So one of the things you’ll learn is that I am pretty un-Anglican in my Anglican-ness. The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian community in the world (the others of the ‘Big 3’ being Roman Catholicism and all the flavors of the Orthodox church). There is a lot of drama in the AC right now, and admittedly I don’t follow it too closely. People regularly ask me, ‘did you read this blog? did you hear about what that bishop said?’ The answer is almost always, no. My main concern is pastoring our little church in Arlington (and playing soccer with my kids, a date night with Laurel…). It takes a lot of time.
But we are an Anglican church. There are going to be people who think that’s great AND there will be people who wish the ‘A’ stood for something else. I’m cool with that. We will always be a mixed group. 🙂
One of the features of Anglicanism is that we are a connected system of churches who are under the authority of a bishop. I actually think the Anglican system of polity (good word meaning: governance, leadership authority, hierarchy, who makes the rules, who makes the decisions, etc) is very good because it provides a healthy restraint of checks and balances. In our local church, Restoration will have a vestry— a team of elders made up of men and women who have the authority to hire and fire the Rector (that’s me), must approve our budget and spending decisions, and provide (with the Rector) spiritual covering for the church. They are put there by appointment and by election from the membership of the church. The vestry receives its authority from our Bishop, Dave Bena. He is the one who installs the vestry and who installs the Rector. After my personal submission to Jesus, I am accountable to two different authorities: my bishop, and the vestry. That diffusion of power is good for the church and catalyzes healthy conversation and decision-making.
Bishops can make people nervous because it seems like a lot of power in the hands of one man. But the office is consistently talked about in the New Testament. Bishops (episcopos) and Elders (presbyters) are both provided by God to bring order to the functioning of the church. The power is shared at the local level with the vestry and the Rector. Those three working together creates a powerful synergy.
Tomorrow: how does confirmation play into all of this?