Why is the Episcopal Church near collapse?
Prominent bishops are pulling out. Convention-goers were told headquarters had spent $18 million suing local congregations. Members are leaving at a record rate. This is no longer George Washington’s church – once the largest denomination in the colonies.
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
April 15, 2006 in Washington, D.C., he declared that “religious people” are the enemy.
“We have allowed the Bible to be taken hostage, and it is being wielded by folks who would use it to hit us over the head,” he said. “The sin of Sodom had nothing to do with homosexual sex but was a failure to care for the poor, the widows and the orphans. Scripture is not as plainspoken as some would have us believe.”
When the conservative Anglican diocese that serves the Fresno, California, area voted to leave the U.S. Episcopal denomination, the national denomination did as it has done in Connecticut, Virginia, Florida and Texas, it fought the diocese in court – seeking to seize all property, which includes millions of dollars worth of sanctuaries, parsonages, parish halls and college campuses.
Observer Giles Fraser says that the liberal national leadership doesn’t have a clue. Citing a vote by the diocese of Pittsburgh, led by Bishop Bob Duncan, Fraser explained: “They are sick to death of liberals telling them that ‘gay’ is OK.”
“Anglicanism is in deep trouble,” writes Fraser, “and so, too, is the Church of England. The fact that 46 members of the church’s general synod, its parliament, have written expressing their support for secessionism, bodes very ill.
“Thus far the Archbishop of Canterbury has maintained the traditional Anglican image via media with impeccable impartiality, trying to hold things together with a generous policy of being kinder to his enemies than his friends.
“But the truth is, the only people who now believe that Anglicanism can survive the current crisis in one piece are those holed up in Lambeth Palace” – the Archbishop’s luxurious headquarters in England.
“Fissures have moved through the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members, and through the Communion itself, since the church ordained V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003,” writes Neela Bannerjee in the New York Times.
Before being named bishop, Robinson deserted his wife and children to take up with a homosexual lover – something that conservative Episcopalians see as adulterous infidelity severely compounded by sexual sin and perversion – certainly enough to disqualify Robinson from any kind of leadership.
They consider the Episcopal Church’s ordination of Robinson as the “most galling proof of its rejection of biblical authority,” writes Bannerjee.
“In the last four years, the Anglican Communion, the world’s third largest Christian body, has edged closer to fracture over the issue. In the United States, several dozen individual congregations out of nearly 7,700 have split with the Episcopal Church.”
The Fresno vote was the first time an entire diocese chose to secede.
The Reverend Ephraim Radner, a leading Episcopal conservative and professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto, predicted a huge legal battle – since the national headquarters has vowed to hold onto any buildings of congregations leaving the denomination.
“The costs involved will bleed the Diocese of San Joaquin and the Episcopal Church, and it will lead only to bad press,” said Radner. “You have to wonder why people are wasting money doing this and yet claiming to be Christians.”