Things that unite us

Published January 5, 2009

OLD CAL PUT down his copy of the Anglican Journal and shook his head. “We need to stop beating ourselves over the head with issues that divide us,” he said. “Sometimes I think that we’re too theological for our own good.”

We had walked down to the local coffee shop, dodging puddles and mounds of wet snow. He ordered a large tea, bag in, with a healthy dose of milk. When he learned that I was buying, he also ordered an apple fritter. We sat for 30 minutes or so, he with the Journal and me with the daily newspaper.

“Sometimes I think that our church leaders just don’t get it,” he said. “We have a lot of good things to celebrate – look at the Primate’s Fund’s (the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund) 50th anniversary. Fifty years of working with the poor and disadvantaged around the world; refugees, communities and villages – and here we are talking about moratoria and parishes leaving the Anglican church over same-sex blessings.”

“Let’s put our energy into soup kitchens or working with native folk to deal with poverty and injustice. If we’d spend as much time filling up the pews on Sundays as we do on same-sex blessings, we’d be a growing and vibrant church. Where have the children gone? Where are the young adults? Those are the important questions,” he said, as he wiped the last of the crumbs from his beard.

“Certainly we have room within the Anglican church for both points of view. We can disagree about same-sex blessing, but I am sure we all agree that we need to feed the hungry and cloth the poor. Isn’t that more important than getting ourselves in a knot over biblical interpretation?”

“For some, ” I said, “this is the last theological straw. A few churches have left over this issue, but there are a lot of conservative churches that are determined to stay put and to continue the discussion within the church family.”

He mentioned how he had had a conversation with a couple of “kids;” young adults, it turned out. “They really want the church to do two things: provide solid preaching and then put those words into action,” he said. “They don’t take too kindly to this theological bickering.”

Keith Knight is interim editor of the Anglican Journal.


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