Why I Left the Episcopal Church to Remain an Anglican

One priest's story of (dis)obedience

BY: Matt Burnett

 

Continued from page 1

The decision to leave TEC was very difficult. Late at night, I'd lay awake wondering, “Am I walking away from my brothers and sisters and leaving them in the trenches? Am I embarrassing my Lord, who fervently prayed for the unity of the Church? Am I rejecting my Lord’s example and command to suffer?”

Over and against that were the thoughts inspired by Ezekiel 34 and John 10: “Am I leading a flock, small though it may be, to graze in toxic fields?”

Many think, and have felt free to tell me, that leaving TEC was easier or more comfortable than staying put. That is incorrect at almost every level—financially, interpersonally, logistically—save one. Once I left, I was better able to rest in Jesus’ presence in prayer and gratitude and obedience to Him who had so transformed my own life. I was able to serve Him within a community that, while far from homogenous, shares a commitment to the authority of the Scriptures and the Lord of those Scriptures, however haltingly we live it out.

Much has taken place since those early days. Now, after many meetings and discussions and papers (and misunderstandings and disagreements and revisited hurts), we have the first steps of a new province that will encompass many orthodox churches and dioceses.

What might this mean for my flock, my family, and myself? What might it mean for my country and 21st-century North American culture?

At a daily level, who knows? Half of Holy Trinity Anglican is not from an Anglican background, and so there is very little urgency around these issues for nearly 50% of us. We are also a small church, at about 100 on a Sunday, so most of our focus goes into working hard at being the Church.

But the new province, it seems to me, is largely an issue of identity, and identity does not always have immediate efficiencies. Still, the new province means, among other things, that 21st-century North American Anglicans will be discipled by and submitted to the global south. By their witness, we'll be learning, as a minimum, courage and suffering and passion for Jesus’ honor and glory, and mission to those who do not know and love Jesus.

The new province also means that an orthodox, biblical witness to Jesus will continue in North America by Anglican believers. Plus, other crumbling North American denominations will have a model for dealing with similar issues. Finally, the new province is a promise that the ineffable yet tangible presence of God that makes a group of believers more than the sum of their parts will be our blessing with the joy and life and fullness of God promised by Jesus.

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