Sad but not surprising news from Virginia, where the Official Diocese of Virginia, a constituent but subordinate part of the hierarchal-without-any-congregational-taint-whatsoever Episcopal Church™ has won the right to turn several large, thriving congregations out of their customary churches. The fate of properties acquired by the local-and-very-definitely-subordinate-not-at-all-independent-dioceses is has often been unpleasant to consider. How the Official Diocese of Virginia will resist the opportunity to realize their newly acquired assets into resorts, conference centers, casinos, nightclubs, and possibly mosques will be an interesting sight. The stewardship of buildings is arguably a less important Christian duty, but it is hard to work out how that minor duty is fulfilled by turning a Christian church into a nightclub, or a mosque. Both have happened.
Having control of your own space is certainly an asset to a Christian community. You can just plain do more – more worship, more formation, more outreach. My own community has access to its rented space for only a few hours a week, and that certainly restricts our activity. But it does seem that God is asking those of us in North American to experience a degree of lessened resource, and I think this will in turn force us to look more carefully at our fundamental commitments and at how we interact with each other. Anglicans are infamously squabblesome, and it may be that a leaner church will force us towards better care of one another.
I’ve been slowly coming ‘round to the notion that we are given reformations so that we might shrug off cultural accretions. We are, maybe, being asked to think carefully what we are up to, pray continually for clarity about today’s step, and wait patiently upon God. Without oodles of resources, maybe we won’t run off towards every idea that strikes someone’s fancy.
The Exiles of Virginia (and there’s a neat moniker to go by) will need to keep fresh in their minds that their real communities are intact, and that all will be well.