Saturday, June 12

Sensus Fidelium

This evening after mass, we had a pot-luck and discussion about what is going on within the ECC and the upcoming Synod. Our little church has grown over the past seven or so years to include some 30 parishes stretching across the US from New York to California, far more than a single individual can minister as a whole. As such, there is discussion about dividing the different portions of the country up into separate areas with a regional head to minister to the congregations within these said areas.

For our own area, the churches within the Rocky Mountain area have decided to form a regional council to deal with matters of inter-church and intra-regional matters. Others have decided that they desire a single person to deal with things in a full time capacity - in short, a bishop. The office of the bishop, at a regional level, seems a reasonable and logical thing and our structure encourages that type of autonomous determination of self-governance. Where things become tricky is that bishops have additional duties which reflect upon the whole of the church. That is where a lot of the discussion came to this evening.

Areas such as liturgical change and policy for the whole of the ECC are within the domain of the Episcopal council (a council of one, at present) and there was widespread concern over the idea that other, more conservative, bishops may impose their ideas in these regards to our church. For myself, though I doubt that any sort of thing might occur in the near to mid-term, that our parish was founded specifically due to the appointment of a conservative RC arch-bishop who unilaterally acted against the RC parish due to it's being "too liberal" in theology and practice is enough to give credence for the concerns of our the folks in our little group today. We've survived that sort of nonsense before and we don't want to have to go through it again.

By the end of the evening, there were a list of questions and concerns which our nine representatives have to go to the Synod in St. Louis. It was a very heartening and quintessentially democratic, American experience. Amusingly enough, it is precisely the sort of thing which the RC church was so adamant about quashing in the 19th-20th centuries. Edumacated people (including wimmen-folk) directly questioning authority and expressing viewpoints which may threaten their perceived authority.

Perhaps the one thing that struck me the most throughout this whole discussion was the level of civility and passion. Even the stones could tell that those who were there had exceptionally deep and abiding love for the parish community and held very strong and passionate convictions. That said, everyone's voice was heard, listened to and considered, no matter if it was the old-timers who have been there since the first mass or folks who have joined the parish just a few months ago.

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