Sometimes it seems as if the problem is bishops.
As one conservative commentator has noted - the splinter groups have far too many. I admit, I experience a degree of schadenfreude when I think of all the folks in the AAC and ACN separating. All I see are lots of arrogant personalities, so brave and courageous about their understanding of scripture, yet correspondingly incapable of any degree of true humility toward one another. Would Duncan be willing to forgoe his Episcopacy to a Reformed Episcopal Bishop in the same area? Or would they have parallel districts? The waste of resources will inhibit their collective growth. In a post-Christian age, choosing between small "blibical" churches is uninteresting to most Americans.
The conservatives hope that they will be the ones invited to Lambeth, granting them their own legitimcay - but then the ACN and AAC will have to decide who from the other splinter groups will go along with them. How will the AMiA [who wins the award for best website] and Christ the King negotiate their differences? Can they? I doubt it. I warrant that if they can, the spirit is truly doing a new thing with them. God bless them for trying, but that battle will be truly brutal. And if it isn't, and the orienting faith, the tipping point, is a common antagonism toward homosexuals, I don't know how long it will last. Granted, hatred is the surest thing to bring people together. But once that energy has been lifted, what then will they do?
But what if TEC did the maganimous thing: let them have their bishops. The church agencies like Church Insurance, Church Pension Fund, the Publishing company can still serve any of those priests or communities. The criteria for these organizations is less about personal holiness, but more about proper management. Individual TEC dioceses can still offer consultation on non-church issues [say parish finances or property management] for any church that needs it. The only thing missing is the liturgical authority of the primary TEC bishop.
Traditionalist Churches that want to "walk apart" should be cautious. A few strong ones [say, Christ Church Overland] will remain strong. But the smaller traditionalist ones will need lots of support to survive: most of them contain greying populations, resembling the rest of the Episcopal Church. As one friend in New Hampshire noted, "I lost 40 older families after +Gene, but in the next year I got 40 younger ones. The press was all over the new church - they had lots of photographs. But they were all greying. I wish they had taken a photo of ours - we are growing exponentially with families that never thought there was a church for them."
On the other hand, buildings are both the biggest weakness and source of financial strength of the Episcopal church, so abandoning the churches to seek a new mission might offer some new life to the traditionalist communities [and suck the life out of the TEC]. For in order for any Episcopal church to be truly viable, it needs 150-300 members, and most Episcopal Clergy do not have both the entrepreneurial skills of church growth and property management. Perhaps traditionalist communities can partner financially with the TEC while the TEC bishops simply offer the consulting talents and benefits of the diocese. There might be "fees" but these would not be tied to his spiritual authority, but to specific services. Traditionalist communities would have to be responsible for helping those who wanted to remain Episcopal by providing them a place to worship. The TEC could also then lease the property to the new church, severing the spiritual authority but remaining the landlord.
I doubt that this will happen. The hatred of the reasserters seems, based upon my blog reading, severe. Having a conversation about the Yankees, or personal health, or Texas Hold'em will always be tinged with the question "what do you feel about gay sex?" And that is a testament to our lack of imagination, and our own fallenness before Christ that we can't see the work of God in each other.
The TEC is still in the stronger position. We have the wealth, we have the generosity, and we have the charity to continue working with people of different opinions - as long as we are playing by the rules we've agreed to [called, the "canons"]. Now before talking about Lambeth and how the TEC "broke the rules" - remember that Lambeth did not take into consideration the power of local dioceses; but even more to the point, there is no evidence that the traditionalist provinces have satisfied their end of the bargain - to minister to homosexual people.
The splinter groups will continue to struggle, one by one, because of their own lack of magnanimity towards us - and this will then be evinced, after the break away, by their hostility toward one another. For after they've gotten rid of us gay sympathizers, I suspect they will have to find another scapegoat. And who might that be? Homosexuality has been a remarkable unifier for the traditionalists, in spite of their public objections that this is about the "authority of scripture."
TEC bishops may consider how instant communication changes their roles. Do we need so many? Why not have all confirmands appear once a year at the Cathedral? Why not do most of our collaborative work using wikis? It is communication that got us into this mess; perhaps it is what will allow us to get out.
Granted, when it comes to reconciliation, there is only one way to love one another. And that is face to face, through the gift of the eucharist. Then we will learn that, although "we are treated as impostors, and yet are true."