Newark's mea culpa  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Thanks to bls of The Topmost Apple for this reference to a website created by the Diocese of Newark. The site deals with the search process for a new bishop that took place a few years ago, resulting in the election and consecration of the Rt Rev Mark Beckwith.

The relevant part of the site is a "confession" listing the various shortcomings of this diocese, at least as its members perceived them. The document is astonishing in its candor and exhibits an honesty almost unique in public church statements, where "spin" is typically the order of the day.

The first item in the list states, "We thought that our spirituality would take care of itself, and so we find ourselves embarrassed and feeling selfish in wanting replenishment for our souls."

Another says, "In the past 33 years...The Diocese...has lost 23,875 communicants (46%) and 23 congregations (16%). During the same period...The Episcopal Church lost only [sic!] 16% of their communicants and increased the number of congregations by 2%. We have not started a new congregation since 1989."

"Membership decline is revealing our growing awareness and discontent with the fact that we often lack spiritual vitality, creativity, vision and direction."

"A vast number of people in the Diocese ignore what happens on a diocesan level (except when they are upset about something) because they have neither time nor energy to focus on anything outside their congregations or daily lives."

For most of this time John Spong was bishop; he was consecrated coadjutor in 1976 and was diocesan from 1979-2000. It would be both unfair and inaccurate to blame Spong for all or even most of this pitiful state of affairs. What is obvious is that Spong's wildly doctrinaire take on liberal Protestantism--in some ways he's to theology as Richard Dawkins is to evolutionary biology--does not result in butts in the pews or bucks in the plate. One of Jack's books is Why Christianity must change or die. Looks like if it changes according to his dictates, it will die anyway.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at Tuesday, May 13, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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