Pesky loyalists... faithful to their vows and citizenship....
Went to another church last night to give a talk --way out in the middle of nowhere rural church that's been there since 1704... and, of course, Joel was related to everybody. There were 55 people there --midweek dinner, for a history lecture from me on the Revolutionary era church.
Did you know that according to the Virginia Historical Society there were 100 active Anglican parishes with 109 clergy in Virginia in 1776 --church part of the state, clergy paid by the colony.... After war was declared, 17 clergy fled-- they felt because their ordination vows tied them to the crown, and they wouldn't couldn't break their vows, that it was just better to hightail it outa here. About 50 clergy broke their vows and became revolutionary --and the rest either died or remained silent... didn't take a stand. And active parishioners in Anglican churches--attendance dwindled.... the church itself was suspect.... because it was part of the colonial state....
If it were not for the big wigs --Washington, Jefferson, Marshall --that ilk, the church in Virginia may not have survived at all. After the war there were only 60 something parishes --not all of them active for Sunday worship, about 50 clergy, the Methodists had left and formed their own parishes --the state took glebe properties...
In the first General Convention in 1784, there was only one unofficial representative from Virginia (priest from Fairfax)... and Virginia vehemently disagreed about the necessity of bishops --and the north had already elected one...
They certainly weren't going to succeed doing the same ol' thang.
So, they didn't. They revisioned the church. Radically. In its polity and involvement of the laity --and incorporated that pesky mysticism of calling on the Holy Spirit in the liturgy, which had been absent--in the prayer book at least, and the Scottish Church, which ordained our first bishops cuz England would not (still demanding an oath of loyalty to the crown).... oh--and, did you know, in the first prayer book, they eliminated the Nicene Creed and changed the Apostles' Creed... talk about the faith inherited once and for all!!! heheheheheheheeee!
If they did it --so can we... if we are willing to look deep and wide for the future of the church --not what makes us comfortable --but the courage to look forward, for those who may yet be only a twinkle in some one's eye.
At morning prayer --a portion of Psalm 42
--they say to me,
"Where now is your God?"
I pour out my soul when I think on these things:
how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God,
With the voice of praise and thanksgiving
among those who keep holy-day.
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?
and why are you so disquieted within me?
Put your trust in God;
for I will yet give thanks to God,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
Yep. Trust God first.
As best as we are able --and if/when we fail... give glory to God, and start again.
So... would you go against your vows --any vows? To what are you loyal?
There we are.
Off I go.
PS --Last night, I did NOT say I was a direct descendant of those pesky northerners --and one of them (Whitman/Wightman of Rhode Island) was a loyalist... I claimed only California as my inheritance --that radicalism perhaps being more acceptable than the old deep wounds.... dear Lord, how long....?