Friday, October 10, 2008
"Sickness unto Death"
I haven’t been posting much lately. Since vacation I have found it hard to write about the Episcopal Church. The various depositions of bishops and the continuing elections to leave the church leave me weary of the fight. I am glad that those leaders and those parishes have left. They have not been Episcopalians for some time. But I the malaise that I feel is about the church that remains.
The description of the September Diocesan Clergy conference was so insipid that it left me no longer angry but just tired. When the diocese cannot even afford a speaker to expand or develop the education of the body of clergy in its midst, it has ceased to be a diocese of any import. Or when the topics deal with navel gazing rather than the care and development of their parishes, there is no reason worthy of attending. The place where the conference is held has no chapel or musical center. The times for sharing and places to do so are cramped and uncomfortable. The atmosphere is angry and defensive.
In comparison, the Upstate Synod ELCA had about 1/3 of their clergy in attendance of all ages. There were ways to allow retired clergy to attend. There was a nationally-known speaker speaking on congregational development. It was held at a retreat center that provided a prayerful setting. Liturgy was centered on the tradition and came from denominational prayer books and hymnals. It allowed the clergy to sing the office reminding them of their seminary days and touching important spiritual centers of their lives. The afternoon of the second day was devoted to relaxation and collegiality. There was a golf outing, winery tours, card playing and good place to gather to share our lives and convivial discussion. It was a place and time of welcome and sharing.
I love the Episcopal Church. I have served in 3 different dioceses and under 7 different bishops. Even in the midst of the schism, I have found my denomination a place of energy and faith. But I have a hard time finding such energy or enthusiasm in my diocese. It is sad. The malaise that seems to be attacking the Clergy Conference also seems to be attacking churches in the area too. Kirkegaard may have been right.