Writing propaganda news for an organization that is failing is hard, I’m sure. Still, I have to admit I got a laugh out of this item from the Episcopal News Service, which is entitled, “FORT WORTH: Three loyalist congregations merge”:
The red and gold banner was hand-made; the altar, a card table; the credence (side) table, a TV-tray and hymnals and prayer books were scarce as the Episcopal Church in Parker County met for its first Sunday worship on November 16 in an elementary school cafeteria.
It was one day after a majority of the diocese had voted to realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, but the worshippers from three congregations gathered to celebrate remaining with the Episcopal Church.
“I treasure the splendid diversity and tolerance of the Episcopal Church and how marvelously our liturgical life knits us together,” said [Victoria] Prescott, an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Fort Worth. “And I love the way we manage to combine our rich catholic heritage with an understanding that God’s revelation to us continues.”
The group, made up of worshippers formerly from St. Francis of Assisi, Willow Park; All Saints, Weatherford and Holy Apostles Church, chose the McCall Elementary School because “it is located in one of the fastest-growing areas of Texas and we do intend to reach out to the community,” said Prescott.
The Rev. John Keene, a retired priest who led the congregation’s worship, invited the congregation truly to engage all of the Bible. “When you regard the Bible, don’t ignore your queasiness or uncertainty if you run across something that puzzles you or bothers you. God has given you a mind and I ask you to use it. It’s when you start to get fundamentalist about it, that you have a problem.”
Yeah, nothing worse than getting all fundamentalist about the Bible, which is Episcospeak for actually taking it seriously and believing what it says. Anyway, the punchline is in this:
“I like being an Episcopalian,” said Victoria Prescott, who helped organize the gathering of about 20.
So, while the headline claims that “three loyalist congregations merged,” it turns out that this means that 6 or 7 people from each of these three churches got together to start one of which ECUSA will actually approve. The three congregations in question are still very much separate, but united by a common faith in Jesus Christ, and still very much alive and active in ministry. (Their average Sunday attendance ranges between 80 and 115.) Each suffered a regrettable (and small) loss as a result of their diocese’s departure from the Episcopal Church, though I expect that they may be able to make those losses and then some back without the monkey of ECUSA on their backs. In any case, I don’t think there’s any way, other than in the mind of a blind institutional loyalist, that one could say that anything has “merged” here, much less three churches.
But at least they aren’t fundamentalists.