The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is planning to withdraw from the Episcopal Church. The Bishop, Bob Duncan, has received a this letter of stern warning from presiding bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori.

Bishop Duncan has given this pugnacious reply.

Anglicans the world over are facing the divide within their church which is now clearly evident. It is between those who wish to follow the faith once delivered to the saints and those who wish to alter the faith according to the times and culture in which they live.

Most Protestants, when faced with deep disagreements, go blissfully on the way of schism and further schism. Anglicans face the disagreements with a deeper agony because they really do value the idea of apostolic succession and the desire to be part of the historic church. Therefore, when they are faced with the need to break away from their church they are bound to ask some difficult questions: where shall we go? If they wish to remain Anglicans they only have two choices: start yet another breakaway Anglican church or join one that already exists.

Some are trying to pioneer a third way: to remain within the wider historic Anglican communion by aligning their churches or dioceses with overseas bishops who are orthodox.

This sounds like a better option, but what do they do when that bishop or that diocese does something with which they cannot agree? Do they then pull out of that alignment and seek another alignment with another bishop with whom they are in closer agreement? If so, how are these new ‘alignments’ different from the already existing Anglican breakaway churches?

I do not wish to take a judgmental tone or a ‘holier than thou’ tone in this post at all. I really am intrigued by what is going on at the moment. There is a revolution within Anglicanism that (because of increased mobility and global technology of communications) is allowing religious alignments and alliances to develop which never could have been imagined before. Where it will all go and how it will all pan out remains to be seen.

We need to watch and wait and pray for our Anglican brothers and sisters who hold to the historic Christian faith. If only more of them would see that the great cruise liner called The Queen Mary is waiting with lifeboats to rescue them from their shipwreck and welcome them aboard. The Catholic Church is a battered old ship, with not a few leaks of its own, but she’s still sailing. Peter is still at the helm, there’s plenty of the old glory even if it’ getting shabby and faded, and most of all there is plenty of room for all.