When I graduated college, my choir gave me a copy of St. Augustine’s Prayer Book. If you have one, open it to the copyright page. The first edition was published in 1947 and reprinted 13 times. The second edition has gone through 18 printings. That’s incredible for a book with a niche market as small as us. Its continuing popularity demonstrates that the Anglican ethos is thick enough to survive the 21st century.
Check out some other classics. APA sells a BCP/KJV combo (with Apocrypha)! And the Missal. And St. Dunstan’s Psalter. The reprint of the Anglican Breviary was commissioned in 1998 by lawyer Daniel Lula. A loyal churchman, he even preserved the typos! Akenside Press is doing the same thing for Martin Thornton’s work. Can Romans inspire loyalty like that? Evangelicals?
Thank you for getting us this far. Anglicanism makes me happy, I believe it to be true and I want to share it. If we all commit to discipleship now, I see a bright future. If we don’t, conservative Anglo-Catholicism is a living fossil. Like the last passenger pigeon, it’s extinct during its own lifetime because it has no mate. Without us, there will only be Christianity-lite, understaffed Roman parishes and a bunch of increasingly-radical and incoherent sects.
We’re managing our decline. The country is growing. If average Sunday attendance becomes too sparse, the remaining churches will all fold financially even if there are thousands of us left nationwide! If you think goodwill and idealism matters, you’re wrong. That isn’t faith, it’s self-satisfied pride and apathy. Many of our clergy are already raising large families on small stipends. We have no further sacrifices to ask of them.
If we don’t deserve to survive at this late stage, mark me: We will not.
The few young people you have attracted will have no choice but to leave for other One True Churches that don’t really want us. I don’t know where we’ll go. You can’t escape Anglicanism by converting. Conversion is the most Anglican of all possible choices! Wherever I’d end up, I’d still use the BCP. But what would I use to teach my kids to pray? Dad won’t teach them from a book that’s out of print. He loves them too much.
I don’t think I’ll need to. We can still pray our classic devotions because our corporation has more brand loyalty than any other in history! It’s, like, a religion or something. Let’s leverage that. Anglicanism is North America’s native Christian tradition. It has nearly gone extinct here twice in four centuries because of mass defections. It survived because Prayer Book spirituality is so thick.
We must learn how to witness to inquirers. We must carefully consider their formation in cases when large numbers ask to be received. We have what it takes to survive the 21st century United States. I hope that I’ve made my point. If I have, I hope that the Church will benefit. Now, I must leave my computer and rebuild my life. I’m living at home, I’m working part time and I want to have a future.
Thank you for listening to me.