“Independents and such!”
. Several years ago I was doing research for a paper I was presenting in a local college forum about the varieties of American religious practice in terms of groups and leaders and so forth. What I found that was almost comical at times was when it came to the plethora of “old Catholics , independents, and autocelphaous Orthodox” and those who identified themselves with “The Movement” unlike their evangelical brethren who identified themselves as “interdenominational or congregational” if you ask these bishops three questions you always found out what you wanted to know. The first one was “how many bishops are in your church?” the second one “how many priests and or deacons do you have in your church?” and the last one, which was and is still the most relevant and telling one, “how many people identify themselves as members of your church and denomination”? Almost to an absolute majority they would hype and spin their answer to the last one. My favorite was “well if you mean in the traditional sense”! and I would respond ” I mean in the normal scientific sociological statistical sense , you know the one that any respectable academic would mean” and again almost always the response was silence. I knew of a “bishop” in the UK that had two members in his “church” one was himself and one was was his disabled wife! Another who had six priests two bishops and one deacon who was a horse whisperer and she had, besides these, one member and that was her lover! BUT in both cases with Photoshop pics of congregations and ” a modern way of counting membership” they just had an overflowing number of folkes who “looked to them” to provide church yet there was not one single baptism not one confirmation but lots and lots of “ordinations”! Oh and almost never had anyone for Communion. I don’t care if the pope ,the patriarch, and the archbishop of Canterbury lays hands on you if you do not have people to serve you are nothing and so is your “priesthood”!
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