Sunday, December 20, 2009
From South Carolina-
St. Andrew's Church in Mount Pleasant is the most recent church to take steps to leave The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina.
The congregation has recommended that the parish "affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America and separate from The Episcopal Church," according to a posting online by its rector, the Rev. Steve Wood.
The Anglican Church in North America upholds an "orthodox" theology and is seeking recognition as a new non-geographical Anglican province recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Established in June 2008, it has nearly 750 parish affiliates.
The congregation's decision came after a formal 40-day discernment process. More than 900 response forms were submitted; 838 recommended realignment while 58 recommended remaining part of The Episcopal Church. A few responses were left blank.
The vestry of St. Andrew's will convene after the holidays to consider an official course of action, parish officials said.
The discernment process is a result of the dilemma caused by The Episcopal Church, Wood said in an e-mail.
"The call of every Christian is to stand with and for Christ. The amazing story of a God who loves us and pursues us has been lost by our national leadership which seems to no longer believe the very story entrusted to their care," he wrote. "The Gospel story is that God in Christ reaches out to broken and lost humanity offering real hope for a new life. St. Andrew's seeks to faithfully and humbly give witness to this glorious hope."
The Episcopal Church has been coping with theological discord for years, but disagreements among Episcopalians heated up after the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire became the first openly gay bishop of the church in 2003.
The Diocese of Los Angeles elected the second openly gay Episcopal bishop Dec. 5, the Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore, who will serve as assistant bishop if a majority of dioceses approve the vote.
Two other South Carolina churches recently took steps moving away from The Episcopal Church.
On Dec. 1, the vestry and membership of St. Luke's Church on Hilton Head Island voted to remove all reference to "the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, the Diocese of South Carolina, and any Canons associated therewith" from its charter. The change has its precedent in the diocese: All Saints Church at Pawleys Island voted to delete reference to The Episcopal Church from its charter in 2004, then affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas, an extension of the Province of Rwanda.