Monday, June 19, 2006

Watching a great church destroy itself

Throw in any cliché you wish. Cognitive Dissonance. In a hole and digging deeper. Selfish narcissism. Refusal to understand that something is greater than yourself.

I am not, nor have I ever been a member of the Episcopal Church. I do follow it, because it was once such a great force for good. In the market of ideas that is religion in our free nation, especially Christianity and its variants, you can watch trends by growth or decline. The trends are clear, churches to the right of centerline are growing, those to the left are withering on the vine.
The Yearbook also records the continuing growth of Pentecostal, historic African American and other non-mainline churches in the U.S. Among the largest 25 churches in the U.S., the fastest growing are the Assemblies of God (increasing 1.81 percent to 2,779,095), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (increasing 1.74 percent to 5,999,177) and the Roman Catholic Church (increasing .83 percent to 67,820,833).

Only three mainline Protestant churches are among the ten largest churches: the United Methodist Church (ranked 3 with a membership of 8,186,254), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ranked 7 with a membership of 4,930,429), and the Presbyterian Church, USA (ranked 9 with a membership of 3,189,573). All three churches declined in membership since the 2005 Yearbook was released.
A good review of one reason for the Episcopal’s decline;
One sign is the Episcopal Church’s accelerated membership decline in 2003. After several years of largely static membership, the church experienced a one-year drop of 36,000 souls. The average Episcopal Church has just over 300 members, so that’s the equivalent of shutting down over two congregations a week – a total of 113 for one year. I have no doubt that the membership fall off has continued in 2004.

Church leaders say that the membership decline is because Episcopalians have fewer children than members of other churches. But that doesn’t explain the sudden 2003 dive. Only the controversy over the new homosexual bishop makes sense as an explanation.
If that isn’t enough, they have decided to pick a fight with the Anglican Communion.
Anglicans faced a new crisis on Monday after a liberal female bishop became head of the U.S. branch of the church and an English bishop warned that Anglicanism was in danger of splitting into "two religions."

The consecration of openly gay American bishop Gene Robinson and the blessing of same sex marriages in Canada three years ago have deepened differences between liberals and conservatives among the world's 77 million Anglicans.

Now the broad church, which prides itself on governing by consensus, is braced for fresh turmoil after the U.S. Episcopal Church chose Katherine Jefferts Schori as its first female head.

"It will be a great adventure," Schori promised after her election at the weekend — but the already battered and bruised Anglican community was not so sure.
Hey, not my battle, not my denomination – but it is a warning. If you loose control of something you care about to a dedicated group of Leftists – they will destroy it in order to validate their own misguided, selfish desires - and ignore the foundation of the body they feed on. They will tolerate anything – but opposition.

Whenever I shake my head about going another round about “grape juice vs. wine” at Sunday School, I realize that it could be much worse. Often, I feel more comfortable when I am left of centerline.

Oh, in case you are wondering; I leave female Preachers/Priestesses/etc to each denomination. I will judge someone who is gay when I fix all my sins. This post isn't that simple. Think about it before you pun intended.
While we are at it, from The Corner - don't forget my former church, the neo-Pagan Prebyterian Church USA.
The divine Trinity - ``Father, Son and Holy Spirit'' - could also be known as ``Mother, Child and Womb'' or ``Rock, Redeemer, Friend'' at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action Monday by the church's national assembly.
Besides ``Mother, Child and Womb'' and ``Rock, Redeemer, Friend,'' proposed Trinity options drawn from biblical material include:

- ``Lover, Beloved, Love''

- ``Creator, Savior, Sanctifier''

- ``King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love.''
Can't make this stuff up. Reminds me. I need to get back to The Word. 1 July, Matthew here I come.


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