are resources to mine in the early Methodist stories and history, and the early Reformation stories of some of how you can try to do this. You look at Wesley, you look at Whitfield, you look at Luther, they’re trying to differentiate, and they’re also trying to find structural relief. There’s all sorts of structural things that are happening in both movements to try to find a way. They don’t find it easy, and they get attacked all the time, but they’re not doing business as usual.

Yes sir -—My main conviction is that time is running out for the orthodox. You see, if resolution doesn’t come before Lambeth 2008 then there is no hope ... you in SC are a little more insulated from it , but we just saw it today, each go-round, each church that leaves, it gets harder and harder for the ones that stay it’s getting uglier and uglier - you don’t want to be the last ones.

This is one of the sections of Jeremiah that I wanted to get into but didn’t have time to get into - it’s the issue of time. One of the other areas of confusion in Jeremiah is with time. Time is very elusive in that book. His ministry is fifty years - total. Most people forget this. He talked a long time before the Babylonians came through the gate, but what’s so difficult is - how do you know when there’s a warning when’s the fulfillment of the warning…I mean, Jeremiah doesn’t show up and say, “the Babylonians are coming”, and then say, “in six months”. See, he didn’t know that, and they didn’t know that. What he said was, they’re definitely coming. And this is another piece of this - time is elusive. I do not know how the issue of time is working out. But definitely I fee acutely that the shifting of the sands under means that our future becomes more difficult as the time works itself out. The way that that works out in SC, and you all need to know this if you don’t is, I have no confidence we could ever get another bishop confirmed. And after 2009, there’s no way in creation that we will get a bishop confirmed. So it’s all well and good to say, well, we persevered up to this point, but we have no future as a diocese in terms of electing a bishop whom we want to be approved by the existing structure - and that’s what you’re talking about - is that it isn’t going to stay the same, and the power is shifting increasingly in one direction. You’re right, and it has to be faced. But my problem is solving it by leaving, especially in the short term - part of the other thing that I didn’t say, you probably picked up on this is - I’m afraid that by leaving or by waiting too passively, what’s really going on is we’re trying to run away from being purged by having to go through it. Because you see if you leave, there’s a whole series of existing relationships and accountabilities by leaving that go away. That’s one thing that leaving ...leaving reduces accountability in the short term as you begin to start another structure. And I’m afraid on both ends we’re trying to elude God’s desire to change us. So as much as I try, I can’t find a way to say, “Since it’s getting worse, therefore we have to go Common Cause”. But like I said, other people are making different decisions and I back them 100%. I mean John Guernsey’s my friend, so… I’m trying as best I can, and I’m not unwilling to acknowledge your point publicly, you’re absolutely right. One of the pieces that’s out in the past week by Louie Crew, who is an acquaintance of mine, sort of my nemesis in the Episcopal church - he has put out a preliminary analysis of the people who have been elected deputy for the 2009 General Convention and surprise, surprise - no surprise to me - less people that voted against New Hampshire, and more people who voted for New Hampshire are coming to 2009. That’s what you’re talking about.

---Do you think that any orthodox bishops-elect could receive consents anywhere in the United States at this point in time?

K: The key point is "at this point in time". Look, this is 2007 - the 2009 GC is not very far away. The Bishop of SE Florida, in a not-too-carefully-guarded moment, made it entirely clear that he is totally campaigning to change things in 2009. I don’t think - I just don’t see how, in 2009, B033 isn’t thrown over the wall, and some form of an official possible allowance for local, diocesan blessings isn’t approved. I just - I see that as the current situation. Now, I could be wrong. And the point is, after that - between now and then, maybe, if the person says enough of the right things, or if the diocese is ludicrously persevering like South Carolina - maybe. But I mean, Mark Lawrence had to practically sign away his social security number and his driver’s license and - I mean the amount of things that he had to say he was or wasn’t going to try to do - talk about not answering hypothetical questions - Mark Lawrence had to answer half a ton! So maybe, but not likely - and definitely not after 2009. Yes, sir.

---In some ways, the sand is moving so quickly - in some ways, to be differentiated is going to be - I’m not sure that the right word is "easier", but that you’ll have to do less that seems to be in someone’s face - in two years than we do now. I mean now, we preach the Gospel, you know, all the things we do evoke(?), etc. After 2009, if some kind of liturgy comes down the pike, what I said to my congregation time and time again is - let me be clear, the Episcopal Church has not given me permission to bless same-sex unions - so, I’m not. Let me be clear - I’m not blessing same-sex unions no matter what the Episcopal Church says. But nobody’s tested that! Nobody’s come to me, and if somebody came I’d say you can go to any church in this diocese and you should get the same answer no. But, come 2009, if what you say is true - I’ll give the same answer. I’ll say no because - no! Because it’s not me!

K: But the hard part - I mean I think you’re right, but here’s the hard part, and this is part of not deciding - not deciding to differentiate involves a number of losses, one of which is you lose the ability to learn how to do it and to practice it. And it’s only by doing it that you learn how to do it - it’s like praying and preaching in that regard - I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that. The way that you learn to preach is to preach - it’s not easy. The way that you learn to pray is actually to pray - you can read all the books till Jesus comes back about praying, if you don’t pray you’re not going to learn how to pray. And the thing about differentiation is if you don’t practice it between now and 2009 you’re not going to be able to get up after 2009 and suddenly learn how to do it. And this is the problem - because in a sense, it’s a form of denial. Not to differentiate is essentially is to try to live as if you’re not in exile. What I’m saying is that option’s no longer available.

--It strikes me that our presence here today in the eye of the [unintelligible] and Rob, this is a form of differentiation. Just the fact that we’re meeting.

K: Yeah, no question. Absolutely. And I think meeting and organizing and ...Look, websites - you look and there’s lots of good news - one of the things that has happened since 2003 is that we have more local conservative orthodox initiatives in more diocese than we have ever had before. There are websites in dioceses I never would have dreamed - West Virginia - I mean; you’ve got to be kidding me! They’ve got a great website! Mississippi has a great website - there’s a new group that’s sprouted up in South Dakota in the last year and a half that’s driving the bishop crazy, so... The interesting thing is a lot of the lay people are getting in - and I didn’t say this and I should put this on the floor too. Strategically, it’s the lay people that are the key to this. The clergy won’t tell you this so I will - the clergy are hopeless. No, I’m serious. We work for the company! We woke up in a company that was selling Coke, and now they’re selling Pepsi. Our families and our futures are tied to this bizarre situation. You all have a level of distance that most of us could not get if we wanted to. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to do what we need to do, but you know what I’m saying. Ten lay people can go into the Bishop’s office and say, "Hello, I’m sorry, this is the way things are going to be." Ten clergy go in there, as one of my friends wonderfully said one day, he said, "Kendall, the bishop doesn’t have the power to do anything to you that he wants to do, but he has the power to make you think that he can." Really - clergy live in a way that is under the shadow, and it’s a struggle for us, I’m not saying that we don’t need to do better, but I’m just saying laity have a level of freedom that makes them the key. And what’s interesting about these groups that are sprouting up is that they’re almost all very fundamentally lay-led or have the laity at the core. Yes sir.


K: One of the things that I am in process of thinking about is all the myths about the Episcopal Church, you know, our self-description versus our reality, and basically we’re a church that lies to ourselves. We don’t tell ourselves the truth. One of the many myths is the open church that is closed. We’re the open, inclusive church and you just can’t imagine - I mean, my bishop went to the House of Bishops came back to South Carolina, it wasn’t till I got on the phone that I realized what he did in New Orleans, because the setup there was so internecine and silent and behind closed doors that I couldn’t even figure out what my Bishop did in New Orleans, till he came home and told me! The reason I’m bringing this up is information and transparency and the internet are our best friends, and the Establishment does not want us to know. The strategy of the national church is very simple - keep the laity in the dark, keep the clergy caught like deer in the headlights, and keep the Bishops under our thumb. That’s what they’ve been doing, for the last four years. And one of the best ways to counteract that is to simply put out the reality of the information. What’s the information that just came out that our wonderfully open church doesn’t want you to have. The statistics of our church - they spent the last three months trying to hide them! The national church statistics office had them before the House of Bishop’s meeting. But of course, they wouldn’t want to release that, because then, you know, it might reflect on our province and - Oh, no! So, then they have them, and the Executive Council insists on vetting the numbers before they’re released so the Executive Council has to vet every single number, and then they finally dribble them out very quietly on the diocesan website hoping that nobody will pay attention. We lost 2% of our membership and 2.5% of our overall Sunday attendance. It’s the fourth year in a row of systemic, very, very demonstrable decline. For the last three years we lost 110,000 of our membership, this past year we lost 50,000 - 160,000 in four years. And they don’t want you to know it, and they don’t want you to talk about it. So that kind of information is important to get out to people. Yes sir.

--You made a comment about what laity can do. I mentioned this last time about the Episcopal Witness program. We went out to three different churches here in the Denver area, and it was amazing. We went just like we were going to church, like we were checking out a church, like we were looking for a new church. The first church we went to, they were waiting for their interim priest to come in - some of the people were conservatives, but they said some of the people were very liberal, and what we found out there is that polity trumps Scripture. That was the first problem that we ran into in that church. It looked like a very nice church, you know, it had some programs that we might like to join, we got a nice letter afterwards and so on. The second church we attended had a fairly new priest that had been an associate at another church, and we sat down with him - we got there early because we thought there was Christian Ed, and they didn’t have it - so we had a chance to visit with him. He said that he believed in the broad view of membership (we know what that means), and he told us that Christ only really gave us two directives. The first one was to love your neighbor as yourself, and the second was the Great Commission. Naturally, you can’t do the Great Commission without loving your neighbors and welcoming them in, and if they had issues, well, we might deal with that later. He kind of forgot a third great directive that Christ gave us - like love the Lord your God. So we went there, and then another Sunday we went to another church and this church is where that other priest had been last. And again, they were all welcoming. And I talked to one elderly lady there, and I said, "So what do you think about what is happening in the Episcopal Church?" Well, her immediate thing was about the whole homosexuality thing and she said, "Well, let’s face it; we’re all actually bisexual anyway - you know, when we admire another person of the same sex - so that’s OK, what’s happening in the church." And then the priest told us that we don’t have to worry about sin because when Christ died on the cross he [unintelligible] sins. So we don’t have to worry about that. And so I’m thinking about that - I ended up in a meeting that he attended and he was like, "why are you at this meeting if you were at my church looking", well I didn’t go into that. But I said, "by the way, why did you say confession at your church if you don’t worry about sin?" And he said, "Well most churches are doing away with that anyway". So I recommend finding out, grass roots, go for coffee hour, just have a visit with someone - you might find someone willing to listen to what’s going on, but also it’s a great education for us of what is being taught in the Episcopal church - and getting away with. We went to the High Plains pre-convention meeting. Nothing was mentioned about the House of Bishops meeting - nothing was mentioned about that. We spent an hour dealing with Global Warming. Again, there are a lot of other things that need to be done. On a final note, I would like to mention right for your benefit one of the things that we’re doing at Epiphany - [unintelligible] mentioned in one of his blogs that you actually don’t have to spend money, you don’t have to go to Africa to do mission for Africa. We have a large population of African refugees here in this city and in this state. And we have, I would say, a core group of 15 to 20 that are coming to our church now and we feed them afterward. There are some that were raised Christian; they were exiled from their country since 1972 in some cases. There are some that were Muslim that are Muslim - and they are still coming to our church. We have incorporated into - they come to our service, our Sunday school, our nursery. We’re not segregating them into - we have a Sudanese congregation down at the cathedral. We are actually incorporating them in, and this is something you can do right here at home and when you do see this, it does give you an avenue and the desire to go and do mission trips elsewhere.

K: Thank you for that - yes, go ahead, yes, in the back...

--so, at the same time that we see greater differentiation within the church, is there also some importance to an approach of Kenosis (?) in a sense that Jesus made himself of no reputation by hanging out with sinners like us, and we can take a shot to our reputation by hanging out with our enemies, and aligning ourselves - identifying ourselves.

K: now you’ve really brought out a fruitful area also - did everybody hear the question? What is the place of self-emptying in the midst of all this, particularly in regard to those in the church with whom we most disagree? What I think about this is that this is and area where you need to discern and decide. And my evaluation of this is this: there are open conservatives and closed conservatives and open (I don’t like the term, but that’s what they use so I’ll use it) liberals and closed liberals. There’s really hardly any dialogue happening in the Church - there’s another thing - the Church that dialogues where no-one talks, but anyway - but one of the few places where it actually goes on is places like my blog where actually a number of - many liberals read my blog, a number of liberals post there, but the point is the reason they post there is they feel they might be heard. And so my response to that would be: I do think there are places where that kind of self-emptying is fruitful, but I would caution people to do it where it’s actually possible. In other words, there’s some people where the presuppositions are - one of my seminary professors got into a debate with a guy from a Bible college in Oregon at one point, and he argued with him all day, and at the end of the day he finally said, "Are you saying that what you’re describing to me is a model of reality or is it reality itself?" And his friend said, "Its reality itself", and my seminary professor said, "Well then we don’t have anything to talk about." My whole point is that there is no distance between - there are people who you can actually talk to, when they have enough distance. But if they have so many caricatures and so many presuppositions, even though you might be called to self-emptying, I think there’s a discernment issue - I don’t think that’s of much value, and I think you have to...because there isn’t any willingness to hear. And this is true on our side too, I mean, there’s a whole bunch of conservatives - they just aren’t worth engaging - there’s nothing to talk about. But I will say this; part of differentiation is understanding that it’s harder to talk. And I say this all the time, you know, in a family where there is separation it’s tougher to come to the dinner table. Yeah, there’s more static on the line - but it doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying but it’s much harder and the rules change and doing it is much more difficult.

Let me conclude, because y’all have been very disciplined - I want to say two things in conclusion. Because my theme is being a people of hope - you may not know this about me, but I did my doctorate on Hell - that’s another long story for another time - but eschatology is my great passion, y’know me - I told you I taught the book of Revelation for two years - NOTHING I’d rather talk about than hope. Do you know what hope means in the New Testament? This is SO important that you understand. In the New Testament, hope is confidence grounded in the character of God. That is what the word hope actually means. When the Christian tradition says that the three theological virtues are faith, hope, and love - when it says hope, its hope in - it’s not optimism. It’s not American, I feel good every day and every way I’m getting better and better, all this kind of ludicrousness. This is why Jeremiah, even when he gets cut down and he’s dying to his own degree to which he’s taking a specific sense of how God’s supposed to work his will out, can still say "I know the plans for you to give you a future and a hope." God will still be God. And I want you to go forward from here understanding God is still in charge of the universe and God can handle this! I deal with conservatives, and you’d think that the situation in the Episcopal Church is so bad God can’t stand it! And He can’t handle it! And I want to say, "What kind of faith is this?" This is ridiculous. God’s doing fine, thank you very much. What the future holds is far from clear, but my hope is in the Lord. Think about what Abraham really did when he put his son up there, I mean in the book of Hebrews it kind of hints and it says, well, he trusted in the promise to such an extent that if his son got wiped out maybe there’d be some kind of resurrection, something. It’s quite an amazing statement - how could he possibly think that way? This is way back in the ancient Near East in the early period. How in the world - there’s no doctrine of resurrection running around. I mean back then, as it says in the book of Genesis you go down with your gray hair to Sheol, there’s no resurrection. How did he get it - because he had such faith - he believed - when God said, "you look up at those stars and your descendants - as the stars are so shall you descendants be". And he believed the Lord, and it was reckoned him as righteousness. And that is the faith that he had to the extent that even if it meant - even if his son had to go, God was still going to do what He said He was going to do. His confidence was in God. We are to be people of hope.

And the last thing I want to say to you is I just want to give you one illustration. And sometimes this is where you’ve got to research history. This isn’t about us. God has been down this road before. We’ve got to have a sense of perspective. One of my heroes is Charles Simeon. He was the rector of holy Trinity church in Cambridge; he lived from 1759 to 1836. The Church of England when he started was in the most amazingly pathetic spiritual state - you cannot imagine how bad it was. He was converted because he had to go to compulsory communion as a Cambridge undergraduate and he figured he had to have enough integrity to know what he was doing so he tried to read enough to figure out what communion meant. And the more he read, the more upset he got. Until he read a book which said the Jews knew what they did when they confessed their sins on the head of the scapegoat, and we too as Christians lay our sins on the head of another. And he was sitting there in his room at Cambridge and all of a sudden he realizes, "Oh, my gosh!" And he has this dramatic conversion because of compulsory communion from a hopelessly unspiritual university which required it of him! When he begins his ministry, his ministry is about as bad a beginning as you can get. The church wardens hated him so much that they had shares in the church as well as pews, all the pews were owned - we have parishes like this in South Carolina - the people who owned their pews all closed their pews and didn’t come. So the only place you could sit was in the chairs in the back of the church - and the cantankerous church wardens came just before the church service and threw all the chairs into the street. That was the way he began his ministry. And he served there for fifty-four years. Let me read you one description of his early years of ministry. Listen to this - this is from one of his friends. "He stood for many years alone. He was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented. His little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized. Disturbances were frequently raised in his church, or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of being a regular clergyman in the church." Does that sound like fun? Now let me tell you about the end of his ministry. When he finished and died in 1836, to this day, it was THE most spectacular funeral the town of Cambridge has ever seen. They closed all of the colleges. They closed all the shops in the principle part of town. As the funeral procession began to move from the college hall it was preceded by choristers, scholars, and fellows. Here’s an eyewitness account. "You know the King’s great court and noble chapel. The procession around the quadrangle usual on the burial within the precincts of a college resident was very striking. The persons who made up the procession walked three or four abreast nearly extending around the four sides of the quadrangle." He goes on and on and on - the whole place is packed out as far as the eye can see - they shut down the town for this guy! "I should think", he goes on to say, "that no person who was present could ever fail as long as he remembers anything to carry with him a powerful remembrance of that day. Turning to my old recollections, I could scarcely believe it possible that Mr. Simeon could be so honored at his death. His very enemies, if any of them had lived so long seemed now to be at peace with him."

Don’t you believe that there isn’t a future that’s different out there? Nobody is saying it isn’t tough right now - it’s very tough. And we need one another and we need to depend on the Lord. But we have confidence grounded in the character of God. And we have a future - and we have a hope.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord, and thank you all for your time.
21 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook

A truly remarkable series. Thank you Kendall and thanks to all the transcribers for typing it out.

I have a blog thingy

[1] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 12-20-2007 at 07:53 AM • top

That’s a great story about Charles Simeon at the end. Inspiration for those times when nothing seems to be happening!

[2] Posted by yohanelejos on 12-20-2007 at 08:07 AM • top

Bless you Canon Harmon and the faithful witness you bring to this time in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.


[3] Posted by miserable sinner on 12-20-2007 at 08:45 AM • top

Yes sir -—My main conviction is that time is running out for the orthodox. You see, if resolution doesn’t come before Lambeth 2008 then there is no hope ... you in SC are a little more insulated from it , but we just saw it today, each go-round, each church that leaves, it gets harder and harder for the ones that stay it’s getting uglier and uglier - you don’t want to be the last ones.

[4] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 12-20-2007 at 10:25 AM • top

Rowan is a catholic, a very strong catholic, by the way.

I find this an extremely odd statement, for his actions do not demonstrate a desire for unity with the whole. In a broad sense ecumenically with the broad Church (RCC, EO, SBC, Pentecostals) or narrow sense, for GS certainly has the majority of members it about the same side as the liberal provinces, but it seems he allowing the tail to wagging the dog (based on money?). Catholicity would do whatever to take to preserve the whole (which would have meant discipline of TEC a long, long time ago), just as the RCC does to aberrant bishops to preserve the whole.

So the use of this world by Kendall+ about ++Williams or ACI appeals confuse me as to the use of term. The actions (or lack of action) are   bringing about lack of universality in both the broad and narrow sense of the situation. In once sense I’m writing extremely critically of the misuse of this word, but in another questioning to what on Earth is actually meant by this strange use of it.

[5] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 12-20-2007 at 12:42 PM • top

I must add that Kendall+ ends VERY well! Amen to the definition of hope, even after giving a real assessment of the future for Dio SC, other very naked truths, the Simeon+ story is even more powerful.

[6] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 12-20-2007 at 01:12 PM • top

I listened all they way through yesterday…the history is excellent..I’m sure many of us can but wonder how we missed all this along the way..which brings us to the much asked question…what now? do we remain loyal and faithful?  lead our children and grandchildren?  I have to agree it is probably time to stop hoping/waiting for help from the Anglican Communion.  South Carolina can go about doing what we all would like to be doing….but then you had to jump through the hoops to be in this position.  Most of us would gladly do the work (or we would not spend the time reading Stand Firm and other sites)...if our church is lost; and most of us agree that it is ....and common cause not the answer….

[7] Posted by ewart-touzot on 12-20-2007 at 01:40 PM • top

you get these mediocre ecclesiastical bureaucratic managerial pastoral types

Yep, and we keep electing them because they speak the language that everybody (the people who come to convention) think is right.  “He’s pastoral.  She has a degree.  He’s a good manager.  She’s tolerant.”  All of which can be good qualities as part of a whole package, but none of which says a thing about Apostolic leadership.

[8] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-20-2007 at 03:19 PM • top

there’s a new group that’s sprouted up in South Dakota in the last year and a half that’s driving the bishop crazy, so…


[9] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-20-2007 at 03:33 PM • top

#9, Fr. Tim, my friend,

Way to go with your AAC chapter!  “He has cast down the mighty form their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.”  I hope you drive +Robertson so crazy that he takes early retirement.

David Handy+
Sioux Falls native

[10] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 12-20-2007 at 08:56 PM • top

As a member of the organization it is the Communion of Laity and Clergy. I believe it was named this as the Clergy can’t operate without the Laity.

[11] Posted by Baruch on 12-21-2007 at 01:01 AM • top

We woke up in a company that was selling Coke, and now they’re selling Pepsi.

Now this is quite beyond the pale - to equate Coke with orthodoxy, and Pepsi with revisionism. The truth is surely the opposite.  Who was it after all that created “New Coke?” 


[12] Posted by carl on 12-21-2007 at 08:45 AM • top

Carl, you need to embrace pluriform fizz.

[13] Posted by Connecticutian on 12-21-2007 at 09:41 AM • top

#12, Carl,

Actually, there’s a valuable lesson in how Coke managed to come back from that marketing fiasco over “New Coke.”  The bright guys in Atlanta woke up quickly and dumped New Coke in a hurry when it went over like a lead balloon.  And they actually turned all the publicity to advantage by stressing the merits of “Classic Coke.”  And what do you know, Coke has increased their dominance and market share dramatically in recent years.

Indeed, I think there’s a lot we could learn about successful marketing from Coke.  Now mind you, I’m not endorsing everything that goes on under the name of marketing the gospel.  I like George Barna and his approach to this large subject, but I’m very critical of the “health and wealth gospel” types who completely distort the gospel in order to make it more appealing to potential consumers.  (Need I name names?  Probably not).  We don’t want to be market-driven, but “purpose-driven” (ala Rick Warren of course).

Still the rapid approach of Christmas reminds me of a wonderful example of good marketing that Coke came up with when they hit the amazing level of selling a billion cokes a day worldwide.  As I recall, the ad went something like this:

A billion seconds ago, Jesus Christ was born.
A billion minutes ago, human life emerged on earth.
A billion cokes ago was…yesterday.

Now if we could only market the authentic gospel half so well…

David Handy+
Lover of Classic Coke (definitely not a Pepsi guy)

[14] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 12-21-2007 at 10:12 AM • top

Waiting thirstily for Pt. IV!

[15] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 12-21-2007 at 12:48 PM • top

Lover of Classic Coke (definitely not a Pepsi guy)

It’s a terrible thing to see the truth suppressed in unrighteousness.

carl wink

[16] Posted by carl on 12-22-2007 at 09:21 AM • top

The story of King David opens with war against Philistia.  Only one person was brave enough to fight the giant—the shepherd boy David, whose faith in the Living God was unwavering (1 Sam 17).  Forty years later, Israel is at war with Philistia.  Four of David’s men face giants and slay them (2 Sam 21:15-22).  Faith in the Living God had spread, but it took forty years of continuous struggle.  This is not a call for the faint-hearted.

[17] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 12-23-2007 at 10:29 PM • top

Hello all, just to point to an update at the top of this post—what was to be the fourth talk [the conclusion] was in this audio version, and in the transcript . . . which explains why there is no separate post of a “fourth talk.”

[18] Posted by Sarah on 12-23-2007 at 11:10 PM • top

Is there a point beyond which differientiation is insufficient?  We joined the AAC, we joined the Network, we cut off money to the national church, we put Anglican on our sign, the vestry has issued mulitple resolutions, we formed a coalition within our diocese…these all made us stand out within the Episcopal Church, we attracted orthodox members from surrounding TEC churchs that were less orthodox, thus making the makeup of our own church more orthodox, but these things have increased the pressure to move towards the CCP.  What is there left to do that would further differentiate us?  It is part of my task to consider these issues over the Christmas break…

[19] Posted by johnp on 12-25-2007 at 04:21 PM • top

JohnP, thanks for sharing, and I hope things clarify for you over this Christmas season. If I could take one thing you wrote:

these all made us stand out within the Episcopal Church, we attracted orthodox members from surrounding TEC churchs that were less orthodox, thus making the makeup of our own church more orthodox,

Kendall mentions that the laity hold the key to things happening. Here is a case in point: a lifeboat approach. Is this then a model for differentiation and structural relief happening at once? If so, I’m troubled at the thought of forming a single orthodox congregation if, under appropriate (lay) leadership, several orthodox congregations could have been formed. Perhaps in this case, there was no other solution…but what if it becomes a model, or even the model?

[20] Posted by Siangombe on 12-26-2007 at 01:54 PM • top

Listened to all three audios - bit disappointed.  Although an articulate review of where we are and how we got there along with some insightful self examination of the current orthodox movements, he failed to provided any course of action to resolve the inadequacies of either ACI or the Common Cause side of the house.  In fairness, these might have been revealed in the portioon of the talk where the audio was turned off but all in all ...  was just left with what I call “the whoa me, I am concerned” speech with no solutions offered.

[21] Posted by Rich on 12-31-2007 at 01:49 PM • top

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