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December 10, 2007
The Internet was awash in forwarded emails and blog postings of the news about the secession of the Diocese of San Joachin from the Episcopal Church. The Bible study couldn't start until we had discussed it. Will other dioceses follow? What will it mean to us? Will there even be an Episcopal Church in that part of California?

Of course there will. If the leadership of San Joachin doesn't want to be an Episcopal diocese any more, someone else will do that. If they are successful in taking all their property with them, as they hope to be, new Episcopal churches will be planted and will grow in other locations. It will be an exciting time and place to be a young priest, I think: to be part of that missionary response, making common cause with those who treasure the comprehensiveness, diversity and respect for conscience most of us have come to consider one of Anglicanism's great gifts.

Maybe it's time for this to happen. It cannot have been to anyone's soul's health to be primarily identifiable by being against things for so many years. There needs to be more to faith than what one opposes. The glamour of seeing oneself as part of a faithful remnant is both seductive and addictive -- will these dioceses, who have nursed their grievances for so long, even know who they are if they are no longer aggrieved? I hope they do, and that now, free from the onerous burden of their association with us, they can turn their energies to better things.

For it must be true that they, like the rest of us, take seriously the duty we all have to care for those in need. I hope they turn to that work as soon as possible, that they -- and we -- don't choose to squander time, energy and huge amounts of money in protracted fights over buildings and bank accounts. All of us need to ask ourselves if those things are more important than getting free of the malignant tumor of factionalism that has developed its own blood supply and sucked way too much energy from the body of Christ, energy urgently needed by a world that longs for the love of God and doesn't even know it.

And one thing more: this moment in history will come to an end. The time may come when we are one again. We need to welcome that moment with an open heart. Let's keep the door open and leave the porch light on.
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