Time to Go

The Episcopalians were in the midst of their orthodox U-turn in the 90’s; they were chucking out doctrine left and right. I recently discovered some humor that floated around some Episcopalian forums and blogs at the time. Self-proclaimed conservative Episcopalians were asking one another, “What do we do now?” The story below was no doubt written by former Episcopalians who were convinced of the denomination’s fall and were left wondering why any remained:

Two aged orthodox Episcopal priests knelt side-by-side in the trendy new diocesan cathedral, waiting for their bishop’s Easter service to begin. It commenced with a lonely, eerie wisp of Tibetan bells wafting through the rafters. Then a chorus of plucked hand-harps took up the icy harmonies, and with a rattling slap of feet from the Puppets of Doom (these Episcopals were conceding nothing to the Romans) the procession down the central aisle began.

After the bell ringers and harpists, came a dancing troop of near naked young men in red Speedos, streamers flying from their wrists. Then something new; six women in purple robes were carrying a larger-than-life-sized Buddha on their shoulders. The bishop brought up the rear, her tresses plaited with white and red ribbons hanging from the edges of her vestment, her brocaded frock matching the colors of the hat she wore which made her a full foot taller than anyone ever measured her.

One aged priest turned to the other and said, “Just one more thing, and I’m outta here!”

Those who have been following the demise of the mainline denominations over the years may have chuckled. I realize the high-brow humor may have prevented some from doing so.

The story was used to decry the fact that despite growing layers of heresy, many Episcopalians never seem to find that “one more thing.” The two old orthodox Episcopal priests will be back at next year’s Easter service aghast when the acolytes enter on unicycles and the homily is given by the head of the local mosque. And the same old mantra will be said by them again, “Just one more thing, and I’m outta here!” Right.

Many evangelicals will find themselves one day asking, “When should I leave my church?” Their pastor has gone “south.” Worship has evolved every week to the point nobody knows what to expect next Sunday. Church relationships have become toxic. Maybe all three of these are occurring. What do you do? How long do you hang in there?

If I may make an observation; albeit one that may surprise you. Whereas in the early years I would have counseled going slow when making such a decision; I must admit something. I have yet to meet someone who left their church and later said, “I wished I would have stayed longer.” I have met many, however, who have left their church and then say, “I wish I would have left years ago.”

It is hard to leave a church; it’s not hard to know you should.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

November 14, 2013

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