I wrote this piece yesterday for the Episcopal Cafe. Please read it first before you go on.
A former Episcopalian blogger and a Conservative blog have jumped on this, and are claiming that I (and KJS and the Episcopal Church) want to throw the DOK chapters that belong to parishes that left the Episcopal Church out of the Order. They claim we want to light up the fires (you know what these are called) and hold an inquisition.
Isn't it interesting how when the accountability table is turned their way, it is suddenly an inquisition? Well that depends on where you sit.
It appears that over the past few years, some schismatic Episcoplains and faux-Anglicans have been using an organization of dedicated and prayerful Christian women to drive a wedge into the Episcopal Church at the local level through the Daughters of the King. Some very smart DOK members caught on to this, and have been working on their own to keep the order within the Episcopal Church. They also want to protect the Daughters of the King from becoming nothing more than a religious civic club. Most of all, they want to keep all the strife and division of the Episcopal Wars out of the Daughters of the King. So they have been lobbying their leadership to stop using a by-law originially meant to create "fairness" for Roman Catholic and Lutheran DOK chapters into a tool to take the Order out of the Episcopal Church.
When I asked my own DOK leadership, they said "Oh, them! They are just troublemakers and I hope they just fade away." I presented them with their material, and then I was told that they knew nothing about this. You see, the DOK national council has stonewalled the Episcopal group and threatened their members with lawyers and will not allow public debate over an open parliamentary change.
Locally, I hear pride at the inclusion of Catholic and Lutheran chapters in the Daughters of the King. Episcopalians love to be inclusive and we love to be fair-minded. I appreciate the pastoral sensitivity towards those women who belong to chapters in other traditions and especially to those women whose chapters are now connected to churches that have left the Episcopal Church.
My suspicions are raised, however, when an organization want to make a major change within a parliamentary process and will not allow for public debate.
Certainly, the fullness of the debate has not been shared with the parish priests who support the chapters in their own congregations. My bet is that they hope that if the local group is not scaring the horses, who cares what happens in their national assemblies? This is just wrong.
Once again, the very attributes that make Episcopalians a profound Gospel witness are being used against Episcopalians, this time to divide and conquer the Daughters of the King so that those who have left the Episcopal Church in anger can carry it away as their own prize.
The Episcopal group offered an alternative as a way to offer full membership in the Order in the context of the denominational affiliations of the several non-Episcopal chapters. Apparently, this proposal failed. Read about that here. I am sure that there other creative solutions that can be found.
My concerns are not about institutional purity. It is not about being "throwing people out" or having an "inquisition", it about the integrity of an organization that reaches into many local parishes in most dioceses in every province of the Episcopal Church.
As a parish priest, I do not want the growing and thriving chapter of the Daughters of the King in my own parish to become an occasion for sin and division. There has to be a better way forward.
I urge the National leadership to uncircle the wagons, open up the debate and allow for creative solutions to the serious challenges of a great organization spread among several denominations. They can do this without changing the essential, Episcopal character of the Daughters of the King.
Besides, with open debate, maybe we can be convinced that this is in fact a true discernment to change the nature and character of the order. Maybe we can pray together out in the open and not depend on people in central offices planning legislative outcomes. You know, there would not have been a need for an "Episcopal Community of the Daughters of the King," if the process were open and fair to begin with.
This ought to be a process of discernment includes every local chapter, their sponsoring parishes, their rectors and their Bishops. This is ought to be a full, open and prayerful process. This ought to be about listening and not maneuvering.
This is not an inquisition. It ought to be discernment. It feels like a hijacking.