Spiritual Direction Pregame with Link

17 October 2008

Sarx » More than a Job, it’s an Adventure

Ah . . . the more time I’m on this blue marble, the more I believe in the Providence of God and that some people are more connected or in tune with each other at certain times.

Part of me has always been curious about the Independent Catholic movement and drawn to it.  Huw seems to be torn because of the security that the ECUSA and other established denominations offer.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, Huw.)

Part of what makes me feel that pursuing ordination in a small, independent church is not for me is that it’s not to my strength, in addition to not being my calling.  I’m not a very good organizer.  I learned this in my first job after college.  I can work within a system very well, but starting up an organization (like a parish) is not something I think I’m very good at.  I’ve had success organizing things within an existing organizational infrastructure, but it seems as if Independent Catholicism and its like involves quite a bit of from-scratch organizing, and I don’t think that’s what I’m called to do.

And at that point, what is the point?  I’d be a poet and teacher who a dozen or so people consider a priest with an altar in an extra room?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt the legitimacy of Father Chris’s or Bishop Timothy’s or Bishop Laura’s orders, but I realize that many others do.  What good is offering ministry if the people you’re offering it to you see you as a “second rate” or “pretend Priest.”

The other thing, to be honest, is legitimacy.  People hear you’re a member of the Independent Catholic Church or another of the more complicatedly named groups, and at worst they think you’re a crackpot and at best they think you’re just “playing Church.”

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10 Responses to “Spiritual Direction Pregame with Link”


  1. You’re correct about my concern about security (and thus my shallowness). It gets worse the older I get because there would be no security at all for me going deeper in debt to not get a job that wouldn’t cover my debt anyway when I graduated. So why does this bother me? Better the clergy I most respect have all offered their collegial support.

    Regarding the point though, that is exactly the point: forming a small, sustainable Christian community wherein the gifts everyone has are grown towards maturity. For what it’s worth not all Indy churches are tiny groups of 10 in the back bedroom. Some are, of course. SIze isn’t the issue – and I doubt anyone in the room thinks the orders are second rate: why would they be there? You want the Real 100% Thing? Ain’t out there. Come, love, pray, minister, support and eat together. Build the kingdom and lets see where it goes.

    Increasingly as I look at the Indy Movement, I see them as a liturgical parallel to the Emergent Church. (Although some “indy” denominations are over 100 years old.) The “playing church” argument seems only to come from the Catholic end of the spectrum (rather than the Protestant end) and the issue seems to be, If I had a rented room where in we did Bible study, I’d be the local four-square Gull Gospel fellowship, but if I have an altar and we do communion, then I’m playing church…

    Not not sure why that is.

    But if we continue to look in the direction of the EmChurch folks, there is proof in the pudding: huge communities with active ministries and growing budgets.

    All I want is Bible Study with Communion: is that so wrong?


  2. But if we continue to look in the direction of the EmChurch folks, there is proof in the pudding: huge communities with active ministries and growing budgets.

    I think you’re right about that; it’s a very good point. Independent and local *really* local might be the future of Christianity.

    All I want is Bible Study with Communion: is that so wrong?

    No, Harvey Firestein, it is not. I think that’s what most of us want.


  3. Truth issues regarding theology and ecclesiology aside (I’m not here to hector) my first reaction is ‘Not another change of churches’.

    That said I respect any ministry that has a congregation that meets regularly, that is, one that is real not in some collar-lust wannabe’s imagination or solely online as is too true in the indy world. (Not being in communion is not the same as making fun of someone as ‘playing church’.)

    If from-scratch organising is not your thing (as it is not mine) the indy clergy probably isn’t for you.

    I slightly know Bishop Tim and Fr Chris in person as well as two members of the bishop’s congregation. He is very honest about his ministry; he’s not trying to compete with the big churches and tries to minister to those who otherwise would not go to church.

    He’s the one who told me the actual Old Catholic Church (based in Utrecht), having been burned so many times trying to set up churches in America (by clergy going independent), now sends Americans to… your current church, the Episcopalians, as its representative.


  4. Oh, no; no switching churches for me.

    It was more my conversation with my rector in combination with Huw’s post.

    Mostly I got started on the musing because it seemed as if I encountered a somewhat narrow idea of what vocation (specifically ordained ministry) can mean.

    I’m glad to see that the reservations I had about the Independent Catholics, based on others’ perceptions, are largely unfounded.


  5. Jorge – certainly local really local was what the past was about. No online-only or virtual communities for me. And the main concern I have with Indy communities (sacramental or not) is the lack of oversight and accountability. Bishop X or Pastor Y may both be really nice right now, but what happens when they are not nice?

    My weakness is not in the process of organisation: I’ve done that. Nor is my issue in the process of training: I’ve been through two clergy training programmes in two religious traditions. The issue is mutual accountability, straight up. I need someone to call me on my crap from time to time (Fogey does a good job, too) but that is a 360 degree circle – a leader who is above his followers (Bishop, Senior pastor, elder, Metropolitan, whatever) is not the Gospel model either – although it is what various ecclesial communities like Rome, Russian Orthodoxy and Nigerian Anglicans (to name three) have largely become.

    I assume this “Bishop Tim” is someone you both know? I’ve never once mentioned “Old Catholic” nor pretended to.

    Jorge: thanks for this discussion. It continues my own discernment process!

    Serge: I’m never changing churches again. You can quote me on that: There is only one church for me: following God in the way of Jesus. I may, however, see fit to change communities hither and thither.


  6. Bishop Tim Cravens blogs here.

    Old Catholic stuff was Serge and I; most Indy Catholic orders are derived from the Old Catholics, so I think that’s how it got in.


  7. True that (Old Catholic, as well as some Antiochian Orthodox for the mix). But the saner folks don’t go on about their “lists”.


  8. Interesting link. Bp Tim is more conservative and control oriented than some Episcopalians I know of. I learn more and more about the Indy movement every day. If you’ve been reading closely, you know I know it from the inside as well.

    We’re a strange bunch (like any other community)


  9. Strange is probably the right word. I think the Indy movement has it right, even when it’s wrong; that is to say, the proclamation of the Gospel in obedience to the particular needs of a particular community is more than lots of Churches do.


  10. […] a good comment-swap with Jorge (with input from Serge) about the Indy Sacramentalist folks. The crucial question is […]

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