Those of you who have followed the disintegration of the Episcopal Church over the last decade or more know that there has been a significant number of bishops and priests who have been disciplined and/or defrocked for something called “violating the canons.” In the Episcopal Church, the “canons” are essentially the laws that govern the church. Many of the charges that have been brought (almost exclusively against evangelical and Anglo-Catholic dissenters from liberal orthodoxy) have been trumped up. Stand Firm has brought to light a violation of the canons that has not resulted in charges, despite widespread practice.
Canon I.17.7 of the most recent version of the law of the church states this:
No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.
Now, it doesn’t matter whether you or I agree with this practice. The important thing is that this is the law of the Episcopal Church. The very next section says this:
Any person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised.
The web site of the Diocese of Utah is, in light of the above sections of church law, evidence that, if you are in line with liberal orthodoxy, you can ignore the canons of the church at will. The “Who We Are” page states:
We are an openly inclusive community. Our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi continues the commitment of inclusive outreach.
We intend that to be understood as non-discriminatory regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, gender or wherever one might be in one’s spiritual journey. Nearly half of those leading our congregations are women. Most of our congregations practice open communion.
“Open communion,” for those who don’t speak Episcopalian, means, “anyone who walks in the door gets Communion.” The explanation offered at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, whose pastor the Rev. Mariann Budde was recently elected Bishop of Washington, DC, is typical:
At St. John’s we practice open communion. All are welcome to participate fully in worship, including the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Eucharist. After the prayers have been said, please come forward, if you wish, to receive the bread and the wine, symbols of Christ’s presence with us. [Hat tip: Pigeon in Stand Firm comments.]
There is no statement there to the effect that, “all baptized Christians are welcome to the table.” That’s what’s meant by “open communion” (as opposed to the traditional meaning of that term, which is that one doesn’t have to be a member of the local congregation or its denomination to take Communion, but rather all Christians are welcome). It is a practice that, near as I can tell, is engaged in exclusively by the adherents of the reigning liberal orthodoxy in the Episcopal Church.
So when will charges be brought against the clergy of Utah who are willfully violating the law of the church? Or against the bishop for putting his stamp of approval on those violations? When we Rev. Budde’s election to the episcopacy be voided, and charges brought against her for ignoring the law of the church?
You know the answer: