Friday, January 8, 2010

Will there be any kind of Anglicanism left on the Northern Plains?

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has a new website. But if you click on the "Find a Parish" tab under "Connect," and start clicking on the states that make up the Northern Plains, you will find barely ten total congregations.

The Episcopal Church (TEC), longer established as Anglicanism's face here, is small and declining.

In South Dakota, there's not a single ACNA congregation, and the last few years have seen the Episcopal Diocese closing churches while suffering one of TEC's biggest drops in average Sunday attendance.

The numerical picture confirms Sarah Hey's analysis of Anglican futures in North America (emphasis added):

"As I predicted now years ago, liberal TEC will have relatively-speaking thriving parishes on the west coast in urban areas, and in the NE in highly populated urban areas, and one thriving parish in each of the ten major cities in the SE. Alternate Anglican entities will be capable of establishing relatively thriving parishes in the large urban areas like Raleigh, Atlanta, etc, and in a few exceptional pockets like Plano, Texas, Falls Church [VA], etc, etc. The rest of the US, in the rural areas, and in the large patches of fly-over middle America, and in between the two or three massive cities in some industrialized states . . . A wasteland."


The Archer of the Forest said...

I saw this aspect of urbanization of the Episcopal church when I was in seminary, and it always made me absolutely disgusted. People would ask me something along the lines of what I thought my calling was in ministry, and I'd reply with "small town or rural ministry."

I would invariably end up with one of those "crickets chirping" moments, while they stared at me in that awkward silence as if I had said I wanted to be a missionary to Xarnac race that farmed the canals on Mars.

Granted, the Episcopal Church historically seldom went out of its way to be a frontier church. South Dakota being a bit of an exception. With its intellectual snobbery which goes back centuries, TEC talks a good talk about social justice ministries, but getting an Episcopalian from the coasts to actually get involved with something like a "learn to read" literacy ministry, forget about it.

Case in point, I direct your attention to the dean that just left my alma mater, Seabury. For all intents and purposes, he came in while I was there, and in 5 years, shut down the seminary, fired almost the entire staff, sold off the property, axed the M.Div. program, etc. He preached the most radical, leftist social justice sermons I've ever heard on a regular basis, but what does he do after all this? He takes a cushy job as rector of an affluent, white parish in one of the richest suburbs of Detroit.

A lot of clergy talk the talk, but when the money is down...they follow it like mice to cheese.

Chip Johnson+, SF said...

As the former vicar of such an Anglican presence on the Plains, (St. Francis Anglican Mission in Hot Springs) and a now retired priest with no place to go...ostensibly since I have no active congregation to clerk...

ACNA and AMiA have both been approached for association, along with the old FACA and APA, with no results...not even returns by phone or mail.

I am constrained from following the Anglican Ordinate of His Holiness for several reasons, and am therefore a vowed Franciscan with no Order, and a priest with no cure.

We were the only congregation within over 1500 miles who used the 1928 BCP Eucharistic liturgy (I was ordained under it several years ago) and besides that there is only one TEO congregation who uses Rite I with any regularity...over the protests of their priest...but if he changed, they would walk.

My day for sour grapes, Tim+, sorry.

Please pray for us that vision not be lost.

Fr. Chip, CoJ-S

TLF+ said...

Chip+,I know you are a Franciscan, but your comment is so Carmelite... you are like Elijah in the wilderness. May the Lord speak to you in that still, small voice. May he deploy angels and ravens to bring you sustenance for the "what's next" he sees for your life.

Archer, why you would cast the Xarnacs as unworthy of our attention is really disturbing.

But you provide good (if sad) history... the snobbery of the church (C of E and Episcopal) remains costly - we are seldom in position to reach those who need the Gospel and its power! We ape our own cultured despisers and wonder why the pews continue to empty.

Of course there's the Anglo Catholic heritage of taking on the slum and dock parishes that the establisment church despised... lift up that cup of salvation!