"The Fast and Furious" Has A New Face

18 07 2006

And its the Episcopal church. Conservatives and liberals have responded quickly to last month’s tumultuous Episcopal Convention. With the world’s Anglican primates set to meet in September, the long Episcopal war over liberals’ homosexual agenda seems likely to end in denominational splintering .

Via World Magazine:

Over time, church denominations come and go, but one, now known as The Episcopal Church (TEC)—formerly part of the Church of England, and then the Episcopal Church, USA—has had a special spot in American history.

Its first congregation: Jamestown, Va., 1607. Its prominent members: George Washington and one-fourth of all U.S. presidents, as well as many of the country’s most notable and influential citizens. Its social prestige: high.

And now, in the aftermath of last month’s triennial Episcopal Convention in Columbus, Ohio, (see “Nothing resolved,” July 1/8), denominational unity that has been cracking for years now seems shattered. Among the post-convention moves by theological conservatives:

• Seven TEC dioceses, dismayed by the election of pro-gay-agenda Bishop Katharine Schori as the church’s next presiding bishop and primate (top leader), say they are looking for “alternative primatial oversight.” Several other dioceses are poised to join them. All are distressed by TEC’s failure to repent for consecrating a partnered gay, Gene Robinson, as a bishop in 2003.

• Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, leader of the two-year-old, theologically conservative Anglican Communion Network, told supporters that “pastoral and apostolic care has been promised without regard to geography. . . . The shape of this care will depend on a very near-range international meeting.” The Network’s members include 10 dioceses and nearly 1,000 parishes.

• One of the largest Episcopal churches, Christ Church of Plano, Texas, announced it will leave TEC “as soon as possible.” The church, whose rector is evangelical activist David Roseberry, has nearly 5,000 active members. Bishop James Stanton of Dallas, also an evangelical, said he supports Roseberry and the church. As for the church property, “It’s theirs,” he said, “They paid for it.” TEC may fight for the property in the courts.

• At least two other TEC megachurches, Truro Church and The Falls Church in northern Virginia, have been negotiating with the local diocese over their properties (worth $27 million combined). This month both churches announced plans for a 40-day “discernment” period in the fall for prayer, fasting, and discussion over whether to leave TEC. “There’s no predetermined outcome,” said Rev. John Yates of The Falls Church. Two dozen other Virginia churches also are reportedly discussing a possible exit.

Many outside TEC also will be talking. Theologically, Anglican Communion churches in England and America tend to be predominantly liberal, but those in the global south are overwhelmingly conservative. It doesn’t sound like the global south archbishops want to wait for years of talk and pulse-taking to make their call. Judgment Day for The Episcopal Church may be just weeks away.

These churches are doing the right thing. There is an adequate number to start their own core-group denomination should they so desire. TEC’s nod toward allowing gay and pro-gay leaders to shephard their flock is like allowing a wolf to be the shephard. It will be a launching pad from which homosexuals fling their right to marriage upon a majority dissenting country.

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