Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mt. Pleasant Rector: “You Never Know What God Might Say”

From the Living Church-

One of the largest congregations in The Episcopal Church, St. Andrew’s Church of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., may by December become one of the largest congregations to renounce its Episcopal ties.

On Oct. 11, St. Andrew’s will begin a 40 Days of Discernment program to discuss whether it should sever ties with The Episcopal Church. The congregation will vote on Dec. 9-16, after spending a week in prayer and fasting.

The Rev. Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew’s since 2000, wrote to all members of the parish on September 4 to announce the program. The letter included the signatures of 36 other congregational leaders, including all current staff and nine senior wardens whose service dates back to 1989.

“Since 2003 I have felt compromised by continued association with a denomination that I consider to be apostate,” Fr. Wood told The Living Church.

He said he does not know of any significant group in St. Andrew’s that wants to remain affiliated with The Episcopal Church. When he interviewed to become rector, Fr. Wood said, both the search committee and the vestry asked he was open to separation from The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Wood's predecessor was the Rev. Terrell Glenn, who is now a bishop of the Anglican Church in the Americas and rector of AMiA’s mother church, All Saints’, Pawleys Island, S.C.

“We’re going into this with as open a mind as we can,” Fr. Wood said. “There's a little risk in there. You never know what God might say.”

On its most recent parochial report, St. Andrew’s listed 2,698 baptized members, 2,520 members in good standing and an average Sunday attendance of 1,515. Fr. Wood says another 500 to 700 people are active givers who will not join the church formally because of its affiliation with The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Wood was one of three nominees when the diocese elected the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence as its 14th bishop in September 2006. Fr. Wood said he gave advance notice of the program to Bishop Lawrence, and will keep lines of communication open.

Fr. Wood said the founding of the Anglican Church in North America was a significant factor in the church's decision to begin the 40 Days of Discernment program.

“We have a home port we can sail into now,” he said.

Fr. Wood praised the 40 Days of Discernment curriculum because sections of it reflect the writing style of the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church in Virginia.

“The material has a very Yatesian feel to it,” he said. “It's gentle, straightforward and non-accusatory. The material itself will be very appropriate for the people of St. Andrew’s.”

More here-

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