The sturm und drang of Anglicanism seems quiet of late, but it’s a deceptive calm. It’s not a good kind of calm. The disintegration quietly continues but the contending parties have long since pretty much quit talking to each other. They wonder what the point is. Meanwhile, average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church continues to skydive. The leadership of the Global South appears to be at odds within itself over whether it’s even a worthwhile aspiration to maintain the institutional and organic integrity of the worldwide (Canterbury-based) Anglican Communion. There’s a spat over the incumbency in an American seat on the Anglican Consultative Council. The Anglican Mission in America announced just days ago that it is stepping back from integration into the Anglican Church of North America, a major disappointment for many. And, of course, a week after a controversial episcopal consecration in Los Angeles, the deafening silence from Lambeth Palace drapes like a funeral pall over the hopes of those who long for a communion reconfigured and revived by a documented covenant.
This past week, I journeyed once again to Nashotah House, my seminary alma mater of 21 years, for Alumni Day and Commencement. I wrote about the same trip last year, and am pleased to report that I picked up the same vibe once again, possibly even amped up a tick or two. My enduring mental snapshot this time includes a thoroughly mainstream centrist TEC bishop walking in procession next to a former TEC bishop who is now, in the official eyes of TEC top leadership, deposed from the ordained ministry. Such details didn’t seem to matter. A Canadian bishop was awarded an honorary degree, the retired Bishop of Rochester (Church of England) preached the finest graduation homily I have ever heard, at Nashotah or elsewhere, a priest from Malawi received an advanced degree, students from the ACNA and the Reformed Episcopal Church got their MDivs alongside their TEC classmates, and alums who have left Anglicanism itself for Rome and Orthodoxy made their spiritual communion and participated with enthusiasm in every part of the liturgies save their denouement.
To paraphrase a question that should be familiar to my Baby-Boomer colleagues: What if they gave a schism and nobody came?
I am very grateful to God for Nashotah House. For a brief shining moment at this time each year, it is an eschatological sign of the answer to that question.