Monday, July 29, 2013

The Essential Gift of the Episcopal Church-- Part 2

I owe a great deal of my teenage years’ achievements to  the power of the Episcopal/Anglican understanding of Christian life and witness and those leaders who inspired me. I felt propelled with courage. I became the president of the student body of Southeast High School in Oklahoma City, a special scholar in science and overcame my fear of standing up and speaking in public. Instead of nearly joining the NROTC with a scholarship, I went to Denver, CO to an international meeting of Episcopal youth in August of 1964 to learn about Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence and by the end of my freshman year of college was accepted by Bishop Chilton Powell as a Postulant for Holy Orders. 

Oh, do you not know what Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence is?  If not and probably not if you are under 50 years old, then I had better go back and catch you up.  (After testing out my thesis in various preaching and speaking engagements, that our seminary education and the excellent University of South’s Education for Ministry may help a student know biblical and ancient church history,  I can confirm that the Church fails to help adults grasp any of our Anglican history in the 20th Century.)  Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence (MRI) was one of the greatest historic and last “effective structures of hope” produced by Anglicanism.

Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ
                                             11 am, Saturday, August 17. 1963

As cited: Three central truths at the heart of our faith command us in this:
The Church's mission is response to the living God Who in His love creates, reveals, judges, redeems, fulfills. It is He Who moves through our history to teach and to save, Who calls us to receive His love, to learn, to obey and to follow.
Our unity in Christ, expressed in our full communion, is the most profound bond among us, in all our political and racial and cultural diversity.
The time has fully come when this unity and interdependence must find a completely new level of expression and corporate obedience.
Our need is not therefore simply to be expressed in greater generosity by those who have money and men to spare. Our need is rather to understand how God has led us, through the sometimes painful history of our time, to see the gifts of freedom and communion in their great terms, and to live up to them. If we are not responsible stewards of what Christ has given us, we will lose even what we have. . . . at the end--

We are aware that such a program as we propose, if it is seen in its true size and accepted, will mean the death of much that is familiar about our churches now. It will mean radical change in our priorities--even leading us to share with others at least as much as we spend on ourselves. It means the death of old isolations and inherited attitudes. It means a willingness to forego many desirable things, in every church.
In substance, what we are really asking is the rebirth of the Anglican Communion, which means the death of many old things but-- infinitely more--the birth of entirely new relationships. We regard this as the essential task before the churches of the Anglican Communion now.

The document was a call to an Anglican revolution. We were called to transform our view and understanding of all our resources: their development, sharing and implementation for massive efforts such as birthing fully non-colonial national Anglican bodies, as self defined jurisdictions. Our Province 9, as it is known today, is one of the major expressions of MRI.

There is vastly more to know, state and understand about MRI; however, for my purpose, it was my personal and for many others their call to serve in the life of the Church as stewards of the Gospel. I use stewards because MRI defined stewardship in what is now both a secular and Church usage as “more than money” and fund raising. A later document adopted by General Convention, Stewardship: the Main Work of the Church, has, as its antecedent, MRI. Empowered and inspired with the hope of a powerful vision, development of many new tools for mission and radical redefinition of jurisdictional bodies, many of us in our twenties came to serve the Episcopal Church.

More later, but for “homework,” here is your personal meditation question: What does Via Media have to do with MRI and what does the loss Via Media mean for radical stewardship?


  1. Ron, I was a new rector when MRI came out and it was a call to action for clergy and people -- that was a good time for ministry.

  2. A time when as a young man, I found young heroes in the Church. . . That is we had seminarians who were young. . . This man was just a few years a head of me in school. He with many others of our time inspired me to tithe. . .

    Civil rights activist Ruby Sales will help honor seminary student killed saving her life in 1965
    Episcopal seminary student Jonathan Myrick Daniels moved Ruby Sales aside and took a shotgun blast that killed him, but saved her life.

  3. Thanks Ron, for taking me back to a time when the church organically was connected to the world wide Anglican Communion in a dramatic and visible way. My parish at the time, Trinity, Arkansas City, Kansas, partnered with the Diocese of Oklahoma to provide a ministry to the Chilocco Indian School in Northern Oklahoma. The school was 3 miles south of Ark City. It was a terrific ministry, mostly lay led under my supervision.

  4. Thank you for reminding us of this great call to action. The Communion doubled in size afterwards.

    My predecessor as Bishop in charge of the Churches in Europe, Stephen Bayne, was the wonderful leader who chaired the Toronto Congress and pressed for MRI.