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Episcopal identity and congregational development

I came across the article below exploring Episcopal identity and why we didn't split (as badly as we might have). 


Some of you know that my own read on that has to do with how deeply a parish or diocese was connected to the core elements of Episcopal identity. For example, if you accept Jim Fenhagen's three elements: comprehensiveness, personal holiness, and holy worldliness -- you would be less likely to leave the Episcopal Church as long as you see those characteristics present in the system.   


You get the same result if you look at longer lists such as -- Episcopal Spirituality or John Westerhoff’s descriptions


Evangelical and Anglo Catholic parishes that accepted those marks of identity as central to parish life have stayed in the church. An example coming from the other direction might be -- will those invested in offering communion before baptism stay in the church even though the bishops have now twice given a clear message that baptism comes before communion (and of course, a pastoral assumption that no priest will turn away a person at the altar). My sense if that of course they will. Some in the hope that they will change the minds of the bishops. But others because they have a deeper commitment to the core way of living the Christian faith as an Anglican.



Q&A with Professor Mathew Sheep: Why didn’t Episcopal Church split after election of gay bishop?

By Kevin Bersett on October 9, 2015 | 

Business Professor Mathew Sheep

The 2003 election of Rev. Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop set off an internal debate that led a number of members within several conservative dioceses and parishes to leave the church.

But in the end the church retained about 90 percent of its membership, including many conservatives who opposed Robinson’s consecration as bishop. How did Episcopalian leaders and members reconcile their church’s identity with such a momentous change?

For the past decade, Illinois State Business Professor Mathew Sheep has worked with four other researchers from across the United States to study how the church viewed itself during this period. Their study has been accepted for publication in the Academy of Management Journal.

What the team found was that, rather than organizational identity being a fixed set of descriptions of the organization, it is instead a set of dialectical tensions that people attempt to balance or navigate every day in the way they talk about identity. In other words, organizations can stretch their identity—a concept the researchers called organizational identity elasticity—to allow for major changes.