BREAKING THE SILENCE
A few years ago, I sent an e-mail to Greg Griffith, the redoubtable webmaster of StandFirminFaith.com. He wrote back, "You're kidding me! We just figured there were no orthodox Anglicans left in Newark any more."
His surprise was understandable---traditional Newarkers are a very silent bunch. We live and worship in what may be the most in-your-face-let's-embrace-the-Holy-Spirit's-New-Thing diocese in the church, and we never say a word. Not to the outside world, not to our clergy, and usually, not even to the other people in the pews.
Still, the numbers--ECUSA's own numbers--show that we are still here. Given the huge number of traditionalists who had already left under Bishop Spong, you would think there would have been no one left to be disturbed when Gene Robinson was consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire.
You'd be wrong. In the year after Robinson's consecration, when the church as a whole lost
3.3% of its membership, this Diocese lost 4.4%. In the home diocese of Louie Crew, where gay and lesbian clergy have become as unremarkable as a tie-up on the Garden State Parkway, where a bishop who built his celebrity on denying every basic tenet of Christianity, was followed by a kindly-seeming man who couldn't bring himself to say 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit", we still lost more people after GenCon '03 than dioceses like Indianapolis, Texas, Southern Carolina,
Kentucky, or Louisiana. And nobody noticed.
When Newarkers leave, they leave silently. They remain at their posts on Vestry, or altar guild, or choir--and then one day, they are gone. They have found a different parish, or (more likely) a different church --or no church. They don't tell anyone about it---that would be rude, divisive, making waves....unEpiscopalian.
We behave like abused spouses, "playing ball" with people who explain away the Creeds, and preach sermons that are full of abstractions about the Gospel, but have no room for Gospel stories. If we're good, the blow won't be too hard, and we'll still be able to put our souls between the abusers in white collars and our children, and it will look good outside and we'll still be part of the Church, to which we long to be obedient.
Like abused spouses, we don't notice that the strategy isn't working. The Diocese is terrible shape financially, yet it continues to winnow out people and parishes who actually believe all that stuff in the Prayer Book. It uses the search process to grab control of less-than-wealthy parishes, putting one roadblock after another in the path of the search committee, until the now dying parish is willing to grasp at anyone the diocese offers who will be a "real" rector.
The time has come to stand up and display our injuries. We need to show them to each other, so that we know that we' re not alone. We need to show them to faithful Anglicans/Episcopalians in the rest of the church, so that they can pray for us, and strengthen and refresh us. We need to show the true face of the oh-so-tolerant and anti-racist diocese of Newark, so that everyone will understand the full horror of what can happen when a church bureaucracy worships "inclusion" and "social justice" instead of the One who died to redeem us on the Cross.
If you or your parish, as traditional (or even moderate!) Anglicans, have been manipulated or abused by the Diocese or its clergy, please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All names will be kept confidential.