Earlier this year, the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America voted to approve a full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church. This past weekend, the Southern Province, in which I served for fourteen years, did the same. According to the Episcopal News Service:
The Southern Province of the Moravian Church voted Sept. 10 to enter into full communion with the Episcopal Church.
The 121-74 vote came after two hours of debate during an afternoon session on the second day of the church’s Sept. 9-12 quadrennial Provincial Synod at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said after learning of the decision, “I am delighted that the Southern Province has discerned the rightness of a full communion agreement with The Episcopal Church. Together we will be better able to serve Christ our chief Elder and all God’s people.”
If I were still in the Southern Province, I would have been forced to vote against this, if for no other reason than that the Episcopal Church is led by such a condescending, dictatorial person as Bishop Schori. There would have been lots of other reasons, but I wouldn’t have wanted to get anywhere near an organization led by her without benefit of a surgical mask, a cross, and some garlic or wolf’s bane.
The resolution passed by the synod noted that “the purpose from the beginning of our dialogue with the Episcopalians was clearly stated and remains that together we might work to further the witness and mission of Christ’s Church.”
The Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church’s officer for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, spoke to ENS after the vote and said that the Episcopal Church is “not of one mind” on certain theological issues.
Ya think? I’d love to know how the two denominations are going to “work to further the witness and mission of Christ’s Church,” when Episcopalians can’t even agree on what that witness and mission is.
“I firmly believe that this is something that we can struggle with together,” he said. “We can move ahead despite our disagreements. In fact, I think we’re called to move ahead with disagreements. I appreciated the honesty and clarity with which the debate went on here — the fact that people were clear and honest about where they feel there are some disagreements. I don’t think full communion requires us to reach unanimity on those [disagreements]”
The Moravian Church does not allow service by openly gay and lesbian members, but the church’s international body, the Unitas Fratrum, has said the issue is not a doctrinal matter, Ferguson has noted.
Of course, since the affirmation of homosexual behavior has seemingly become the raison d’etre of the Episcopal Church, this would naturally come up. Presumably since the Moravian Church’s international governing body (which is called the Unity Synod, by the way–“Unitas Fratrum” is the Latin name of the world-wide church, the “Unity of Brethren”–you’d think the ecumenical officer would have bothered to learn this at some point in the decade-long discussions) has declared that the gay issue is “not a doctrinal matter,” Bishop Schori’s minions will go right to work to try to change Moravian minds on the subject.
Twelve years ago, I wrote and the Southern Province synod passed a resolution calling on the province to ““seek the opening of bilateral dialogue with other churches, including some with whom we had no historic connections.” (As I originally wrote it, I gave examples to make clear I was not talking about churches in the historic Protestant mainline. Rather, I was talking about Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostals, evangelicals–you know, people who were not basically like us. That intention got edited out in committee, but I still made the point during the floor debate.) I even joined the province’s ecumenical affairs committee to help carry it out. Over the next four years, my intention was completely ignored, and two years after my departure, an article in the provincial newsletter mentioned this resolution in connection with full communion talks between the province and the Episcopal Church, the PCUSA, the UCC, the Disciples of Christ, and the Reformed Church in America–denominations with which the Moravian Church had had relations for decades through the World and National Council of Churches, and exactly the kind of denominations that I was not referring to in that resolution.
The fruit of that process is now in place. The Moravian Church is now tied, as if to an anchor, to a denomination that has essentially jettisoned the gospel, and whose out-of-control leadership is spending millions of dollars each year persecuting orthodox Christians who can no longer abide its rampant heresies. I hope the members of the churches of the Southern Province are happy with what their delegates have wrought.
(Hat tip: Hampton.)
UPDATE: I changed the headline on the post to make sure my Anglican friends know this is about the Episcopal Church. I’ve also changed the link accordingly, so if you’ve already linked to it, please update your link.