My second anonymous letter in two days (sort of)

Some advice on my dilemma: Somebody give me some advice here. What do you think? Can somebody defend the other side?

In my inbox today, under the title "Unsolicited, totally inappropriate advice"

"Hi Tim,

We don't really know each other - we're Facebook friends, and we have a common friend in the inimitable Karen Ward (who would disagree with me in the strongest terms on what I'm about to say). I friended you on FB when I saw that you were asking questions that resonated with me on the Anglimergent site. In any case, you don't know me, so obviously take this very impertinent advice with a grain of salt. However, for whatever it's worth, here's what some dude you don't know thinks after reading your latest blog post:

Don't do it, brother. Don't get ordained. Don't endanger your marriage. Don't submit yourself to a denominational hierarchy which you're completely right not to trust, for all that it's made up largely of well-intentioned, faithful people. It's preoccupied with priorities that have very little to do with what it sounds like God is calling you to - or with God's kingdom, for that matter. (I'm not for a moment denying that these are thoroughly mixed up with kingdom priorities and kingdom-hearted individuals within TEC.)

My opinion is that you have much to lose and little to gain by becoming a covenanted part of that hierarchy. You don't need them. You don't need their permission, and you don't need their resources. Just move wherever it makes sense to go for you and Angel, find some Jesus-followers with similar callings, and start doing church. Do it as Anglican as you're called to do it. I'm an Anglican, and I have strong, active friendships and partnerships within the TEC system, but that's not my primary place of ministry and Christian community. The church I'm primarily a part of is nondenominational (but not isolated or stand-alone - we have *strong* peer network relationships with both denominational and nondenominational communities) with Anglican "DNA" - we use the BCP in worship and much of our tradition is very Anglican. But not exclusively so, and we're not formally affiliated. We don't need a bishop's permission to experiment, and we're free to forge generative friendships with folks in TEC *and* (for example) CANA - and, of course, ELCA, PCUSA, PCA, EFree, etc., etc. And we do!

You don't need permission. You don't need ordination. You don't need a building (start in a home or rent a coffee shop), a pension, or a full-time salary (get those through other means - Angel's job, you work part time, etc.). All you need is a small collection of people who are hearing God's call in similar ways and are bold and humble enough to listen to the Spirit and each other in community.

I could say more, but I've already said way more than I have any right to say. But I just wanted to offer this opinion: you don't need to make this bargain. It can be done without turning over your future to an organization that has other things on its mind. We're doing it. It's hard as hell sometimes, but it's friggin' wonderful too.

(Person whose name I removed b/c I didn't get their permission to post this, but you probably wouldn't know anyway because I don't.)"


Anonymous said…
Hi Tim,

I also don't know you well or your specific calling. In general I would totally agree with the letter - hierarchies like that have the power to eventually crush the life out of those in the ranks, and the best place is usually on the periphery. However, God may have called you into a particular place in the Anglican hierarchy for a specific purpose. I couldn't comment on that and I wouldn't discount it either.

Heaps of blessings,
Anonymous said…
I don't know exactly what you should do Tim... but I reckon you don't have peace about the path you've started to walk down anymore. And sacrificing peace in your life is a pretty big sacrifice, no?
You've a lot to offer in a pastoral role, but that's not to say you have to do that in the traditional setting.

Colossians 3:14-16
15And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

Do what you have peace about, 'cos that's God's will. Too simplistic? Probably. But maybe that's its charm.
Anonymous said…
With all respect to the previous respondant, in my experience peace doesn't come with making a choice in accordance with God's will. I've found that Peace tends to turn up some time later (weeks, months, years). (I mean Peace in the God sense, as opposed to just being relieved at having made a decision and being able to get on with things, although that kind of peace is not to be sniffed at either.)

That's the biggest problem with discernment, IMO: you don't know whether you're right or wrong when you've made the decision. You won't know until way down the track.

The Anonymous Letter has some fair points, as do the respondants. And there will be a million things trying to balance out in your mind as you try to make the best decision for yourself and Angel.

Personally, I couldn't make a decision to save my life. I certainly couldn't decide pro or con ordination. My only comfort, when I am forced to pick a lane in life, is that, no matter how badly I might have chosen in the past, and no matter if I've seemed to go off down the wrong path altogether, God is still there. This is the only thing that keeps me moving at all - I can't hear Him telling me to turn right or left. But, from past experience, either way He'll be wherever I end up, and He'll still make something good out of me, even if, heaven forbid, it's not what He'd originally intended.

You're sorry you asked, aren't you? No practical help here, I'm afraid.

Unknown said…
Some interesting discussion is happening here and at facebook. My mind is moving in a particular direction, but I'm not going to weigh in quite yet. Thanks for the advice so far, and I'd love to hear more of what you folks have to say...

Unknown said…
Here are the comments I've gotten at Facebook and myspace, so you can hear what others are saying:

1. I say go with your discernment and stay in your group or join ours but stay discerning. Come intern with us this summer and try things on for size. You are not alone in your discernment! The church needs you more than you may need her, perhaps... !

2.Well.... let me try.

I once had a priest describe being a priest as something that if we are called to, we can't avoid. Promising, eh?

You are very drawn to the Church, for better or worse. I don't think that's going to go away.

And priests do lots of different sorts of positions- not all of us in parish ministry. But I think I see you in parish ministry.

As for your marriage- I don't think you getting ordained is going to threaten your marriage. Angel's career is such that she will almost always be able to find work, regardless of where you might end up.

And- your a straight man. There will be lots of jobs for you- all over the place. You'll have your pick. At some point, all these priests will actually retire- and the few of us who are currently young and ordained will have lots of opportunities.

As for Canada- there is a little something called the Anglican Church of Canada, which operates not too differently than we do. If you all want to head north of the boarder, think about going to seminary in Vancouver or Toronto.

3. When I saw your bulletin, it got me interested. Since I'm working towards being employed in the ministry, I felt obligated to respond....and I just want to reiterate that I feel really dumb doing this...
When it comes down to it, you have to seek what the Lord wants from you. Do you believe that this is something that the Lord is calling you to do? That's really all that matters because in all reality, God will never call you to a place that will destroy your marriage. God has great plans for you, it's your job to listen to His voice and follow what He tells you to do. Weighing politics, living arangements, and everything in between are just small things compared to following the calling of the Lord. I'm not saying to continue in your current church or not, I'm just saying when it comes down to it, it's all about what God wants for your life. If He wants you to continue on this career path, it may be difficult, but He'll make a way for you. And the same way if you don't do what He's calling you to do, it will be close to impossible to be conent with your life. So, when it comes down to it, you have to listen to what the Lord is telling you and forget about what everyone out here on myspace and facebook is attempting to convince you of. Maybe this is a very simple minded way of thinking of things, but the Lord will never fail you....never.
Good luck with your choice....

(Thanks so much guys for the really good input. I'm getting a little embarrassed that I drew all of this attention to my situation. At the same time, I really do need the input of friends at this point in life.

I also do think that this discussion is interesting for reasons other than my own career prospects as we continue to think about what it means to be a minister in the church... )
Douglass said…
mr. mathis, this is your conscience writing. follow your heart and it shall lead you to the path in which you should go.

did that sound a little too star wars-ish? sorry.

i kinda know what youre going through with all this do i get ordained or not stuff. i pondered and wrestled with the same thoughts, only in the united methodist church, and ultimately i decided the ordination path was not for me or where God wanted me.

at first i felt like by getting ordained i could be a positive voice of change within the system, but once i began the process, i saw that i was in many ways going to be forced to shape my thoughts and beliefs into this little methodist box of stale theology. in the end it wasn't worth losing myself to gain the title of Rev. Jon.

I don't know your whole situation but i thought i'd share some of my experience wth you.
Still Looking said…
Hi Tim
As a priest in the Anglican Church, I can appreciate some of the comments about hierarchy and denomination, and yet profoundly disagree. I do not fell stifled. Frustrated, yes, at times, but stifled, put in a stale box, never. Given the opportunity to live out my calling, yes. The space to grow in God, yes.
My own calling was a time of great struggle. I did not want to be ordained. I did not want to be a vicar (and as yet, have not been a vicar). But in the end, I knew, deep down, that that was what God wanted me to do, to be ordained. It was who I was, and am. I simply recognised that, and so did the church, which of course sounds awfully blah. But that is how it was. I just knew. But it took quite a while of wrestling.
And even then I struggled. I struggled before I was ordained a priest because I felt called to be a voice from the edge, and how can you be a priest and prophetic? Well, I was called to be both, and I have stayed with that.
That fact that you are struggling with this tells me a lot of about the validity of the calling. I am very hesitant about people who need to be ordained, and we have too many of those. They are ordained for themselves. But you do not need to be ordained, which leads me to think that this may well be God’s call on you. Not your idea, Gods!!
I have been ordained for 20years. I have been married 23 years. Being a preist has not wrecked my marriage. Actually at times it has given me opportunities to do things with my family other work might not have. I feel privileged to have lived this life, and been involved in God’s ministry. You just need to work out what your marriage and your family need, and ensure you can be involved in that. Make it a priority. Wrecked marriages happen because people don’t pay enough attention to them. And that happens what ever the job, career or calling you have. It is up to you to make that marriage work.
I feel really hesitant about anyone who says, we don’t need to institution, we will just go and do our own thing. What is it they seek to avoid? And what do they loose? Accountability? Limits? Who or what holds them to account? At no point in the early church did people have the freedom to just go and do their own thing. That is anarchy. In fact, as someone on the inside, I have found the space to live the ministry I feel called to. It has not always been easy, but then ministry isn’t. But I have also found great support and encouragement. Yes I am frustrated, but I am also greatly enriched being in this institution. I am frustrated because we have so much more to offer than we are, but I will not walk away. This is where I am called to be, to live, to minister
The question for you to wrestle with is where does God call you to take up your cross and to be, to live, to minister? What ever you decide, we also need to learn to trust God in that decision. I am having to learn that again. To trust in God’s faithfulness.

I hope that is helpful
Peace and all good as you wrestle with this
Unknown said…
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Unknown said…
And here's what my wise friend Wes posted (without his blog commentary I would never venture to make this significant life decision):

"My advice: listen to your wife and your own desires. Make a list of priorities and work it out like the pragmatist you are. and take another vacation or do some more blog walking/urban hiking, cause i really like the pictures. so sayeth the virtuous unbaptized anarchist prophet."
Unknown said…
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Unknown said…
And some public dialogue from Anglimergent:


This is another random answer from another random friend. I can’t be certain of the exact dilemma(s) you are facing, nor can I be certain of much about you other than the address of your blog.

It appears to me that you are struggling with two questions: (1) the question of whether or not to become ordained; (2) to question of what you might be ordained into, if anything. These are not easy questions, nor are there easy answers to the questions once they present themselves.

Because I don’t know you I can’t reflect much on your situation, but what I can reflect on is the anonymous letter you received warning you of ordination into the Episcopal Church.

Let me give you an idea of where my answer is coming from. I am 30, and I grew up in the ECUSA and have struggled with “the ordination question” for many years. About four years ago, I tried to enter the discernment process and was told that I needed to “wait another two or three years” to see if it was “really right” for me. I read this is as “sorry, but you are not really fraternity material.” This cut me very deeply. I gave up on the ECUSA and went to divinity school anyway. Sort of as your anonymous friend advises you to do, I took my marbles and went home. In div school I tried being everything from Baptist to Buddhist. In all that time I realized two things: (1) the Anglican communion is not the only group of religious people which has problems and (2) what I loved about the ECUSA was the liturgy and the tradition which I can’t find in the same way anywhere else. Ironically, while at my ecumenical seminary I was asked to begin the discernment process by two priests at two different churches. Not surprisingly, I haven’t quite gotten over the abandonment I felt so many years before, and politely turned them down. Does this mean I’m done with the ECUSA? Not by a long shot, but I am currently discerning whether they are right for me rather than I for them.

To bring this back to the letter you received. Your anonymous friend’s argument seems to have some major ambiguities and questions imbedded in it that are important for all of us to think about. He claims that by being ordained in the ECUSA you will (a) ruin your marriage and (b) be helplessly trapped inside of a hierarchy which does not support God’s kin-dom. He doesn’t really explain why your marriage will be spoiled by the governing body of the ECUSA, and I can’t figure out why either. I thought National Convention worried about larger problems like hunger, but maybe it’s just out to get you and your wife. Let’s hope not. Your friend also neither defines “hierarchy,” nor provides reasons why “hierarchy” spoils God’s work in the world, but just assumes we should all know why. But when he says “hierarchy” he seems to imply one of two things: (a) on a micro level, people compromising to make decisions and (b) on a macro level, the simple fact of a denomination having a national governing body.

He seems to be presenting you with a picture in which the ECUSA represents something like a spiritual and philosophical straightjacket, which will give you no voice and force you to disobey God. He implies this, for example, in stating that the ECUSA is filled with well-intentioned people, yet the church (as a collective) does not follow God’s call in the world. I’m not really sure how he makes that leap, and neither is he. But I have an idea how and why, as I will discuss below.

He offers as an alternative a “nondenominational” model. His model both uses the BCP (he does not state which version) and is “free to forge friendships” with churches across denominations. (Apparently, he also believes that Episcopal churches don’t form interfaith alliances). In this scenario, the “nondenominational” model appears like a breath of fresh air. There are no requirements, no hierarchy and only “Jesus-followers” (which apparently only exist in nondenominations) and resulting goodness. Your friend truly has found utopia.

But in making this distinction, your anonymous friend seems to assume that his nondenominational model is free of “hierarchy” (the Achilles’ heel of the ECUSA) which allows it to be completely free to act on its theological beliefs. As your friend argues, this is unlike the ECUSA which apparently can’t act on its theological beliefs because of “hierarchy.” In other words, “hierarchy” opposes God.

And yet, doesn’t his own nondenominational model rely on a type of hierarchy? It (a) employs liturgical structures, (b) (apparently) encourages varied theological perspectives from friendships forged which always require some sort of internal compromise, and (c) is affiliated with an external national network of churches (“a *strong* peer network of relationships”). By my count, his non-hierarchy sure incorporates a lot of hierarchy.

So what’s the catch? Well, it appears to me like your friend is actually making a critique of the ECUSA on a key point he refrains from making explicit. He has decided that the theological perspective of many members in the ECUSA is not the same as his “Jesus-followers.” Therefore, he doesn’t say what he implies: “I disagree with the theological perspective of the members of the ECUSA – you should too!” Keep in mind, I think this an absolutely fine thing to say, if that’s your perspective. But instead your friend prefers to frame his disagreement with the church as a disagreement between (a) the hierarchy of the ECUSA and (b) God. That doesn’t seem to give the church much of a fighting chance, now does it? Perhaps your friend would do better to own up to his own theological perspective, rather than blaming it on the dog.

Tim, what I have learned is that every church – regardless of its internal or external structure – is filled with tensions and heartaches and contradiction because, well, every church member has a different perspective on the world. Even “Jesus-followers” ask for a second opinion now and then. The question of whether the ECUSA is right for you is, I believe, a question of what makes up your faith. In other words, I believe if you begin to determine what constitutes the most important elements of your faith you will begin to find a place where you belong – Baptist or Episcopal or Buddhist. I am pulled to this group because I also seem to exist between two worlds.

To (finally) answer your question: If the Anglican Communion was a straightjacket, none of us would be here (i.e the Anglican Communion). We're too bright. This group wouldn't be here, either - it wouldn't be allowed. So, I think its not a matter of whether or not the Anglican Communion will cope with Anglimergence, but when and how will the Anglican Communion converse with Anglimergence. In fact, that's not even the correct question. We're already the Anglican Communion. We're already conversing with Anglican communion.

In other words, Tim, today I’ve decided I’ve got a few marbles left to throw. Cheers –
Mike Croghan said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said…
And a response from the original author of the mystery letter, which clarifies some important things:

Hi Tim and Aaron and all,

I'm going to go ahead and "out" myself as Tim's mysterious (not originally anonymous, but Tim was kind enough to protect the guilty) unasked-for-adviser. I'll go on record as saying that if I'd originally known I was going on record, I would have said some things differently, and I'll try to clarify that in a bit. I'm not backpedaling, but I would have qualified and softened some statements a bit for a general audience - adding nuance I was thinking I'd fill in during a potential ongoing conversation with Tim (which I guess we're having now!) It's obvious from Aaron's reply that, taken out of context, (or possibly even in context), it's easy to make a lot of assumptions about my point of view that aren't all that accurate, so I guess I'd better clear those up. Also, if Karen reads Tim's blog, she was probably going to figure out it was me and kick my ass anyway, so there's no point in me hiding behind Tim's graciously-extended anonymity. :-)

So first, I feel like I need to address a few of Aaron's assumptions. I can see why, based solely on my email, Aaron might have jumped to the conclusions he did about the axe I have to grind, but as a matter of fact a lot of his guesses, though reasonable, are pretty far off the actual case.

First of all, my concern regarding Tim's marriage was a direct response to Tim's own concern in that regard in Tim's previous blog post to which I was responding. Obviously Tim knows that, and if I were Aaron I wouldn't necessarily have taken the time to read a history of blog posts to get context on something like this either. But Aaron, if you're interested, read a couple of posts back on Tim's blog to find out more about his worries.

Regarding the version of the BCP that we use in the community I'm a part of: we use the 1979 Prayerbook, Rite II, thank you very much - slightly edited for brevity. :-) We've also been known to use the New Zealand BCP, which kicks ass. I'm certainly aware that Episcopal churches form ecumenical alliances, because I'm a part of an Episcopal church (I participate in two or three ministries and a Bible study group there) which has strong friendship ties with my nondenominational community, among many other non-TEC organizations. As I said in my original email, I'm well aware that TEC is chock-full of Jesus-followers, including a great many dear friends of mine, and (again, as I said), a great many of TEC's priorities are, in my take-it-for-what-it's-worth opinion, abundantly Kingdom-oriented. Again, in my personal judgment, many of its priorities are *not* Kingdom-oriented. I can make you some lists if you really want to know my opinion - and I recognize that this is true of any organization of any size (except, I suppose, for those that have nothing at all to do with God's Kingdom).

Regarding "hierarchy" - Aaron has defined "hierarchy" to include the concept of "compromise" - so I can't argue with that. My community certainly does compromise, both within our community and with the wider networks of which we're a part. But as for what I would think of as a more traditional definition of "hierarchy" - an organizational structure characterized by "vertical" accountability - "bosses" with authority over subordinates - no, really. We don't have that. Within our community, leadership is very dispersed. There is no role that can only be played by certain positional leaders. We do have a leadership team of three (currently one woman and two men) who are charged with paying attention to what God is doing in the community as a whole and encouraging and equipping whatever that is, but most major decisions are made by congregational consensus, and most minor decisions are made by whomever's in charge of an activity - most likely not an LT member. Accountability is mutual - each member of the community is accountable to the community as a whole, not just to their “boss”.

Regarding the wider networks we're a part of, I was referring to things like Emergent Village and the strong local and bigger-than-local friendships we have with other communities - including Episcopal churches, but also other denominational churches, nondenominational churches, neo-monastic communities, etc. As within our community, it’s not that we just love doing our own thing and aren’t accountable to anyone. Our friendships within these networks are strong enough that friends who aren’t a part of our community are very aware of what we do, and are free to question us and hold us accountable if, for example, an idea for a worship service series sounds a bit heretical to them. This really happens, and it’s mutual, horizontal, and bidirectional (as contrasted with traditional hierarchical accountability, which is vertical and, generally speaking, flows one way). The other major difference is that any authority in horizontal accountability is voluntary. It depends on mutual openness and humility; neither party has the power to threaten or discipline the other one. It’s abundantly fallible – but then, so is hierarchical accountability.

OK, I think I'm finally getting to the crux of Aaron's guesses about my perspective. Sorry to take up all this space.

I'm not denying that I have an axe to grind with TEC, but it's really not theological. I'm pretty far away, theologically, from the folks who have left TEC for AMiA and CANA and whatnot. I'm staunchly in favor of the full inclusion of women and gay folks in the life of the church, including in every leadership position, and in general I'm very happy with "the theology of TEC" (to the extent that such a big and diverse organization can be said to have such a thing). My issues have to do with authority structures and polity (including clericalism), as well as *practical* priorities regarding mission and growth (or shrinkage). Not that these aren't theological issues - they are - but I don't think they're the ones Aaron is thinking of. Again, I could go into detail about my specific concerns, but for now I suspect I'm running on plenty enough. Just to be clear, I'm pretty sure that every single one of my concerns about TEC would apply even more strongly to AMiA, CANA, etc. Which does stop me from formally affiliating with any of those organizations - but doesn't stop me from forging peer friendships with members of those organizations. I don't think the Anglican Communion is a straight jacket - it's a fine place to be a lay person, as long as you don't mind that, practically speaking, leadership opportunities for lay people are relatively limited. But I do think that taking vows to become an ordained member of its clergy restricts one's freedom in ways that I, personally, find far too high a price to pay.

Sorry, Aaron, to go point-for-point through your reply - again, I don't think the assumptions you were making were unreasonable ones, based only on my out-of-context email, but some of your guesses were pretty far off, and I felt like I needed to clarify those.

OK, moving on a bit, I wanted to qualify a couple of statements in my original email. Some of the words I used, taken alone, probably fail to express where my heart is. Where I said that TEC is made up largely of well-intentioned, faithful people, please read that in my experience, TEC is made up almost *exclusively* of well-intentioned, faithful people. I've run across one or two jerks and gits in TEC, but far fewer than in the general population. I have many, many dear friends within TEC, both at my local TEC church and elsewhere. Episcopalians are good people. However, I do have some major beefs with Anglican polity and TEC priorities.

Also, when I go back and read "you don't need them", I cringe, painfully. I feel like I need to whack myself over the head repeatedly with a hardwood plank with 1 Corinthians 12:21 engraved on it in flaming red letters.

Let me be clear about what I meant. You do need TEC, and so do I. Here's what I think I (and, perhaps, you, Tim - to the extent that you're like me and I'm not full of s#!t) need from TEC folks:

- Friendship
- Mutual peer-to-peer accountability
- Mutual support
- Mutual encouragement
- Mutual learning
- Mutual prayer
- Openness to partnerships in ministry, mission, etc.

Here's what I don't think we need from TEC, in order to "do church" (by which I mean something like "follow Jesus and worship God in community by loving God and neighbor together"):

- Permission
- A collar
- A building
- A professional position
- A pension

We do need other things, of course - but we don't need to get them from a denominational system. There are other options. We need enough income to support our families, and we need some kind of retirement plan. We need fellow community members. We need a calling discerned in community, and Spiritual gifts and passions. We need boldness and humility. We need to be prepared for it to suck. A lot.

All of these can be found outside a denominational system, as well as inside one. I'm not saying that looking for them inside TEC, or any other such organization, is in any way wrong or bad in the general case (i.e., for everyone). What I am saying is that it's not the only option if God is calling you to be a leader in the church. You need to discern what God is calling you to - but all I ask is that you don't make the mistake of thinking your options are much, much more limited than they really are.

So finally, I get down to not just trying to shed light on my previous far-too-hasty words, but adding a bit - Tim, you posted this to a whole bunch of places asking for career advice. The only advice I have is: don't think of this as a career. You're being called to follow Jesus. Talk prayerfully with a wide variety of wise people (read: don't just effin' listen to me!), most especially your wife. Discern what kind of life he's calling the two of you to. If you're being called to a leadership role within the body of Christ, you could go down the ordination route, if that seems to work best for you. Or, you could find some other Christian leaders in [wherever it makes the most sense for your family to live]. If they've already got a church/community going that resonates with you, join. Follow Jesus together. If they don't, start a house church. Figure out a way, between the two of you (or, possibly, between the whole community) to put food on the table, and to leave enough time to devote to worshiping God and/through serving God's people together. Cultivate and maintain strong friendships (friendships that are open to support and accountability) with people and organizations who aren't a part of your primary church community, including (yep!) Episcopalians and other Anglicans.

I know that's all fuzzy and idealistic, but all I'm saying is that it's a possibility. Becoming part of a denominational system is not the only possibility. And if you're concerned (as I am) about the loss of freedom involved with becoming an ordained member of the clergy, other possibilities are worth considering. That's all.

Sorry to be such a jerk in my original presentation. I really do love a great many of the people of Anglican Communion, and I really do love the Anglican tradition. But I'm afraid I really don't love the institution(s).
Mike Croghan said…
Hi folks,

I'm the author of the original email - I just deleted a comment by me that was mainly just an excerpt from the long-ass reply I made on Anglimergent, which Tim just re-posted above. Just trying not to be redundant, is all.

The point I was making in the excerpt was that part of my long post might somewhat address Tim's friend John's very valid concerns about accountability - my belief, which I admit is largely unproven, is that horizontal, peer-to-peer accountability *can* be as effective as vertical, hierarchical accountability.

Bob G+ said…
This comment is way after the fact, but one thing I would like to mention is that by definition Anglicanism is hierarchical, unless one wants to reject a primary part of Anglicanism.

Anglicanism is hierarchical because it's ecclesiology is Catholic, while it's way of doing theology is Reformed and Catholic.

I started my process to be a priest at 38 years old, reluctantly, a few years after becoming an Anglican out of American-Evangelicalism. A few priest friends of mine kept on me about going to seminary until I relented and agreed to go through the discernment process.

The Episcopal Church has problems, as does every group. Seek God, listen intently, and you will know. If He is calling you to Holy Orders, you won't be able to get away from it.