Sunday, July 26, 2009

Churches attempt to heal after split

From this mornings Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

As the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh neared a split, Betsy Hetzler could not follow her beloved Church of the Atonement in Carnegie out of the Episcopal Church.

She moved to the Church of the Nativity in Crafton, but she still supports Atonement's rummage sales and collects the baby items that it gives to her favorite charity.

"I have friends there, but I feel a release not being there any more. My heart is in the parish where I belong now," she said.

Such words come from both sides after the Oct. 4 vote by the Diocese of Pittsburgh to secede from the 2.1 million-member Episcopal Church, one of 38 provinces in the 80 million-member Anglican Communion, a global body of churches that grew out of the Church of England. The vote hinged on whether the denomination had abandoned biblical faith in matters ranging from salvation to sexuality.

There is sadness over broken relationships and anger over property litigation. But relations are more amicable than in most other fractured dioceses.

Both are called the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, though the 57-parish Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) isn't affiliated with the Episcopal Church. It is part of the newly formed Anglican Church in North America, whose spiritual leader is Archbishop Robert Duncan, of Pittsburgh.

"The Lord is blessing us. There aren't any glum faces around here," Archbishop Duncan said.

While Archbishop Duncan builds a 100,000-member international body from scratch, Bishop Robert Johnson ministers part time to the 28-parish diocese that remains in the Episcopal Church. It now has an office in Monroeville.

"When I arrived it was just me -- a bishop, a cell phone and a car. It was like being a missionary bishop," said Bishop Johnson, the retired bishop of Western North Carolina.

When he visits parishes, "I don't talk about the problems we face in this diocese unless they ask me. I find that most people are focused forward," he said.

Much much more here-

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