Strife and Contention

A gathering of Remain Episcopal in the Diocese of San Joaquin, heard professors from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) speak about the “the diverse and sometimes contentious nature of all Christianity and the Episcopal tradition.” According to Episcopal News Service approximately 90 people attended the program, “Common Prayer, Uncommon People: The Episcopal Church,” held June 23 at Holy Family Episcopal Church in Fresno, California, exploring the 400-year history of Anglicanism in North America from Jamestown to California. This is the second event sponsored by Remain Episcopal, a network of Episcopalians from the Diocese of San Joaquin who don’t agree with the diocesan leadership, which is disaffected with the Episcopal Church. Episcopalians from the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Dallas also attended the gathering.

Five CDSP faculty members led the event’s presentations and discussions.

A celebration of Holy Eucharist used the 1604 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the edition used at the Jamestown, Virginia settlement. The Eucharist was followed by discussions centered on church history and unity.

The Rev. Dr. Linda Clader, academic dean and professor of homiletics, preached at the Eucharist, quoting from the 16th century Book of Homilies, an authorized collection of officially sanctioned homilies read to congregations by the largely uneducated clergy of the time. Choosing an excerpt from the “Homily Against Strife and Contention” subtitled “A Sermon Against Contention and Brawling,” she quoted, “If one member be pulled from another, where is the body? If the body be drawn from the head, where is the life of the body? We cannot be joined to Christ our head, except we be glued with concord and charity one to another.”

Clader spoke about contention and disagreement in the early Church. “When there were still people walking the streets who had known Jesus face-to-face, the Christian community was arguing,” she said. “They argued over who could share a meal. They argued over whose party represented the ‘real’ church. They argued over whether you were really a Christian if you didn’t exhibit certain spiritual gifts.”

Clader said that the “ancient theologians” talked about Jesus’ oneness with the Father in terms of movement — “a kind of dance among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

“It’s just possible that this is what Christian unity looks like,” she said. “A body, as St. Paul said, with many parts, a dance with many dancers, a song with many voices.”

Read the whole article and what other professors shared here

In dioceses where the leadership appears to be attempting to leave the Episcopal Church, faithful Episcopalians have organized to support one another and show that they wish to remain within the Church. A list of these organizations is here

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