Mike, I actually agree with you.
This could be 'evidence' that God is real ;-)
The ' both and' is something I've not heard from you before.
I value Anglicanism because it is Anglicanism, as others can't learn from and with us if we ourselves are not 'here' being ourselves (wtih all our dna and our strengths and weaknesses...).
It is the whole bio-diversity thing in church form, we are most valuable to others when we are truly ourselves,' thus Methodists need to be the best Methodists they can, Post Denoms, the best Post Denoms they can, Congregationalists, the best Congregationalists they can, Anglicans, the best Anglicans they can, but as you say, and this is key is that we be who we are *without barriers* to relationships, partnering, and learning from one another in open source wider emerging church networking and fellowship.
I for one am working on the Anglican 'both and.' I value our hierarchy as part of our dna, but I'm also wanting to help reform the hierarchy to be *more* Anglican in practice (which to me is really more free, relational) and working to expand beyond trad. Anglican hierarchy, to add other complimentary expressions that are organized different and yet are still Anglican.
Like I'm trying to see if the Anglican Consultative Council can recognize Anglimergent as a network... which would be a huge leap for them to 'get this,' but I think in today's world, this is possible. + in my local diocese my Bishop, (and our network Protector, Greg Rickel) has given me and a new commission 'free range' to explore and work on Anglican futures that are native to our postmodern, western culture, so our diocesan commission is just getting started at http://www.emergingmission.org
Good stuff, Karen - yeah, I don't want to dismantle the Anglican hierarchy (that would be some pretty laughable hubris, I dare say); I just don't feel called (as you do) to work for reform from within it (and thus while constrained by it).
My rector at my Episcopal church, a cherished friend of mine who is on this Ning somewhere, once asked me (after I'd confided in him that I thought I was discerning a vocation apart from the Anglican priesthood) to pray about whether God was calling me to be a reformer (or, at least, how I might know if that were the case.) I told him that was a really good question, and I meant it, and I prayed about it a lot.
Maybe six months later, I felt like I got my answer in a pretty powerful way - it became clear to me that this system was not only broken (of course I knew that - all human systems are broken) but broken in ways that I couldn't work within. Note that this is a statement about me, my personality and weaknesses - *not* really a statement about Anglican institutions in and of themselves. But I learned that working within the system was not going to work for me - at least not at present.
But since then, I've come to question whether that means I can't be a helpful agent of reform. I think it may be possible to be helpful by by working with/alongside the system, although in different ways than someone working (like you) within/under the system. I think your path is the harder one, and I'm grateful that you have the patience and grace to walk it, sister.
Mike, It is my spiritual struggle to stay inside the system. I tend to give it a belly ache. Just ask my Bishop. I fight so much to dismantle the atom bomb insanity of many diocesan systems that bludgeon missional leaders and initiatives, to the point where I may be thrown out at any moment for insubordination, but I try (and it is hard) to know that the 'right side upping of things upside down' was pioneered by the Lord himself. But I also know, that being a reformer, you will be seen by many, as a trouble maker. But also, waters that are not shaken and stirred and become dead and stagnant.
Thank you for the clarity you bring towards helping Anglicans think about the perversions in our ways. Our greatest strength can often be the source of our great weakness, as strength become perverted away from serving the Mission Dei and is diverted to serving outmoded forms of institution, power and hierarchy. All of our giftings, including our hierarchy, need to be 'broken open' to serving God's priorities rather than burying our heads in the ruins of Christendom and institutional survival.
Each of our diocese could use someone like you as a part of it, to help them cut the crap. But is it quite tiring and sometimes deeply painful to brave the Kryptonite to help your Krypton. I do this each day to try to reduce the toxic waste produced by the ruins of modernist church, but in the process I get a heavy dose of it, so I pray God will help me survive the fumes, as it what is underneath the crap and crust of 'modernist' Anglicanism, that gleams.
I have to admit that I've been absent for most all of past conversation within this network, so my question may be very redundant - and you can tell me so.
Yet... When there is talk of "reform," the question that always comes to mind - "Reform what, exactly?"
Does the reform simply attempt to make us into something that already exists - UCC, Lutheran, UU, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Roman Catholics, Charismatic, Congregationalist, etc., or does the call for reform work to improve what we are traditionally and the distinctive elements that makes us what and who we are? If it is the case that the result of the reform effort will transform this Church into something that already exists somewhere else, then why not simply save everyone the trouble and migrate to the communion/fellowship/tradition/denomination that better fits our disposition? That is what I did when I moved on from my former tradition and chose to become an Episcopalian over all the other options before me.
Can/will either of you, Karen or Mike, delineate a couple examples of the things that you are trying to reform?
Of course, what is considered needing of reform is a matter of perspective to a great degree. Coming out of a Pentecostal/Charismatic-Evangelical background into Episcopalianism/Anglicanism and now serving in an more progressive Prayerbook-Catholic (Anglo-Catholic) parish, what I think needs reform and what I think is of great value and needing to be retained will perhaps be quite different then from cradle-Episcopalians or those coming from a Roman Catholic or Lutheran, etc., background.
All of this is person, I know, and for me coming from the type of background I came from (fiercely independent, entrepreneurial) to take a vow of obedience to a bishop and hierarchy and official teachings of the Church was a monumental accomplishment for me, but I meant it.
Speaking for myself, I don't know that I can say that I'm actively trying to reform anything in the Anglican Communion. I've begun to wonder whether it might be possible for individuals like me, and communities like the one I'm a part of, which are not formally within any Anglican hierarchy, to be helpful to those within Anglican hierarchies who are interested in reform. But I don't know what form(s) that might take. However, given open lines of conversation and friendship, it seems possible.
That said, I'm fairly convinced that the Church as a whole would benefit (and be able to better bless the world) if the following occurred in many or all of its traditions, including Anglicanism:
1) Broad openness to experimentation at the congregational level. In order for "emergence" to occur in a church context, communities of Christians need to have broad freedom to innovate, risk, create, and fail. This means that the ecclesial powers-that-be would need to grant broad permission for free experimentation in certain contexts. In some contexts (eg. some congregational, non-denominational, and evangelical ones), there is much freedom in structure and form, and little freedom in theology/doctrine. In other contexts (including many Anglican ones), there's much freedom in theology/doctrine, but very little in structure, form, and practice. But theology and practice go hand-in-hand, and for the future of the church to emerge organically, communities will need broad (not necessarily total) freedom in *both* spheres.
2) A repentance for prioritizing institutional survival ahead of the mission of God. Churches need to be willing and able to follow the example of our Lord, and sacrifice and die for God's mission and to be a witness of the ways of God's Kingdom. (When I say "die", I'm talking about institutional death, not individual martyrdom - that's another topic.) This is rare in the Church, including Anglicanism, as is eminently displayed by the current ideological struggles within the Communion. I could elaborate on this if you want me to.
3) A repentance for rampant clericalism throughout the Church. From the Roman Catholic Church to the most independent congregational church, the stratification of our Lord's disciples into professional Christians on the one hand, and "the person in the pew" on the other, is a scandal. We need communities in which it is impossible for a reasonable person to suppose (consciously or not) that he can pay someone to follow Christ in his stead - in which every Christian is an active disciple, minister, and priest. Such communities are extremely rare in any part of the Church. Note that I am decrying clericalism, not clergy. It is possible to have ordained clergy without having this stratification - but in my experience it's rare.
I admit that I find it difficult to imagine how these changes would look within the structure of the Anglican hierarchies (but Karen imagines such things all day long, and probably in her sleep as well, which is only one reason why she rocks). From what I know of them, though, Karen's Church of the Apostles in Seattle, and St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco, along with a number of "Fresh Expressions" communities in the UK, are exemplars of these sorts of possibilities. I'm sure there are many others.