This morning, after listening to tales from over 20 dioceses of congregations splitting and foreign "incursions" (evidently the new preferred term for the formerly popular "border crossings") around the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made this astonishing statement:
"The conflict that you read about in the headlines is not reality for 95 percent" of the church.
Really? But then what do we make of the Episcopal Church's own summary of its 2005 congregational research?
The most frequent source of confl ict mentioned, however, was "actions of General Convention 2003 regarding the Bishop of New Hampshire." Overall, 78% of Episcopal congregations reported experiencing some confl ict over this issue, with almost half (47%) of all congregations reporting that they had moderately serious or very serious conflict.
And according to the denomination's 2005 FAST Facts, only 35 percent of parishes with conflict over General Convention issues had their conflict resolved.
Two years have passed, but for the presiding bishop's (admittedly possibly loose, intended just to give a general impression) statistic to be anywhere near accurate, a vast change must have taken place thanks to the departures of so many parishioners.
Once again, we see the Episcopal Church's denial of the reality facing the church. Couple these statistics with the comment this morning that the denomination could lose half of its "active clergy" (later clarified as meaning full-time priests) in tne next 10 years, and it's clear that the church faces very serious challenges.