Corrected Wednesday, June 27, 2007. I got wrong both the authorship of two previous articles and the ordination history of Fr. Clavier. My apologies. See comments below.
The Episcopal Majority has published an essay called "Coping with a Sinful Church" by the Rev. Tony Clavier, a priest in the Diocese of West Virginia. The blog has published* two previous essays, "Maturity in the Midst of Conflict" and "Sanctification of the Faithful", which, while not intended as a trilogy, together contribute to understanding of what is happening in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Lisa Fox, one of the keepers of The Episcopal Majority, says that in his essay, Father Tony acknowledges that church councils may err and challenges the assumption that all doctrinal development is salutary. He also challenges those who would leave the church over developments they oppose.
I agree with Lisa that Father Tony has particular credibility on this topic, having served as a bishop in the "continuum" before being recieved into the Episcopal Church in 1999.* Fr. Tony serves St. Thomas a' Becket Episcopal Church in Morgantown, West Virginia.
To imagine that it is our duty to “leave the Church” when we perceive her to be in error or sinful is wrong-headed and probably a heresy. It is as heretical to stress the Divine over the Human as to stress the Human over the Divine. The human nature of the Church, unlike the human nature of Christ, is tainted with sin simply because we all are tainted with sin. It is true the Church is redeemed from its sinfulness, as we all are who have gone through the waters of baptism. It is true the taint of sin in the Church does not render the Church totally corrupt, although (to quote the Articles again) she often seems very far gone from original righteousness! We get indignant when parishioners leave because someone or other, or the vestry, or the priest have demonstrated vividly their humanity; yet we talk about leaving the Anglican Communion or leaving the Episcopal Church because neither lives up to our expectations.
In the best of Anglicanism, the Catholic, the Reformed and the Liberal are not alternatives from which we may pick and choose, or claim “party” allegiance, but rather a living symbiosis. Similarly, Scripture, Tradition and Reason occupy a symbiotic relationship. When that symbiosis is lived vividly in our midst, we witness the Holy Spirit, the “author of unity,” at work in the Church. When we see faction, party spirit and intolerant hegemony, there we see sin at work in our midst.
It is one thing to leave one church for another because one is drawn to the way that church worships, teaches, or lives out it's common life and ministry. That may be God calling one to a new, deeper call to discipleship. It is quite another thing to decide to both leave the church and rend the place you are called away from into shreds because the wider group doesn't agree with you.