Thursday, January 22, 2009

Marion Hatchett on the American Church and Anglicanism

The Anglican arrived yesterday. It contains a "Response to the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award at The General Theological Seminary" by Marion J. Hatchett. The whole response is worth reading and I wish I had been there last October to hear him deliver it. Here are the last two paragraphs:

The American Church always seems to jump way out ahead of the Church of England and our other sister churches, and in a number of respects. One was in giving voice to priests and deacons and to laity (as well as to bishops and to secular government officials) in the governance of the national church and of dioceses and parishes. The American Church revised the Prayer Book in a way that went far beyond revisions necessitated by the new independence of the states. From its beginning the American Church legalized the use of hymnody along with metrical psalmody more than a generation before use of "hymns of human composure" became legal in the Church of England. At an early stage the American Church gave recognition to critical biblical scholarship. The American Church eventually gave a place to women in various aspects of the life of the church including its ordained ministry. The American Church began to speak out against discrimination against those of same-sex orientation, and the American Church began to make moves in establishing full communion with other branches of Christendom.

Historically the American Church has been the flagship in the Anglican armada. It has been first among the provinces of the Anglican Communion to take forward steps on issue after issue, and on some of those issues other provinces of Anglicanism have eventually fallen into step behind the American Church. My prayer is that the American Church will be able to retain its self-esteem and to stand firm and resist some current movements which seem to me to be contrary to the principles of historic Anglicanism and to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
The full talk is online here. The Anglican is a publication of the Anglican Society. 2008 Dues/Subscription = $15 US ($20 foreign) -- I think this is the latest rate -- the figures on the website are out of date.

Updated Friday to point to the text of the paper.


Erika Baker said...

Who does he mean by the "American church"? I find it fascinating that you have the most democratic and progressive church structure, yet you also have the most backward looking contingent of literalist right-wingers.

Europe tends to tread a middle ground, moving more slowly but on the whole, possibly more cohesively.

I may be very wrong here!

Allen said...

Erika, by the American Church, Marion Hatchett means The Episcopal Church. I should have provided context -- Marion Hatchett is a liturgical scholar who was involved in the drafting of the 1979 Prayer Nook and the 1982 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church. He is the author of Commentary on the American Prayer Book.

I think England has proportionately as many "Backward looking literalist right wingers" as the US and Canada.

Erika Baker said...

We don't have anything comparable to your bible belt, there is no credible movement to introduce creationism as science, I don't know a single high profile politician like Sarah Palin.... there's a completely different feel about religion in the US and over here.

The downside is that no Gene Robinson would be possible here, nor a Katherine Jeffert-Schori, as the shameful treatment of Jeffery John has shown and that of Gene at Lambeth, and as our appalling debate on women bishops is confirming again.