Posted by: Fr. C. | October 4, 2017

The Grand Convergence-Day 2

LukeEv

Dunwoody, Georgia.

If a number of Christians from various groups frequently working at cross purposes for 40 years gathering in prayer and harmony gets your attention, then today was a pretty good day here at Joint Synod 2017.  Folks from all over the country were gathering in an almost festive atmosphere.  Friends greeted old friends.  New friends were made. Exhibitors ranging from vestment sellers, to Anglican book publishers, to flourishing schools contributed to the carnival.

Bishops of the groups held meetings behind generally behind closed doors, while the working clergy and lay folk made introductions across the divides of the traditional Anglican alphabet soup, and a number of long separated acquaintances caught up on events.

Not surprisingly, there were no shattering announcements.  Folks across the gathered jurisdictions acknowledged the same common difficulties: aging and small parishes,  clergy shortages and educational shortfalls, lack of adequate clergy pay, the need for modern teaching materials, and appeal to a new generation.  These were discussed informally in sidebars and over meals.  The bishops circulated in the crowd and certainly heard those concerns.  Yet, the mood was very upbeat, and talk of the victories of the last 40 years was the dominant theme.

The take away from day 2 is anecdotal and best summed up in a few major points.

  1.  There are far fewer former Episcopalians than in years past. Many are from other denominations,  These folks are aware of the struggles in the separation from that body, but have no stake or interest in them.  They are happier and less prone to Angricanism.
  2. The passing of several personalities from the scene have made this meeting possible,  It underscores that the differences have been personal rather than theological.
  3. There are a number of young clergy.  Not enough, but more than in past gatherings.  They are attracted by sound liturgy, reverence, sound teaching and the mysteries of the faith.
  4. There is a growing interest in Anglican schools, particularly at the secondary level and among home schoolers.
  5. Clergy and lay folk have been moving back and forth across jurisdictional lines for some years no, and all but the most sectarian and hardened Angricans understand the need for and desire unity.

To be sure, these are scattered impressions based on a day of “walking and talking”, but the mood is that this a moment long in the making, and long overdue.  Rumors, of course, swirl, and the major excitement is focused on the possible attendance by Bp. Jack L. Iker, of the Diocese of Ft. Worth and bishops and clergy of the Polish National Catholic Church.  These have not been confirmed at this writing, but their presence would buoy an already enthusiastic crowd.

The business meetings of the various provinces begin tomorrow.  Tonight, it was moving to hear hundreds of voices at Evening Prayer, particularly in the concluding hymn,

  1. The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
    The darkness falls at Thy behest;
    To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
    Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
  2. We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
    While earth rolls onward into light,
    Through all the world her watch is keeping,
    And rests not now by day or night.
  3. As o’er each continent and island
    The dawn leads on another day,
    The voice of prayer is never silent,
    Nor dies the strain of praise away.
  4. The sun that bids us rest is waking
    Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
    And hour by hour fresh lips are making
    Thy wondrous doings heard on high.
  5. So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
    Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:
    Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
    Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway. Amen.

This writer left with a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes.

 


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